The Politics of Plastic...Surgery

Here in Los Angeles, plastic surgery and extensive dermatological procedures have been de rigeur for some time. Now it's a trend that reaches from coast to coast. Due to new discoveries, people are opting for injections and minor surgeries over major cutting and pasting -- at least, initially.

I find that most women in Hollywood get plastic surgery to try to land "the perfect part" in a movie. Yet these same women refuse to dye their hair a different color for an audition because they're afraid that it won't look right. "FYI ladies... hair dye isn't permanent!" said Brandi Williams, host of "Who's Hot, Who's Not" at, who has a point.

Botox, which of course is derived from the bacterium that causes botulism found in spoiled meat, is among the most popular quick fixes. Of course, you might get a droopy eyelid or look like you have Bell's palsy if you overdo it. One could argue that it's natural. It's not synthetic. But it's a DISEASE.

Now before I go on a rant about how "odd" it is, let me just admit that Botox is a real wrinkle-wrencher. And I have never known someone to get sick from using it. So, in moderation, why not? Joel Stein of the Los Angeles Times laments: "People's real problem with plastic surgery is that hotness used to be the one thing that rich people didn't have an advantage in. Now that you can buy breasts and good skin, poor people will finally revolt." Well, that doesn't seem fair.

Botox is one of many "injectables" that are replacing surgery. There's Restalyne, collagen and Radiesse. Restalyne patients even get a frequent user card so that you can get enough points to get a free injection. Just like at the car wash. Wow. But there are many out there who seem to have gone a little crazy on the needles. The result: a face that looks scrunched up. I ask you, is having a fuller, more youthful face worth THAT? Rachel Herrera, makeup artist for E! Entertainment, said, "The cosmetic surgery boom of late is curious. It leaves people looking a little off. Can't put my finger on it, but it's a look that just isn't quite right."

It would seem that people would want to hide their procedures by going for subtle changes. But no, many women are happy to have lips that are so full, they'd explode if you kissed them. And breasts to match. The big news is that plastic surgery has become a must-have for men as well. What are they having done? Six-pack implants, calf implants, eye-brow lifts, and, of course, liposuction. Herrera's take: "Men are having as much plastic surgery as women these days. I used to think we were the only ones vain enough to be afraid to grow old gracefully." Suzy McCoppin of Life & Style magazine agrees: "Why diet when you can have your fat sucked out over lunch, and then enjoy a fattening dinner?"

And now people are proud of their "new selves." It's not an insult to say: "Hey, nice nose job!" Like a recent convo between Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz who share the same plastic surgeon. Respect for the honesty, but isn't it a little TMI? Penni Hirtenstein, a globetrotting socialite, thinks less is more. "I know beauty is pain, but 15 needles in my face every three to six months is a bit much."

Look, I have no doubt that, I, too, will be getting something done at some point. Why not? And in some ways, it makes it less daunting to think of having injections of my own fat when I'm 50 rather than having parts of my face removed and stretched.

I knew "mini-improvements" had become mainstream when I was invited to a Botox and Atkins diet party, hosted by a dermatologist-slash-plastic surgeon and his wife. Out of curiosity, I accepted. Not the Botox, but the invite. What I witnessed was a group of women standing -- you must be upright for several hours after receiving Botox -- and drinking red wine and mowing down Flintstone-esque racks of veal all while pressing cloths up against their foreheads to stop the bleeding. They weren't worried about getting meat stuck between their teeth or even passing out, which would probably happen to me. Outrageous? Yes. But funny, too.

At least there are a great many dermatologists and plastic surgeons to choose from here in L.A. -- and all around the country. "Just be sure to do your research ladies! Look what happened to Tara Reid because she didn't ask questions or get opinions from other doctors. There are a lot of scam artists out there," said Williams. When probed, Joel said: "I'm from Jersey, so the best I can do is pretend that I don't like plastic surgery. But if Dyan Canon is reading this, she knows where to find me."

I guess nothing is permanent. You can always fix it.

This is "Trendspotting" with Nellie Sciutto.