Thinking About Cosmetic Surgery? Here's How to Get a Better Nip or Tuck


Serge BlockDespite the hefty price tag, cosmetic procedures havent lost their appeal.

“A lot of women have been saving for many years for these surgeries, and theyre doing it whether the economy is good or bad,” says Jennifer Walden, MD, a plastic surgeon in New York City.

We reveal what its like to have the three most popular procedures and whether those money-saving alternatives people talk about are worth it.

Breast implants
More than 307,000 women got implants in 2008—a 45 percent jump since 2000. They cost about $6,000, and a C cup is the most popular size.

What Its Really Like
“The first few weeks after surgery, I felt sore, like Id done a bunch of push-ups. But I felt normal after a few weeks when I got to start wearing bras again.” —Alexis, 28, McLean, Virginia

What You Need to Know
Saline implants are inflated after insertion, so they require a small incision; silicone ones need a larger opening. If you plan to breast-feed, avoid a cut near the areola, which could damage ducts or nerves involved in milk production. Many docs opt for putting implants underneath the pectoral muscles because that interferes less with mammograms, says Michael McGuire, MD, associate clinical professor of plastic surgery at the University of California, Los Angeles.

A Cheaper Breast Booster?
A Botox procedure (around $2,000) doesnt provide a real lift, but your breasts may appear to sit higher afterward. Its temporary and possibly risky, too. Dr. Walden says, “It can be dangerous if the solution spreads to the muscles used for breathing.” If you really want implants, though, you can haggle: some plastic surgeons give discounts, so ask about deals.

Nearly 245,000 women get this body-sculpting surgery every year. The procedure costs about $4,000 for one area like your tummy (the most popular lipo location) and $3,000 for an additional spot.

What Its Really Like
“After I had surgery on my inner thighs there were a couple of weeks of discomfort, but it was well worth it. You can hardly see my scars. They look like little bug bites.” —Susan, 28, Austin, Texas

What You Need to Know
Liposuction removes excess fat but isnt a weight-loss tool. “I tell my patients not to get on a scale when they get home, because theyll be depressed,” Dr. McGuire says. The good news: Most people go on to lose weight because theyre more apt to exercise and eat right postsurgery.

The New Lipo?
Several less-invasive procedures are available—including laser-assisted liposuction in which fat is melted before its removed, which may cause less bruising. However, costs are similar to traditional lipo.

Nose job (rhinoplasty)
About 275,000-plus women get a $7,000 nose shaping every year.

What Its Really Like
“My nose isnt perfect—one nostril is a little smaller than the other—but when I see myself in pictures now I think, ‘Damn, I look good! And I really feel like I do.” —Kristin, 41, Dallas

What You Need to Know
It takes a year to see the final results of rhinoplasty, but most of the changes become visible much earlier as the swelling subsides, Dr. McGuire says.

The New Nose Job?
Injected fillers can make bumps and creases disappear. These fixes are cheaper (from $300 to $2,500) than surgery but are not permanent, lasting a year or less.