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The Basics

Can cosmetic surgery help your career?

Even in the workplace, looks matter, studies show. More Americans are going under the knife to move up the corporate ladder -- and it might be a good investment.

By U.S. News & World Report

The media, and its consumers, generally keep conversation about plastic surgery and careers pegged on a couple of figures: the aging Hollywood idol and the would-be Hollywood idol.

Cosmetic surgery is de rigueur in the movie and TV business -- pretty understandable given how much looks matter on-screen and in career trajectories.

But research says that looks matter in jobs beyond the silver screen -- that beautiful people make more money and have more opportunities for advancement.

So it's no surprise that plastic surgery is being deployed as an instrument of career advancement by men and women in office suites far from the glare of the klieg lights.

"In the corporate world, there's a lot of emphasis on image, and image goes with self-confidence," says Antonio Armani, a Beverly Hills, Calif., cosmetic surgeon who specializes in hair transplants. "I think a lot of people do invest money in improving their looks because they feel this is one way they can go up the corporate ladder."

The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery reports that, among last year's most prominent trends, about two-thirds of its members reported seeing men and women who requested cosmetic surgery because they wanted to remain competitive in the workplace.

In his nine years of practice, Armani says there has been a growing desire among corporate men -- often working in finance -- to look younger. But as a career investment, a youthful hairline doesn't come cheap. Armani says a typical transplant procedure costs from $15,000 to $35,000.

While his patients are often wealthy, many younger men are financing the cost. Recently, a Marine coming off active duty took out a $25,000 loan for his surgery, Armani says, because he "wants to look good" as he heads into law school. "When we look at people, we are naturally attracted to people who are more attractive," Armani says.

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There's research to back up that claim. Gordon Patzer, author of "Looks: Why They Matter More Than You Ever Imagined" and a longtime researcher on the impact of physical attractiveness, can run through a laundry list of study results that point to the advantages of being good looking.

Cuter newborns in a nursery are touched, held and talked to more than less-attractive babies. Elementary school teachers unknowingly tend to hold higher expectations for better-looking children. Parents may be less protective of less-attractive children.

Then, when people reach working age, good-looking college graduates are more likely to get hired. Employees themselves tend to be willing to do more for better-looking bosses. Attractive supervisors are perceived as more credible and more persuasive.

Continued: Most bang for your buck

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