And it's not just desperate housewives trying to recapture their youth (and their husbands) who are getting these surgeries. Nationwide, more than 800,000 women in my age group (20-29) underwent cosmetic surgery last year.
At least I'm not alone. I decided to focus on the most popular procedures for my adventure through Scottsdale. Although this is not a story about botched plastic surgery, I did research each doctor before I visited. Each of them came highly recommended from online forums, like yestheyrefake.net, where women meet to exchange surgery tales and doctor names. I checked each doctor out with the state medical board, and though the records they keep go back only five years, none of my doctors faced any malpractice suits, though one had gotten into trouble for writing an unnecessary prescription for a family member. I've chosen not to reveal names here because no one knew what I was really up to.
I talked to two doctors about rhinoplasty (nose job), two about breast augmentation, two about liposuction, and another one about Lipodissolve. I consulted a couple of skin specialists and a tattoo-removal specialist (I have two tattoos one I love, one I absolutely hate). Just to even things out, I also spent time with a personal trainer.
The consensus: They'd all happily work on me.
For around $25,000, I could have a completely new body, a reshaped face, smoother skin, and my stupid tattoo removed. If I felt like throwing in an extra $1,200, I could hire a personal trainer for 24 sessions.
But why would anyone drop that kind of money to fix flaws most people probably don't even notice? To find out, I had to track down Nik Richie, founder of dirtyscottsdale.com. Richie bills himself as the "first-ever reality blogger" on his site, which mocks Scottsdale socialites.
Richie's premise is extremely simple: People send in pictures of themselves or their friends partying in Scottsdale, and Richie writes mean things about them. It's hilarious. Cruel, but hilarious. I wish hipster-oriented photo sites like Cobrasnake or Last Night's Party came with this kind of commentary.
For example, one photo of a guy in his early 20s (perfectly gelled blond hair and all) and an older woman (complete with weird-looking implants) gets the caption, "Look ma, I caught a cougar." An overly tan man with a tattoo around his belly button gets this response: "You know you've made it in life when you have a tribal belly button." And a group of Scottsdale girls flashing their asses (and thongs) at the camera get this: "Burn whale tails . . . the girl on the right has the right idea . . . as a guy, they are so hard to take off especially if a chick is wearing jeans because it is a 2-part processes which gives her 2 chances to realize she should not be sleeping with you. That is why I am a very firm believer in miniskirts."
I wondered what he would say about me, so I sent Richie some pictures of me. I haven't heard back. I asked why, and he responded in an e-mail, "I don't want you to hate me."
Richie's identity has been a secret so far he doesn't want to lose his day job because of the Web site. But, rumor has it, he plans on revealing himself soon at his "Pull Wool" party, scheduled for September 27, the day this issue hits the stands.
Dirtyscottsdale.com isn't a success just because it's funny. If Richie didn't completely understand Scottsdale culture, the mean-spirited joke would have gotten old fast. It seems to me the site works because Richie totally gets why people drop so much money on surgery, tanning beds, clothes, and cover charges.
Though it's turned into a full-time gig for him, the site started as a joke.
Of course, one could argue that the entire Scottsdale scene is a joke, and Richie was just smart enough to figure out the punch line.
"I was having lunch at Ra in Kierland [Commons] and eavesdropped on three different tables of chicks. One was talking about plastic surgery. One was reading and exchanging tabloids. One was talking about nightlife and who people went home with," he wrote in a recent e-mail interview. "That's when it clicked. Because everyone in Scottsdale wants to be somebody for 10 seconds."
He informed me that the quickest way a woman can elevate herself one point on his 10-point scale is lipo under her chin. Apparently, this surgery isn't very noticeable, and it makes your face thinner. If you're keeping score, implants can raise you two points on the 10-point scale. (I was a little surprised at this. Just two points? A good face really is important.)