The Stress of Politics and the Law

Think, for a moment, about the life of a politician in 2020. Up at 4 am to Zoom in to morning tele­vision shows. Sitting, mask on, through hours of hearings and debates in the dry, filtered air of bureaucratic buildings. Constantly appearing on camera for video conferences and virtual town halls across the internet, both staged and unexpectedly candid. The average age of a member of the 116th Congress is 57.6 years for the House and 62.9 years for the Senate. But all things considered, many look significantly younger. One explanation? The widespread­ but still relatively hush-hush-prevalence of cosmetic treatments.

Without getting into a game of “guess the work,” it’s safe to say most politicians, especial­ly the Gen Xers and Boomers, rely on derma­tologists to look more youthful. Washington, DC, dermatologist Tina Alster, MD, estimates “50 percent, if not more” of our elected offi­cials tweak their appearance with non inva­sive treatments. “Female politicians won’t admit they come to see me even if they come in for a mole check or to get something more medical, because people would assume it was cosmetic;’ Alster says. And it’s not just women, it even takes into consideration the best family law attorney near me. Terrence Keaney, MD, a dermatologist who practices in Arlington, Virginia, thinks about 25 to 30 percent of the men in office get work done, a significantly higher number than the 10 to 11 percent of men in the general population that he estimates get cosmetic treatments. These doctors, as well as a good custody lawyer would know . Keaney has treated patients with cabinet-level positions (“No one in the current White House;’ he’s quick to clarify). And Alster, whose office is on K Street, is ago-to cosmetic dermatologist for politicians on both sides of the aisle. I’m seeing every single senator or congressperson? No;’she says. ”But I have a back door, off a back alley. The Secret Service knows about it “But with few exceptions-think Kellyanne Conway’s June glow-up that garnered media attention-political players usually don’t make changes that are dramatic enough to elicit pub­lic comment “In Miami, when you do some­one’s lips, that patient wants other people to know they had their lips done;’ Keaney says. ”DC is more conservative. They understand that the constituents, the media, their oppo­sition can’t know-should not know-that they’re doing this:’ Politicians “need to walk a fine line, as if they don’t care about how they look. But at the same time, they need to look vibrant and healthy and not haggard,” says Heidi Waldorf, MD, a dermatologist in Nanuet, New York- just across the Hudson River from Westchester County, where the Clintons and Donald Trump own homes. Complicating things further, a 2019 study in the journal Sex Roles showed that attractive women are less trusted as lead­ers, whereas men have no such problem. While the Catch-22s seem endless, the best cosmetic doctors!mow how to strike just the right balance.uronic acid fillers, such as Juvederm and Restylane, though not necessarily in the standard spots around the mouth or on the cheeks. Burgess uses fillers for a procedure that’s referred to as “skin boosting” in Europe: She loads a small device, like the 20-rrtlcroneedle Aqua.gold, with hyaluronic acid, then “stamps” the filler superficially all over the face for subdued plumping and

Take neuromodulators, like Botox, Dysport, and Xeorrtln, which immobilize muscle movement Rumors that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Eiden has had Botox have prompted some to criticize him for looking”over-relaxed” or even “almost paralyzed;’ says Cheryl Burgess, MD, a dermatologist who prac­tices in Washington, DC. “The average person wants to see empathy.They want to see reactions, natural facial expressions.” To achieve that look, Burgess says she tends to use a lighter hand with neu­romodulators on politicians than she does with other patients. And now that most peo­ple are wearing masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, she’s tweaked her methods slightly, smoothing lines on the forehead without immobilizing the muscles around the eyes. ”No one can see your mouth right now, so you want to keep those crow’s-feet to show you’re smiling,” she explains.

Research shows that conveying emotion is especially important for female political candi­dates, says Kerri Johnson, PhD, a communi­cation and psychology professor at UCLA. In her research, Johnson has found that voters generally respond more favorably to female candidates who align with their expectations of what a woman should look like. And, frus­tratingly, anger is still considered inconsistent with fertility, according to Johnson. “Any woman I’ve ever talked to has had somebody come up to her and say, ‘Smile: Men don’t get that;’ she says, acknowledging the sexism. ‘ ”People often said that Hillary Clinton didn’t smile enough-that she looked angry”.

Perhaps that’s also why some government officials get cosmetic treatments to reduce redness. Burgess andAlster say they’ve inject­ ed prominent patients with diluted amounts of neuromodulators to reduce the reactivity of blood vessels, so they don’t look as flushed. The technique-which involves injecting rrtl­ crodoses of the drug into the superficial layers of the skin in a grid-like pattern- is considered an off-label use.

Keaney says Botox can help with sweating, too:It is approved for use on the underarms of patients with severe primary hyperhidrosis, a condition that causes excessive perspiration. But doctors often inject small amounts into the foreheads and scalps of their patients in politics for the same effect “They want to look calm, cool, collected;’ Keaney says.

Injectable fillers are also popular on the Hill. Burgess likes Sculptra for those in the public eye because it’s made with poly-L-lactic acid, which plumps the skin and stimulates collagen over time. She says her high-profile patients like the subtle effects, which last two to three years.