Cosmetic surgery, once accessible only to movie stars and the ultra-wealthy, now makes up a $10 billion industry in the United States alone [source: Buckman]. From breast implants to liposuction, cosmetic surgery procedures allow patients to fix physical flaws, both real and imagined. This physical perfection doesn't come cheap, however, and by the time you add in doctor's fees, anesthesia and supplies, the costs of many procedures can easily run into the thousands.
Of course, many different factors can impact the price of your surgery, including the location of the facility and the surgeon you choose. Also, cosmetic surgery is not typically covered by insurance. If you're determined to undergo a specific procedure, it's important to understand both the entire cost as well as the potential risks.
But don't assume cosmetic surgery is all about vanity. Some people undergo cosmetic procedures to fix serious deformities, or to repair damage from accidents or illness. Ultimately, cosmetic surgery is a personal choice, and those who choose these procedures should be prepared to face the physical, financial and emotional results.
Whether you're considering plastic surgery or are simply curious about the costs, read on to learn more about 10 of the most expensive cosmetic surgery procedures. Keep in mind that the fees listed in this article are averages, and they don't include operating room facilities, anesthesia and other related expenses.
10: Cheek Implants
Cheek implants can give your face a more refreshed and youthful appearance, and there are a number of different options in terms of face shape and contouring. For an average cost of $2,739, surgeons can either add silicone implants to your upper cheeks or redistribute fat from other parts of your face to add volume to your cheek area and eliminate the sunken appearance that often comes with age [source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons].
A cheek implant procedure minimizes the appearance of hollow spots below the cheekbones and restores the natural contours of your cheeks and lower eyelids. The results tend to be less obvious than a face-lift, and the surgery may be significantly cheaper.
9: Upper Arm Lift
Suffering from the dreaded "bat-wing" syndrome? If you're afraid to wear sleeveless shirts because of loose or sagging skin under your arms, an upper arm lift can help tighten up your skin and remove fat. This procedure is particularly popular with patients who have experienced major weight loss, which often leaves the body with empty pockets of skin. It's also common with older people, who may find that skin loses its elasticity as it ages.
The average upper arm surgery costs around $3,729 [source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons]. During an upper arm lift, your surgeon will make an incision along the length of your triceps, then pull the skin together more tightly, cutting away any excess skin in the process. He may or may not add a round of liposuction to remove excess fat before stitching the incision back up. Once the healing process is complete, patients ideally have smooth, jiggle-free upper arms.
8: Pec Implants
Pectoral implants serve as the man's answer to the popular breast implants for women. For an average cost of $3,810, doctors add silicone implants to the pectoral area to give the appearance of a well-developed chest without the workout [source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons]. Don't assume that pec implants are the lazy man's answer to strength training, however. Because of simple genetics, some men simply won't gain weight in this area no matter how much they work out. Pec implants can help men achieve a fit, balanced appearance when nature or countless reps just won't cooperate.
For some men, the problem isn't adding mass to the chest, but removing it. Gynecomastia, the male breast-reduction surgery, costs an average of $3,013, and it can help men remove excess fat that has collected in this area due to medications or major weight loss [source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons].
7: Brazilian Butt Lift
If you're having trouble filling out your favorite pair of jeans and happen to have an extra $4,379 to spare, a Brazilian butt lift may be the answer you're looking for [source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons]. During this procedure, the doctor starts by performing liposuction to remove fat from unwanted areas in the hips and upper thighs. He then reinjects this fat around the butt to give your derriere a lifted, perky appearance. Rather than cutting and lifting the skin like a standard body lift, the butt lift is all about contouring and reshaping thorough fat redistribution.
Patients with little fat to work with may want to consider butt implants instead. For around $4,500, doctors add silicone implants over or under your gluts to give your butt a more rounded, full appearance [source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons]. You'll get the same effect as a butt lift without the liposuction.
6: Breast Surgery
Whether it's in the form of implants, reduction, reconstruction or lifts, women can't seem to get enough of cosmetic breast surgery procedures. In fact, female breast surgeries remain the most popular form of cosmetic surgery in the U.S., as well as one of the most commonly performed procedures in the world [source: Drell].
Part of the popularity of breast surgery lies in the sheer number of options available to women today. Breast implants add volume and improve the shape of the breasts, while breast lift procedures repair sagging caused by childbirth or age. Of course, all that potential comes with a price. A basic implant procedure averages $3,351, while the standard breast lift comes in at $4,207. And if you change your mind and want to take those implants out, breast implant removal can be as high as $2,288 [source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons].
5: Tummy Tuck
People will try anything to obtain those elusive flat abs or a six-pack, including invasive surgery in the form of a tummy tuck. For an average cost of $5,130, doctors can remove as much as 50 percent of your abdominal skin, giving you the tight, toned stomach you've always wanted [source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons].
During this procedure, the surgeon will make a horizontal incision along the lower abdomen or bikini area, then cut away any excess skin before stitching the patient back up. Tummy tucks remove sagging skin caused by major weight loss, as well as loose skin or stretch marks from pregnancy. A tummy tuck can even reduce other pregnancy-related effects, such as C-section scars or any other deformities. In a standard tummy tuck, the doctor cuts away the old belly button and crafts a brand new one. If you only need minimal work, a mini tummy tuck, where the doctor removes skin but leaves the belly button, may be a better solution, and you can also save some cash on the path to a better bikini body.
4: Thigh and Knee Lift
Rumors abound of celebrities who have undergone knee-lift procedures to fix baggy skin around the knees. In many cases, these women likely underwent a thigh lift to conceal scarring around the highly visible knee area. During a thigh lift, the doctor makes an incision on the upper thigh, then cuts away any excess skin in the legs. They may also use liposuction to remove fat from the thigh or knee area, or to recontour the legs for a more youthful, fit appearance. This procedure results in scarring high on the thighs, where it can be hidden by most clothing, rather than right at knee level. While a thigh lift may offer an affordable alternative to an entire lower body lift, it still comes with a steep price tag -- nearly $4,507 for the average patient [source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons].
3: Face Lift
For many women -- and men -- even regular exercise and a healthy diet can't hide the effects of aging on the face. Over time, wrinkles and sagging skin can start to show your true age and might make you look older than you feel. If you're hoping to turn back time with a face-lift, be prepared to foot the cost of this procedure: The average face-lift costs around $6,231. A forehead lift, which lifts and smoothes the skin around the eyes and forehead, may seem like a relative bargain in comparison, with the average surgery costing just $3,161 [source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons].
Despite the high cost of the face-lift, patients continue to line up for this procedure, eager to enjoy a more youthful, rejuvenated appearance. More than 100,000 people in the U.S. alone undergo some form of face-lift each year, making it one of the most common procedures [source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons].
2: Hair Implants
For many years, a well-fitted hat or a nice toupee was the only remedy for baldness. Today, those who can afford the average $4,676 price tag often opt for hair transplant procedures to restore lost or thinning hair [source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons]. During this time-consuming procedure, a surgeon implants new hair follicles into your scalp one by one. These follicles become part of your head and continue to produce real, natural hair. Because it's real hair, you can wash it or run your fingers through it without worrying about losing it. Both men and women undergo this procedure, with nearly 20,000 patients a year taking advantage of this costly yet effective badness cure [source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons]. For a slightly lower price, doctors can use the same technology to replace lost or thinning eyebrows.
1: Full Body Lift
It's hard to imagine a more complex or costly procedure than a full body lift, which comes in at an average cost of nearly $20,000. For patients who have lost a large amount of weight thanks to gastric bypass or lap-band surgery, a full body lift may be critical for removing loose or sagging skin all over the body. Using a combination of incisions, skin tightening and liposuction, the surgeon cuts away any excess skin and pulls the remaining skin tight to create a taut, toned body. He relies on liposuction to remove any remaining fat pockets and recontour the body. Because of the far-reaching results of this procedure, you must be at or near your ideal body weight before undergoing a full body lift, as any future weight changes can impact your results.
For more articles on improving your body and mind, check out the links on the next page.
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More Great Links
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons
- Frommer's: Cosmetic Surgery Tourism
- The Nemours Foundation: Plastic Surgery
- ABC News. "Celebrities and Cosmetic Surgery: Who's Had It?" March 27, 2010. (Oct. 20, 2010) http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Cosmetic/story?id=132633&page=3
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons. "2010 Quick Facts." 2011. (Aug. 29, 2011) http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Documents/news-resources/statistics/2010-statisticss/Top-Level/2010-Fullquickfacts-cosmetic-surgery-minimally-invasive-statistic-demographics.pdf
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons. "2010 Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Trends." 2011. (Aug. 29, 2011) http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Documents/news-resources/statistics/2010-statisticss/Member-Surgeon-Data/2010-reconstructive-trends-statistics2.pdf
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons. "Report of the 2010 Plastic Surgery Statistics." 2011. (Aug. 29, 2011) http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Documents/news-resources/statistics/2010-statisticss/Top-Level/2010-US-cosmetic-reconstructive-plastic-surgery-minimally-invasive-statistics2.pdf
- Buckman, Rebecca. "Secrets Of Plastic Surgery, Online." Forbes. April 24, 2009. (Oct. 20, 2010) http://www.forbes.com/2009/04/24/realself-plastic-surgery-technology-personal-tech-realself.html
- Drell, Lauren. "American women have an appetite for reconstruction." Medill Reports. Nov. 10, 2009. (Oct. 20, 2010) http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=145773
- Federal Bureau of Investigation. "John Dillinger." (Oct. 20, 2010) http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/history/famous-cases/john-dillinger/famous-cases-john-dillinger
- Hutchison, Courtney. "Heidi Montag: A Case of 'Plastic Surgery Addiction'?" ABC News. May 8, 2010. (Oct. 20, 2010) http://abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoodNews/heidi-montag-denies-plastic-surgery-addiction-husband-shes/story?id=10586196&page=3
- International Medical Travel Journal. "Surgeon attacks Indian government tax on cosmetic surgery tourism." July 22, 2009. (Oct. 20, 2010) http://www.imtjonline.com/news/?EntryId82=146394
- Lengel, Allan. "Criminals Who Alter Face and Fingerprints Don't Always Have Luck." Tickle The Wire. Dec. 24, 2009. (Oct. 20, 2010) http://www.ticklethewire.com/2009/12/24/criminals-who-alter-face-and-fingerprints-dont-always-have-luck/
- RealSelf. "90 percent of celebrities get work done, should they reveal?" April 11, 2009. (Oct. 20, 2010) http://www.realself.com/blog/90-percent-celebrities-get-work-done-should-they-reveal
- Stephano, Raymond V. "IRS Overview -- The Deduction of Medical Travel Expenses." Medical Tourism Magazine. Jan. 1, 2008. (Oct. 20, 2010) http://medicaltourismmag.com/issue-article/irs-overview-the-deduction-of-medical-travel-expenses.html