Celebs who destroyed their careers with plastic surgery

Usually a makeover is a good thing — a new look often makes a person feel more confident, attractive, or just reinvented. However, makeovers can make some people unrecognizable, and that can pose a problem — especially in Hollywood, where a big part of a celebrity's relevance (and paycheck) stems from having a famous face. Whether that mug is known for its beauty or for its alleged flaws — its the face that fans know and love. (Seriously, think of how bummed you'd be if Will Smith got his ears pinned, Madonna got her front teeth bonded, or Adrien Brody got a nose job.)

The following celebrities looked a whole lot different after a makeover. Whether you consider the new look subjectively worse or superficially better, one thing is clear — these stars lost all the character that made them unique, thereby losing what made them stand out to audiences and agents alike.

Let's take a closer look at the famous faces whose careers suffered major downturns after getting extreme makeovers. 

Jennifer Grey

Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey stood out in the 1980s because of her distinctive (and adorable!) nose. When she went under the knife in 1989, her career shrunk along with her proboscis. It was such a dramatic difference that even close friends didn't recognize her. 

Grey used the gossip surrounding her new face as an ongoing gag in a 1999 sitcom, It's Like, You Know, in which she played herself. "I said, 'Let's talk about all the things that people say behind my back,'" she told Newsweek of the series. "Let's let me say them, you know? Let's have fun with the absurdity that is my life." Regarding all the speculation about her nose job, she said, "I might not have to deal with it anymore. Every interview I do just becomes anatomy of a nose."

Unfortunately, the show didn't take off, and Grey still regrets the procedure. "I went into the ­operating room a celebrity and came out anonymous," she lamented to The Mirror in 2012. "It was the nose job from hell. I'll always be this once-famous actress nobody ­recognizes because of a nose job."

Tara Reid

Tara Reid got her big break in The Big Lebowski, which she parlayed into becoming a late '90s-early 2000s cinema staple, with starring and supporting roles in American Pie (1999) and its sequels, as well as Josie and the Pussycats and Van Wilder.

Unfortunately for Reid, when she went under the knife in 2004 for breast implants and liposuction, it had a negative impact on her career as well as her self-esteem, leaving her with rippled skin on her abdomen from the lipo and deformed nipples from her breast augmentation.

"My stomach became the most ripply, bulgy thing," she told CBS News. "I had a hernia, this huge bump next to my belly button. As a result, I couldn't wear a bikini. I lost a lot of work."

Reid reportedly got her procedures reversed in 2006, but the damage to her career made her Sharknado-bound. She told People in 2008, "In my American Pie days, everyone was kissing my butt. I didn't realize how good I had it." She added, "I'm scared about getting surgery ever again. It's like surviving a plane crash and getting on a plane again. [My stomach scars] are my battle wounds; boom, that's it."

Lisa Rinna

Lisa Rinna became virtually unrecognizable after lip fillers gone wrong in the mid-'80s.

She told Hoda Kotb on the Today show in 2013 (via Us Weekly), "Here's the story: 25 years ago, I had my lips injected with silicone. Stupid thing to do at 24. I saw Beaches. I did it with my best girlfriend, so she and I go and we get our lips done. Fine. I have it like that for my whole career, right? So then cut to a couple of years ago, I have a doctor remove as much as they possibly can because it got to the point where they were yucky. They get hard. It's gross. They are now whatever that was after they took out as much of the silicone as they could."

Many speculated that Rinna's puffy pout cost her a lot of work in Hollywood; she's been relegated to small television roles for the bulk of her career and is now known primarily for her reality TV role on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

She told Momlogic.com (via The Huffington Post), "When you change your face, you don't look like yourself. Looking fresher is one thing. I look like a freak! I always said I wouldn't change my face, but I did it."

She reportedly got so tired of the scrutiny surrounding her mouth that she went under the knife again in 2016 to shrink her upper lip. "My lips started to define who I am," she told People. "That bothered me."

Mickey Rourke

Mickey Rourke took a respite from acting in the early 1990s to pursue a boxing career. He won six out of six matches but paid a steep price with his once devastatingly handsome face. He underwent a series of plastic surgeries to try to correct the results of his injuries, but the outcome hurt his prospects in Hollywood.

"Most of it was to mend the mess of my face because of the boxing, but I went to the wrong guy to put my face back together," he told the Daily Mail. "I had my nose broken twice. I had five operations on my nose and one on a smashed cheekbone. "I had to have cartilage taken from my ear to rebuild my nose and a couple of operations to scrape out the cartilage because the scar tissue wasn't healing properly."

Rourke finally got most of the bad work reversed, or at least minimized, and his career has since picked up, with roles in Sin City, Iron Man 2, The Expendables, and The Wrestler (for which he was nominated for a best actor Oscar in 2008.)

Still, Rourke isn't done going under the knife: In October 2017, he revealed on Instagram that he underwent yet another nose job to correct prior work, remarking, "Now I am pretty again."

​Renée Zellweger

Renée Zellweger, who won an Oscar for best supporting actress in Cold Mountain, released a total of zero movies from 2010 until 2016, and she flew under the radar with almost no public appearances during that period. When the actress surfaced in 2014 after four years out of the spotlight, the press went wild over her seemingly altered face.

Plastic surgeon Dr. Sheila Nazarian, who hasn't treated Zellweger, speculated to Radar Online, "Renée looks like she has had upper eyelid surgery and subsequent Botox to her forehead. She has also had cheek filler to lift her mid-face. With the more chiseled appearance of her lower face, she may have had fat pad removal as well."

Fellow surgeon Dr. Susan Evans told Radar Online that it looks like Zellweger also may have had a nose job, noting, "Her nose is more narrow and she decreased the size of the bulb on her nose … Renée also received cheek implants rather than fillers and changed the overall contours of her face."

When Zellweger finally did star in a project again — 2016's Bridget Jones's Baby – the outcome was a success. More work has followed, but it appears her blockbuster days are numbered, if not over.

For what it's worth, Zellweger carefully wrote in The Huffington Post: "Not that it's anyone's business, but I did not make a decision to alter my face and have surgery on my eyes."

Ashlee Simpson

Let's be clear: The biggest reason behind the decline of Ashlee Simpson's career was being busted lip syncing on Saturday Night Live in 2004, prompting the hoedown that went down in history. The second biggest reason is likely the fact that her subsequent live performances were so lackluster that she got booed by entire stadiums.

However, the third biggest reason was quite possibly her suddenly smaller nose. In July 2006, Simpson appeared on the cover of Marie Claire (via the Los Angeles Times) preaching self-acceptance. "Everyone is made differently, and that's what makes us beautiful and unique," she told the mag. "I want girls to look in the mirror and feel confident."

It's a great message, except soon after the issue hit newsstands, she was spotted with a brand new nose. Hypocritical much?

Marie Claire editor Joanna Coles revealed that the mag received thousands of letters about Simpson not practicing what she preaches. The publication even published a note saying (via MTV News), "We're dazed and confused — and disappointed — by her choice, too."

Lara Flynn Boyle

Lara Flynn Boyle was a total heartthrob on Twin Peaks from 1990 to 1991, and she was just as stunning during her tenure on The Practice from 1997 to 2003. However, around the early 2000s, her lips began to look noticeably larger.

By 2006, after Las Vegas was cancelled, her work began dwindling. The erstwhile TV A-lister was relegated to TV movies and guest roles. The actress appeared in two TV movies and one short in 2006, two low-budget projects in 2007, one episode of Law & Order in 2008, two low-budget projects in 2009, and one low-budget film each in 2011, 2013 and 2014.

That may well be because the brunette beauty has become almost unrecognizable, but Boyle's struggles may actually be a symptom of a larger problem in Hollywood. She told The Mail On Sunday (via The Sydney Morning Herald), "I know I may be running out of time. There are just not that many roles for older women. On a vanity level, I am not looking forward to aging at all — I think I look pretty good now."

What's heartbreaking about that statement? When Boyle said she felt like she was "running out of time," she was only 32 years old.

Lil' Kim

Lil' Kim was once rap's Queen Bee, going platinum with Hard Core and winning a Grammy for her "Lady Marmalade" verse. Unfortunately, the pint-sized hip-hop powerhouse hasn't had a hit since her fourth album, The Naked Truth, spawned one top 40 single in 2005 with "Lighter's Up."

While part of that could certainly be due to the changing nature of the music industry (as well as her feud with Nicki Minaj), it's almost indisputable that part of the reason the Queen has been dethroned is due to her drastically different appearance. 

In a 2005 interview, Kim did admit to getting a nose job, then to getting another rhinoplasty after suffering a broken nose at the hands of an abusive ex-boyfriend, but she denied getting any other work done. 

Experts, however, disagree. "It's clear that there has been some skin bleaching. She's probably used chemicals, which contain very high doses of acids, on her face, combined with high-acid creams to lighten her skin," plastic surgeon Dr. Jennifer Levine, who hasn't treated Lil' Kim, told Us Weekly. "She could have had Botox injections under the jaw for a more chiseled look. And in case it's not obvious, Kim probably had filler injected into her cheeks."

Meg Ryan

Meg Ryan was America's sweetheart, but in 2003, she looked like a different person — and took a lot of heat for it. That, combined with the dissolution of her marriage to Dennis Quaid (which was rumored to be the result of her affair with Russell Crowe) and taking on roles incongruent with her "girl next door" image, damaged her career.

Dr. Mark Youssef, a plastic surgeon who hasn't treated Ryan, told Hollywood Life, "The most obvious thing that she's had done is some sort of filler or fat transfer to her cheek … When she smiles, all of that filler moves up and makes her eyes look smaller. The reason she looks masculine is because of the placement of the volume in her cheeks."

He continued, "The tip [of her nose] looks more pinched, so it's very possible that she had some sort of rhinoplasty. There's definitely volume in her lips as well … She's had too much Botox in the forehead … The surgery that most drastically changes the shape of the face is a facelift … It's possible because the shape of her face has changed so much. The texture of her face also looks different. It looks like she could have had some sort of laser skin resurfacing procedure."

The media attention didn't help. "All of the tabloid attention really shook her up," a source told People. "She was deeply troubled by it. It contributed to her stepping away [from Hollywood]."

Melanie Griffith

Melanie Griffith's career peaked in 1988 with her Oscar nomination for Working Girl. Unfortunately, she started going under the knife circa 1995, according to the Daily Mail, supposedly opting for procedures to her lips and possibly a facelift. The results did not restore her natural beauty.

When Porter magazine (via E! News) asked Griffith if she realized how much her surgeries impacted her negatively in Hollywood, she responded candidly. "No, I didn't [realize] until people started saying, 'Oh my god, what has she done?'" she said. "I was so hurt. I went to a different doctor, and he started dissolving all of this s**t that this other woman doctor had put in. Hopefully, I look more normal now."

Alas, the hyper-critical hordes of social media users have not been kind. "Most people are telling me I look horrible," she told Us Weekly in 2012. "The tweets I get are are really nasty." 

​Nikki Cox

Nikki Cox was one of the hottest women in Hollywood in the 1990s, starring in Unhappily Ever After and Norm, followed by her own sitcom, Nikki, from 2000 to 2002, then in Las Vegas from 2003 to 2007. However, her appearance has changed dramatically in recent years — and her work has dried up. She's done primarily voice-over work since 2009.

Plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Fiorillo told Radar Online, "She definitely appears to have gotten some sort of filler in her cheeks and lips … Injectables always look best on a person when they are not noticeable, not when everyone can tell that the person had work done."

Despite the alleged extreme makeover, Dr. Fiorello doesn't believe Cox has done anything beyond fillers. "It may look like she has because it is overdone," he said, "but in my opinion I do not think she went under the knife."

Joan Van Ark

Former soap opera star Joan Van Ark, famous for Dallas and Knots Landing, has looked like a ghost of herself since the late 2000s. Since her run on The Young and the Restless ended in 2005, she's landed only bit parts — including, ironically, two episodes of Nip/Tuck, TV movies, and voice-over work.

"Her appearance seems to have drastically changed over the years. This may be due to quite a bit of plastic surgery … I suspect she's had at least one facelift, if not two, causing her neckline and jawline to look tight. Her forehead is smooth and wrinkle-free, a possible consequence of a brow lift and Botox," Dr. Anthony Youn, who hasn't treated Van Ark, told the National Enquirer. Youn said her skin "may be due to multiple chemical peels and laser treatments, along with injections of filler and Botox … Overall, I'd recommend she continue taking care of her skin but consider stopping invasive treatments … short of a little Botox here and there if she wanted."

Heidi Montag

In fairness to Heidi Montag, The Hills star had not yet established a huge career when the series ended, but getting 10 plastic surgeries in a single day in 2010 did not help her extend her 15 minutes of fame. (This was after she'd already gotten rhinoplasty and breast implants.)

She talked about her big day of surgeries with The View. Montag elected to undergo a brow lift, liposuction on her inner and outer thighs, fat injections in her cheekbones, scooping out her back, ear pinning, rhinoplasty, breast implants, and chin shaving — and she reportedly regrets it all.

"I really just went back in to get my nose reset and get a little bit larger of implants … and was talking to my doctor and he just kind of diagnosed me and was like, 'You should get a chin reduction, and an eyebrow lift,'" she said (via Radar Online). "So once he kind of told me everything that was wrong with me I felt really insecure, and he gave me a really great deal on it all."

Montag and her co-star husband, Spencer Pratt, went broke following all that work. "A majority of [the money] is gone," she said. "There's agents, lawyers, managers, taxes, hair and makeup … It just kind of caught up with us, and it was a lot and it was really overwhelming."

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson will always be the King of Pop, but toward the end of his life, he was more notorious for his bizarre appearance (and his scandals) than for his hits. Jackson is believed to have undergone numerous plastic surgeries, including several rhinoplasties, as well as skin bleaching.

However, in a tell-all with Martin Bashir, Jackson insisted, "I've had no plastic surgery on my face. Just my nose. It helped me breathe better so I can hit higher notes … [I've had] two [nose jobs] as I can remember … Yeah. Just two."

Plastic surgeon Pamela Lipkin speculated, "What I think has happened recently is that something in his nose, a graft, an implant, something has now come out through the skin, and that's why he's probably got a hole in his skin. … They're called nasal cripples. People whose nose has been done so many times that there is no nose really to breathe through. Michael Jackson has what we call an end-stage nose, a crucified nose, one that's beyond the point of no return."