Feature Archive

Extreme Makeover: Coming to a Beach Near You

Summer is here and your local plastic surgeon has a few tricks to get you through.

By Denise Mann
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD

Every year as the weather warms up, men and women scurry to do whatever they can to look their very best on the beach. From low-carb diets and round-the-clock Pilates classes to butt and bicep implants, there are no limits to the lengths that people will go to, to create the makeover to look like Arnold, Britney, or Beyonce in the summer.

So when you notice the growing numbers of bodacious bods on the beach, there may be more to it than you realize, say leading plastic surgeons , aestheticians, podiatrists, and dermatologists.

Makeover Magic

Implants are creating muscle definition in both men and women and here's what is available to create the body you may have dreamed about.

Biceps. Next time a handsome man or pretty woman struts by you on the beach, makes a muscle and winks, think twice: Those round, ripped biceps could be fake! Beverly Hills, Calif., plastic surgeon Nikolas Chugay, DO, and others are doing more biceps implants as beach season 2004 approaches.

"It takes an hour and once it's performed, you've got the biceps of Schwarzenegger," he says. The implants are made of soft silicone that "does not leak, pop, or disintegrate," he says. They provide "a nice enhancement and you can continue doing your workout and building your biceps without any impingement," he says.

Most people have been ecstatic with the results of the procedure, he says, but he notes that there are inherent risks with any and all surgeries including infection or bleeding.

When asked if biceps implants are the next big thing, Chugay says: "I think so [but] remember that the buttock implant was developed over 12 years ago and it took this long to become way in demand due to J-Lo's [generous buttocks], so it may not happen over night."

To perform the surgery, a surgeon makes an incision in the upper arm and a solid soft implant is inserted into the pocket. Results are visible immediately.

Breasts. While breast implants have been popular for a while, new implants with the consistency of gummy bears called cohesive gel implants are available in clinical trials and are said to have the look and feel of silicone with the safety of saline. While the FDA may never allow silicone implants back on the market, a new survey released at the annual meeting of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) in Vancouver, British Columbia, showed that women are just as happy -- if not happier --with the saline implants anyway.

Think breast implants are for women only? Think again. Pectoral implants are commonly referred to as breast implants for men. This procedure increases the appearance of the size and shape of a man's pectoral muscles. Here the incision for the implant is hidden in the armpit and the solid implant is inserted in the chest. According to ASAPS figures, 1,734 such male breast implants were done in 2003.

Et tu, calf? Calf implants, too, can help men fill out their chicken legs and help women shape and increase the size of their lower legs. In 2003, 1,170 people had their legs surgically enhanced with calf implants, according to ASAPS stats.

Buttocks. Thanks to J-Lo, gluteal or butt implant surgeries appear to be on the rise, and statistics from ASAPS show that 3,885 of the procedures were performed in the U.S. in 2003 -- that's up 533% since 2002.

Surgery not your cup of tea? Kristine Panariello of Spa Secret in Bay Ridge, N.Y., suggests taking a nonsurgical route to beautifying the buttocks.

The "butt lift" involves microdermabrasion (or a steady stream tiny crystals sandblasted across the buttocks to remove the dead, outer layer of skin) and then a lifting treatment using collagen, vitamin E, C, and ginseng extract to firm, tone the bring back elasticity to the buttocks, followed by a tightening gel. The procedure costs about $250 for a one-hour session and after it, voila!

Sandal Season Strategies

Feet. The latest statistics show that cosmetic foot surgery is on the rise, even though organizations -- including the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons -- strongly caution against such cosmetic procedures. "I do tend to do a lot more surgeries before summer because it's sandal season and a lot of women want to get their feet looking nice for summer and they may be in bad shape from winter," says New York City podiatrist Oliver Zong, DPM.