Plastic Surgery: A Smart Investment?


eHow Money Blog

Guess who’s paying for plastic with plastic—aging Hollywood divas, news anchors and politicians?

Guess again.

People making under $60,000 a year accounted for 70 percent of the country’s plastic surgeries in 2009. A full third of the 12.5 million plastic surgery patients made less than $30,000 a year.

In-house financing—often, high-interest loans made at the surgeon’s office—and easy access to credit makes the $10 billion nip/tuck industry’s services accessible for almost anyone with a pulse.

Americans spent more than a billion dollars on nose jobs in 2009 alone. Women spent $963 million on boob jobs (men spent $53 million; you know who you are). And then there’s the $970 million Americans spent on Botox to ensure their faces couldn’t do anything weird, like have an expression.

So what makes the promise of plastic so irresistible to these patients? Shouldn’t they be spending their hard-earned cash on, oh, food and shelter? Not so, according to Laurie Essig, author of “American Plastic: Boob Jobs, Credit Cards and Our Quest for Perfection.” “They are rational economic actors who understand that looking ‘better’ really can lead to more success in the job market and the romance market,” the sociologist explains.

Then again, Essig also points out that many people end up paying almost twice as much for the procedure due to high interest rates (the mechanics of which I detailed in my post, Don’t Let Your Jimmy Choos Walk All Over You).

Is plastic surgery a good investment? My money’s on getting your beauty sleep. Research shows it plays an important role in your memory, ability to learn, mood, motivation and judgment—a few things you might need to succeed in the marketplace of partnerships, business and otherwise.

And as they say, the best things in life are free.

Photo credit: Oppenheim Bernhard/Getty Images
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