Melissa Gilbert says having breast implants removed was “one of the smartest things I’ve ever done,” and the following year, she stopped getting Botox and fillers

By Sheila Cosgrove Baylis
May 31, 2018 03:00 PM
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Melissa Gilbert has gone natural.

She had her breast implants removed in 2015, a decision she calls “one of the smartest things I’ve ever done,” and the following year, she stopped getting Botox and fillers like Restylane. She’s even stopped dyeing her hair. “I don’t know how long ago it stopped being red but it’s not red anymore!” she tells PEOPLE. “There’s lots of grey and white streaks and it’s much easier.”

Her perspective on aging changed when she fell in love with her husband Timothy Busfield. “Through his inspiration I found the courage to just be me,” she says. She decided to “age gracefully and appropriately and let my body and my face become whatever they are going to become.”

“The pressure that I put on myself was to stay as young as I could for as long as I could and remain an ingénue as long as I could, which is impossible,” she says, adding that she became most concerned with her looks while she was on Dancing with the Stars in 2012. The show “was the peak of Botox, fillers, spray tan, hair extensions, big boobs. That was the epitome of all the stuff I’m the opposite of at this point.”

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“I just had to sit back and reevaluate and find my way, and I’m actually really glad that I did,” she says. “I feel healthier than I ever have, physically and emotionally. I’m stronger.”

Gilbert also had her implants removed because she worried about them leaking as she got older. “What am I going to do when I’m in my 80s and I have to have a hip replacement but I also have my breast implants replaced? Because it’s inevitable, they have a life span. So I wanted them out.”

For more on Gilbert and other celebrity make-unders, pick up a copy of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

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But she wasn’t able to quit Botox cold turkey. “A couple of years ago I decided that I would try to sneak in a tiny bit of Botox to see if Tim noticed. He was away on location and I went to go visit him, and the first thing he said to me was, ‘What did you do?’ And he said, ‘I can’t read your expressions. I don’t know what you’re feeling.’ And he was right.”

Since then, Gilbert has “set a moratorium” on any and all cosmetic procedures. “I’m done with enhancements,” she says. “I look great for my age and I feel great and I’m happy. I’m not saying I don’t have moments when I look in the mirror and go, ‘I’m a Shar Pei!’ I do have a Shar Pei puppy forehead on occasion, but it’s mine.”