A recent report suggests that despite worries over an economic downturn, Americans are still spending money on procedures intended to make them look better. The annual report, issued last week by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, showed that the number of cosmetic procedures performed continued its steady rise last year to a total of nearly 12 million.
"The report tells me Americans are devoted to looking and feeling their best," ASPS president Dr. Richard A. D'Amico said in a statement on the report. "High demand continues for less invasive and relatively less expensive procedures, but there were also promising rebounds in some surgical procedures."
But while consumers continue to flock to doctors in the hopes of improving their appearance, plastic and cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists say there are a number of procedures of which consumers should be especially wary.
The entries listed here represent 10 cosmetic procedures that -- for most people, at least -- are least likely to offer results that justify their risks.
Several cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists agree that if there is one procedure to avoid when shopping for a slimmer look, it's one called lipodissolve -- a shot that is purported to dissolve away stubborn fat deposits.
This shot is often part of "mesotherapy" -- a shallow injection of a cocktail of substances using a fine needle.
"There is really not a single scientific study to show that it definitely works," said Dr. Malcolm Roth, director of plastic surgery at Maimondes Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. "Are these chemicals safe when injected into fat? And what happens to this fat? Where does it go?
And Dr. Carolyn Jacob, a board certified dermatologist in Chicago, calls lipodissolve the most ill-advised treatment available today.
"This is a non-FDA approved use of a material called lipostabil, which can dissolve fat and other structures," she said. "However, it can cause pain, swelling, hard lumps, ulceration of the skin, and contour irregularities."
"None of the pharmaceuticals used for injection are FDA approved," said Dr. Susan Kaweski at the Aesthetic Arts Institute of Plastic Surgery in San Diego. "There have been no double-blinded studies revealing the mechanism of diffusion of solutions following injection, the precision and control of fat destruction by the chemicals or the long- and short-term effects of the drugs."
Despite the dangers of the procedure, the growing number of clinics offering lipodissolve is a testament to its continued legal status in the United States. Still, the procedure is banned for cosmetic purposes in Brazil and other countries.
"Most physicians performing this procedure do not have training in liposuction, plastic surgery or dermatologic surgery," Jacob says. "Even dentists are doing it."
Those who desire cosmetic surgery from top to toe should be no strangers to cosmetic foot surgery -- a collection of surgical and minimally invasive procedures designed to yield a sexier foot.
Despite the continued popularity of these procedures, which involve everything from filler injections to round out angles to total surgical reshaping of the foot, doctors have been warning consumers away from cosmetic foot surgery for years.