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    Year of 'Extreme Makeovers'

    Body Contouring Is Big

    With the rising popularity of weight-loss (bariatric) surgery, people are turning to plastic surgeons to get excess skin removed.

    Body contouring "is probably the riskiest surgery of all because of the sheer extent of the surgery," Dennis Hurwitz, MD, a plastic surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, tells WebMD. "But as plastic surgeons get more experienced at doing it, the chance of having problems is going down."

    He applauds the producers of Extreme Makeovers: "They work with the highest-caliber plastic surgery specialists, and that means the public sees the best of plastic surgery and patient care," says Hurwitz.

    Just be prepared for sticker shock, he says. Insurance typically covers surgery when medical issues are involved -- infections, irritations, sores caused by excess skin. But it won't cover the entire procedure. "But people spend $30,000 for a new car, so it doesn't seem unreasonable that they will spend that much on something that will correct your body's problems and improve your life for the rest of your life."

    After the surgery, new lives open up for his patients, says Hurwitz. "Women get married after being spinsters for decades. I have men getting jobs they couldn't handle before. It truly is an extreme makeover."

    Choose Surgeon Carefully

    Before having any type of cosmetic plastic surgery, make sure your expectations are realistic. "Not everyone can look like Julia Roberts, nor should they," says Rohrich.

    Be sure you see a board-certified surgeon who is capable of doing all the procedures necessary -- "that's the key," he advises. "Interview them. Make sure you feel comfortable with them." Also, do some homework beforehand about the procedure you want.

    In the future, liposuction and facelifts may be done sans surgery. That's right, ultrasonic waves to remove fat and erase aging without surgery will be studied in the next year, says Rohrich.

    Let's face it: We've come a long way since your mama's facelift. Even since your big sister had one.

    "Some people are a little worried about having a facelift because they remember when it was much more an ordeal than it is today," Antell says. "Today we have much better anesthesia techniques with shorter-acting medications, so we can do these as outpatient procedures. It used to be, if you had your nose done you stayed in the hospital a week; nobody does that anymore."

    Brush Up on Beauty

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