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voice lift

noun [countable]

a surgical operation on the vocal cords, which is designed to make a person's voice sound younger



'… The latest luxury for aging baby boomers looking for the fountain of youth is the so-called "voice lift", designed to make patients' voices sound more youthful.'

abcNEWS.com 21st April 2004

There has been a flurry of interest in the American press during recent months regarding the concept of a voice lift, an essentially cosmetic surgical procedure which is intended to make an aging person's voice sound younger. Vocal cord surgery is nothing new, used primarily to assist people with injuries or suffering from diseases which damage the vocal cords. However, more recently there has been a surge of interest in the cosmetic application of such techniques on normal, but aging, vocal cords, particularly for the benefit of people who use their voices professionally, such as performers, politicians, lawyers, and even teachers.

there are many people who pay a great deal of money for face lifts, only to sound old as soon as they begin to speak

A recent comment made to reporters by Dr Robert Thayer Sataloff, of the Philadelphia Graduate Hospital, is thought to have acted as a catalyst for the purely cosmetic application of voice lifts. Dr Sataloff suggested that there are many people who pay a great deal of money for face lifts, only to sound old as soon as they begin to speak, with voice wobbles and tremors that make their real age apparent.

There are two kinds of voice-lift surgery. One uses injections of fat or collagen to plump up the vocal cords, making them move more easily, so that the voice sounds younger. The other uses neck incisions to insert implants which bring the vocal folds closer together. Experts warn, however, that using such procedures on normal vocal cords can carry risks. Vocal cords can become over-closed, which can make a voice sound worse than it did before surgery.

Background – voice lift

The term voice lift is, of course, coined by analogy with face lift, the non-technical name for rhytidectomy, a surgical procedure in which facial skin is pulled back and up to tighten it and remove wrinkles. Though recently attracting a great deal of media interest as a cosmetic procedure, statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons show that voice lifts are still relatively uncommon in comparison with procedures such as face lifts, only a few thousand being performed annually, compared with a total of nearly nine million other forms of cosmetic surgery.

Another recent neologism in the same field is the countable noun umbilicoplasty, or belly button lift, coined in 2002 to refer to cosmetic surgery on the belly button!

'For women in search of an "inny", an umbilicoplasty may be the answer. Britney Spears's belly-baring low-riders have made inward-facing navels the new accessory, and some women are even willing to go under the knife to get their own.' The Observer 26th October 2003

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 16th July 2004.

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

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