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Careers Enhanced With A Nip And Tuck

by Alf Nucifora

Once again the Boomer generation continues its onward march toward self-gratification and fulfillment, and, in the process, continues to remain at the forefront of societal trends. This time it's all about the body and external appearance, an issue that has always been high on the Boomer hierarchy of needs.

Personal Branding

From a marketing perspective, we can call it "Personal Branding"… the need to proactively project a personal image that is guaranteed to attract the buyer…a would-be employer, corporate superior, client prospect, or potential mate. And, the remedial tool most heavily associated with personal branding today is cosmetic surgery. In the court of public appeal, cosmetic surgery is all the rage, attracting a buzz that makes it a common element of discourse from cocktail party chatter to television programming (with the season's most talked about program Nip/Tuck, appearing on FX).

The numbers are equally impressive. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), there were 8.3 million surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures performed in 2003, a 20% jump from the previous year and a whopping 293% increase since 1997. The top five surgical procedures include liposuction, breast augmentation, eyelid surgery, rhinoplasty and breast reduction. The top five non-surgical procedures were Botox injection, laser hair removal, micro-dermabrasion, chemical peel and collagen injection. According to ASAPS, the national average for surgeons' fees is in the range of $1,500 to $4,000 for the above listed-surgical procedures and $150 to $800 for non-surgical treatments.

It's Not Just Vanity

Cold, calculated, rational determination plays as significant a role as emotional need in the decision to "buy" a cosmetic procedure. According to Dr. Brian Maloney, an Atlanta-based plastic surgeon, who specializes in hair transplants, fillers, Botox, eyelifts and rhinoplasty, "Cosmetic surgery is out of the bag. It's now okay to investigate it." Notes Maloney, "How one feels about one's self certainly impacts how one performs and competes in the marketplace." Maloney speculates that twenty years ago, it was all vanity. But today's consumer, particularly the Boomer, is looking after the body both inside (watching cholesterol for instance) and outside (with exercise). Says Maloney, "It's now a lifestyle issue, particularly as Boomers confront the issue of encroaching age."

Dr. John LeRoy, an Atlanta-based plastic surgeon who specializes in face lift surgery, liposuction and gynomastia (the surgical removal of male breast tissue), explains that his patients "Come to me for changes they can no longer make by simply adhering to good habits." Says Maloney, "These are people who are not obsessive. They have a healthy self-interest which goes beyond a vanity."

It's a Man Thing Too

Although most cosmetic procedures are performed on females (87%), the number of males heading to the plastic surgeon's office is increasing at a rapid rate, up 31% from 2002. The top five procedures for men are liposuction, rhinoplasty, eyelid surgery, breast reduction and hair transplantation. Interestingly, 14% of men would consider cosmetic surgery now or in the future, while 74% would not be embarrassed about having a cosmetic procedure.

Doctors continue to see a significant increase in male procedures. LeRoy's male patient base has doubled in recent years, while men comprise one-third of Maloney's clientele. Says LeRoy, "Most male patients are career professionals in the 45-55 age category…sales and marketing types in the public eye." In addition, the selection of surgeon is particularly relevant to the male shopper. There is a male definition that is definitely different than the female look when it comes to the cosmetic surgery end product. "A plastic surgeon must know how to deal with guys," says Maloney.

Where's the Action?

Not unexpectedly, procedures involving "injectibles" such as Botox or fillers (for lips and acne scars) are sky-rocketing in number. Also new on the scene is the band-aid facelift, a less drastic procedure for those who LeRoy notes "don't have too much to take off." The benefits include quicker recovery time, less distortion, and no messing around with hairlines.

In the old days, it was sufficient to rely upon good schooling, sound experience, and strong relationship skills to help build and maintain a career (or a client base). Today, that's not enough. In an era of reality television programming and nano-second attention spans, where the superficiality of outer beauty and good looks beats out the solidity of inner-strength and balance, the continued growth in cosmetic surgery is an inevitability. In the old days, you were judged on how good you were. From now on, you'll also be assessed on how good you look.

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