'It's obvious': Cosmetic surgeons say Biden had facelift before 2020 campaign

 | September 19, 2019 02:11 PM

T he scars on the sides of Democratic front-runner Joe Biden's face are the result of a facelift carried out before he launched his 2020 presidential campaign, according to leading cosmetic surgeons.

Up close, large vertical scars beginning at the top of the outside of his ear canal to roughly a half inch below the lobe can be seen on both sides of the former vice president's face. Separate horizontal scars stretch from behind his ear to his upper neck.

Those scars, according to cosmetic surgeons who reviewed photographs of Biden, are the consequence of a rhytidectomy — more commonly referred to as a facelift. In the procedure, the surgeons said, incisions were made next to Biden's ears and behind his skull, removing excess skin and creating a tightened complexion.

Joe Biden.

(AP/Joe Simonson/Washington Examiner)

"Oh he's had a facelift, there's no question," said leading New York-based cosmetic surgeon Dr. Arthur Perry, who is also an associate adjunct professor at Columbia Medical School.

He described the size of Biden's incisions as "incredible" and "fairly recent." He said: "The scars come too far from his ear. This is very hard to correct."

Perry noted that hair was protruding from Biden's tragus, the piece of cartilage on the outside of the ear. Typically, the skin of the patient's face is pulled to the edge of the tragus. In Biden's surgery, however, he said the skin was pulled too far up.

"You can see the beard hair on his ear," Perry said. "You normally don't have to shave that part of your ear. Joe does." He added that Biden would have to have the procedure repeated to correct the blemishes.

Joe Biden's scar.

(Joe Simonson/Washington Examiner)

"The problem with Biden's surgery is that it's obvious," said Dr. Cap Lesesne, a prominent New York cosmetic surgeon who has reportedly consulted with Hillary Clinton and news anchor Katie Couric.

"I've operated on several high-profile individuals, and I'd never let them look like that. Those are classic facelift scars. It's probably been over a year. I kind of feel bad for him. He should have had those scars removed. He's in trouble because he can't change it at this point and you expect him to look his best."

Lesesne described how public figures typically plan operations two to three years before they're expected to be in the full public glare so the doctor can assess what potential scars would look like under lighting. Men require different surgical techniques because they usually don't wear makeup except when on television.

Someone like Biden, Lesesne posited, would have several follow-up procedures to minimize the scarring. For whatever reason, it appears Biden neglected to do so.


For decades, it has been apparent that Biden has undergone other cosmetic procedures on his hair, teeth, and face. One leading cosmetic surgeon confirmed to the Washington Examiner that his practice had inserted hair plugs for Biden. As early as 1987, Biden was asked by a reporter whether he had undergone a hair transplant. He responded: "Guess. I've got to keep some mystery in my life."

Cosmetic surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Spiegel — who says he has celebrities fly in from around the world to his practice — gave a more generous assessment of Biden's facelift, although he said the scarring could "be improved" with more work.

"Given that he's been a politician for decades, there's nothing necessarily terrible. It could just be the way it healed," Spiegel said.

"More power to him. Anyone who thinks they can improve themselves through their appearance and go forward is great. Maybe he just doesn't feel as old as his appearance may look. This takes confidence, it's great. It's an outdated concept that only women get plastic surgery now. There's no stigma here."

The pinkness of the scarring, according to Spiegel, indicated that the procedure happened between six months and two years ago. He also noted that there was still excess skin, colloquially referred to as a "turkey neck," below Biden's chin, a fix usually made during a general facelift.

[ Also read: Dental malfunction? Concerns over Biden's teeth as he struggles to answer debate question]

Joe Biden.


Biden is not the first politician to have experienced scrutiny over whether cosmetic surgery had been performed. The Drudge Report website documented Clinton’s apparently shifting appearance during the 2016 campaign with nudge-nudge headlines such as “Fresh-Faced Hillary Glows at Lincoln Center.”

The anti-Clinton author Edward Klein wrote — though he provided no evidence — in his book Unlikeable, published in 2015, that a cosmetic surgeon had a “mini operating room in her home with the latest medical equipment.”

John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic nominee, has long been accused of having Botox injections. In recent years, he has repeatedly been compared to a Muppet. During his 2003 California gubernatorial campaign, Arnold Schwarzenegger deflected rumors he had had a facelift, quipping that people were mixing him up with Cher.

Speculation has also been circulating for years about Biden's potential contender in the general election, President Trump, and whether his signature blonde hair is natural. During divorce proceedings in 1990, Ivana Trump testified under oath that her former husband was in agony over an alleged scalp reduction surgery performed the year before.

The evidence of Biden's latest surgical procedure raises the question of whether it will be disclosed in his medical records, which he recently pledged to release before the Iowa caucuses.

Previously-released health records of Biden's show a number of minor health blips. Beyond undergoing multiple emergency surgeries to remove aneurysms, Biden has been prescribed drugs for an enlarged prostate and to lower his cholesterol. In 1996, doctors removed a benign polyp in his colon, and in 2013, he had his gallbladder removed.