"You look fantastic! Have you been losing weight? Did you get a new haircut? What's different?"
Have you ever imagined walking into work after a long weekend and being greeted with these reactions? You'd smile a secretive grin and never let slip the truth: You had "work done" Thursday afternoon, just a quick nip and tuck, in time to look fabulous Monday morning.
Is that really possible? Can the shorter, simpler cosmetic surgeries and techniques that some surgeons call "lunchtime procedures" get you in and out the door and recovered in time to go back to work or on your midweek date without a telltale bruise? Well, yes and no.
"There are a whole basket of procedures that have been promoted as 'mini-procedures,'" says Clark O. Taylor, MD, DDS, president of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery. "These include small things like lip lifts, non-ablative laser therapy of the skin, Botox, and minimal incision, local anesthesia procedures like some facial implants and syringe liposuction. Some of those have minimum down time of a number of days."
But don't expect maximum results with a minimal investment. "There really is no magic wand, and it's proportional, pretty much down the line. The greater your need for change, the bigger the procedure needs to be," explains David Metzner, MD, a Louisiana aesthetic plastic surgeon and clinical professor at Louisiana State University School of Medicine. "I've said that a mini-facelift gives a mini-result for a mini-period of time. It's a false notion to think that a little procedure can correct major problems or give results that last."
One of the longest-lasting changes you can hope for with minimally invasive cosmetic surgery might be from body sculpting with the use of syringe liposuction. Keep in mind, this is not for the Carnie Wilsons and Al Rokers of the world who opt for major weight-loss surgery. "If you're at or very close to your ideal body weight, and you have some local accumulation of fat deposits that are resistant to diet and exercise -- small imperfections, not lots of inches -- you might very well be able to have minor liposuction on Thursday and go anywhere on Monday except the gym," says Metzner.
Say, for example, you're active, healthy, and not overweight -- but years of crunches have done nothing about that little Buddha belly. "We have some newer methods of extracting fat using ultrasound to help break it up so that it's less traumatic, because you're not mechanically manipulating the tissue to get it dislodged," Taylor explains. "We use tiny punctures for the incision, so the blood loss is quite minimal. With certain types of body contouring, in three to five days many of these patients can be mostly recovered and get back to work." (But if you start overeating and lying around on the couch, that fat can come back.)