Gift of Plastic Surgery on the Rise This Christmas

For one who has everything, including droopy eyelids, surgery may be the gift.

ByABC News
December 23, 2013, 7:31 AM
A woman is seen after a plastic surgery procedure in this undated stock photo.
A woman is seen after a plastic surgery procedure in this undated stock photo.
Getty Images

Dec. 23, 2013— -- For the person who has everything -- including fine lines and droopy eyelids -- plastic surgery might just be the best present of all this Christmas.

If you gifted a surgery, you wouldn't be alone. Far from it. Some plastic surgeons and dermatologists report a significant increase in the number of procedures as holiday gifts this year.

Dr. Barry Weintraub of New York City's 5th Avenue Cosmetic Plastic Surgery said his practice has seen as much as a 35 percent increase in the number of gifted surgeries this year, depending on the procedure. The most popular surgery that's being gifted this year, he said, is the nose job, followed by eyelid surgery and breast augmentation.

That's a cost of $8,500 and up.

Weintraub had just walked out of a nose job on a 21-year-old before saying that it makes sense that young people would ask for surgery this time of year when they have time off from school to recover.

There's also the feeling of "melancholy" that comes along with the holiday season, according to Dr. Michael Shapiro of Vanguard Dermatology in New York City. "We're programmed to feel happy and joyful this time of year. Sometimes people will have a procedure to lift their spirits."

Shapiro said his practice has seen a 25 percent increase in Botox gift-giving and 20 percent in other fillers.

Sarah Voekl, a 28-year-old who runs the nonprofit Heel Your Sole, gave herself the gift of Botox from Vanguard and liked the results so much she's giving Botox to her sister this holiday season.

"My sister will be absolutely thrilled," she said.

But what if someone gave Voekl the same gift? "I'd be offended if a man gave it to me," she said. "It's like giving a gym membership."

But despite the possible pitfalls, that's actually the most common scenario.

"It's usually a gift from a spouse or from a daughter or son to a mom," Dr. Shapiro said.

Lauretta Flynn was given the gift of airbrushing with Juvederm to fill in the lines around her lips from years of smoking. The procedure, which was done at Charlotte Plastic Surgery in Charlotte, N.C.. was a gift from her husband.

But the Juvederm was her idea. "I think you have to ask for it," she said. "It's one thing for me to look in the mirror and see the lines, but it would make me really self-conscious if he brought it up."

So what are the logistics of paying for someone else's surgery or injections? The gift-giver will come in and take care of the bill, Shapiro said, or the patient will use CareCredit.

"It's like a credit card for cosmetic procedures," he said.

The person giving the gift gets the bill that he or she pays either in full or in monthly installments.

Besides the gift-giving nature of the season and the time off, there's another important reason to choose the winter for surgery. "The weather is on your side," Weintraub said.

"Cold air leads to less bleeding and swelling."

Shapiro said less daylight means people are more inclined to do chemical peels and microdermabrasion this time of year as well.

But no matter who is footing the bill, Weintraub said, the final decision on whether the surgery is going to happen lies with him. Weintraub said he turns away nearly one-third of the people who come to him seeking procedures.

"They [the patients] still need to be medically cleared," he said. "That doesn't change no matter who is paying."