News & Politics

A Quick Guide to 12 Plastic Surgery Procedures

Good treatments for wrinkles or sun damage? How much does an eyelid lift cost? What’s involved in a nose job? Here’s a quick guide to 12 common procedures.

Photograph coutesy of Veer.

Botox and Dysport

Best for: Smoothing dynamic wrinkles–those caused by facial movement–by inhibiting muscle action in the forehead and mid-brow or around the eyes. Also used for nonsurgical brow lifts and for treating excessive perspiration in the underarms or on the soles of the feet or palms.

Cost: $300 to $1,000 per treatment area.

Recovery: Mild redness or swelling may occur at injection sites but should last only a couple of hours. Results are visible in three to seven days as muscle movement is impaired.


Breast Augmentation

Best for: Enlarging or enhancing breasts by inserting saline- or silicone-filled implants.

Cost: $4,000 to $9,000.

Recovery: For the first few weeks, breasts will be sore, swollen, and bruised and skin will feel stretched. Most swelling goes down within two weeks; numbness usually subsides within a month. Patients may return to work in one week and resume vigorous activity in four or more.


Chemical Peel

Best for: Improving uneven tone and texture, treating acne, and fading hyperpigmentation caused by sun damage, scarring, and melasma.

Cost: $100 to $375 per peel; three to eight are typically recommended.

Recovery: Depending on the type of peel, redness and tingling may last 24 to 72 hours, followed by mild to moderate peeling that can be camouflaged with moisturizer and makeup, which may be applied within several days of treatment.


Eyelid Lift (Blepharoplasty)

Best for: Lifting sagging lids to achieve a more youthful and less tired look.

Cost: $2,000 to $8,000, depending on whether both upper and lower lids are lifted.

Recovery: Expect redness and swelling around the incision areas plus excessive tearing, blurry vision, and a temporary sensitivity to light that will subside within a couple of weeks.



Best for: Creating a more youthful appearance by tightening and repositioning sagging skin, muscles, fat, and other tissues in the face.

Cost: $4,000 to $15,000.

Recovery: The head and face are loosely bandaged to help reduce swelling and bruising, and a drainage tube may be inserted behind the ear to prevent blood and fluid from collecting under the skin. Swelling, bruising, and numbness start subsiding within two weeks, and regular activities may be resumed within a month.


Injectable Fillers

Best for: Easing deep lines, reversing volume loss in the cheeks, and plumping lips. Fillers are either collagen- or hyaluronic-acid-based, such as Juvéderm, or longer-lasting versions such as Radiesse with microscopic particles that stimulate collagen.

Cost: $500 and up, depending on filler and amount injected.

Recovery: Swelling and mild redness should subside within a day, though bruising at the injection sites may last up to a week. Makeup may be applied immediately.


Laser Resurfacing

Best for: Improving or erasing fine lines and wrinkles, uneven pigmentation, sun damage, and scars. Also known as CO2, erbium, or Fraxel.

Cost: $1,200 to $5,000, depending on the type of laser and size of area treated.

Recovery: A sterile dressing is applied and removed after one to three days. The area should be treated with an ointment such as Aquaphor for at least a week to prevent scabbing. Skin will be red, bruised, and swollen for up to three weeks after CO2 resurfacing and for one week following erbium.


Light-Based Facial Rejuvenation

Best for: Improving redness, broken capillaries, sun damage, fine lines, enlarged pores, inflammatory acne, and symptoms of rosacea such as flushing. Also known as IPL (intense pulsed light) or photo facials.

Cost: $200 to $600 a treatment; three to five are usually recommended.

Recovery: Mild redness may last a few hours; brown and red areas may darken. Within one to seven days, darkened areas will develop a thin, scab-like cover and will flake off to reveal rejuvenated skin.



Best for: Body sculpting by removing fat from a localized area, such as the stomach, thighs, or upper arms.

Cost: $1,500 to $7,500 per area.

Recovery: Depending on the areas treated, the technique used, and the extent of lipo, patients may return to work and regular activities in two to seven days and resume strenuous exercise in three to six. Treated areas are bruised and swollen for two to six weeks, and patients wear a support garment for one to four weeks to reduce swelling and facilitate recovery.



Best for: Smoothing skin texture,clarifying pores, and improving the appearance of fine lines.

Cost: $100 to $175 a session; three to eight are typically recommended.

Recovery: Mild redness may be immediately covered with makeup and subsides within a couple of hours.


Tummy Tuck

Best for: Flattening and firming the abdominal area by removing excess fat and skin and tightening muscles.

Cost: $6,000 to $13,000.

Recovery: Abdominal swelling, pain, and discomfort last a month or more and are controlled with pain medication. The drainage tube inserted into the surgical site must be drained daily for one to three weeks, at which point it’s removed. Patients generally return to work in two to six weeks and resume exercise in four to eight. Numbness may last up to a year.


Nose Job (Rhinoplasty)

Best for: Changing the size and shape of the nose. Also can improve breathing for those with a deviated septum.

Cost: $5,000 to $12,000; some cases may be covered by insurance.

Recovery: A splint is usually applied to the nose to maintain its shape and is removed a week later. Bruising and swelling around the eyes and nose last two to four weeks. Patients may return to work ten days to three weeks following treatment, depending on the complexity of the surgery.

This article appears in the December 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.