There’s a new face in Orange County! Fans may have noticed Vicki Gunvalson looking a tad different in new promo shots released before Bravo’s Real Housewives of Orange County returned to screens in July.
“I had a lot of fillers in my face and I didn’t feel like it was me anymore,” Gunvalson, 56, admits in the new issue of Us Weekly. “I had too many doctors, too many different times say ‘let’s do this, let’s do that, let’s fill here, let’s do Voluma, let’s do Sculptra,’ and by the time I was done I looked in the mirror and was like ‘I don’t even look like myself.’”
On top of that feeling, the “O.G. of the O.C.” was also receiving some friendly prodding from 50-year-old castmate and friend Tamra Judge.
“Tamra kept telling me ‘you need to do another face-lift, your neck is getting old!’” said Gunvalson. ‘And I’m like, ‘wonderful.’ Tamra looks so good. She got hers done about a year ago. I kept asking Tamra and she goes, ‘Yes! You need it, you need it!’”
The mom of three didn’t need too much convincing and soon went in for a consultation with Dr. Milind Ambe, who had performed Judge’s face-lift and worked on Gunvalson previously.
“One week before we ended filming I went back to Dr. Ambe, who I love,” she explained. “I said, ‘do I need this?’ He goes, ‘well, you want my honest opinion? Yes! You need it. You’re 56.’”
The Coto Insurance founder headed home to think it over and asked boyfriend of two years Steve Lodge if he thought she needed a face-lift. “He said, ‘Absolutely not, you look gorgeous the way you are, just grow old gracefully.’ I asked my daughter [Briana Culberson] and she said ‘Absolutely not. I don’t want you to look pulled. I don’t want anything to look different about you.’”
So what did Gunvalson do? “I went back to Dr. Ambe and said, ‘Ok, let’s book it,” she confessed with a laugh.
Lodge drove the life insurance mogul to her surgery appointment on May 5 and after Ambe provided Lodge with some reassurance that his girlfriend’s lower face-lift wouldn’t make her unrecognizable, Gunvalson went under the knife.
“Now my skin looks baby smooth,” she said. “I don’t have a wrinkle, I don’t have a divot and I have no fillers. I look like was 40 or 35.”
Gunvalson had received Botox since RHOC’s debut in 2006 but told Us she stopped getting injections in 2016. In 2012, when season 8 began, she thinned her nose, received a chin implant and had body fat injected into her face to erase wrinkles after former costar Gretchen Rossi’s boyfriend Slade Smiley called her a nasty name. After season 11’s promo pics were taken, Gunvalson went to Ambe for an upper and lower eyelid blepharoplasty, and with the work done during season 13, the Coto de Caza resident swears she’s set: “Put a fork in it, I’m done!”
Though her appearance has changed, the season’s promo images still immortalize the face Gunvalson had before May’s procedures. “That picture was taken a month before my surgery, so I was puffy from all those fillers and I just didn’t feel good that day,” she explained.
The RHOC veteran didn’t like the shot but decided to share it on her Instagram anyhow, to promote the show’s new season. Harsh critiques flooded the comment section of the post, causing her to disable them before deleting the photo entirely. “I get depressed when I see negative comments. I’m super sensitive. I thought, who are these people hiding behind their computers being mean to me?”
Gunvalson eventually re-posted the image and strengthened herself against the haters with a reminder of her own truth. “At the end of the day, I never claimed to be a beauty queen. I claim my heart. My heart is something I can’t change. I am proud of who I am.”
To hear more about Gunvalson’s experience, pick up the new issue of Us Weekly, on stands now!
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