Cosmetic surgery tried for career edgeHR Magazine, May, 2006 by Kathy Gurchiek
Margaret felt invisible, as if she had faded into the background. Her long, straggly hair hid a receding chin and a jowly look that she said screamed “old age.”
As she entered her 50s, the lower part of her face “started to collapse,” said the Houston resident, who asked that her last name not be used.
“Everything was kind of sinking below my nose,” she said. But since a chin implant, face-lift and tightening of the skin on her neck in August, the wife, mother and freelance business writer likes what she sees in the mirror.
Cosmetic surgery is not new–11.4 million surgical and nonsurgical procedures were performed in the United States in 2005, according to The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). However, Margaret is among the growing number of men and women using cosmetic surgery to attempt to boost their career, even though it’s not covered by most health insurance plans.
‘For Business Reasons’
“I definitely had it done for business reasons,” said Margaret, whose work includes conducting interviews, adding content to web sites, creating business
plans and extracting material from a network to create new products. One of her contracts involves conducting market research for a business geared to young people.
“I felt if I went in and tried to get jobs with a kind of a droopy lower face that I would not get the jobs that I needed and wanted,” she said.
“I think when people look at a person who looks old, they think they’re not going to be able to handle the technical aspects that I am able to handle, and they think they’re not going to be computer literate,” she said.
The Competitive Edge
Cosmetic surgery for one’s career is about self-esteem and optimizing who you are, said Helen Perry, corporate and personal image consultant.
“If you don’t think you look good, you’re not going to operate on all cylinders. Your chances of that kind of productivity and bringing your A-game to the table are slim if you’re not pleased with the way you look,” Perry said.
Lipoplasty (liposuction), breast augmentation, blepharoplasty (cosmetic eyelid surgery), rhinoplasty (nose reshaping), abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) and breast lift were the top surgical procedures women had done in 2005, according to the ASAPS.
Nonsurgical procedures included nearly 3.3 million injections of Botox, which removes wrinkles temporarily. That was up 16 percent from 2004.
And the ASAPS notes that approximately 985,000 men underwent cosmetic surgery last year, although that’s down 15 percent from 2004. Lipoplasty, rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty, breast reduction and face-lift were the top five procedures men sought last year.
Board-certified Dr. Michel Siegel, a facial plastic surgeon in Houston, often hears from male patients looking for that competitive edge.
“The No. 1 reason I hear from patients” seeking cosmetic surgery is that “they are worried about the Generation X and realizing they don’t look as young as they used to. They want to look younger because of the competition,” he said.
Margaret thinks that her nearly six-hour surgery was worth the $10,000 price tag.
“It could have something to do with the economy, but my business has tripled,” she said. “Who knows whether it’s their response to me or my response to them; I’m less self-conscious [about my looks], so I may present better.”
Although it’s hard to verify, Margaret thinks she detects a difference in how people react to her.
“I feel like people, especially the young people, treat me more like a peer and a partner,” she said.
KATHY GURCHIEK IS ASSOCIATE EDITOR AT HR NEWS.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Society for Human Resource Management
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