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Plastic Surgery: A Growing Business Despite Tough Times

In Hollywood, where growing old gracefully is unheard of, some of the most creative artists aren't the ones walking the red carpet to the Academy Awards. They're the plastic surgeons. A lift here and a tuck there is a way of life, and not just in Hollywood these days. Life partners Jackie Kallen and Gary Baldassarre of Beverly Hills say that everybody is after plastic surgery.

"I've got girlfriends who've gone for breast lifts, lipo, tummy tucks, nose [jobs]," says Jackie. "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 botulinum toxin--to erase forehead wrinkles. She's also had collagen injections, a nose-job and breast implants. Gary's had his nose fixed.

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

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

Plastic surgery is changing the face of America. Since 1992, breast augmentation is up 476%, liposuction is up 386%, eyelid surgery is up 190% and face lifts are up 77%.

Retired workers 65-year-old Tony Rusccio and 63-year-old wife Jan, don't want to look old. "I feel young," says Jan. "Feel young inside. When I say 63, it's just a number."

Jan had her eyes lifted and wrinkles chemically peeled away. Tony had a facelift. They were so pleased that 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," says Tony. "Like she said, I do it for her, you do it for me, we do it for each other."

There are 72 million baby boomers out there that are more vital and more active and they want to look their best, says Dr. Sheldon Sevinor.

But some may feel they have to look their best. Thirty-nine-year old Mitch Burmeister says he lost two acting jobs because of bags under his eyes. Now as 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," says Mitch. "

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," says Harvey.

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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