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How Much Is Too Much?

Over-bleaching, over-tweezing, over-Botoxing.... The craze in upkeep has women so hooked, doctors and industry pros are now turning them away.

By Meredith Bryan

WebMD Feature from "Marie Claire" Magazine

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Sometime in the past 10 years, collagen injections, and the Fraxel laser, it became not only accepted but expected that celebrities would plot — and implement — their expensive antiaging strategies well before the first sign of a line. While the gossip on awards-show night used to be, "Did you see Meg Ryan's hair?" it became, "Did you see Meg Ryan's face?" (We doubt her plastic surgeon is experiencing the same surge in demand as Sally Hershberger, architect of her famous shag.)

Not that there's anything wrong with a little upkeep — most women today have moderate views on cosmetic surgery. In 2006, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) revealed that 63 percent of women in this country approve of it, though just 34 percent would consider it for themselves. But Hollywood, never known for its self-control, is riding a new wave of cosmetic procedures — surgical and non — to an unrecognizable extreme. Sure, this has had some perfectly attractive, rejuvenating effects on some stars, but many have been semi-shocking (Melanie Griffith).

One has to wonder: Are they — are we — really this uncomfortable with getting older, or have cosmetic procedures become an obsession? After all: Jenna Jameson! Priscilla Presley! Courtney Love! Do they think we don't notice? Do they think they look good? And worse: Are they rubbing off on the rest of us?

Plastic surgeons and dermatologists, a.k.a. the enablers, are the first to admit we've gone a little overboard. "You get to be 30 now, and you're old!" says Dr. Thomas Romo III, director of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital. "For [the entertainment] industry, the culture of youth is their job. And what is a youthful face? Full, fat, smooth. But that doesn't look right on a 40-year-old." (Lisa Rinna, anyone?)

"A lot of people come in these days wanting more, and you have to say, 'No, your lips are big enough — and, in fact, would you mind going out my back door?'" says Dr. Steven H. Dayan, a Chicago facial plastic surgeon. "I probably dissuade 40 or 50 percent of those who come in."

Dr. Patricia Wexler, a prominent Manhattan dermatologist, says that some women who land in her waiting room are victims of the rubber-mask effect. "Their skin has no texture whatsoever; it's been peeled and lasered so much that it's lineless and has no pores. They ask for filling to augment a nose that's been reduced four times; they ask to fill cheeks that are already too big."

Dr. Harold Lancer, a Beverly Hills dermatologist, explains the problem with today's antiaging gluttons: "Too much laser work, and you appear a little marbleized. Too many chemical peels, and you look chronically inflamed. And then you have the overfilled look, like a puffer fish."

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