According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, our nation spent more than $13.5 billion on a variety of surgical and nonsurgical aesthetic procedures last year—the highest amount ever. Why? Some credit advancements in medical science. Others point to the “selfie”—that narcissistic instant self-portrait that brings every facial flaw into harsh detail. For those over 50, the long-lasting surgical facelift remains the gold standard. But people decades younger are embracing a wide range of procedures. Here are a few of the most popular:
Neck Lift (Lower Rhytidectomy)
A neck lift removes remove excess, sagging skin and fat, and tightens and restructures the underlying muscles.
Candidates: The neck is one of the first places where signs of age start to show—think double chins, jowls, a turkey neck, and an excess of loose skin.
Benefits: The procedure restores contours to the lower face and neck providing a more youthful and better-defined appearance.
Downside: Some people experience permanent numbness, tightness and skin irregularities. The full results can take up to six months to achieve.
Recovery Time: Expect to take one to two weeks off work and avoid strenuous activity for a month or more.
Estimated Cost: $6,500 and up.
Wow Factor: People look thinner and younger—without any obvious “work” having been done.
Labiaplasty reduces the size of the labia minora—the flaps of skin on either side of the vaginal opening.
Candidates: Women with excessively long labia who are either embarrassed about their appearance or who experience discomfort during sex and athletic activities. Benefits: Women report feeling more self-confident and comfortable during sex.
Downside: This surgical procedure is relatively safe. But it has a minimal risk of infection and painful urination.
Recovery Time: You’ll be sore for a few weeks—and advised to refrain from sexual intercourse.
Estimated Cost: $2,000-$6,000.
Wow Factor: Now you can look like Barbie, too!
Dimples make a sweet smile even sweeter; just ask Shirley Temple. When you’re born with them, they’re a gift (even though they’re actually a genetic anomaly). Now your cosmetic surgeon can make them for you. After making a tiny incision, the doctor passes a suture through the cheek and closes it. After the suture dissolves, a natural-looking dimple remains.
Candidates: Anyone who wants one. People with a dimple on only one cheek can use it to complete a symmetrical appearance.
Benefits: Bottom line—it’s all about (yep!) looking younger.
Downside: As you age, those designer dimples could turn into dimple disasters as the skin loses it elasticity. Dimplectomy also has a high level of failure.
Recovery Time: The procedure only takes about 30 minutes, with local anesthesia, but swelling and bruising can last a few days.
Estimated Cost: $2,000-$5,000.
Wow Factor: Carey Mulligan had the procedure—and smiled her way to an Academy Award nomination.
Lip Reduction Surgery
The surgeon makes a horizontal incision inside each lip. After removing excess fatty tissue, he or she closes the incisions.
Candidates: The surgery is especially popular among African-American, Asian and Hispanic people.
Benefits: The human face has its fads and fashions—as arbitrary as wide ties and narrow ties. The craze for bee-stung lips is fading. Thin is in.
Downside: Hidden or not, there will be scar tissue. That’s what to expect if the surgery goes well. If it doesn’t, expect asymmetrical lumps and bumps.
Recovery Time: Approximately one week.
Kybella (Injectable Double Chin Reduction)
After your physician injects Kybella—a synthetic acid that absorbs fat—the underlying fat cells lose their lipid-storing ability and your double chin recedes.
Candidates: Anyone with a double chin who wants to get rid of it.
Benefits: It avoids using liposuction or surgery.
Downside: This is still a relatively new procedure in the United States.
Recovery Time: The injections can cause temporary redness, swelling and bruising. Typically, the treatments are spaced at monthly intervals to allow healing. Recovery should be complete a month after the final treatment.
Cost: $1,200-$1,800 per treatment.
Wow Factor: You can shed years sans a double chin.
Ear Pinning or Reshaping (Otoplasty)
After exposing the cartilage with an incision behind the ear, the physician reshapes it and removes any excess skin. If need be, the ear is positioned closer to the head and the incision closed with a permanent suture.
Candidates: Anyone unhappy with the size or shape of their ears.
Benefits: It can correct a wide variety of ear imperfections with natural-looking results.
Downside: The risks are minimal. Occasionally, permanent scarring or numbness of the ear or face may result.
Recovery Time: You can resume most normal activities about a week after surgery. You’ll need to wear a headband for a few weeks.
Estimated Cost: $3,000-$4,000.
Wow Factor: No one can call you Alfred E. Neuman ever again.
Fat Grafting (Autologous Fat Transfer)
Fat grafting (using fat from other parts of the body) is used for a number of procedures, including buttock and breast augmentation, as a filler to add volume to the face and to fill in laugh lines, crow’s feet and acne scars. Fat grafting is also used to rejuvenate wrinkled hands. Men are also undergoing fat grafting to achieve larger pecs, shoulders, arms—and even six-pack abs.
Candidates: Anyone looking for a beach body or a youthful face—and a more permanent solution than temporary fillers can provide.
Benefits: This procedure employs the patient’s own tissue, so there’s no risk of allergic reaction. The results are usually natural-looking and long-lasting.
Downside: Although rare, soreness and swelling are possible. Unsatisfactory results might necessitate additional procedures. The procedure is often more expensive than synthetic facial fillers.
Recovery Time: Expect two weeks of restricted activity. You may need to wear compression garments in the regions where fat was removed.
Estimated Cost: This depends on the area being treated. Facial fat grafting ranges from $500 to $5,000.
Wow factor: Who doesn’t love a plump and adorable baby face?