Cosmetic Plastic Surgery at a glance

Media Publications

This links to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons website, giving you more in-depth information about individual cosmetic surgical procedures.

Nip and tuckBy: Kristin Boyd, Staff Writer 08/07/2007

Prominent cosmetic surgeon tells all

You know the hot new surgical procedure that's all the rage in Paris, the one that melts away cellulite and wrinkles with a crystallized magic wand — in 15 minutes?

Well, OK, maybe that's a stretch. But you can bet if actress Nicole Kidman raved about it in People magazine, a good number of Americans would be buying those wands by the dozens.

It's easy to get caught up in the plastic surgery hype, especially when spider veins are crawling up your legs and your once luscious hair is falling out in clumps. Or when crow's feet have invaded your face and your belly bubbles over your jeans.

"It sounds very sexy when there's something new put out there — and when a story runs on television, it generates interest in that procedure," Dr. Arthur W. Perry says. "So the next day, people call my office and want to know if I do ... "

As interest in cosmetic surgery surges, so does misinformation about popular procedures, some of which are dangerous or even useless, says Dr. Perry, author of the new book, "Straight Talk About Cosmetic Surgery" (Yale University Press).

Dr. Perry will be presented in a book signing and discussion about cosmetic surgery on Thursday at 7 p.m. by Borders Books and Music, 601 Nassau Park Blvd., West Windsor. The event is free and open to the public.

"Plastic surgery is a wonderful field, and there are so many helpful, wonderful procedures," he says. "What distinguishes this book is the critical eye and (its) empowering nature because we go through the procedures that don't work and are wasting money."

In the last 10 or so years, cosmetic surgery has gone from a taboo topic to a staple of everyday conversation. Thanks to television programs and magazines, even Average Joes know about tummy tucks, wrinkle fillers, skin peels and face lifts.

"Cosmetic surgery is the only consumer-driven part of medicine, as opposed to health issues or other parts of medicine that are driven by medical type issues. Because of that, it's a field that gets marketed straight to consumers," Dr. Perry says, adding many consumers have unrealistic expectations and are unaware of the recovery process and the risks associated with surgery.

When Dr. Perry began practicing more than 20 years ago, cosmetic surgery was largely reserved for the rich and famous, but that's no longer the case. Many Americans, he says, now view cosmetic procedures, including noninvasive treatments like Botox, as an affordable option for looking younger or for changing their looks altogether.

"Despite what people think, we're in an economically prosperous era, and the relative cost of cosmetic surgery has come down in the past 20 years," he says. "It was considered extremely expensive, a luxury item, but compared to the rising cost of living, the fees have not escalated."

Dr. Perry says the most popular surgical procedures at his Franklin Park and Bridgewater offices are rhinoplasty (nose reconstruction), liposuction (fat removal) and breast augmentation. Botox treatments, wrinkle fillers and skin peels are the most popular noninvasive procedures.

However, the increasing popularity of cosmetic surgery coupled with a growing number of cosmetic surgeons crowding the field has led to intense competition. Thus, each new procedure is automatically dubbed the next best thing, often before it is proven safe or necessary, Dr. Perry says.

"You don't hear of a gastroenterologist marketing a new type of colonoscopy. In cosmetic surgery, there are all sorts of new procedures that are thought up and put out to the public through public relation agents or advertising agencies," he says.

"It's almost predictable now," he adds. "The surgery is on television, it becomes over-hyped, and two years later, you see the stories about the complications of the surgery."

For example, Dr. Perry says, hearing raves about mesotherapy — a noninvasive fat removal and weight-loss method that originated in France and has gained popularity in America in recent years — sickens him.

"Mesotherapy is one of those things that I look at and cringe," he says. "You'll find ads for it all across the country, and it's a completely unproven, technically illegal procedure. A noninvasive fat removal, a noninvasive cellulite removal? It's absolute bunk."

Such procedures and his longtime work with the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners prompted Dr. Perry to write "Straight Talk About Cosmetic Surgery."

"I saw all the complaints in surgery, plastic surgery, dermatology (while on the state board). I was the guy who reviewed those complaints for 10 years, and it really opened my eyes to the issues and problems out there," he says.

Dr. Perry says "Straight Talk About Cosmetic Surgery" is an up-to-the-minute guide that features educational components and truthful advice. He utilizes charts, photos and illustrations to demonstrate his points.

In addition to identifying both legitimate and ineffective procedures, the book covers other topics, including how to choose a plastic surgeon and how to recognize false advertising and cosmetic surgery frauds; the facelift procedures that actually work, and the myth about scarless surgery.

"The most important reason to buy this book is if someone is interested in cosmetic surgery because they need to be able to get through all the junk out there, all the misinformation," Dr. Perry says. "It will give people the balance and the tools they need to make good decisions."