Low Concept

Plastic Arnold

We ask six cosmetic surgeons: What has Gov.-elect Schwarzenegger had done to his face?

1986: “The Way We Were”

While we truly care what California’s Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to do to fix California’s workers’-compensation crisis, we also can’t help wondering what he has done to fix his face. How does a 56-year-old man come by that granite forehead, that prowlike jaw?

When he’s been asked the plastic surgery question, Schwarzenegger has deflected it: “You are confusing me with Cher,” he’s said, or denied he’s had any. This is not good enough for Slate. Borrowing one of the National Enquirer’s great journalistic innovations, we surveyed six plastic surgeons for their professional opinion on what work Arnold has had done.

The results are shocking. Four of the six surgeons believe Schwarzenegger is untouched by a scalpel. Only two think he’s had his face worked over.

1994: Good genes or a surgical assist?

Dr. Darrick Antell, a Manhattan plastic surgeon who says patients have asked him for a Schwarzenegger-style chin, says he thinks Arnold is all natural. “If you have good underlying bone structure [like Schwarzenegger], you will age more gracefully. If you don’t have a good foundation, the soft tissue can slide off more easily,” he says, making Schwarzenegger’s jaw sound like an Army Corps of Engineers levee.  

Dr. Malcolm Lesavoy, a plastic surgeon in Encino, Calif., concurs with Antell. “He’s got good genes, and he’s taken care of himself,” he says. “If you look at pictures from when he was younger and now, I don’t think there’s any difference.” Giveaways of surgical rejuvenation include “scars that come down in front of the ear, behind the earlobe and into the hairline.” But he says Schwarzenegger’s short hair and sideburns dare you to look for scars—and Lesavoy doesn’t see any.  

Dr. Gerald Imber, a Manhattan plastic surgeon, sees more evidence Arnold hasn’t had anything done. “Under his chin he has two platysma bands that [are] typical of men in their 50s. [That] speaks for not having anything done to his neck.”

2000: Two out of six surgeons agree, he may have taken it on the chin

But Dr. Daniel Yamini, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, says it’s good genioplasty, not good genes, that is responsible for Schwarzenegger’s age-defying look. “He’s probably had something done to reduce the prominence of his chin. It’s a genioplasty. They can actually reduce the bone by cutting it or sanding it,” he says.

He speculates Schwarzenegger has had a full facelift, as well as an upper and lower “blepharoplasty” (or eyelift) and a “canthoplasty”—a surgery to the corner of the eyelid. He rates Arnold’s unknown (or possibly nonexistent) surgeon very high because the doctor avoided the dreaded girly eye syndrome. “It’s hard to maintain masculinity,” he says of eye surgery on men. Often, he says, the canthoplasty will feminize the eye by moving the corner too high. (Does this explain why Burt Reynolds looks like Lucy Liu’s father?)

Yamini suggests that plastic surgery gave Arnold an unfair electoral advantage. “If Gray Davis had done some good cosmetic surgery, he would have appealed to more people.”

Everyone agrees that Schwarzenegger’s wife, Maria Shriver, was crucial to his victory. So how real is she? Columnist Mark Steyn speculates she has the tight California-woman-of-a-certain-age look thanks to “excessive dieting, a cosmetic surgery too far, and over-tanning.” 

2003: A sag-free legacy

But the expert docs disagree. They say she’s sag-free because of a legacy that came over on the boat: that anvil Kennedy chin. Says Dr. Imber, “She’s got big cheekbones and a big chin. They’re good for aging and good looks. Everything drapes wonderfully.”

Just because Arnold and Maria have not cut their faces doesn’t mean they’re opposed to all assistance. There’s plenty of speculation in the press that Arnold is now pumping Botox vials, and almost our entire panel agreed that both Arnold and Maria could be using that needle. However, as they pointed out, this is not cosmetic surgery. It is barely considered to be a cosmetic procedure. In certain parts of Los Angeles, Botox is now just a part of good grooming, like brushing your teeth. But Botox could be a touchy subject for the Schwarzenegger-Shriver household.

Unless Arnold brushes with Clorox, he has also enhanced his smile. “My guess is he’s had his teeth bleached,” says Dr. Lana Rozenberg, a cosmetic dentist in Manhattan. But the teeth themselves are his, she guesses. For one thing, he has a diastema, or gap, in his front teeth. For another he has a “reverse smile,” she says, explaining that his front teeth are shorter than his canines, the pointy wolflike teeth third from the front. “Long canines are stronger and more masculine,” says Rozenberg. And a little more menacing. Which makes them unusual for a movie star but probably useful for a politician.