The Changing Face Of America

Hannah Storm with Chris Rock at the Gracie Allen Awards June 18, 2007, in New York. CBS

In Hollywood, where growing old gracefully is unheard of, some of the most creative artists aren't the ones on the red carpet — it's their plastic surgeons. A lift here, a tuck there is a way of life all across America these days, reports CBS News Correspondent Bill Whitaker.

Life partners Jackie Kallen and Gary Baldassarre of Beverly Hills say everybody's doing it. "I've got girlfriends who've gone for breast lifts, lipo, tummy tucks, nose — the nose was for my future daughter-in-law for her wedding gift."

They're part of the latest trend — cosmetically enhanced couples. Jackie's had botox injections, that's botulism toxin, to erase forehead wrinkles, collagen injections, a nose-job, breast implants. Gary's had his nose fixed.

"My next procedure will be lipo suction around the hate handles - not love handles," said Baldassarre.

"Plastic surgery is so out of the closet. It used to be everybody thought you had to hide it and that's so ridiculous," said Kallen.

Plastic surgery is changing the face of America — breast augmentation is up 476 percent, liposuction is up 386 percent, eye lid surgery is up 190 percent and face lifts are up 77 percent. Procedures are up more than three-fold nationwide since 1992 from Omaha, to Iowa City, even button-down Boston where retired workers 65-year-old Tony Rusccio and wife Jan, 63 don't want to look old when they feel young inside.

Jan had her eyes lifted and wrinkles chemically peeled away. Tony had a facelift. They were so pleased, they went back under the knife together — to smooth his eyes and plump her lips.

"We're both aging, we can't get away from that. Like she said, 'I do it for her, you do it for me,' we do it for each other," said Tony.

"And there are 72 million baby boomers out there who are more vital and more active and they want to look their best," explained Dr. Sheldon Sevinor of the Sevinor Center For Cosmetic Surgery in Boston.

Or feel they have to. 39-year old Mitch Burmeister says he lost two acting jobs because of bags under his eyes. Now a Los Angeles contractor, he says he's tired of clients saying he looks tired.

"I gotta look like I'm on top of the game," said Burmeister.

So, he's getting his eyes done.

His doctor, Harvey Zarem, says more and more men cite economic pressures to surgically remove the years.

"The issue of age is a real factor, because there's a dominance of youth in the business world."

With the economy now sagging and millions of baby boomers succumbing to the ravages of time, the number of Americans seeking surgical rejuvenation, a million a year already, is bound to keep growing. This is one boom that shows no sign of going bust.



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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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