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Cosmetic Surgery - Don't Tell Us You Haven't Thought About It

The television show Nip/Tuck exploded on the scene in 2003, and each new season since brings media attention to the two young TV surgeons and their patients, mixing melodrama, sex and cosmetic surgery into a "disturbingly perfect drama." Nip/Tuck and other similar shows that feature cosmetic surgery have been entertaining, suspenseful and - surprisingly - educational.

"The shows give people a more realistic expectation of what to expect from cosmetic surgery," says Dr. Robert Jensen with the Center for Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery in Medford. "I think it helps them see what is possible and isn't possible so they understand what to expect after surgery."

Such shows have also helped to popularize and normalize cosmetic surgery, right here in Southern Oregon. Dr. Jensen reports that over the last 15 years, there's been a steady increase in the number of local people seeking cosmetic surgery. And where even five years ago, people would have a procedure and just go away for a while, now people are more open about cosmetic surgery. "It's more socially acceptable," says Dr. Jensen. "The shows have definitely made it (cosmetic surgery) less of a stigma for a lot of people."

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that breast augmentation, face lifts, tummy tucks and liposuction are among the most common cosmetic surgery procedures performed in the United States today.

"We see people even into their 60s wanting breast augments, but generally it's women in their 20s and 30s who want augments," says Dr. Jensen. Most of his augments are done endoscopically, with a small incision in the crease of the armpit, so there is no scarring on the breast.

Breast enlargement surgery or augmentation mammoplasty, will cost $4,000 to $5,000 for both breasts; check whether your quote includes the cost of the implants. Most women go back to work in a week's time.

Most people who have a face lift or rhytidectomy, want to look better, more refreshed and more like themselves, like they did a few years ago. It's not so much about wrinkles as it is about facial muscles that have lost elasticity causing jowls and loose neck skin. "They don't feel tired or stressed, but they look it. Their faces look it," explains Dr. Jensen. "It's not that they've had a stressful life or they've worked too much - it's in their genes."

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the best face lift candidates are in their 40s to 60s who have a well defined bone structure. Facelifts can also be done on people in their 70s or 80s, though the skin may be less elastic. The cost of a face lift can range from $6,000 to $10,000. Patients will usually feel comfortable going back to work in two to three weeks when the swelling has gone down.

A tummy tuck (also called an abdominoplasty) can improve the appearance of the abdomen, especially for the younger woman who's had several babies. A tummy tuck puts the muscles back where they were by tightening the sheath that surrounds the abdominal muscles and removing the damaged skin.

Despite its cozy name, a tummy tuck is not a trivial surgery. Recovery time for it is similar to that of a cesarean section - three to four weeks with a full recovery after three to four months. The cost ranges from $6,000 to $8,000.

Liposuction is a common procedure that can help shape or contour the body; it is not a weight loss procedure. A pen-like instrument suctions fat from beneath the skin, in the abdomen, hips, thighs, buttocks or other areas of the body. The cost of the procedure varies according to the extent of the procedure and the number of areas involved.

Cosmetic surgery is not covered by most insurance plans and full payment may be required in advance of surgery. Check whether quoted costs for your procedure include consults, pre-operative assessment, anesthesia, the operating room, surgeon's fees and follow up visits.

So, if you're thinking of cosmetic surgery, get started on your research before you ever go under the knife. Learn everything you can about the procedure, talk with friends and family and choose your cosmetic surgeon carefully.

After you have decided to have cosmetic surgery, you'll need to choose your surgeon. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has these suggestions:

Be sure that the cosmetic surgeon you choose is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, one of the 24 approved medical specialty boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties. Board certification means that your surgeon has completed an approved residency in plastic surgery, been in practice for at least two years, has completed a certain number of cases, and passed written and oral exams as well as a clinical case review.

Look for fellowships, educational experiences, attendances at conferences and participation in professional organizations that will keep your cosmetic surgeon's knowledge and skills current.

Make sure that the cosmetic surgeon's surgical center is accredited by a recognized agency such as the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and is Medicare certified. Ask about your surgeon's hospital privileges in case you need to be hospitalized.

Schedule a consult and ask your cosmetic surgeon and staff all the questions you need to to be comfortable with your decision and the surgical procedures. You'll want to have a good, trusting relationship with your surgeon.

Base your decision on your surgeon's skill, experience and qualifications, not on price.

Word of mouth can be your most valuable referral source so talk with friends and family about your decision. Learn about their experiences with cosmetic surgery and their satisfaction with the surgeon they chose.

Cosmetic Surgery – Don’t Tell Us You Haven’t Thought About It