TESS VIGELAND: Forget the fruitcake...the gift card...and the DVD player. Maybe you got really creative this year and gave the gift that keeps on giving. Cosmetic surgery. The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery says a third of its members did nose jobs and other nips and tucks that had been given as gifts last year. Ok, so the wrapping paper bit can be a little tricky. Here's Marketplace contributor Cash Peters.
MAN: Nobody likes to age, because we have an inside image of ourselves at a young time in life where we think of ourselves as young and as soon as we see photographs that all of a sudden show we're not the person we thought we were, that's when people start to freak out.
WOMAN: I'm one of the baby boomers and the baby boomers want to stay young and feel young.
CASH PETERS: But you're not gonna stay young. You automatically become old and decrepit. Accept it.
HER: No. But at least you can extend it. All my friends talk about is what they want done.
PETERS: Can you believe that? Apparently, 8.3 million people underwent cosmetic surgery last year alone. Often something very subtle. To their nose, maybe. You can't put your finger on it. But if you did it would go...[SQUEAKING NOISES].
Colin Hurren runs a clinic called Skindeep Laser Medspa.
COLIN HURREN: There's hundreds and millions of people out there who've had a little nip, a little tuck, a little therapy, and their best friend wouldn't know they'd had something done.
PETERS: So what have you had done? Just give me a list.
HURREN: Alright. Laser hair removal. I've had the hair removed from my back. I've used laser hair removal on my face, I no longer shave. I've had photofacials, I've had Botox. I have weekly micro dermabrasion.
PETERS: My, you're a big job of work, aren't you?
HURREN: Yes, but don't you think I look nice?
PETERS: You look fantastic! [LAUGH].
Hm, he does. Very...unhairy. What's great is — well, what else am I going to say? — what's great is that nowadays you can give stuff like this as gifts.
HURREN: Yeah, I think women like these treatments. They enjoy the tremendous improvement they get from it. So, as a Christmas present, it's a wonderful thing to receive.
PETERS: Do people give Botox vouchers?
PETERS: They don't!
And not just Botox, you give all kinds of surgery, though you have to be careful how you go about it, especially with, let's say, body hair or, ooh, even more tricky — breast implants. Dr. Athleo Cambry.
ATHLEO CAMBRY: I'd say most intelligent men are not going to propose that as a Christmas gift.
PETERS: I suppose if you were totally tactlessa€¦
CAMBRY: Yes, if you have no tact whatsoever, then you propose to your wife or your girlfriend that here, you really need breast implants and I'm going to give you that for Christmas.
HURREN: That rug the husband's had on his back forever can be removed permanently. As well as unwanted hair on any other part of the body.
PETERS: Yeah, but wouldn't you be insulted if somebody gave you a hair removal voucher? You'd be appalled, right?
HURREN: Well, you haven't seen my bikini line. Will I by the end of the day? [LAUGH]. No. Er, I,er...
Er, er, thank goodness for that. By now I was realizing that you need an extremely strong stomach to listen to these people, whether it's salesmen demonstrating special elastic corsetsa€¦
MAN: When you have swelling, fluid collects in local areas. So this helps drain the fluid.
Does it now? How interesting. Or eye-surgeons like Paul Dougherty cheerfully yakking on about implantable contact lenses.
PAUL DOUGHERTY: The implantable contact lens is a lens that's injected into the eye behind the iris whicha€¦.you're obviously very squeamish.
PETERS: I'm sweating.
DOUGHERTY: I will show it to you if you want.
PETERS: No, please don't. I'll just pass out.
DOUGHERTY: It's put in front of the natural lens.
Oooh, look a spinning wheel!
[SPINNING WHEEL SOUND]
Just in time, I came across a booth run by David Sanborne of the Debra Winkler Dating Agency, who I guess were there hoping to match up the recently nipped with the recently tucked.
DAVID WINKLER: We have a wheel you can spin.
PETERS: There's a wheel I can spin! I want to spin your wheel.
Spin the wheel, land on a heart and you win a three-month subscription to their dating service, just in time for Christmas.
[SPINNING WHEEL SOUND]
And guess who spun and won.
PETERS: I automatically got a three month membership.
WINKLER: You sure did. You're definitely someone who — we'd definitely like you to join our service and get some more information. We'd love to have you come in and sit with our matchmaker.
Er, no thanks. In fact, no thanks to all of this. Cosmetic surgery is not for me. Most operations turn out just fine, I know that. On the other hand - well, you've seen those people who look like they met Hannibal Lekter in the elevator on the way up? Doctor Edward Torino.
EDWARD TORIN: If it doesn't turn out right and the patient doesn't feel they look right, they can literally be emotionally destroyed for the rest of their life.
PETERS:'Leave yourself alone' is my message.
TORINO: Yes, but not everyone's as fortunate to be as nice looking as you are. Give it another ten years and maybe you'll care.
PETERS: That's why I'm on radio, so I won't inhibit people with my good looks.
TORINO: Yeah, right.
[SPINNING WHEEL SOUND]
PETERS: That's the third time I've done it.
WINKLER: It's giving you some signals here.
PETERS: Maybe you and I should date. [LAUGH]
In Los Angeles, I'm Cash Peters for Marketplace.