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Job seekers turn to cosmetic procedures to stay competitive

FARGO, N.D. - Some people are turning to cosmetic procedures such as face-lifts, Botox or teeth whitening to stay competitive in the job market.

Bleach Bright Teeth Whitening of Fargo included job promotions in one of its recent ads as a reason for whitening teeth.

"I have had some people coming in who are going on job interviews," said Mike Karnis, manager of Bleach Bright Teeth Whitening.

Other people are getting their teeth whitened after they land a new job - especially if they will be dealing with customers, Karnis said.

Dr. Susan Mathison with Catalyst Medical Center in Fargo said several people have told her they were job searching and hoped a fresh look would help.

"I think that people in their 40s and 50s are feeling like they're competing for positions with younger potential job candidates, so looking their best is very important to them," Mathison said.

Residents are still fairly conservative in this area, so they're opting for minimally invasive procedures such as Botox and fillers, Mathison said. Eyelid surgery, a fairly minimal surgical procedure that removes some upper eyelid skin so the lids don't droop, is also popular, she said.

Mathison said some of the national journals and newsletters she's read cite job hunting as a more frequent reason people are turning to plastic surgery.

She has also noticed that more male patients are turning to facial rejuvenation for that reason.

"It's surprising the number of men who are more career influenced in terms of wanting to get cosmetic surgery or cosmetic procedures because they think it makes them look more relaxed and more approachable at work," Mathison said.

Millions of American women think cosmetic medical procedures will give them a competitive edge in the workplace, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Of 756 women between the ages of 18 and 64, 13 percent said they would consider having a cosmetic medical procedure specifically to make them more confident and more competitive in the job market, a telephone survey compiled by the plastic surgeon group shows.

Three percent said they've already had a cosmetic procedure to increase their perceived value in the workplace, and 73 percent said they believe appearance and youthful looks play a part in getting hired, promoted or attaining new clients, particularly in these challenging economic times.

Dr. Sheikh Ahmed Abdullah with the Plastic Surgery Institute in Fargo discourages cosmetic surgery if somebody wants a procedure to get an edge on a better job.

"Surgery is not like getting your hair done," he said. "You can't change it the next month, and there's a process involved, and there's risks involved."

Abdullah said the right reasons for plastic surgery are to increase self-esteem or to look and feel better.

He said a lot more people are having facial surgery and work done on their eyes.

"That may be an indirect indication that if you're looking for a job when you're 60 and you're competing with 40-year-olds, then you want to look less tired," Abdullah said.

In general, he said more people are looking to get cosmetic surgery.

"There's less of a stigma now in cosmetic surgery," he said. "Most stars have it done, even though they'll deny it, so common folks are not as stigmatized."

He is also seeing more male patients. Ten years ago, Abdullah's practice was 5 percent male. Now, 35 to 40 percent of the patients are men.

"Men want to look better now," he said. "Men want to feel better about themselves."