Plastic Surgery After Divorce: Revenge or Confidence Boost?

Many women are seeking cosmetic surgery for a confidence boost post-divorce.

May 10, 2011, 3:09 PM

May 13, 2011 -- In the past three years 43 year old Alicia Hunter, a single mother of two, lost 60 pounds, got a new set of boobs and underwent a few tweaks of Botox to boot.


She got a divorce.

"If I hadn't lost weight and done some tweaking, I don't think I would ever set foot outside the house," Hunter told ABC News. "I don't think I would have the guts to go out and be in the dating scene."

After seven years of marriage, Hunter, the operator of an eyelash extension business in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., split up with her husband. But since undergoing her plastic surgery procedures, she says her ex compliments her now more than ever before.

"It is very liberating to feel good within your own skin," she said. "I never knew what it would feel like. I always thought it would be a little bit life-changing, and it has been."

She says men get a break from the damage that pregnancy does to a woman's body.

"I don't think we get back the original body we had after pregnancy," she said. "It's maybe a little softer, a little wider, and sometime a lot droopier. And it really does a number on us. Women are not allowed to look like moms. They really are not."

In today's era of Botox and not so happily-ever-after, the path more and more newly single women like Hunter are taking is one straight from the courtroom to the plastic surgeon's office.

A recent study by the Transform Cosmetic Group in Great Britain revealed that more than a quarter of the patients who visit plastic surgeons' offices are newly divorced women.

And so the debate is on: Should divorced women try to recapture their youth through surgery, and are their cosmetic surgery extremes more a confidence-boosting fresh start, or revenge against their former husbands?

Dr. Marina Peredo knows the issue from both sides, as both a woman who underwent the knife after her own divorce, and as a dermatologist who treats woman like herself on a daily basis at her practice in Smithtown, N.Y.

"Break-up is hard, they feel like they failed at something," she said. "It's very hard to start after many years of marriage, and I think they take time and are doing something for themselves for a change."

Hunter, for one, would agree, saying, for her, the issue was more about feeling comfortable in her own skin post-pregnancy and post-divorce than directing a surgical slap in the face at her ex-husband.

"For me, fortunately it was not [revenge surgery]," Hunter said. "I'm not a bitter person."

Post-Divorce Plastic Surgery for Men?

Call it revenge against their ex-husbands or a needed pick-me-up, either way, post-divorce plastic surgery is on the rise for women. But what about men?

"I think a mature man is appreciated and is found attractive," Hunter said. "In our society ... youth is prized over brains with women. But men are allowed to age much more gracefully."

Plastic surgeon Dr. Jon Turk told ABC News that roughly 20 percent of the clients in his New York City practice, mixed among the supermodels and socialites, are post-divorce women, many trying to squeeze in a surgery before they lose the credit card.

But he cautions angry ex-wives against taking drastic action to their bodies before the ink on their divorce is even dry.

"I like to have a bit of a cooling off or waiting period," he said. "Patients who come in who are bitter or angry about their divorce and looking to use surgery to make their spouse jealous or to just fill some type of emotional void, those are the ones that I think we need to counsel really carefully."

Even some of Turk's own patients, however, disagree.

"You know, they always say, the best revenge is looking good," said Kelly Langford, a New York City woman who turned to Turk for a touch-up after her own divorce.

"I think coming here, and seeing Dr. Turk is definitely, after you see your lawyer, probably the most important step after that," she said.

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