Five-minute cosmetic surgery is a thing you can now do on your lunch break

Cosmetic surgery and lunch to go.
Cosmetic surgery and lunch to go.
Image: REUTERS/Costas Baltas
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Back in college, 26-year-old Summer Borowski was elbowed in the nose while playing water polo. And since then, her nose has been crooked. At least, she thinks so—which bothered her, a lot. But not enough that she felt ready for a rhinoplasty, aka a nose job, which is a surgical procedure to reconstruct the nose.

But then she read about the non-surgical rhinoplasty option, in which fillers are injected into the nose to make it look more proportional. Unlike a traditional nose job, the non-surgical option is easily reversible: you can simply dissolve the filler if you’re not pleased with it. It is rumored that the Kardashians, who are fairly open about their beauty routines, get non-surgical rhinoplasty.

The non-surgical rhinoplasty procedure is like getting a shot on your nose—multiple times.
Image: Noël Duan for Quartz

What may be even more appealing about the non-surgical rhinoplasty procedure, however, is that it only takes five minutes. You can do it on your lunch break and head back to work afterwards, grabbing a sandwich along the way. A lot of people do, in fact.

“We are always very busy during lunchtime,” says Stephen T. Greenberg, MD, the New York City-based plastic surgeon that Borowski visited. Even an actual nose job, which involves altering the cartilage and bone, only takes an hour in his office. (But you would have to wear a splint on your nose for five days, which—along with the swelling—is conspicuous.)

Borowski spent weeks doing research on the non-surgical procedure, compiling the information into a Google Doc—she even had a serious discussion with her boyfriend, who required convincing, about it. But once she was sitting in Greenberg’s Upper East Side clinic, there was no time for hesitation. Greenberg has done thousands of injections in his 22-year-old career as a plastic surgeon, and he already knew what to do with Borowski’s nose before she was even finished telling him her water polo story.

Using a needle, he injected a hyaluronic acid filler called Restylane into her nose (yeas, there was bleeding involved). The entire procedure took less than five minutes, and afterwards, Borowski’s nose was straight on again—not because the cartilage was permanently altered in any way, but Greenberg plumped out the rest of the nose in order to make it symmetrical. Borowski was pleased and claimed that it didn’t hurt: “It just stings a little bit,” she said. The procedure costs $725 and, says Greenberg, can last for roughly a year.

Cosmetic surgery is on the rise—especially among men. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reported that the percentage of men getting cosmetic surgery procedures increased 53% between 2011 and 2015. (20% of Greenberg’s patients are men.) Interestingly, in the United States, traditional rhinoplasty has decreased 44% between 2000 and 2017, while lip augmentation—which makes the lips look fuller à la Kylie Jenner—increased 60% in those same years. Lip augmentation—like non-surgical rhinoplasties—also rely on fillers.

The popularity of procedures differs from country to country: in South Korea, which has the most plastic surgeries per capita, eyelid surgery, which adds a “Western-styled” crease to the lids, is most popular. Meanwhile in Brazil, plastic surgery is so important that Ivo Pitanguy—who invented the Brazilian butt lift, which consists of taking fat from other parts of your body and putting on your behind—carried the Olympic torch at the 2016 Olympic games in Rio, Brazil.

“Patients are becoming less secretive about what they’ve done, talking about it with their friends, going out to eat that same night, and celebrities are no longer being so hidden about it either,” Greenberg said. That said, maybe you don’t want the office to know that your lunchtime doctor appointment was actually a trip to the plastic surgeon. That explains the popularity of these “express” procedures. Borowski looked like she had allergies after her procedure; her nose was slightly pink, like she used rough paper towels instead of tissue to wipe her nose.

What else can you do on your lunch break before returning to the office without anyone suspecting you of vanity? Greenberg recommends fillers (lip, nose, cheekbones, chins, wherever you want), laser spot removal, or even a 30-minute cellulite procedure called CoolSculpting, which claims to freeze up to 23% of the patient’s fat away in treated areas after three months of procedures.Greenberg says his patients watch television while they CoolSculp; traditional liposuction (in which the fat is surgically sucked away) requires a 24-hour recovery period (and bruising and swelling)

For Borowski, who now has the nose she always desired, the real appeal of non-surgical treatments is not necessarily their ease, but rather their discretion. “I’m not even sure anyone at the office will notice,” Borowski said, looking at herself in the mirror after her recent procedure. “Maybe my boyfriend will.”