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Image: Bristol Palin
Reuters, Getty Images
Bristol Palin arrives for a benefit in New York on May 3, left, a few months after appearing on the set of "Extra" on Oct. 28, 2010, right.
updated 5/13/2011 6:15:12 PM ET 2011-05-13T22:15:12

Bristol Palin admits her recent change in appearance was due to a procedure — but not plastic surgery.

The 20-year-old daughter of 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin tells Us Weekly that she underwent corrective jaw surgery in December, a month after she finished third on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." Her face now appears thinner, with higher cheekbones and an angular jaw.

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The new look, complete with Palin losing 5 pounds, was unveiled April 30 at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington, D.C.

Story: Did new-look Bristol Palin have plastic surgery?

"Yes, it improved the way I look, but this surgery was necessary for medical reasons," she told the magazine for its May 23 issue, which will be on newsstands Friday.

Palin said she had the procedure so her jaw and teeth could properly realign.

While growing up, she wore braces and a device to help correct an overbite. But she said her dentist warned her that she'd have to have surgery one day.

The Palin family's lawyer declined to comment to The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Palin said she is pleased with the new look.

"I look older, more mature and don't have as much of a chubby little baby face," she told the magazine.

Palin said she doesn't obsess over her face and would consider plastic surgery only in an extreme situation.

"I wouldn't get plastic surgery unless I got in an accident or something terrible and got disfigured," she said.

Palin will be back on TV by the end of the year, starring in a reality series for the Bio Channel. The as-yet-untitled series will follow her move from Alaska to Los Angeles with her son, Tripp, to work at a small charity. She will live with actor brothers Kyle and Christopher Massey.

Bristol Palin to live with Kyle Massey for show

Kyle Massey is a fellow "Dancing" contestant and Palin's good friend, the network said.

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Palin can also soon add author to her resume.

She signed with William Morrow to publish "Not Afraid of Life," to come out this summer. Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins, has said the memoir would provide "an inside look at her life."

Levi Johnston, the father of her child, also is planning a tell-all book about his tumultuous relationship with the Palin family.

Touchstone Publishing has a fall publication date for Johnston's book, "Deer in the Headlights: My Life in Sarah Palin's Crosshairs."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Celebrity Sightings

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