Nov 14

I probably know more about female cosmetic surgery than is common to 50-something males who don’t have a spouse or girlfriend who has had any … or who aren’t cosmetic surgeons.

And people who are interested in having cosmetic surgery have no reason to be interested in my own opinions about the subject. This might be why at least a couple of reviewers have characterized Beauty from Afar as “dispassionate.” I consider it a high compliment. Today, we have a brief update with material on body lifts and buttocks impants and augmentation.

Chapter 4 Page 5 |Body Lifts and Butts

In Chapter 4, I tried to keep my list of  “surgeries for which people travel abroad” down to those which people most commonly seek. Apparently I could not resist butt implants, which are still relatively uncommon … and here one have the one, brief mention of cosmetic surgery of the labia.

Maybe I added that to prove I wasn’t a prude. Or maybe I was titillated. I don’t believe that particular operation to be very common. But I do recall seeing an entire cable TV show about someone who had it sometime in the last couple of years, so I’m not feeling like I’ve given the matter any undue attention.

We’re close to the end of Chapter 4 … just two more web pages, it looks like to me.

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Nov 05

The posting of Beauty from Afar resumes this evening with more of my laundery list of cosmetic surgery procedures that many people have done abroad at considerable savings.

Chapter 4 Page 3 | Eyelids, Foreheads, Noses and Peels

Again, please note that I came up with the price ranges in 2004-2005; however, my educated guess is that they are mostly still pretty much on the mark in 2009-2010. I would love to hear from readers who have substantive information on the subject. At some point — after Beauty from Afar is all the way online — I’ll try to revisit and update relative prices again.

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Nov 05

Chapter 4 Page 3 | Eyelids, Foreheads, Noses and Peels

Eyelids (Blepharoplasty)

Eyelid surgery is a procedure to remove fat — usually along with excess skin and muscle — from the upper and lower eyelids. Eyelid surgery can correct drooping upper lids, and puffiness or bags below the eyes. Upper and lower eyelid work will cost $4,000 to $6,000, on average, in the United States. Once again, in examining the Web sites of reputable and experienced surgeons overseas and in researching, one will find a range of perhaps $1,300 to $2,200.

Forehead/Brow Lift

A forehead lift can raise the eyebrows to a higher and more (presumably) aesthetic position. It should also improve lateral hoods (the droopy flaps of skin that hang over the outside corners of the eyes.) A forehead lift should also soften horizontal forehead wrinkles and lines between the eyebrows. A forehead lift in the United States costs in the range of about $3,500 to $5,000. The average cost abroad falls into the $1,300 to $2,000 range.

Nose Reshaping (Rhinoplasty)

Reshaping the nose is considered by many plastic surgeons to be one of the most delicate and difficult aesthetic procedures. Prices can vary substantially depending on what the patient wants. A rhinoplasty can cost from $5,000 to $8,000 or more in the United States. In general, median prices abroad, however, are 40 to 75 percent less than in the United States, or from about $1,250 to $6,000.

Chemical Peels (light, medium, deep)

A chemical peel is aimed at destroying outer layers of old skin, inducing the growth of new skin. The lightest of peels may be inexpensive ($50 to $100, even in the United States) and part of some regular beauty regimens. In many states, a medical degree is not required to administer even heavier chemical peels. Having seen people who had deep chemical peels, I for one can only barely imagine allowing a doctor, let alone anyone with lesser training, to do this to me. For days after a deep chemical peel, it’s difficult for someone who has never seen one before to think that they will ever look normal again. But the final results can be extraordinary.

Deep chemical peels in the U.S. can cost $1,500 to $2,500; overseas, they can cost from $300 to $800.

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Nov 01

Chapter 4 Page 2 | Cosmetic Surgeries and Procedures

There are new cosmetic techniques and new variations of old ones being tested and tried all the time by creative and innovative surgeons around the world. Below are some of the most common ones, with their general definitions, some tips and advice gleaned from patients and surgeons, and some general price comparison information. Price ranges are rough measures; the figures I use here represent approximations based on a number of sources. You can almost certainly find surgeons in both the United States and abroad who charge less than the lowest figures I cite, and you can absolutely find surgeons who charge and get higher prices for their work.

There is far more information available online, of course. How to go about researching surgical information on the Internet is covered in Chapter 5.

Liposuction/Lipoplasty

Liposuction is a procedure that can help sculpt the body by removing unwanted fat from specific areas, including the abdomen, hips, buttocks, thighs, knees, upper arms, chin, cheeks, and neck. Good plastic surgeons are generally fastidious about reminding patients that cosmetic surgery is “real surgery,” and this is particularly true of liposuction. “Getting a little lipo” should not be trivialized. Experienced cosmetic surgeons wince at the suggestion that liposuction is easy and cringe at the thought of a cannula (the fat-suctioning tool) in unpracticed hands. Liposuction is both physically demanding work and an art, according to its leading practitioners.

Improvements in technique over the past decade have brought into use the term liposculpture, emphasizing both that the procedure is an art and that surgeons can be remarkably precise, even restoring fat to some areas to achieve the desired result. Patients often ask about “aggressive” liposuction; in general, liposuction is for removal of relatively small volumes of fat that resist dieting and exercise. Some surgeons — including experienced ones both in the United States and abroad — will go beyond that, but one should not assume that more is better. More can be riskier; more will also involve a lengthier convalescence and recovery.

Liposuction is generally priced by the number of areas from which a patient wants fat removed in a session, with discounts offered for additional areas beyond the first. Prices in the United States can range from around $2,500 to $5,000 for a single area on up to more than $10,000 for five areas. The range is much lower overseas but again depends on the need of the individual patient. My guesstimate, looking at prices in Central and South America and Asia, is that median prices are 40 to 75 percent less than in the United States, or about $1,000 to $3,000 and more for up to five areas.

Facelift (Rhytidectomy)

A facelift is a highly individualized procedure and is often done in conjunction with other facial procedures. Surgeons these days strive for a natural appearance. Gone is the pulled-back, stretched look more common a generation ago. A basic facelift does not eliminate wrinkles. It does not directly address the forehead area or upper eyes. It does generally address the neck area. A neck lift is usually part of a facelift but some surgeons will do it separately.

Surgeons can recommend newer, less-invasive or noninvasive (and less expensive) alternatives to a full facelift. My feeling about new facial surgical techniques is that there is an increased amount of uncertainty as to results and that patients should be extra-cautious until the techniques are proven.

The average cost of a facelift in the United States is in the range of $7,000 to $10,000, but adding in other facial procedures can easily double the bill. Again, the price overseas is generally 40 to 75 percent less. A facelift in Brazil or Costa Rica can run in the $2,500 to $3,500 range.

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Oct 15

Prices for cosmetic surgery vary widely based on a number of factors, as I point out in the concluding segment of Beauty from Afar‘s Chapter 2:

Chapter 2 Page 9 | Prices in the United States and Abroad

Being a surgeon, particularly being a surgeon for uninsured, elective procedures, is a business, wherever one is located.  And the global recession has had an impact on the business of cosmetic surgery. This report is from January 2009, but I rather doubt that cosmetic surgery is less recession-proof than the rest of the economy:

Cosmetic surgeons suffer recession, says new survey

Well-established practices are weathering the storm. Not-so-well established practices are not, and some are not surviving.

Anywhere in between? Whether in the U.S. or abroad, cosmetic surgeons are getting more creative about marketing to patients and that means, often, that patients have some bargaining power when it comes to price.

No sane person chooses a surgeon solely on the basis of price. But discounts can be attractive.

That finishes up Chapter 2, hooray! I have no idea if anyone is following along day by day, but the visitor count has been rising steadily. On to Chapter 3 … which is a brief history of medical tourism.

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