A Cut Above -- Part 1

November 18, 2004 – Posted at 9:11 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO -- Plastic surgery is becoming almost commonplace in America. With the popularity of reality television shows, like Extreme Makeover and The Swan, having something nipped or tucked isn't as taboo as it once was.

For a long time plastic surgery was thought to only be for celebrities and wealthy socialites....but times, they are a changing. What was once a dirty little secret has become something that most folks are excited to share.

"It used to be a taboo, hush-hush surgery, and right now it's common. People are proud, they go to the party and show each other the results and it became very open," said Dr. Thomas Majewski, a plastic surgeon.

Getting something "fixed" is a little more acceptable these days. And you don't have to see Doc Hollywood to find it...because it's right here in Region 8.

"The four most common that I do is abdominal plasty, breast augmentation, breast reduction and plasty, upper blepharoplasty...eyelid surgery," said Dr. Majewski.

"We're seeing more people wanting combinations. They want the face lift and the breast augmentation and the tummy tuck all done at the same time," said plastic surgeon Connie Heirs.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported 8.7 million people went under the knife last year, looking to upgrade their look through cosmetic surgery. One of the most commonly asked for procedures is breast augmentation. Women who are requesting this surgery increase by 8% every year.

"Breast surgery is more common among patients in there 20's and 30's. Abdominal plasty in their 30's and 40's usually after they have had children and they have some redundant skin that they want to address," said Dr. Majewski, "And then the facial surgery is predominantly people in the 50's and 60's."

But why the cosmetic cutting craze? With the popularity of reality television, even plastic surgery is now mainstream. With a new nose or a little liposuction, you can change your life, even find true love. But remember the Latin phrase, Caveat Emptor or it's translation buyer beware, because it's not always what it looks like.

"These shows are not realistic portrayals at all. simply because you don't get the whole thing. Everything is edited down to a matter of minutes," said ASU Radio & Television Instructor Larz Roberts, "Something that happens over the course of weeks, maybe even a month or longer."

"Many people are just focused on the final results. Everybody wants to see before and after and how beautiful the swan looks now. But they forget that not all swans look that good," said Dr. Majewski, "Some swans have to go through a lot of pain and problems before they achieve what they want and some of them will never achieve that stage that they really wanted."

But don't blame the stars of the reality shows that have opened up Americans to the idea of plastic surgery.

"These reality shows have raised the bar as far as these types of surgeries and their results being displayed, but actually the groundwork was laid long before that because of so many people that you see in the movies and on the TV and in advertisements who are the products of these surgeries," said Roberts.

The average cost of plastic surgery might surprise you. Breast augmentations will run between $4,500 and $7,500. Rhinoplasty, or as it's more commonly known a nose job, is around $3,500 to $8,000. A face-lift will empty your pockets in the neighborhood of $5,000 to $8,000 and liposuction will run between $2,000 and $10,000. And to have a face fat transfer, expect to spend between $3,500 and $15,000.