Looking Good

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Getting plastic surgery had been on Naomi Rigby’s mind for 15 years. It was something, I wanted to do for a long, long time,” Rigby said. The 37-year-old had breast augmentation surgery done in town last year. “It was a long time coming she said. “Bozeman just didn’t have a lot of plastic surgeons.”

That has changed. There are now several offices in Bozeman specializing in cosmetic procedures, offering everything from laser hair removal to tummy tucks. And business is booming.

“Breast work is by far what I do the most of,” said Dr. Karl Hapcic of Bozeman Surgical Arts. While breast enlargement is a popular choice in the Gallatin Valley, it’s not the most popular procedure in cosmetic surgery.

There were nearly half a million liposuction surgeries done in the U.S. in 2004, outdistancing breast augmentation by nearly 150,000 procedures. Hapcic said because Montana is under snow for a good portion of the year not as many people seek out liposuction as in warmer climates. Lifestyle has a lot to do with it, he said.

“Some of it has to do with the overall fitness of the community,” Hapcic added.

Nearly 12 million people had some kind of work done on them last year according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). That’s about $12 billion dollars worth of plastic surgery, and the numbers show no sign of slowing down.

“In certain parts of the country it’s almost a necessity” said Dr. Michael McGuire, of the ASAPS.

McGuire said in places like Los Angeles and New York it has become fashionable to have plastic surgery done at a young age and to actually show off the bandages.

“It’s become a badge of distinction,” he said.

Plastic surgery is basically divided into two categories, surgical and non-surgical procedures. The most popular nonsurgical operation is BOTOX, with almost 3 million people having the wrinkle reducing injections last year.

Dr. Hugh Hetherington of Big Sky Cosmetic Surgery in Bozeman specializes in facial procedures and advocates less rather than more.

“We abdicate maintenance rather than makeovers,” he said. “Just do a little bit – the classic example is BOTOX.”

A few quick injections of BOTOX and wrinkles can be erased a few months at a time. There is no radical surgery involved, and Hetherington said many of his patients are in and out on their lunch breaks.

If someone is thinking about getting plastic surgery doctors say the first step is to consider their motivations.

“They need to think about it long and hard” said Hetherington. “They also need to find somebody that has done the procedure before and has the results to show for it.”

Most doctors will schedule a few consultations with a potential patient to just talk about why they want something done. Both Hetherington and Hapcic have had to turn people away for wanting plastic surgery for the wrong reasons.

“You need to be eye to eye with a patient,” Hapcic said.

One reason for rejection comes when a spouse is pushing someone into getting work done. “That’s a big red flag” he said.

Another way patients get turned away is when they want surgery at a difficult time in their personal lives because they think it will improve their situation.

“You can’t expect it to change your life,” said McGuire, “Your marriage is not falling apart because your nose is crooked.”

Those who do undergo surgery however are usually happy with what they see.

“I feel more curvy, more feminine,” said Rigby. “It’s not about what everybody else thinks, it’s more how you feel about yourself.”