Getting the Curves You Crave With Plastic Surgery

Michelangelo's David has held his valiant pose in Florence, Italy, for hundreds of years, unmoved by critics' notions that his stone — and sling-holding hands are disproportionately large for the rest of his body.

The marble sculpture of the Goliath-slaying hero is one of the esteemed masterpieces of all time, not likely to ever be rechiseled to correct its odd proportions. Modern men and women, though, are refusing to stand still for their own out-of-proportion body parts. Instead they are turning to plastic surgeons more and more to resculpt their parts to the ideal size.

Yes, thinner thighs in thirty days might be achievable with huffing and puffing, but like it or not, the exerciser can expect to see a whittling down, too, of the arms that might already be too thin or the breasts that are a pleasing size to begin with.

With all the health benefits of a vigorous aerobic workout, "working out isn't the cure-all for body woes," acknowledges Irv Dickstein, manager of a health club in Olney, Md. "There are two things working out can't do: spot-reduce and enlarge the breasts."

Liposuction: No. 1 on the Hit Parade

It comes as no surprise to Dickstein, then, that liposuction and breast augmentation are the one-two most popular plastic surgeries in the United States.

Liposuction comes in first, with about 231,000 Americans turning to the fat-vacuuming procedure in 1999 alone, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. About 167,000 women had breast implants in that year, according to the plastic surgery trade group. The costs of these two procedures vary by state; insurers do not reimburse expenses for cosmetic operations.

These two body-contouring techniques and other, less common procedures — tummy tucks and breast reductions, for example — aim to reshape the body's tissues to give people the look they long for.

Mother Nature gave Elise Baldwin (not her real name) some body characteristics that the 32-year-old hair colorist longed to de-emphasize: "large hips and fat knees," and "after having three kids, fat on my belly that I couldn't get rid of."

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