The Cost of Insecurities

Between magazines, television and social media, it’s almost impossible to be completely confident in the way you look (let alone some other aspects of your life). At the moment I’ve got two Cosmopolitan magazines right next to me and just glancing at the covers is enough to make people feel insecure: photoshopped women posing sexy in skimpy clothing, not to mention the taglines! “Summer Shape-Up: Tone Every Zone in Just Minutes a Day.” “Sun’s Out Buns Out! Easy Moves to Shape a High, Tight Tush.” “Could He Be Faking It? You Sure?” Gee, thanks. These things all scream “you are not enough as you are” and is that really the kind of message readers need?

Television is no better. Commercials try to force you to buy things you don’t need. Reality television shows make you jealous of people’s lives, when a majority of it is staged and not reality at all. Then there’s social media with people posting the highlight reel of their lives or editing/photoshopping their own photos or sucking in or posting only the best angles etc., etc., etc. Not to mention all the bullying that goes on, starting from a young age all the way through adulthood. These comments affect people, whether they’d like it to or not.

The point is society is making people feel inadequate left and right, and for what? All just to get you to buy a product or read their magazine or gets likes/comments from strangers? The problem is that these things go deeper than that for many individuals. Sure, some of us can look at a picture and chalk it up to someone looking great because the photo was edited to look flawless. But there’s many people out there who look at these things and find that they can’t stop dwelling on their own flaws because from what they can see, these other people don’t have any. That’s where cosmetic procedures come in.

Getting cosmetic work done seems to have become the norm. People used to be embarrassed about getting a nose job or breast implants. Nowadays, while some still do remain very secretive about the work they’ve had done, others have no problem sharing it with the world and trying to convince their friends to go to the same doctors they went to (which is not necessarily a bad thing because if you’re going to have work done, it’s much better to have it done by someone who comes recommended/has great reviews).

The other day I was looking at Instagram and noticed a sponsored post from one of the accounts I follow for lip fillers. I clicked on the tagged page and started looking through the posts to see what kind of work they did (why, I’m not sure). Some of the people who were on the page had had multiple procedures done and it got me thinking, how much are people spending on this stuff?! So, naturally, I decided to do some research.

Did you know that in 2016, there were 17.1 million cosmetic procedures performed in the U.S.? The cost of these procedures totaled $16.4 billion (data from American Society of Plastic Surgeons). These numbers do not include reconstructive surgery; this is strictly cosmetic procedures. And while a small portion of cosmetic procedures may be done for medical reasons, most of these are not. Here’s the individual cost of some common surgeries.



Rhinoplasty, a.k.a. a nose job, involves reshaping the bones, tissues and cartilage in your nose. While some people require rhinoplasty for breathing purposes, many people get this surgery done for cosmetic purposes, to enhance their look. The average cost of rhinoplasty in 2016 was $5,046.

Breast Augmentation

Breast augmentation, commonly known as a boob job, uses implants or fat to increase the size and change the shape of one’s breasts. The average cost of breast augmentation in 2016 was $3,719, although the cost varies depending on the type and size of the implant, as well as the geographic location.

Buttock Augmentation

This procedure entails using butt implants, fat grafting or a combination or the two to increase the size of one’s butt. When you think of buttock augmentation, think of the Kardashians, who most likely led to a spike in these surgeries when their show became popular. The average cost of buttock augmentation in 2016 was $4,356 using fat grafting and $4,860 using butt implants.

Botulinum Toxin

Botulinum toxin, more commonly known as Botox, is a non-surgical injection that reduces or removes frown lines, forehead creases, crow’s feet near the eyes and thick bands in the neck. But remember, the results of Botox are only temporary and last about 3-4 months. The average cost of a Botox injection in 2016 was $385.


Liposuction works by removing excess fat deposits to help slim and reshape the patient’s body. It can be performed on various parts of the body including abdomen and waist, thighs, upper arms, buttocks and more. The average cost of liposuction in 2016 was $3,200.

Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal uses highly concentrated light to penetrate hair follicles to inhibit future hair growth. It does not completely stop hair from growing altogether, so you may require touch up sessions as time goes on. It typically takes 3-4 sessions to complete. The average cost of laser hair removal in 2016 was $306, per session, so approximately $1,000. This amount varies depending on the area being treated and geographic location.

Dermal Fillers

Dermal fillers are injections that are used to plump lips, soften facial creases, remove wrinkles, improve the appearance of scars and more. As there are several different types of dermal fillers, the cost differs, but the average cost of dermal fillers for 2016 ranged from $644-$1,930.

With just 7 procedures, this puts you at a cost around $20,000. Again, these are averages, so the cost would differ depending on circumstances on your geographic location. For example, living in Westchester, NY I could expect the costs for these cosmetic procedures to be much higher in my area.

Regardless, as a personal finance blogger, I can’t help but to be appalled by these numbers. Nobody chooses to feel insecure or self-conscious about their body, but companies prey on this and use it to make more money for themselves. I get it; it’s business, but I can’t help feeling sad about it. While I have never gotten any work done myself, I do know plenty of people who have and I’d be lying if I said I never feel insecure myself. It’s just crazy to me that there’s a multi-billion dollar industry that thrives on people feeling insecure. And, what’s worse, with costs this high, there are plenty of people who take on debt to be able to afford to have this work done; whether it be prioritizing the cost of their procedures over bills/savings or simply financing the cost of the procedures.

Have you had any cosmetic procedures done? Did it help boost your confidence? Do you think it’s worth the money? Any other comments you’d like to share?

8 thoughts on “The Cost of Insecurities

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  1. I’m not even close to perfect, but the thing that scares me about plastic surgery is that you can’t undo it. My friend told me to watch that show, Botched, and the graphic scenes they show in it are enough to turn me off on surgery. First, that the recovery is horrible, and second, you might not get the results you want. Then you can’t ever get your old face back. It always makes me sad when I see celebrities get surgery because I always think they looked better before! Renee Zellweger was cute before; now she doesn’t look like a real person anymore.

    I personally don’t know anyone who’s had plastic surgery but I can imagine it would be really hard to abstain in places like, in Korea, where it’s normal to have work done. Then everyone else looks like a perfect princess except for you…

    I did joke around with my SO that if I ever had to get a masectomy because of cancer that a boob job wouldn’t be out of the question.

    1. I’ve never watched Botched, but the commercials were enough to scare me too! I am on the same page as you. The thought of not being able to undo something is terrifying. Sure, maybe there’s things I don’t love about myself, but what if I look even weirder with big lips or boobs or whatever else? That’s even worse to me!

      I didn’t realize how common plastic surgery was in Korea, wow.

      I mean extenuating circumstances are totally different! I couldn’t say I would NEVER EVER have work done because who really knows what the future holds. But at this time I’m more content with myself than my desire to change myself is.

  2. I figure God made me this way for a reason. So I personally haven’t thought about cosmetic surgery. But I have met people that have had it done and one person in particular has become obsessed with it. Getting multiple procedures done in order to attain a beauty that is probably unattainable in her eyes. It’s pretty sad.

    1. It is sad! It just bothers me that this industry profits off of people feeling bad about themselves! I have a friend who went in for a consultation about a minor procedure and they pitched her for a bunch of others, too. It’s like they give people complexes about things that are totally fine!

  3. I haven’t gotten anything done, my wife likes me the way I am…..for now 🙂 j/k. But the numbers you mentioned are truly crazy, but at the same time not really surprising. We live in a society where looks have been given so much emphasis. Although we are moving towards acceptance of things like plus size models. I’ve also seen pictures of models with specific skin conditions but they still looked beautiful….which is all good and again geared towards acceptance and inclusion.

    1. I love that you brought up the idea of acceptance and inclusion! I do agree with you that I think society as a whole seems to be making progress with that, but it seems like cosmetic procedures are still on the rise. I just think society wants too much control over things. I mean look at how some people are basically choosing what color eyes they want their baby to have or what gender it will be etc. It’s all crazy!

  4. Wow! Those are some pretty eye-opening numbers. It’s especially scary when you think about everything that can go wrong and you could end up way worse than you were before the surgery.

    It really is unfair the way the media sets unrealistic expectations. As the father of two almost teenage girls I’m particularly aware and on guard. I’ve heard kids their age already complaining about their bodies and wishing they were thinner and it make me sad. These are healthy, athletic, and beautiful girls and they’re already obsessed with their bodies.

    1. I’m happy to hear that as a father of two young girls you’re already on top of it. I don’t mean to sound like I am bashing cosmetic procedures, but what upsets me is that fact that so many people are unhappy with themselves or insecure and it really is sad. Not to mention, from a financial standpoint it’s also sad because so many people finance these procedures and put themselves in a situation where they’re struggling in TWO aspects of life now- with their self-image and their finances.

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