The search for the perfect body never seems to end. With the bombardment of advertisements showing skinny-making formulae and quick fixes which give "guaranteed results", it is difficult avoid the trap of allowing self-confidence to be sucked dry by the idealised images of beauty – especially when it comes to our bodies. And women are feeling the pressure...

According to the Women24 Female Nation survey results, almost 50% of women would consider having cosmetic surgery, even though considering plastic surgery is associated with lower happiness ratings. So before you take to the knife, here's the lowdown on cosmetic procedures – costs and all.

Botox
Whether you smile or frown any action with your facial muscles contracts the muscles under your skin and over time, wrinkles develop. When these creases become permanent, no kind of skin cream can get rid of them (contrary to the promises of many products marketed). That's where Botox comes in. When Botox is injected into the muscles of the forehead, it blocks nerve impulses and the muscles weaken. Over a period of several months, given enough of these injections, the frown lines start to get softer and in some cases eventually disappear.

What can you expect to pay? R50 per unit, depending how much you're using. To give you an example, injecting Botox between your eyebrows requires between 10 and 20 units says

Breast Lift (aka Mastopexy)
What's really involved?
Breast lifts reshape sagging or drooping breasts – without necessarily changing their size (that's a breast augmentation). While each case is individual and depends on the results the patient would like to receive, there are two main types of breast lifts: the standard technique and concentric technique.

During the standard procedure, the surgeon makes three incisions: one around the aerola, a vertical incision toward the underside of the breast and a curved incision along the breast crease. The nipple and areola are moved to a higher position on the breast, excess skin is trimmed and the incisions are closed.

For the concentric breast lift, the surgeon makes two circular incisions around the circumference of the areola. The doughnut-shaped skin is removed and the remaining skin is reattached.

What can you expect to pay? While cost depends on the implants the patient selects and where the procedure is performed, you can expect to pay between R23000 and R27000. We do a round and an anatomical one, it depends what the patient has to work with.

Breast Augmentation
What's really involved?
Once the surgeon has made incisions along the breast's crease or the armpit or areola, the skin is lifted from the breasts. The surgeon then creates a pocket (beneath the muscle or under the breast tissue) where the implant will lie. The implants are inserted and the surgeon stitches the skin in place.

How much can you expect to pay? At least R23000.

Face lift
What's really involved? After the patient has been given local anaesthetic and a sedative or general anaesthesia, the surgeon makes an incision from the hairline or temple and curves around the earlobes. In some cases, the surgeon could make an incision under the chin to tighten the skin of the neck. The surgeon then separates the skin from the fat and muscle underneath and may suction or trim excess face for a sleeker look. Below the skin is a layer of tissue (the superficial musculoaponeurotic system) which the surgeon folds in on itself – this lifts the cheeks, gives the jawline more definition and firms the neck. The surgeon then pulls the skin back up over the area, removes excess skin with a knife or lazer and closes the incision.

What can you expect to pay? The type of face lift affects the cost of procedure, generally the price ranges from R5000 to R23000.

Lip Augmentation
What's really involved? There are several techniques used in lip augmentation, which differ in terms of invasiveness. Some lip enhancement procedures consist of injecting the patient's lips with filler materials – the results are only temporary and usually last for several months. So, most people need to have the injections repeated regularly. Although you may want to avoid the surgical options in favour of the injections, you should understand that lip augmentation surgery may be less expensive in the long run when you factor in the number of repeat injections you may need.

What can you expect to pay? Lip shortening ranges from R5000 to R7000.

Liposuction
What's really involved? During liposuction, the surgeon removes excess fat from deposits between the skin and muscle to improve the body's contour. The surgeon makes small incisions in the skin and using a small stainless steel tube, called a cannula, creates tunnels in the fatty layers under the skin. The suction cannula creates tiny tunnels through the fatty layers and after surgery, these tunnels collapse and improve the body's contour.

What can you expect to pay? The price depends on the area in which liposuction is performed and how much fat is being removed. Generally, Speck says, the price ranges from R7000, up to R15000.

Tummy Tuck (Abdimoniplasty)
What's really involved? There are a range of techniques but during the general tummy tuck procedure, an incision is made just above the pubis – so the scar is well hidden. The skin and fat is divided from the abdominal muscles to the bottom of the rib cage and the belly button is separated from the skin. The skin and fat below the belly button is removed.

The skin above the belly button is drawn down to the pubis and surgically sewn into a position. The belly button is positioned in about the same spot as before surgery and the tummy is then sutured into position.

How much can you expect to pay? At least R20000.

Considering plastic surgery? What procedures would you like to have and why?

Please note, prices correct at date of publishing, 23 June 2009, courtesy of cosmetic surgeon, Keith Cronwright. Price may vary depending on patient's desired results and additional factors. Information regarding procedures courtesy of Atlantic Plastic Surgery.

w24.co.za’s 2009 Female Nation Survey results have been weighted to represent 600 000 urban South African women who: have Matric as a minimum qualification, are over 21 and are earning R4500 or more a month.