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Year of 'Extreme Makeovers'

Today's plastic surgery is quick, with little downtime, and affordable.

WebMD Feature

This year, plastic surgery came out of the closet. Extreme Makeovers debuted on prime time TV, and Americans ate it up.

Millions watched as Jeff underwent body-contouring surgery after losing some 150 pounds. Surgeons sculpted him into a new man, carving one foot of droopy flesh from his waistline alone.

Tammy literally glowed after her renovation: eyebrow lift, eye surgery, nose job, countless facial treatments, breast implants, and liposuction. Tooth bleaching, too, was part of her redo -- another trend that exploded this year.

Indeed, it seems the American consciousness has turned a corner. Plastic surgery has lost some of its secrecy. In coffee bars, Pilates classes, and doctors offices across the country, people talked about the "stars" of Extreme Makeovers -- the regular Joes who drew a lucky, all-expenses-paid, head-to-toe makeover.

But there's hope for the rest of us, too. Most plastic surgeons accept plastic.

"Plastic surgery is no longer just for the rich and famous ... it's affordable for anyone who wants to look and feel as good as they can," Rod J. Rohrich, MD, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, tells WebMD.

"We're seeing younger patients, and they want maximum results with minimum recovery -- and with Botox and fillers, with noninvasive techniques, we can do that," says Rohrich, who is also chairman of the department of plastic surgery at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

"We're living in the era of age management ... baby boomers don't want to get old, and if they're healthy, they're good candidates for plastic surgery," he says.

Who's Getting It?

Americans are indeed putting up cash to get trimmed, slimmed, reshaped, and redone. During the past year:

  • Nose reshaping and chemical peels were popular in the under-18 set, though only a small percentage of teens had them.
  • Breast implants and facial microdermabrasion (a "sanding" technique that uses a high-speed rotating wheel to peel away skin) were big in the 19-to-34 age group; they had 24% of the cosmetic surgeries.
  • Liposuction and Botox helped the 35-to-50 age group stave off age; they had 45% of plastic surgeries.

Do-it-together is big: Couples are getting plastic surgeries together, as are moms and daughters, sisters, and friends.

Men are getting plastic surgery to look younger and pump up their careers. Their favorites: nose reshaping, liposuction, eyelid surgery, hair transplants, and ear surgery.

For women, younger and sexier is better: That translates into breast implants, liposuction, nose reshaping, eyelid surgery, and facelifts.

Headline News

This year, two new wrinkle fillers -- Restylane and Hylaform -- inched their way to approval. Whereas Botox relaxes muscles underneath wrinkles, the fillers plump up the area. Both fillers can last two or three times longer than many of the other fillers used now. Restylane got the official FDA nod recently; Hylaform won't be far behind, experts say.

An FDA advisory panel recently gave the nod to silicone breast implants again, stirring up controversy. (The implants were banned in 1992 after claims of serious health risks.) Several public interest groups filed a follow-up letter with the agency, asking the agency not to approve the implants. The FDA has made no final decision as yet.

Brush Up on Beauty

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