In the rough and tumble of today’s tough economy, all of us are always looking for ways to save money. However, when it comes to choosing cosmetic procedures, which are medical treatments, trying to pay less in the black market can lead to disastrous consequences. Bad plastic surgeries or aesthetic treatments are occurring more frequently, and these may be performed by unqualified and fraudulent individuals seeking to capitalize on unsuspecting folks. In fact, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons is launching a public safety campaign to help educate the masses.

One recent and worrisome trend in unsafe plastic surgery is called “pumping.” Pumping is injecting silicone into the body to “pump” it up (lips, breasts, cheeks, etc.). It can also be used to smooth wrinkles. Pumping is becoming more and more common for those who cannot afford to go to a qualified plastic surgeon. The people who usually do the pumping are not doctors or nurses (they are neither licensed nor board certified), and they offer cosmetic services for very cheap. The silicone that they are injecting could be medical-grade, or industrial-grade, and you can’t really be sure what impurities it may have. Recently, people have even died from these procedures, while others have developed infections or chronic health problems. While everything may look and feel great right after “pumping,” problems can occur months or even years later. The silicone can migrate to other parts in your body, then harden and cause chronic pain. It can also cause a multitude of other health problems and be disfiguring as well.

When you see a qualified physician, silicone is generally not the most common option offered. For example, if you wanted to plump up your lips, your surgeon might use Juvederm. Juvederm is a smooth-consistency hyaluronic acid (a naturally hydrating substance found in young healthy skin), and also FDA approved. According to, the average price of Juvederm in California is $800. Another commonly used filler is Radiesse (though it is seldom used in the lips), which is also FDA approved. Radiesse stimulates your body to produce your own natural collagen to restore fullness and to smooth out the signs of aging (commonly used in cheeks, folds in the skin, and the nasal bridge for nonsurgical nose enhancements). So you are not only paying for a quality doctor you can trust, but also a quality product that you know is safe and effective to use. Pumping still costs a few hundred dollars, so rather than risking life and limb, save a little more! The extra money you spend could end up saving your life (or at least your beauty).

Here are some key tips to remember when choosing your plastic surgeon:

  • Make sure your doctor has a valid license and is board certified.
  • Look into your doctor’s background; make sure he/she has received a proper education from a credible school.
  • Check to see how many years of experience he/she has, and read reviews from patients that he/she has seen.