Cosmetic procedures and the economy

September 23, 2008 4:01:47 PM PDT
In these tough economic times, there's one business that's still seeing a boom. People are turning to temporary cosmetic fixes rather than going under the knife for more permanent procedures. But for some, their reasons are more than just looks. One person refereed it as plasticonomics, the new economic reality of vanity.

Doctors are in the midst of a real change in the world of cosmetic surgery, as more and more patients are holding off on things like pricy face lifts and opting for other less expensive procedures that mirror the same results.

It's a delicate balance between looking younger and not breaking the bank.

"I do it after work," patient Judy Gattegno said. "I could do it lunchtime, I could do it early in the morning, before work."

It's Gattegno's little secret.

She is making subtle changes in her appearance, erasing wrinkles around her mouth, making frown lines disappear.

But like a growing number of people, she's opting for a simpler, less expensive method to turn back the clock.

"I figured I'd rather spend my money on vacation rather than having plastic surgery," she said.

Nowadays, Dr. Yael Halaas is turning to injectables more often than face lifts. And she's not alone. A recent survey showed that almost 53 percent of plastic surgeons say the downturn in the ecomony has had an adverse impact on certain procedures.

"I think value and cost effectiveness are tremendous buzz words with patients who are coming into my office," Dr. Halaas said.

Injectables can cost from $600 to $1,000 and last from about six months to a year, some even two years. Compare that to a face lift, starting at about about $8,000 dollars.

Experts say the procedure works best on patients who simply want to plum things up a bit.

Michael Ruff arrived for his injections, saying the end result, smooth skin, gives him more confidence. And that's not to say he isn't watching his check book.

"The financial times, it makes you think twice about everything," he said. "But it's worth it, totally worth it."

Dr. Lawrence Reed says about 80 percent of his practice now involves non-surgical procedures, with injectables topping the list. He says it's not just for the price, but the simplicity.

"They want to be back that day," he said. "Injections, we can raise the face, raise the brows, reposition things and buy you tremendous amounts of time before surgery."

So with fillers, there typically is little bruising or swelling. And after leaving the office, you can go right back to work. Another point, in 2007, doctors administered about 4.6 million injectables. And about 6 percent of those were to men.

For more on the doctors featured in this story, visit and


STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Kemberly Richardson


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