Facial cosmetic surgery is designed to give patients a younger, fresher appearance, but you might be wondering: How far can it turn back the clock?

A study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) looked to detail how outsiders perceive a patient’s age both before and after surgery.

The result? Strangers perceived the ages of post-procedure patients at an average of seven years younger than before their surgery.

To conduct the study, the researchers randomly selected a pair of photographs for each of 60 patients — one taken before surgery, and the other six months after surgery. The photos were analyzed by strangers, who were asked to estimate the age of the subjects. The difference between the patient’s actual biological age and the raters’ estimate of the patient’s age — referred to as “perceived age difference” in the study — was compared before and after surgery.

The authors explained their reason for the study: “Although patients generally look more refreshed with facial features that are better defined and lifted to the proper position, it is difficult to definitively assert that they actually look more youthful.”

Patient photos were separated into three groups, according to which type(s) of cosmetic surgery they received: Group 1: facelift and neck lift (22 patients); Group 2: facelift, neck lift, and upper and lower blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) (17 patients); Group 3: facelift, neck lift, upper and lower blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), and forehead lift (21 patients).

Looking at the pre-surgery photographs, strangers estimated the patients’ ages to be 1.7 years younger than their actual biological age. Using the post-surgery pictures, ages were estimated to be 8.9 years younger than the patients’ actual ages. This means the surgery changed the patients’ perceived age difference by [...]