Elvis Presley’s appearance changed over the course of his career, but this was not because of cosmetic surgery. According to his bodyguard, Elvis had cosmetic surgery, but it was not noticeable, even to the people closest to him. His bodyguard claimed that after Elvis had the surgery, he tried to convince others to get it.
Elvis Presley’s bodyguard said the singer had cosmetic surgery
As the 1970s wore on, Elvis’ appearance changed. He was reaching middle age and had gained weight. He reportedly had cosmetic surgery, perhaps as a way to address this.
“He had it done at the Mid-South Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee,” his bodyguard Sonny West said, per the book Elvis: What Happened? by Steve Dunleavy. “He had it done in 1975 because I got the bill. He went into the hospital under my name and it came up on my Blue Cross-Blue Shield card. The hospital pointed out that Blue Cross does not cover cosmetic surgery.”
West said he could scarcely notice a difference. As Elvis told him about it, he tried to encourage West to have it done too.
“After he had it done, he brought me into his room and asked if I noticed any difference,” West said. “Actually, I didn’t until he told me. He had his eyes done and there is a thin little scar around his ears where he had his face tightened. You can hardly notice it. After he got it done, he tried to talk me into having it done, but I wasn’t interested.”
Elvis wanted his bodyguards to embrace parts of his life besides cosmetic surgery
Elvis tried to convince West to have cosmetic surgery. He reportedly worked harder to convince his bodyguards to take drugs with him. While they often took stimulants and sleeping pills for the sake of keeping up with Elvis, he occasionally pressured them to have more.
“There were other times when he was going to get high, he sort of demanded that you get up there with him,” West said. “Sometimes he would stand in front of you and watch you take the stuff because there was some stuff he gave me, I don’t know what it was, but I would break out in a sweat.”
When people didn’t want the drugs he offered, Elvis would reportedly watch them carefully to make sure they took them.
“So often he would give me a handful of pills and I would ditch them,” he said. “He knew this, so he would stand in front of me with a glass of water. The past several years, I just plain refused them and this upset him. Eventually, he quit offering them to me.”
He encouraged Priscilla Presley to change her appearance
Elvis could not successfully convince West to change his appearance. In the years he was with Priscilla Presley, though, he exercised control over her looks. When they first traveled to Las Vegas together early in their relationship, he encouraged her to dress in a certain way and have their hair and makeup done.
“You need to apply more makeup around your eyes,” he told her, per her book Elvis and Me. “Make them stand out more. They’re too plain naturally. I like a lot of makeup. It defines your features.”
Priscilla said that Elvis exercised such rigid control over her looks that she felt like a doll.