If cosmetic surgery were free and without risks, everyone would have procedures…repeatedly. But this being the real world, every procedure, no matter how small, has its risks. And while the relative costs of cosmetic surgery have declined over the past four decades, most procedures are still fairly expensive.
I’ve considered the sum total of the risks, benefits, and costs of cosmetic surgery, and I’ve come up with what I call the biggest ‘bang for your buck’ procedures. These are the procedures that give you the most benefit with the lowest risk at the lowest cost.
Here’s my list:
Laser hair removal
Yes, you were probably thinking I’d choose breast augmentations or facelifts as my number one bang for your buck procedure. But just ask any woman who shaves every day and she will back up my selection. The laser has replaced electrolysis as quickly as computers made typewriters obsolete. This invention superheats dark hairs, turning them into fuses that seek and destroy hair follicles. When the heat of the laser fries those hair follicles, the hair is destroyed. The best candidates are lighter skinned people with dark hair. Three sort of painful treatments can make your chin as smooth as a baby’s….well as smooth as it should be. Other than the occasional blister, problems are uncommon with this procedure. Each treatment is about $400.
Come on now, couldn’t I think of a less sexy procedure? But moles are neither pretty nor healthy. They disturb the symmetric harmony of your face and can harbor deadly melanomas. So many people forget about them since they’ve been around so long, but people you meet for the first time are drawn to that ‘thing’ on your face. Plastic surgeons remove those moles and hide scars along natural wrinkle lines or creases. Your skin is lifted up to take the tension off of the scar and the skin is closed with dissolving stitches placed underneath the skin. Tiny stitches, or even glue, help to give you the best scar possible. A pathologist looks at those moles under a microscope to assure they are benign and completely removed. Removal is minor surgery, with small risks of infection, bleeding, and scarring. Depending on the size and location of the mole, excision costs between a few hundred and a thousand dollars.
Liposuction of the neck and jowls
In just a little over an hour, under local anesthesia, up to half a pound of fat can be suctioned from your neck. Using 3 tiny incisions, a metal tube that looks like a drinking straw is jiggled back and forth, breaking up fat. A liposuction machine, really a glorified vacuum, sucks that fat into a cannister, collecting a goo that looks like vodka sauce. 1 stitch and a band-aid later, and you’ll look like you just lost 10 pounds! In the hands of a skilled plastic surgeon, complications are rare, but can include injury to the delicate structures of the neck and an uneven result. You’ll be set back a few thousand dollars for liposuction, but the benefits are improved appearance and self-esteem.
Regardless of your skin color, as you age, brown splotches collect on your face like barnacles accumulate on rocks at the seashore. And those brown spots compete with wrinkles for the most obvious sign of aging. Fortunately, a chemical peel can readily fix this problem. Different chemicals, like glycolic or trichloroacetic acids (TCA), or phenol, peel to different depths with results ranging from exfoliation to complete removal of the upper skin. The deeper the peel, the more profound the effect, but the higher the risks and the longer the recovery. The light chemical peel with TCA is a 20-minute procedure that gives your skin a new start with less splotchiness and fewer wrinkles in exchange for about a thousand dollars. That’s the biggest ‘bang for your buck’ procedure for your complexion.
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