4. Don’t be cheap
The average cost of a full face-lift is $7,122, according to 2016 statistics from the ASPS. But the price range can be enormous depending on the doctor, the extent of your procedures and your location. (You can get an idea of costs in your city here.)
It is extremely rare that plastic surgery procedures are covered by insurance. One exception is upper eyelid surgery, which is sometimes covered if the sagging eyelid is impeding vision. (This article in RealSelf offers a few more examples.) So, if you’re like most people, you need to be conscious of price, but don’t make cost your sole consideration. You don’t need to hire Hollywood’s surgeon to the stars to be in good hands, but be sure to conduct due diligence.
“You want to make sure they’re well-educated, board certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties, and that they concentrate on the area that you particularly want,” says Shatkin.
One way to verify that your surgeon is experienced in the specific procedure you seek is to go through their portfolio of work; normally, these surgeons have a big binder of before-and-after photos for prospective clients to peruse. If the doctor does mainly tummy tucks or buttocks enhancements, you might want to go elsewhere for your face-lift.
Also, if cosmetic surgery specialists say you need more than one procedure to end up with a natural-looking result, for example a brow-lift plus an eyelid-lift, but the combined price seems out of reach, consider holding off until you can afford both. You don’t want to end up looking freakish because you were short a few thousand dollars. Save enough money to do it right.
5. Right-size your expectations
Don’t go in expecting miracles. The main thing you can achieve from cosmetic surgery is a fresher, more energetic look. Tired of people saying you look tired? This could make a difference. Hoping people will confuse you with Scarlett Johansson? That is not happening.
According to one survey written up in WebMD, strangers who looked at before-and-after pictures of people who had cosmetic surgery said the surgery did almost nothing to boost attractiveness but did shave off a few years.
“But certainly I think you can take away from this that if you’re looking to have aesthetic facial surgery to look younger, we’ve shown that you will,” said Dr. Joshua Zimm, an attending surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told WebMD. “Beyond that … it is not clear that everyone will definitely look more attractive.”
He noted that this was a small study, so certainly not the final word on the subject, but it is worth digesting if you’re considering taking the leap.
6. Or just say no
There are excellent reasons, in addition to cost, that can lead you to decide against cosmetic surgery.
The risks of cosmetic surgery are especially high if you have a history of cardiovascular disease, lung disease, diabetes or obesity because such patients “have a higher risk of developing complications such as pneumonia, stroke, heart attack or blood clots in the legs or lungs,” according to the Mayo Clinic. “Smoking also increases risks and interferes with healing.”
Even for people in excellent health, there are always risks associated with going under the knife, the Mayo Clinic notes.
Among the alternatives to surgery are some less invasive procedures for combatting age — with results that are less dramatic and less lasting — including:
- Dermal fillers: Fillers made from various substances are injected under the skin and act “like an inflated cushion to support facial structures and tissues that may have lost volume or elasticity due to normal aging,” as explained by the ASPS website. “It also brings water to the surface of skin to keep it looking fresh and supple.”
- Botulinum toxin (better known by brand names Botox or Dynasport): Injections of this substance block muscular nerve signals, weakening the muscle so it doesn’t contract in facial expressions, which helps smooth unwanted wrinkles, says the ASPS. It is commonly applied to lessen crow’s-feet, forehead furrows, frown lines and skin bands on the neck.
- Facials: Good aestheticians offer an array of peels and treatments to clarify skin, even out pigmentation and refine pores. (In my view, the other fantastic reason to pay for facials is that they are so relaxing that you emerge feeling like a new person, even if you look like more or less the same one.)
There are plenty of people among us who look a little more “rested” than others of the same age, a little more vibrant or youthful as a consequence of facial surgery. But then again, there are those who throw good money after bad and never apparently reach their goal. (The late comedian Joan Rivers reportedly had 348 cosmetic procedures in her lifetime.)
And there are so many ways to use $7,000 that might contribute to your actual health, as opposed to your apparent health. That much money would cover a lovely trip to the Italian countryside, or a fancy touring bike, tango classes with a dark-eyed stranger … Well, you get the idea. Cosmetic surgery is not a crazy idea, and you’d be in good company if you made the leap, but surely it’s something worth weighing carefully.
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