Most of us wish we could turn back the clock.
Ruling out the mythical time machine, cosmetic surgery is one of our few options. But since health insurance rarely covers cosmetic procedures, the cost is often prohibitive.
What Dr. Kent Cox wants you to know is that cosmetic surgery may not be as unaffordable as you think, especially if you have it performed right here in the Rim country.
Cox, a facial cosmetic surgeon as well as ear, nose and throat specialist is back in town after a brief 18-month hiatus in California (while his daughter finished school), and is performing cosmetic procedures for typically less than comparable procedures in the Valley or Flagstaff.
But before you even think about the cost, you should hear what Cox has to say about what cosmetic surgery can -- and can't -- do for you.
"The key," he said, "is to not have unrealistic expectations. If you come in and say, ‘I want to look like Jennifer Aniston,' that's just not going to happen. But we can usually make you much better looking for your age."
And while the change is permanent (except for Botox injections), cosmetic surgery does not stop the aging process.
"Cosmetic surgery sets you back on the conveyor belt of time, and that interval will stay there," Cox said. "As you age it moves forward, but that five or 10-year advantage you gain will always be there -- so you'll always look better for your age than you would have."
Because cosmetic surgery is usually elective, Cox prefers to be conservative. His goal is a natural look.
"I don't want people to say, ‘You've had a facelift,'" he said.
"I'd like them to say, Wow, you just look great. Have you been on vacation or what?'"
Cox performs a number of facial cosmetic procedures. They include:
"It's called a facelift, but it really has more to do with lifting the tissue between the face and neck -- getting rid of the jowls and the turkey gobbler neck," Cox said. "Facelifts can take off five, maybe 10 years,"
"Typically the best surgery we do is the upper eyelids," Cox said. "It gives you the most dramatic results, it's pretty safe and it's particularly useful for women because women need upper eyelid to show to look animated."
"This is cosmetic nose surgery -- making larger noses smaller, occasionally making a small nose bigger, straightening it and making it appear more refined," Cox said.
This procedure involves using a weak acid to remove the top layer of skin. "I like chemical peels," he said. "In my hands, I think they're safer than lasers. (A lot of wrinkle removal is done with lasers, but some people react with scarring and redness.)"
Liposuction is a part of most facelifts, but can also be performed as a separate procedure.
Botox works by paralyzing the muscle and reduces the associated wrinkling, but a major drawback is that it only lasts for a matter of months.
Other cosmetic procedures Cox performs include forehead lifts, ear pinning, and chin implants.
In rare cases, insurance will pay for a cosmetic procedure.
"The upper lid skin can actually come down so low it's on the lashes, and it actually restricts your upward gaze, and you kind of have to move your head around to see," Cox said. "You see a lot of women with big wrinkle lines across their forehead from always lifting so they can see.
"If you're an elderly person and have so much eyelid skin it's restricting your vision, insurance will pay for it. But you have to have a test first by an eye doctor to see if you really have a peripheral vision defect.
"Occasionally somebody will have a trauma to the face and it's easier to do a facelift, but that's very rare."
The fact that Cox charges less doesn't reflect his ability as a surgeon. In fact, the opposite is true.
"It takes years to become a good cosmetic surgeon," he said. "What you learn is what you can do and what you shouldn't do. I just don't want to gouge people."
Cox received his M.D. from the University of Kansas and did his residency and specialty training at the University of Washington in Seattle.
He has been in private practice since 1980.
Women are much more common among Cox's cosmetic surgery patients, but it's not just because they're more vain.
"Men typically don't need facelifts," he said. "They don't have the wrinkles women do.
"It's unfair, but we have twice the blood supply through the face because of the hair follicles for the beard, so we can better withstand sun damage. And then shaving every day really makes a difference; it's a little derm abrasion every day."
But more men are having cosmetic procedures all the time.
"It used to be that 95 percent of our facility patients were women; now men account for 30 percent and that's climbing. It's becoming more and more acceptable."
Men and women alike can slow the aging process by avoiding two things -- smoking and sunshine.
"Smoking narrows the arteries to the face, and it's particularly bad for women," Cox said. "And I know young women like to lay out in the sun, but boy you're going to pay the price for that in 20 years. It just turns your skin to leather."
Cox says he's seeing more melanomas and other skin cancers in young people due to sun exposure.
"We take care lots of skin cancers, and the larger ones need cosmetic or plastic closure as well," he said.
Insurance normally covers such procedures.