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Surgery by any other name

Cosmetic facial procedures, even those requiring incisions, may seem tame compared to those done to the breasts, abdomen, back and thighs.

But body-reshaping procedures are becoming commonplace, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. For instance, more people had liposuction (323,605 procedures) and breast augmentation (291,350 procedures) than face-lifts (108,955) in 2005, the organization reports.

The procedures are pricey, too. Breast lifts or implants start at about $3,500 on average; tummy tucks average $4,402; and nose reshaping, the most common facial procedure, averages $3,511.

Despite their appeal, operations to change the bust line or reshape the waistline are serious medical undertakings. Most involve invasive surgery, using regional or general anesthesia, which frequently causes postoperative discomfort and swelling.

And though the results are often pleasing—even startling—patients must undergo a period of recuperation that could take several weeks.

The bottom line: Be sure you are comfortable with the full impact of these procedures before you decide to turn back the clock.