6 Cosmetic Touch-Ups

Are fake boobs a faux pas? It all depends on who you ask. When it comes to cosmetic surgery we all have our own level of tolerance as to what is acceptable and how much plastic is pathological. But what if your smile makes you sad, or your eye sight is impairing your better judgment? Why should you suffer when a relatively minor procedure or fix can make you feel a whole lot better about yourself?

This recently became a nagging question after I met up with an old high school friend of mine down in South Beach. Something was different, very different about Darren. When he turned around and asked me to rub lotion on his shoulders, I realized that this was the first time I had ever seen my friend bare back at the beach. You see, the otherwise confident Darren had always been plagued by the hair that carpeted his back and now, just 12 laser zapping sessions later, he could very well have been a Baywatch poster boy.

We all have that blemish or imperfection that we wish we could correct, whether it is the crooked bite that forces you to smile with locked lips or spider veins that keep you all clad even in blazing temperatures. Thankfully, a whole range of options are now available to growing numbers of women and men like Darren who are turning to ways of improving their looks without major surgery.

In fact, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, minimally invasive cosmetic procedures in the United States rose by nine percent in 2007, to nearly 10 million. The top five were Botox, hyaluronic acid fillers, chemical peels, laser hair removal and microdermabrasion.

And just in case any guys out there were wondering, according to industry figures men represented the fastest growing segment. Since 1997, non-surgical cosmetic and skin procedures among men have increased 722 percent, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Teeth Whitening

What it is: An effective way of brightening your smile by eliminating stains created from smoking, eating and imbibing certain drinks (such as coffee, tea and alcohol).

The Process: Gum tissue is first covered to protect it from being irritated. A whitening gel is then applied to the teeth and then activated by a high intensity light or laser to increase the lightening effect on the teeth. In-office treatments take about an hour, and can lighten your teeth up to eight or ten shades in one treatment.

Approximate Cost: $300 to $500.

Laminates

What it is: These porcelain veneers are thin customized covers put over the front surface of a tooth. Veneers are typically applied to fix crooked, small, or chipped teeth.

The Process: In the first visit, the patient is examined and impressions are made of the teeth. Next the Dentist will grind down or shave the underlying teeth and outfit patients with temporaries. After the veneers have been custom-made at a lab, the patient goes back to the dentist to have the veneers placed on the teeth. It's usually about a 2- to 2½-week turnaround time on those.

Approximate Cost: $1,000 per veneer.

Lasik Eye Surgery

What it is: LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) is an eye surgery treatment that reshapes the cornea in order to produce clear vision for individuals who are nearsighted, farsighted or have astigmatism.

The Process: The ophthalmologist conducts a pre- LASIK eye examination to determine whether a patient is a good candidate for the surgery. To begin the correction procedure, the eye is anesthetized with topical eye drops. Next the surgeon creates the flap on the outer surface of the eye to expose the underlying cornea. The cornea is then reshaped using an excimer laser and the flap is replaced.

Approximate Cost: $499-$2500 per eye.

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