RALEIGH, N.C. — From plastic surgery to cosmetic dentistry, more and more people are choosing to spruce themselves up as they reach middle age. A Raleigh woman is undergoing such a transformation. So far, she likes what she sees.
It has been three weeks since 53-year-old Cheryl Hardy underwent extensive plastic surgery that included liposuction, a face lift and brow lift.
It was a seven-hour, $10,000 operation Hardy hopes will help give her a new lease on life -- physically and emotionally.
Nearly 10 years after her husband's suicide, she feels it is finally time to move on.
"It was a real sudden, unexpected death and it took a while to come to terms with that," Hardy said.
She finds her face heals much faster than her heart. After two days, the bandages come off. A week later, Dr. Roger Russell removes most of the sutures and staples.
The stitches along her hairline are under the skin and do not even show. Hardy is a little bruised, but very pleased.
"I feel that I can stand up straight and wear those turtleneck shirts again," she said.
Hardy is not done yet.
Her next stop is to cosmetic dentist Dr. Jim Harold. Hardy is hoping he can improve her teeth and her self-confidence in her career as a speech therapist.
"I'm very close to people. It's a one to one situation and I'm pointing to my mouth and I'm pointing to my teeth. I'd like them to be really perfect," Hardy said.
Harold begins by removing her old, dingy crowns. Then, Hardy's teeth and gums are prepared for the temporary porcelain veneers she will wear until permanent ones come in.
Hardy's dental work is not cheap. It will cost $20,000 with little or none of it covered by insurance.
It is also not a quick procedure. Hardy will spend four hours in the dentist's chair.
"It's a very meticulous process. It has to be very exacting in order for the materials to work and for the final result to be as beautiful as it can be," Harold said.
A blue light hardens the veneers and seals them. With the novocaine, it is tough to smile, but Hardy is clearly happy with the progress she has made.
In a few weeks, Hardy will get her permanent veneers put in. She will also have collagen lip injections and facial treatments.
She hopes to have her makeover complete by Jan. 6 -- the 10th anniversary of her husband's death.