Is 'Extreme' Out?

A national survey suggests that most people prefer subtle changes to their appearance.

From all the plastic surgery reality shows on television, including "Extreme Makeover" and "The Swan," you'd think many Americans want it all — from tummy tucks to eyelid lifts — and all at once. But a December 2003 telephone survey sponsored by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery found that only 23 percent of respondents who would •onsider having plastic surgery would opt for an extreme change in their appearance. The majority, 68 percent, wanted only a subtle change.

"The results of the ASAPS survey illustrate that, while people may enjoy the voyeurism of watching television shows in which others undergo total transformations, most people don't want that for themselves," says former ASAPS president Robert Bernard, a plastic surgeon in White Plains, N.Y.

These were among the other findings of the survey, which included interviews with 1,000 adults from Nov. 21 to 23, 2003:

• Thirty-nine percent of women and 22 percent of men wish they could change something about their appearance.

• Twenty-five percent of women and 14 percent of men said they would consider cosmetic surgery.

• Among those who would consider surgery, 88 percent of women and 69 percent of men said they would like to look better following their plastic surgery, but "like the same person."

• Among those who would consider surgery, 35 percent would change one feature, 26 percent would change two features, 12 percent would change three features and 9 percent would change more than three features.

ASAPS is a 2,200-member plastic surgery association dedicated to advancing cosmetic surgery. All of its U.S. members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. For more information on this survey or other cosmetic-surgery research, visit

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