LOS ANGELES — Before you spring for that face-lift, take another look in the mirror — the face looking back will only look about three years younger and be no more attractive than it was before surgery, according to a new study.

A team led by Dr. A. Joshua Zimm, of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, assembled a set of 49 patients who received “facial rejuvenation” from 2006 to 2010; they served as test subjects for the study, which was published Thursday in the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery. The patients, whose average age was 57, were photographed before and after their surgeries, sans makeup and jewelry.

A group of 50 “raters,” comprised of hospital workers and local laypersons, then examined the photographs. They were asked to guess the patient’s age and to rate his or her attractiveness on a scale of 1 to 10 (half-points were allowed). The raters were not told the objective of the study.

To ensure objectivity, each rater examined only a “before” or “after” picture of a given patient so that he or she was not biased by trying to evaluate the change due to surgery.

The raters underestimated the patients’ true ages, both before and after the surgery. But when the assessments were pooled, the plastic surgery patients looked only 3.1 years younger post-surgery, on average.

Though they looked a little younger, they did not get higher marks for attractiveness. Most people scored 4 to 6 both before and after their procedures, the researchers reported.

— Brad Balukjian, Los Angeles Times