But the ravages of bad facial procedures are not confined to surgery alone. Another extreme facial procedure, the CO2 laser peel, leaves patients with a scabby, red face that takes weeks to heal. While these patients eventually enjoy a smoother complexion once the healing is over, there are a number of alternative procedures available today that can give much the same result -- without the intense pain and downtime.
What do you get when you combine two tried-and-true plastic surgery techniques in a single operation?
If the procedures in question are a breast lift, or mastopexy, and a breast augmentation, the chances are decent that you could get more complications than you bargained for.
"A mastopexy, or breast lift, with simultaneous breast augmentation [has] one of the highest sources of malpractice suits," said Dr. Henry Kawamoto, clinical professor of plastic surgery at UCLA and director of the UCLA Craniofacial Clinic.
The reason for all the problems is clear when the aim of each procedure is considered. While mastopexy is often aimed at breast reduction -- essentially tightening up the tissues of the breast to eliminate a flabby, loose appearance -- the aim of breast augmentation is the exact opposite.
So while surgeons performing both procedures may start by removing the excess skin on the breasts during the mastopexy operation, they may find themselves stretching the remaining skin in order to accommodate the breast implants that they put in later.
Aside from the complications that arise due to the combination of the two procedures, patients also face the normal risks that go with each individual surgery -- risks that include the possibility of infection, implant exposure, asymmetry of the breasts, loss of nipple sensation, the inability to breast-feed, healing problems and other complications.
With the explosion in the popularity of cosmetic surgery in the past two decades has come another explosion in the number of people who are willing to perform these operations.
But not every doctor has the training necessary to perform these procedures. Indeed, many of the proprietors for whom cosmetic procedures represent a lucrative part of their business do not even hold a medical degree.
"Probably everyone has heard of the itinerant practitioner who performs procedures in a hotel room for bargain basement prices and then is nowhere to be found when complications arise," Branham said.
So what is the key to avoiding such practitioners? Do your homework, said Branham -- and don't rush into surgery before you know everything you need to about your surgeon.
"You should see the doctor ahead of time and not the day of the procedure except in unusual circumstances," Branham said. "This allows you the time and opportunity to check out the doctor and his or her credentials and see the facility for yourself without the stress of an imminent procedure."
And when in doubt, don't go through with the procedure.
"We have a saying," Roth said. "You never regret the operation you don't do."