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“The new competitive edge in business is being delivered on a knife. Plastic surgery, from facial lifts and tummy tucks to dermal abrasions, is the latest strategy to get a leg up the corporate ladder, particularly in a competitive job market.
And it’s not just women. Aging men, looking over their shoulders at the younger generation, are also making the trip to the doctor’s office.”People want their external appearance to match their internal drive” says David Reath, a plastic surgeon from Knoxville, Tenn., who is head of education for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
The ASPS organization, which represents physicians certified in both the United States and Canada, held its annual scientific conference in Toronto this past week. “People who have a great deal of experience don’t want to be outdone by another person simply because of appearance”, he says.
The ASPS reports cosmetic procedures rose 69% between 2000 and 2009. Eye-lifts and breast enhancements are still on the wish list for clients seeking to up their game in the workplace, but the real demand is in non-invasive procedures, Dr. Reath says.
Cheaper procedures that can be performed in an office and require less recovery time are on the rise. Botox treatments alone grew more than 500% over the past decade and soft-tissue fillers for erasing lines and plumping lips and cheeks spiked 169% over the same period.
Today, a chemical peel costs as little as $100 and the average Botox injection ranges between $300 and $400, according to Mitchell Brown, a Toronto-based plastic surgeon and associate professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto. The big-ticket item is still breast enlargement or, in the case of men, breast reduction. Implants for women cost between $6,000 and $10,000, while a reduction runs from $4,000 to $7,000, Dr. Brown says.
Fat fillers range from $2,000 to $2,500 and other fillers start at $500. The advantage of this treatment is that the contour effects are more subtle and have a positive impact on surrounding tissues.
Peter Lennox, a Vancouver-based plastic surgeon, says that with less-aggressive options now available, attitudes toward cosmetic procedures are changing. “My patients often comment that they are getting overlooked or opportunities go to people who are younger”, he says.
Just as people go out to buy clothes or add a degree, cosmetic surgery is becoming another tool in career advancement. “That is part of their motivation,” Dr. Lennox says.
Demand for cosmetic procedures mirrors the demographic shift in the work population. Statistics Canada says 38% of Canadian workers were between the ages of 45 and 64 in 2009, up from 24% in 1990. That segment is expected to swell to 41% in the next couple of years.
Little surprise that 5.2 million cosmetic procedures in the United States were performed on individuals aged 40-54, more than double the procedures performed on the 30-39 crowd, and nearly double those performed on the 55-plus category, ASPS says.
The new buzzword in the profession is the “fresh face” — to have people look like themselves. “People want to go to work and have colleagues say, “you look rested”, said Michael Edwards, a plastic surgeon based in Las Vegas. The goal, he says, is to defy gravity and cheat time, but still look natural.
It’s about self-esteem, says Dr. Brown. “If [people] can do something that makes them feel good, that pays dividends at work. It helps them reach for success.”
Karen Mazurkewich, Financial Post · Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010