Is Vocal Surgery Salvation for Aging Singers?

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Is Vocal Surgery Salvation for Aging Singers?
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It's no secret that modern medicine works wonders. Today the possibilities of plastic surgery are unlimited. Doctors will help you get rid of wrinkles, change the shape of your nose, kill the extra body fat, change the shape of your eyes and even…make your voice sound younger. The so-called «vocal surgery» is gaining popularity in the United States and Europe.

Older adults tend to experience some muscle atrophy as they often do not speak as much and as dynamically when they’re in their 70s and 80s as they did in their 20s and 30s. Vocal cords wear out with age just like everything else in the body. They lose elasticity and weaken, which leads to the loss of sonority and lowers the tone of the voice. Phoniatrist can help to solve various problems related to voice box. But, unfortunately, at a certain age even the doctors are powerless. However, American Phoniatrists in collaboration with the plastic surgeons were able to find a way to deal with voice changes, primarily associated with endocrine, morphological, and neuromuscular changes in human body. Laryngoplasty – also known as a voice lift of voice augmentation — is a surgical procedure that combats age-related changes in the voice box by tightening the vocal cords.

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This option is a relatively new one to the realm of cosmetic procedures. In fact, the term “voice lift” was first coined in a 2004 interview on the subject by the Professor and Chair of Otolaryngology at Drexel University of Medicine, Dr. Robert Thayer Sataloff — one of the leading doctors and researchers in the vocal rejuvenation sphere. There are several different procedures that can be used to strengthen weak or injured voices. The insertion of the implant or collagen filler through an incision in the neck or the insertion of fat. Both procedures recover the former features of vocal chords. Recovery usually takes days to weeks (depending on which procedure). Any operation can be associated with complications. Rarely the voice can be made worse. The most likely complication is that the voice improvement is not quite sufficient or that it does not hold up completely over time. When this problem occurs, it usually can be corrected easily by "fine tuning" through additional injections or surgical adjustment of the implants. However, most of the time, satisfactory results are achieved the first time.

Needless to say, "rejuvenation" of the voice is expensive. Despite the significant price this operation is in great demand among international stars and politicians.

Unfortunately, most celebrities don't admit having this procedure. But some sources say that the Russian opera diva Anna Netrebko had a voice lift done too.

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32 comments sorted by best / new / date

    maxxxkolo
    Wow UG. I am impressed. An actual article! The procedure sounds quite useful for a lot of vocalists loosing those high notes. I wonder if it could help smokers too?
    Zero_Sound
    Is there time for Robert Plant to get this done before their show??
    fromzero
    I swear... Every time I read an article and have a thought it's already posted here. Does this mean I'm unoriginal?
    Joeseye
    The way I see it, the voice is an instrument and - much like the transition from the acoustic to electric guitar - deserves every right to be experimented on and maybe even improved. Not only could it prolong the career of a skilled and entertaining vocalist, but also provide a new avenue for new kinds of music maybe. People are so quick to shun technological advancements as opposed to embracing them.
    Vampire_State
    So is this what Kyo had done? Because his voice was completely shredded in 2007-2013, then he came back out sounding like this
    fromzero
    Seem them in 06 a few times when I was stalking deftones and I had no idea that they were this good. They're officially the loudest band I've ever seen. You could feel the bass in your intestines.
    Vampire_State
    I saw them in 2015, they're still loud as hell, but not so brickwalled now. They basically went full prog-metal in 2007 with Uroboros, which is also the album that killed Kyo's voice for a while, since then they've progressed into releasing a near-holy trinity of japanese prog-metal in Urorboros, Dum Spiro Spero and Arche. But yeah, pretty sure this is what did his voice in for a while
    Glass_Ceiling
    I'm pretty sure Axl did it. If that's really the result of a vocal surgery then I guess it can only be a good thing. It's a win win situation, for the singer and for the fans. People have no problem doing dental surgery, they don't act like 'I accept aging'. They just repair their teeth when it starts falling apart with age.
    friebal
    I honestly hope, you're right. Though being a singer myself, I can imagine Axl willingly sang the way he sang before his voice "come back". It's all about vocal technique, trust me. We have heard so many stories about Axl, specially how moody he can be. I just don't know. Still, I haven't said the voice is not aging, it certainly does. But whether Axl had this surgery or not, I don't know, maybe his vocal cords were not in good shape, or he did not practiced for a while...
    Glass_Ceiling
    I don't know either, only a guess. But what he did lately was really impressive. He sounds like in the appetite era and it's even more impressive because he had to sing some tough stuff with ACDC
    hudsonstradlin
    Just shut the fuck up and accept aging as part of the human condition.
    zwArthurtje
    Why would you, if you don't have to? Why not prolong your enjoyment when you have the means to do it?
    kus-kus
    Just accept nature as it is, no doctor, no dentist, no bars no electronic instruments or recording devises and especially no electricity or internet, i think fire is a bit over the line as well..
    deggs37
    Could you imagine how far behind we would be as a society if we all thought like hudsonstradlin. Don't be like hudsonstradlin.
    mobidguitar
    No thanks. Some people just don't want to accept being old. Get over it.
    Joeseye
    What if it affects their careers?
    mobidguitar
    Then it would be like any other career where you overuse some part of your body until it fails. Man, if you think singing is a hard career vs any other, you are mistaken.
    Glass_Ceiling
    And what do you do once you overused some body parts ? 1 - suffer in silence 2 - go for unemployment 3 - go to a doctor, see if something can be done. You'd be stupid to go for 1 and 2 if 3 can be an option.
    mobidguitar
    You mean like a NHL hockey player that gets smashed his first year, and can't work for the rest of his life? Thats when you tell him... You should've had something else to fall back on. Literally. You can't expect to go through life having only one talent in hopes that it will actually work the way you imaginged for the next 60 years. Be good at many things.
    Gibletsg
    That's a terrible argument. Professional athletes, hockey players included, are constantly getting surgeries to repair injuries so that they can stay competitive longer. If modern medicine gives a singer the option to do what they love longer and people still want to hear them perform, why not take advantage of it?
    mobidguitar
    No, they're getting surgeries because they're 22 years old and have 20 more years to play.  Ozzy (or anyone his age) for example should just embrace the fact that they got more out of their vocal chords than most other humans combined. No need turn your body into a medical experiment just to get a couple more shows in. Nothing can ever go wrong with an experimental vocal chord procedure on a 70 year old man..... impossible...
    howyjr
    Nice to see a real article on here. Pity about the quality of the writing and editing.
    rcanders
    McCartney had to have something done. If you listen to him 10-15-20 years ago he didn't sound as good as now. he sounded like phlegm or something was in his throat. I'm not saying he is Wings or Beatles voice but a lot better.
    HugoPan
    I think it's valid in case of some serious damage or unnatural causes.
    ng117
    I think a lot of people commenting are confusing this surgery with removing vocal nodules. Nodules form after abusing the voice through excessive use, harsh live environments and lifestyle choices(smoking, drugs etc). Not the natural aging of the voice.