Celebs Reveal The Secrets Behind Their Changing Looks Over The Years

We all have something that niggles at our vanity as we brush our teeth in the mirror at night. Celebrities are no different. The problem for the rich and famous, though, is we expect something entirely unfair. Your favorite star is, in the classical sense, immortal, or at least immortalized; frozen in time in that movie or music video — or now Tiktok skit — you grew up on. That piece of culture changed your life, and you want its star to remain frozen, indefinitely matching your mind's eye, like a mosquito in one of those jars of amber from Jurassic Park. Lest we admit our own lives are winnowing away too. 

Celebrities know they're being asked the impossible. Still, they seek to please. And in the past, options were few. Stars had to seek out actual surgeons and risk life and limb under general anesthesia — not to mention the danger of permanent disfigurement — to nip, tuck, suck and otherwise vacuum up those messy sands of time.

These days fillers, botox, thread lifts, and all manner of fat-blasting, skin smoothing, and collagen-building lasers are all the rage. These procedures are less invasive, less permanent, and far less stigmatized, so stars are getting much more candid. Simultaneously, these augmentations are no less dramatic. They're also relatively cheap and involve little recovery time, so celebrities are embracing bodily augmentation like never before. But of course, results may vary. These stars have admitted the secrets behind their dramatically changing looks.

Courteney Cox twice turns back time

Courteney Cox isn't just one of the friendly faces of Friends. If you had a suspicious mole any time in the 2000s and walked into any dermatologist's office, you were likely greeted with her creaseless visage — as a spokesperson for the high-end skincare product, Kinerase.

But that was back when she was Courteney Cox Arquette. Over the next decade, she began reaching for something stronger. "Things are going to change. Everything's going to drop. I was trying to make it not drop," she told NewBeauty in 2017 about her decision to get dermal fillers injected in her face. Cosmetic fillers are all the rage. They come in many forms but essentially replace facial volume lost from age and can further sculpt and enhance features, like those much-desired in Hollywood — high cheekbones.

However, Cox says the treatment backfired and "made [her] look fake." She added, "You need movement in your face, especially if you have thin skin, like I do. Those aren't wrinkles — they're smile lines. I've had to learn to embrace movement and realize that fillers are not my friend." Cox says she didn't realize she was starting to look odd because the process is "gradual." Then, suddenly, "Oh sh*t. This doesn't look right." The star claims she's since had all her fillers dissolved. This is possible, sometimes, with further injections. "I feel better because I look like myself. I think that I now look more like the person that I was."

Dolly Parton is always dolled up

Dolly Parton famously says of her enhanced looks, "It costs a lot of money to look this cheap" (via Evening Standard).

Now in her mid 70's, the singer-songwriter first modeled her look on a sex worker in her hometown, according to The Guardian. She's sort of an exaggeration of femininity, like a method acting drag queen. Or, as she says, "I may look fake but I'm real where it counts." Her extreme look also springs from a tough (and untrue) self-critique. "I'm not a natural beauty, but I can enhance it," she told CBS Sunday Morning. "Whatever it takes, I do. I try to make the most of everything." That includes a 40 DD breast augmentation on her 5'0" frame — so slight she says she wears high heels in the house just to reach her shelves.

"If something is bagging, sagging or dragging, I'll tuck it, suck it or pluck it," she told The Guardian in 2011. Parton even sleeps in her makeup, "I clean my face in the mornings. You never know if you're going to wreck the bus, you never know if you're going to be somewhere in a hotel and there's going to be a fire," she dished to The New York Times in 2019. And she's not stopping any time soon, planning on keeping her face taut into her 90s, "I'll look as young as my plastic surgeons will allow me," she told Oprah Winfrey (via People) in 2020.

Cardi B's illegal surgery goes okurrr

Cardi B keeps it real. In 2017, Cardi said of her stripper-days that she always thought she had a "nice body" but, "I was never comfortable with my boobs," she told Vlad TV. The rapper revealed she'd wanted breast implants since age 16, but stripping made it a "necessity." Next, she says, stripping in "urban clubs" made her feel she wasn't "thick enough" and "now I gotta get my a** done."

Overall, Cardi B has said stripping made her insecure because someone else was always "mak[ing] more money." So after the boobs, "I was desperate to have a bigger a**." That's when Cardi admits she got black market butt injections from "this lady" in Queens.

Shockingly, the procedure was a success. But ironically, post-fame, when Cardi could afford the best, she pulled out of a concert in 2019 due to complications from liposuction — and yet another breast augmentation, according to TMZ. Days earlier she had performed, against the doctor's advice, and it caught up to her. Cardi took to her Instagram (via People) to show off a serious side effect, "Look how swollen my feet get every time I take a plane, imagine my body. Reasons why doctors told me to chill on shows," But Cardi stood by her decision, adding, "no matter how much I work out, [it's] not going to get fixed. Like my boobs ... they're not going to lift themselves. So yeah, I have to get f***ing surgery."

Chrissy Teigen's miraculous bags of fat

It's perhaps unexpected for a supermodel like Chrissy Teigen to be such a thing on Twitter — given it's not really a visual medium. But like Cardi B, it speaks to how honest Teigen is with her followers.

In 2017 the star admitted to getting fat vacuumed from a trouble spot. "I had an armpit sucked out, which was one of the best things. It's a big secret, but I don't care," she told Refinery29. Teigen said she got the procedure in 2008, and it made her feel better in dresses. But like almost all cosmetic procedures, it's not a one and done situation. The fat eventually came back, "so now I've gotta pay for [liposuction] again," the model admitted while feeling conflicted. "I felt more confident. It was the dumbest, stupidest thing I've ever done. The dumbest, but I like it, whatever. I have no regrets, honestly."

In 2020 Teigen took to Twitter and shared a video of herself getting a Coronavirus test — which was apparently controversial because the internet is an unending pit of despair. In response, Teigen revealed she was getting tested because she had an upcoming surgery. "I'm getting my boobs out," she admitted on Instagram. "They've been great to me for many years but I'm just over it ... I'll still have boobs, they'll just be pure fat. Which is all a tit is in the first place. A dumb, miraculous bag of fat."

Simon Cowell judges himself

The king of mean, former American Idol judge, Simon Cowell, is also not afraid to take a critical look at himself. In 2018 the music mogul admitted to getting a "21st century facelift" — specifically a procedure called a "Silhouette Soft Lift," according to The Sun. What makes these procedures new is that they're not permanent, and don't involve any knives. Generally called a "thread lift," the surgeon uses a long flexible needle, called a cannula, and essentially runs a barbed string through the sagging areas. The thread is then cinched up, pulling the face in any direction the surgeon desires, and boom, facelifted.

The threads are generally biodegradable, made of materials already found in the body, and dissolve over time, so eventually, you go back to your normal droopy self. "There's lots of things you can do now," Cowell explained. "You don't just have to stuff your face with filler and Botox. It hurts like hell ..."

Cowell also knows from Botox. In 2019 the star admitted he and fellow Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda Holden really overdid it on the paralytic neurotoxins, according to the Mirror. "I love watching 'the Botox years,'" he dubbed them. "All of us are like, 'Christ, we had a lot that year. Not so much that year... maybe a bit too much that year.'" Cowell says watching old clips made him realize, "certain years it was like, 'Wow,' I don't know what was going on.'"

Ariel Winter undercuts her underboob

Modern Family wouldn't be much without its postmodern daughter, Alex, played by Ariel Winter, who in real life became something of a social media sensation for her curvaceous figure. Seemingly as soon as the star turned 18, every headline had Winter "rocking" this or that chesty ensemble: a leggy dress; a thong bikini; a memorial day bikini! Then there was the usual underboob, side boob, boobs this, boobs that!

Most of these posts link back to Winter's own racy Instagram — and her following hasn't suffered for it. But it was the star herself who made boobs her top priority when she underwent a breast reduction in 2015, at only 17. "I remember being in my sister's wedding and being so flat and thinking, I just wish I would grow boobs!' and then overnight I did. But then they kept growing and growing and growing and it didn't seem like they were going to stop," the actress told Glamour

Winter says her chest expanded to an uncomfortable size F. "I was 15 years old ... It's like, How do you navigate that?'" She began experiencing severe back pain she couldn't manage, and after a consultation, got a surgical reduction down to a manageable 34 D. Winter says people finally started looking her in the eye and her confidence soared. In 2016, she even showed off her scars on a red carpet, tweeting, "They are part of me and I'm not ashamed of them at all."

Britney Spears' conservatorship of her face

The "Free Britney" movement hit a snag in 2020 when an LA court denied Britney Spears' request to remove her father from her conservatorship, according to NBC News. The man who brought the pop star into the world, James Spears, has also been in charge of his daughter's millions since 2008, following her very public meltdown in 2007.

The singer may not have control of her financial assets but is certainly free to augment others. Britney admitted in 2013 she gets lip injections, and maybe more. After endorsing Shiseido products (yeah, yeah, creams and serums), the singer got to the real stuff and told InStyle (via Billboard), "A doctor I see, [Beverly Hills plastic surgeon] Dr. [Raj] Kanodia, does fun stuff to me sometimes — I've had lip injections before."

She went on to talk up peptides and potions, but plastic surgeons tend not to focus on topicals. Experts have speculated, based on photos, via Daily Star and elsewhere, the "fun stuff" is basically everything: botox, fillers, which "help give her more defined cheekbones" — and even a nose job. But for now, that's all speculation, and the "Toxic" singer isn't admitting to any more work, b*tch. 

Kylie Jenner fills it up

Perhaps no star has had a more drastic change in looks or more attendant speculation than one Kylie Jenner.

To date, though, Jenner has only made one cosmetic confession, in an otherwise blinding blizzard of denials. "I'm not against plastic surgery. I've only been under [anesthesia] once before, when I went to the dentist and I didn't react well; it really scared me," the makeup mogul claimed on her app in 2016 (via Harper's Bazaar). "I threw up and I was SO nauseous the next day."

Jenner did, however, reveal it's more than just her lip kits, claiming, "But as of now, I only have lip fillers ... But I'm also someone who says 'never say never.' If, down the line, I get to a point where I'm really uncomfortable with something on my body, I'm not against changing it." In 2019 she did get more comfortable, per Paper, about a very true fact: everyone underestimates how much can be done with fillers alone. "People think I fully went under the knife and completely reconstructed my face, which is completely false," she explains. "I'm terrified! I would never. They don't understand what good hair and makeup and, like, fillers, can really do." Jenner then reiterated the secret to her radical transformation. "It's fillers. I'm not denying that."  

Iggy Azalea gets work

Iggy Azalea is a magnet for internet haters, so she decided to beat them to it and just come clean about going under the knife. Speaking to Vogue in 2015, the Aussie rapper admitted, "I did change something: four months ago, I got bigger boobs! I'd thought about it my entire life." The otherwise curvy songstress went on to add, "It's about proportion. I have to have everything tailored because I have such a small waist. I'm a 2 or a 0 on the top, and a 6 on the bottom."

Azalea says her friends all told her there was no reason to be so candid because the enhancement was minor, and they didn't think anyone would notice. But the self-described "blabbermouth" rhymer told E! that same year she'd rather just have it out in the open, saying she'd "feel better not to have some secret," adding, "It's much freer to say it and then you don't have to worry someone will dig it up."

Howard Stern comes clean

There's probably no celebrity more candid with their audience than Howard Stern. But for a man who routinely discusses the underwhelming size of his penis, Stern long hid his one foray into plastic surgery.

In the run-up to his departure from terrestrial radio in 2013, Stern finally admitted he had a nose job, removing a bump from the ridge, according to Canada Journal News of the World. Something about seeing yourself 20 feet tall for the first time can really put your insecurities into relief, and the legendary shock jock had the procedure done right after filming his autobiographical 1997 movie, Private Parts, about his rise to DJ superstardom.

Stern also admitted to having liposuction. He had a "waddle of fat" removed from under his chin. The morning talker also joked on his show he had been closeted about the procedure because he thinks of plastic surgery as, let's say, less than masculine. Interestingly, Stern also admitted his one fear was the procedure would ruin his radio voice, but surprisingly, discovered it was actually enhanced.

The many faces of Khloe Kardashian

Khloe Kardashian has really come on strong to rival sister Kylie Jenner's remarkable transformation — if just for the sheer volume of looks she's had. "Khloe Kardashian's Face Looks Different Every Month," reads the headline from Showbiz Cheatsheet. Meanwhile, sites like Mirror detail Kardashian's "different faces of 2020 as she's accused of lying about plastic surgery."

The photos are jarring, but Kardashian has clapped back at fans wondering about her Jaqen H'ghar level looks, quipping (via Page Six), "It's from the weekly face transplants, clearly." The closest the star has come to admitting how she achieves her ever-changing appearance though was an exchange with Kim Kardashian on an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians from 2016 (via The Sun). Kim questions Khloe ruthlessly, saying, "Khloe, your whole face changes when you laugh. It's like, I stare at you." 

Khloe, who doesn't love the topic, finally admitted, "I don't know if it's Botox or filler. I did one of them and my whole face went numb and I could not make [an expression]. I had to dissolve everything ... I looked crazy and I still think the effects are in there." It should be noted Botox can't be dissolved, so that's fillers. Being unable to move her face is from Botox. Clearly, she did both. It also seems implausible the Calabasas celebrity doesn't know what she's putting in her own face, but the reticence is very on-brand for the fam.

Enrique Iglesias loses his trademark

Enrique Iglesias really struck it rich in the ol' genetic lottery. He's the son of handsome Latin crooner Julio Iglesias and socialite/TV personality (read professional attractive person) Isabel Preysler Arrastía. Some might say his son, Nicholas Iglesias, whose mother is arguably the most stunning tennis player of all time, Anna Kournikova, has the world on an even tighter string.

But even the gifted and gorgeous have their hang-ups. In 2003, perhaps at the height of his career, outlets like MTV News started noticing, "What's up with your face, Enrique? Hmm, something's missing..." Despite his publicist denying the initial reports, yes, the singer lopped off his signature mole.

Iglesias says he went to a doctor to feel the whole thing out and asked, "'What are the consequences if I do it or if I don't?' I didn't really care.' But then the doctor told me that with time the mole could cause cancer, so I thought, 'Oh, go ahead. Take it,'" he told Access Hollywood (via Entertainment Weekly). The dreamy singer was no hero during the procedure, though. "When the doctor was taking it off, I was like, 'Oh, my God,' because all I saw was blood. I was freaking out because I thought the guy was going to poke out my eye." At the time of this writing, Iglesias still has two perfectly mesmerizing eyes and zero face moles.