We often assume that plastic surgery is a big deal, and sure, some procedures — liposuction, male breast reduction, etc. — involve intrusive operations and lengthy recovery times that require living as one gigantic bandage for weeks on end. But there are several minimally invasive plastic surgeries that can leave you feeling a whole lot better about yourself without having to endure much more than a quick prick or minor scrape. In the interest of opening up your options, with some insight from dermatologist Anthony Rossi, here are a bunch of plastic surgeries mild enough to undergo on your lunch break (but don’t be mad if you can’t fit eating in, too).
But before we dive into those, I want to emphasize that there’s no shame in getting plastic surgery, especially if you don’t love the way you look. Hell, these days, more and more dudes are going under the needle so they can put their ideal selves forward. “Botox, fillers — all these are actually increasing in men,” Rossi reiterates. “More and more men are getting these procedures, just because they want to look and feel better.” More power to ‘em!
Now let’s get into these easy-peasy procedures.
Botulinum Toxin (AKA, Wrinkle-Reducing Injections)
What it does: Popularly known as Botox, botulinum toxin is an injectable that temporarily reduces or eliminates lines and wrinkles, should you decide that “distinguished” isn’t the look you’re going for. When injected in small concentrations, the toxin blocks signals that would otherwise allow the muscle to contract, the end result being diminished rumples and creases (and less sweating, too, if that’s your goal). Besides wanting to look younger, you might also seek out Botox to ease up your resting jerk-face.
The procedure is really nothing more than a few pricks: An ultra thin needle is used to inject small amounts of botulinum toxin, and the whole treatment usually takes less than 15 minutes. Of course, the number of injections necessary depends on your unique facial features — crow’s feet, for instance, usually require two to three injections, whereas forehead furrows could take upwards of five.
Perhaps the biggest upside to these injections, though, is that they require literally no recovery time, and you can return to your regular old life immediately. “After the injections, you may have a couple bumps on the skin,” Rossi warns. “But those go down within a couple hours.” See? I told you they can be done on your lunch break.
What could go wrong: Rossi emphasizes that, so long as you go to a board-certified doctor, these injections are incredibly safe. When injected improperly, however, he does warn that Botox can result in droopy eyelids. “There are some eye drops that may help stimulate the eyelid muscles,” Rossi explains, but he adds that you might just end up having to wait it out if this does happen to you. “You could also look wonky or uneven if you go to someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. It’s easy to paralyze one area and then leave another area moving. There’s an art to it.” All the more reason to only have plastic surgery done by a certified professional.
Microdermabrasion, (AKA, Skin-Softening via Scraping)
What it does: Before diving into microdermabrasion, I want to talk about regular dermabrasion, the more serious procedure of the two. Often employed to reduce the appearance of scars or wrinkles, dermabrasion helps to refinish the top layers of skin through controlled surgical scraping. Our skin often consists of all kinds of unsightly bumps and ridges, so removing those through dermabrasion can result in a smoother appearance. For that reason, both dermabrasion and microdermabrasion are particularly good options for those dealing with excessive scarring, like acne spots.
While scraping the top layers of your skin off might sound tortuous, the procedure itself is actually relatively painless, since dermabrasion is often performed under local anesthesia, which numbs the area. The process typically takes anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or so, depending on how much skin is involved.
The aftermath is also usually relatively mild: Your skin will be red and swollen, similar to the scrapes you might get if you were to fall on pavement, but the swelling should subside within a few days, and a mild painkiller should be more than enough to reduce any discomfort.
Still, if that sounds like too much, microdermabrasion is another, less invasive option that can improve all kinds of skin ailments, ranging from improving age spots and blackheads to reducing the appearance of stretch marks. There are two kinds of microdermabrasion treatments, both of which are essentially lesser versions of dermabrasion. The first involves using a hand-held device to flood exfoliating crystals across your skin, after which an attached vacuum sucks them back into the machine, along with any dead or loosened skin. The second, more modern, approach utilizes a diamond-tipped wand to exfoliate the skin.
Each treatment lasts about a half hour, and the most you should feel is a minor scratching sensation. The recovery process, meanwhile, is once again a lesser version of that associated with regular dermabrasion — in other words, just a few scrapes that should clear up within a few days.
What could go wrong: “Anytime you break the skin, there’s always the risk of infection,” Rossi explains. “But it’s minimal if done cleanly.”
Laser Hair Removal (AKA, Hair-Busting Beams)
What it does: Laser hair removal uses highly concentrated light, which is absorbed by the pigment in the hair. That light is then converted to heat, which damages the follicle to inhibit future hair growth. If you’ve always hated your hairy back, well, this is a pretty permanent solution, but since hair grows in cycles, you might have to go in for three or four treatments before noticing a significant reduction.
As for the procedure itself, when the light is emitted, you might experience some mild discomfort that lasts a few seconds, and this process is repeated until the entire area has been treated. “Some areas are more painful than others,” Rossi says, specifically calling out the bikini zone and armpits. “But the newer devices help cool the skin and distract from the pain.” Depending on the size of the area, the treatment usually lasts anywhere between a few minutes and an hour.
The upside, however, is that the recovery is quick and easy: It might feel like a mild sunburn for a day or so, but that’s about it.
What could go wrong: “For darker skin types, you have to be really careful, because you can get burned and hyperpigmented,” warns Rossi. “Treating darker skin types, you have to use a different type of laser with a longer wavelength. Tan skin can burn and blister if it’s not done properly.”
Chemical Peel (AKA, Skin-Renewing Acids)
What it does: Similar to dermabrasion and microdermabrasion, chemical peels remove the damaged outer layers of skin, which can improve the appearance of scars, reduce wrinkles and even out blotchiness. The difference is, chemical peels use a chemical solution to do so, hence the name. In many ways, chemical peels are good for the same reasons that microdermabrasion is: It can flatten scars, reduce acne and just generally renew weathered skin.
While there are various levels of chemical peels, ranging from mild to deep, the lesser versions usually involve some combination of glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid and maleic acid, all of which basically remove the outer layer of skin by means of a light exfoliation. Milder chemical peels can be accomplished in about 20 minutes, however, deep peels can take up to 90 minutes.
When undergoing a chemical peel, you can expect to experience some redness, stinging, skin flaking and irritation (of course, more heavy-duty treatments might result in excessive flaking, especially during the healing process). You should also expect to apply sunscreen regularly after these treatments, since the newly exposed layer of skin will be particularly sensitive. But other than that, everything should heal up fairly painlessly.
What could go wrong: “As you go deeper, the risk of scarring increases, but the rewards and benefits are better,” Rossi explains. Much like with microdermabrasion, infections are also a possible risk, as is reactivating herpes and cold sores. “If you have a history of herpes, you should take an antiviral beforehand,” Rossi suggests. For all these reasons, Rossi definitely recommends visiting a board-certified professional, rather than a spa or nail salon, for your chemical peel needs.
Dermal Fillers (AKA, Skin-Plumping Injections)
What it does: Similar to Botox, dermal fillers, while they come in many forms, are injectables that can plump thin lips, enhance contours, soften facial creases, remove wrinkles and improve the appearance of scars. The injections usually take only a few moments per site, and depending on the number of areas treated, the whole process can be as short as 15 minutes. While these can be a more noticeable option than Botox — they have the capacity to plump up your cheeks, or even out any unbalanced facial features — they can be another basic scar-and-wrinkle-reducing option.
While the injection site might feel tender for a day or so, an ice pack should be enough to reduce swelling and alleviate discomfort. Dermatologists also typically recommend avoiding intense physical activity for at least one day to minimize swelling and bruising. So no post-op boxing, okay?
What could go wrong: Again, infections are possible if performed improperly. “If the material is placed too superficially, it can look bad — bumpy and lumpy,” Rossi says. “You definitely need someone who’s really well-trained in doing this.” Even more serious, if the filler makes its way into certain arteries, Rossi says it can cause the skin to die and even cause blindness. Now, he adds that this is an incredibly rare occurrence, but it has happened.
On a final note, while these surgeries are relatively mild, especially compared to their much more intrusive plastic surgery counterparts, once again, you should always make sure to have them done by a credible dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Otherwise, you might end up looking and feeling a whole lot worse than you did when you came in.
For now, though, I need to cram this sandwich into my freshly-Botoxed face, because I only have five more minutes on my lunch break. See ya!