Savannah Nip and Tuck--Part II

61-year-old Bev Martin.
61-year-old Bev Martin.
A facelift procedure.
A facelift procedure.

Everybody gets older. But that doesn't mean you have to look older. In an age when we all want to look as young as we feel, many people are choosing to do something about it, and a growing number of people are turning to cosmetic surgery.

It's grown about 300 percent in the last seven years. Especially as baby boomers are now considering 50 to be the new 30. Maybe you've always wanted wider eyes, a smaller nose, a fuller bust, chiseled abs, great legs, a flatter stomach, or you just want to look younger.

We're bombarded by images of perfect bodies every day in the media. But how far are you willing to go to have one? When a healthy lifestyle is not enough, cosmetic procedures can offer a solution.

"It's self-esteem," said cosmetic surgeon Dr. E. Ronald Finger. "If you look in the mirror and like what you see, that's a big deal."

It was for Bev Martin, a spa owner from Hilton Head, who after turning 50, decided to do something about looking older. "Every woman looks at herself and sees things she doesn't particularly care for. Other people may never see it, but if it's bothering her, it's something she needs to do."

Martin opted for a facelift. During the procedure, incisions are made along the hairline and scalp, but rather than tighten the skin, surgeons work with what lies beneath to counteract the effects of aging and minimize scarring.

"What you have to think of is what's really happening and that is the fat and soft tissue behind the skin slides down and pulls the skin with it," explained Dr. Finger. "So you have to pull the underlying tissue up and the skin will go up with it."

Cosmetic surgery is not only less invasive than it was years ago, it can often be done right in the doctor's own offices. Dr. Finger's office has its own operating facilities. Patients are brought in for surgery. Most recover enough to go home in a few hours.

For more extensive procedures, they can be kept overnight in the on-site recovery suite.

For those not ready for surgery, nonsurgical procedures like Botox injections and laser therapy are options. Another alternative, cosmeceuticals: pharmacy-grade cosmetics with anti-oxidants, designed to repair cells and improve your skin's appearance.

"I've had several patients, probably three to four through the years, who have cancelled surgery because of skin care products," said Dr. Finger. "They just looked at themselves and said, 'That's as good as I need to look.'"

But Bev Martin is pleased with her decision, and the youthful appearance it's given her. "My favorite thing, I think, is not even knowing I'm 61 years old. I look in the mirror and say, 'Oh my gosh! How old am I?' I don't even stop to think about it."

Cosmetic surgery is not covered by insurance. Expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars for Botox injections up to $12,000 to $13,000 for a complete facelift or body procedures. There are a number of qualified licensed cosmetic surgeons in the Coastal Empire and Low Country. Don't be afraid to ask a friend for a referral or call the surgeon's office to schedule a meeting.

Reported by: Liz Flynn,