The Five Telltale Signs of Poor Plastic Surgery

These days, it seems like everyone (and their mother) is getting a little nip ‘n tuck.

Changing your face can be a risky premise, and unless you’re careful about hiring only the most skilled board-certified cosmetic surgeon, you could be left with one of the telltale signs of having had “something done.”

Even celebrities aren’t immune to falling prey; bad work comes at every price point.

Below, you’ll find the top five most common — and glaringly obvious — signs that someone has had poor plastic surgery.

And if you’re shopping around for your own youth surgeon, be on the lookout for these signs in their before and after photos. If you spot any of them, it’s best to quickly move on to a consultation with another potential doctor.

The Nike Swoosh
In a carefully crafted facelift, a good surgeon will lift tissue upwards for a naturally lifted looked that encompasses the entire face. It takes experience and skill, and New York plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Freund says that less adept docs often try to cut corners by just stitching the skin towards the ears.

“A good face lift is a vertical orientation lift. The problem is, many plastic surgeons pull the skin horizontally. The patient ends up with a Nike swoop, more commonly referred to as a windblown look,” says Dr. Freund.

The Nike Swoosh — also known as a lateral sweep — occurs as the facelift ages. While the two stitched points near the midline and ear of the face remain lifted, the tissues in the middle hang and sag with age — resulting in that lower part of the swoosh.

The Pixie Ear: You’ll notice Dolly Parton always wears her hair down around her face to hide her ears, even when she’s wearing an updo. She’s admitted to getting a facelift on “Larry King Live.” Photos: Rick Diamond, Getty Images | Walter McBride, Retna
The Pixie Ear
In spite of the nickname, the pixie ear is anything but cute. It occurs when an unskilled surgeon cuts poorly during a facelift, and pulls the earlobe down to the face so that it becomes attached to the skin in a seamless angled line that no longer shows a separate earlobe, says Dallas, Texas plastic surgeon Dr. Sam T. Hamra.

The popular discount cosmetic surgery chain — Lifestyle Lift — churns out many pixie-eared patients who Dr. Freund says he has had to perform corrective surgery on. The plight is also common among mature silver screen stars who have had face lifts decades ago, when the side effect was even more common.

“I once had to correct a famous actress who had pixie ear on one side, but not the other. She had it done by the most famous surgeon in France. She would always insist that all of her movie scenes be shot on the one side without the pixie ear,” recalls Dr. Freund.

Ellen Pompeo and Janice Dickinson both have highly arched brows that look like they may have gotten botox. Photos: Mike Coppola, FilmMagic | Picture Perfect / Rex USA
The Cruella de Ville Botox Brow
The nicknames for this visual are endless — you’ll also commonly hear it referred to as the Joker, the Jack Nicholson, the Diablo Brow and the Mr. Spock Brown. All the clever jabs mean the same thing: you look like you’re permanently surprised.

“The unnaturally high arched lateral eyebrow is a dead giveaway of Botox. It usually occurs when Botox is injected in the wrong place, or not injected into the muscle that lifts the brow,” says Encino, California facial plastic surgeon Dr. Michael A. Persky.

Fortunately, the over-emphasized arch can usually be corrected by injecting a small amount of Botox into the forehead muscle directly above the brow to relax it, says Dr. Persky.

Less fortunately, by count of the high number of women who regularly sport the look, not everyone realizes that the look is unnatural. Some, like Janice Dickinson, even appear to seek it out.

The ‘Done” Nose Job
No where can the over-zealous pursuit of beauty end up more disfiguring than the nose, which can be extremely difficult to correct once the damage is done.

An expert nose job will gently erase what may be considered detractors from the face; things like bumps, humps and a too-prominent presence. But an obviously ‘done’ nose job will utilize unnatural pinching and nasal angles that just don’t occur in nature, says Dr. Persky.

In many situations, the final botched visual will occur after several surgeries have been attempted to placate the wants of someone who just isn’t satisfied with their nose. Such is the case with several members of the famous Jackson family, who are just as well-known for their cartoonish noses as they are their record-selling music.

Mickey Rourke has white scars behind his ear that suggest a Country Club Ear Scar. Photo: Lester Cohen, WireImage
The Country Club Ear Scar
The most common and difficult cosmetic surgery giveaway to hide, light white scars can often be seen in front of, under, and especially behind the ears.

“This is the big one, and you’ll see it all over the country club tennis-playing circles,” says Dr. Freund, who also adds that many women stop wearing ponytails after having a facelift that leaves them with scars.

The stubborn marks occur when surgeons pull the skin towards the ear to make it look taut, and then stitch it down. It’s a simple and quick technique to employ, but more often than not, does leave obvious scars.

“The right way to do a face lift is not just to pull skin — you’ll look good for three months, but then the skin will drop again and you’ll be left the same, but now with scars. The muscle should instead be repaired and an extra incision created under the chin so no one can see the mark,” says Dr. Freund.

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