Maggie Van Ostrand
support for Olympic speedskaters, singing along with the car radio,
and lifting your voice in the local church's chorale are ways people
express themselves vocally. However, lifting your voice can also mean
something quite different.
In the past, doctors have mostly performed vocal cord surgery on people
with vocal injuries but today, doctors are offering cosmetic surgery
on vocal cords for people who want to sound as young as they look.
It's probably the only area Joan Rivers hasn't yet lifted.
It would be nice to sound like Streisand but doctors won't guarantee
that kind of colossal improvement. They can only make you sound the
same as you did when you were younger.
a mere $17,500 as the crow's feet fly, doctors will insert implants
through an incision in the neck, or they might opt to inject fat or
collagen to plump your cords up. In some cases, they'd find plenty
of fat to the rear and if they used it, we could moon our friends
just by opening our mouth.
"After resting for a couple of weeks, the patient can speak in a firmer
tone," reports The London Times. It's fair to assume patients resting
that long will be somehow prevented from seeing the doctor, facility,
and anesthesiologist statements or they'd ruin the operation by howling
in pain, not from the surgery, but from the bills.
inform that, as we age, our outer body begins to sag, and our vocal
chords stiffen. We won't dignify the word "sag" with a comment as
the very thought of "sag" is too depressing to contemplate. As to
"stiffen," for those of us over 50, it's possible that the last stiff
thing we'll see is a wind sock in a hurricane.
They say that heavy usage of the voice takes its toll over the years,
so it's fair to assume women are more susceptible to this voice-aging
thing than men, since we always seem to get the last word in, no matter
Sports fans probably deal with voice problems as well what with all
that screaming at games, especially since it's still a legal emotional
outlet. Screaming seems to be all that's left to us now that we're
no longer permitted to punch out the lights of the referees.
Maybe the doctors are right if they suggest this type of surgery.
Why pay a plastic surgeon a fortune to get a nose like Halle Berry's,
lips like Angelina Jolie's, and have as much fat sucked off your hips
as Anna Nicole, if father time assigns you a voice like Harvey Fierstein?
"You can guess a person's age by the sound of his voice," says New
York M.D. David Marx. Johnny Cochran would've had a field day in court
with that statement, for those who recall the O.J. Simpson trial prosecutor's
gaffe over voice identification.
"Over time, air leaks through a gap in the vocal cords and what a
voice lift does is narrow the gap," says Dr. Marx. Singing, smoking
and just day-to-day speaking can make vocal cords less limber and
speech less recognizable. So can a few stiff drinks.
To produce sound, the vocal cords must meet each other at a rate of
between 120 and 220 times a minute, and that high level of usage takes
its toll. Unlike skin, the surface of vocal cords doesn't sag as we
age - it gets stiffer.
It appears that what we really yearn for are stiff bodies and sagging
vocal cords, and the last thing we want is the reverse.
In discussing the voice lift, Dr Robert Thayer Sataloff, of the ear,
nose and throat department of Philadelphia's Graduate Hospital, said,
"If someone can take the tremor out of your voice, that would be of
more value for you."
wrong with a little tremor, maybe not as pronounced as Katharine Hepburn's
was, but you can tell a lot by a tremor. Emotion detection, for instance.
If unemotional Scott Peterson could've managed a tremor for the jury,
he might be free today. And what about pre-pubescent boys with a vocal
squeak that alerts parents to impending manhood? Without that, we
could still be babying our sons when they're 17.
On the other hand, the sound of age in our vocal cords will become
unimportant, if we take the time to make the words we say uplifting.
Copyright Maggie Van Ostrand
"A Balloon In Cactus"
ebruary 14, 2006 column