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In this week's episode of Too Good To Be True, Ryan and Julia break down the exploding industry of cheap cosmetic procedures (whether inside or outside of the US), and the social media mania that fuels our obsession with looking perfect.

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Well, howdy, y'all.

It's Chelsea. And I'm coming in before another amazing episode of Too Good To Be True to remind you guys that, if you have not already, you must sign up for our absolutely free event on October 25 at 6:30 PM Eastern Time.

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You get the 25-page workbook. You get the Q&A with me. It's all happening. [MUSIC PLAYING] Welcome to Too Good To Be True, an investigative podcast about exposing the scams, schemes, and financial cults, trying to separate you from your money.

I am so glad to be here. My name is Julia Lorenz-Olson. And I am an accredited financial counselor and the co-host of PBS's Two Cents.

And I am here with my amazing co-host. Ryan Houlihan. I am an editor and journalist who also recaps RuPaul's Drag Race on the side. [LAUGHTER] Perfection.

What are we talking about today? Well, today, we're talking about a very, very interesting, probably one of my favorite topics, plastic surgery and the cheap tourism that is fueling a epidemic of plastic surgery disasters, financially and physically. So this is definitely a world that I feel I have very little knowledge of.

But I can tell you as somebody who had kind of an internet presence with my show and going through pregnancy on camera, and having to deal with the comments and the aftermath of that, it was an onslaught. At the time, I was on Instagram. I can't be on it anymore, honestly, because it's just like a engine of envy.

It's like, have you felt jealous today? Oh, no? Here, here you go.

Everyone you know lying to you about the highlights of their life. 100%. And seeing people, like the Kardashians, not own up to the fact that they have had work done, it's just like-- Hey, they drink water, OK? And they're very hydrated.

Oh, that's right. They're eating clean. And they must work out eight hours a day.

Mhmm. They work hard. You know what I'm saying?

But yeah, I'm fascinated by-- I've never been tempted to do it myself because I'm terrified. No. But I know it's a valid choice out there.

But I'm curious to know about the dark side and what we should be looking out for. So I have had a bunch of stuff done, like a whole variety pack. I'm so interested.

Tell me everything. Since you've had multiple things done, has your relationship to those procedures changed over time? I noticed I wanted people to either like me or not, or to give me a chance that they weren't giving me, right?

Like I had a lot of scar tissue, for example. I had a double chin that I felt like, Oh, this is the thing that face-to-face people don't give me chances for. And after it was done, I had such disdain for the people I felt like were treating me differently and such esteem for the people that had been treating me fine and then treated me fine after.

Oh, that's fascinating. So I'm curious. What have you had done? [MUSIC PLAYING] Hey, this is Editing Ryan jumping in.

I realized, on the day of, we got a little sidetracked in the middle of our conversation. And I wanted to jump in and just make sure that you got a super accurate, super clear list of everything that I've had done. So here that is.

So I've had Botox, filler, Biostimulators like from Profhilo to Sculptra. I've had lasers, facials, tons of prosumer at-home devices, stuff like LED masks, stuff like that. And that's considered cosmetic surgery?

Yeah, so that's non-invasive. OK. And there's invasive, where-- [MUSIC PLAYING] I've had a 270 degree tummy tuck, 360 degree HD liposuction, a fat transfer, and a breast reduction.

So tell me. Now, you know i have to ask. Price points.

OK. So that is where we can really get into some of these scams because it is very expensive to get plastic surgery done in this country. [MUSIC PLAYING] But, obviously, like non-invasive, like laser kind of stuff, is always going to be the most affordable initially and invasive stuff is going to be costing you way more in most instances, but you'll also, in most instances, be getting more bang for your buck, so to say. So I had the, no pun intended, bulk of my surgeries done in one session to reduce the cost of renting the operating theater over and over again, and to reduce the price of having an anesthesiologist, and reduce all my downtime from work.

So in the end, for all of my invasive things, I only paid about $12,000 for my tummy tuck, lipo, the fat transfer, breast reduction, all of which I financed with a personal loan. But that was after already getting a pretty big discount from my surgeon of choice, who, by the way, I had already selected years before this, I had wanted work from, was a fan of long-term, and did not select for any financial reason at all. But who, in exchange for his ability to use my before and after photos at his practice and giving him a review of the service, I was able to get it down to that price.

It would not have cost as a package that little. But it is still a lot of money. $12,000 is a lot of money. But I was actually really happy to do that exchange with the before and after pictures or whatever because I actually really think that transparency is really important for me.

And getting work done, emotionally, has to be as much about ridding myself of shame as it has to be about trying to look a certain way that I probably learned that I wanted to look and learned to idealize from society, and that I do idealize to an extent. Like I didn't want my scars anymore. And that is a totally valid choice.

But in making that choice, I think I still bear responsibility to other people who had scars on their abdomen and want them removed to be honest about what I did about it. And so while it ended up saving me money, in the long-term, I'm glad that I gave away the before and after photos anyway. But at any event, I also, since then, I have had chin liposuction, which cost $7,000, and I have paid for a bunch of non-invasive stuff, which all comes at various costs, but I've never paid more than like-- I think $1,600 was the most I ever paid for filler in one go.

But I have had it in individual areas over time as I've wanted them done. I think only recently have I ever gone in and had a bunch of things done Botox-wise at once. So if you go and get a round of Botox, for example, what does that cost?

So a round of Botox can cost you anywhere from $200 to $400 for like the whole face for the most part. Filler is where you're spending your money. Oh, really?

There are very different types of filler for different parts of the face and they have different price points. But it's generally $600 to $1,200 a unit and you were going to be going like a dozen units deep. Well, I was about to say, some of these things seem like one and done.

Like you go and you get the thing. And some of these things seem to take maintenance. Yes.

So you are encouraged to get filler every six months to a year because your body does break it down, depending on the kind of filler. And this is in your face? This is in your face or you could do filler in your neck, in your hands.

If you have scars that have dimpling, you can get that filled out, or if you have-- Some people have had filler done in their butts to give them a little plumping. [LAUGHTER] I went for the more serious BBL option, which is notably less safe and more intensive, but it is permanent, so I don't need to go back regularly. I see. So speaking of Brazilian Butt Lifts, the thing that came to mind was like Cardi B.

I know she had one of these back alley procedures. And she said it was like the craziest pain that she'd ever been in. And so like even people like her, who's been very open, I have to say, about her plastic surgery procedures, it just seems like there's a huge spectrum of experiences and price points.

So like what is bringing people into this world? So, actually, Cardi B had filler done, not a BBL. Oh, pardon me.

Now, I know. No, I didn't. So how do those things differ?

So we have a rich history in this country of back alley plastic surgery, in fact, thanks to the early emergence of Hollywood and our oppression of trans people. There has been a class of people for whom secrecy and cheapness is paramount in their plastic surgery. And so for years, trans women would go to pumping parties where they would pump illegal, usually, it's Fix-A-Flat, like tire filler, into their faces, into their breasts, into their butts, into their hips.

They were trying to create the bodies that doctors were not helping them to create. That makes sense. And you would relieve your dysphoria.

But years later, free floating silicone in the body can cause-- I mean, name a health issue, it will cause it. But generally, it's things like seizures, strokes, heart attacks. It can block your lungs.

It's really serious. And actually, on this topic, we got the wonderful chance to speak to my personal plastic surgeon who can speak to his experience here. Dr.

Douglas Steinbrech is a well-known plastic surgeon in NYC, Chicago, and Beverly Hills, because of his specialty in male plastic surgery. I as a non-binary person chose Dr. Steinbrech, not just because of his standalone work, which is exquisite, but because he is well regarded as a surgeon to trust with revisions.

So here is an example of the kind of thing he has seen gone wrong. [MUSIC PLAYING] I had a patient that had injections done in a basement by a woman that worked in a nail spa. And they injected. They did gluteal augmentation with silicone injections.

And silicone, you don't even want to mess around putting that in your rear end in any quantities, but particularly not large quantities. But get this. Guess where they got the silicone from?

They got the silicone from-- I'm not making this up. --Home Depot. So they were using the caulking. So if you don't know what that is, it's the lining that you put around the tile in your shower.

And it's the stuff you see the carpenter squirt out or the plumber squirt out around the tiling. And they were pumping that stuff into syringes, and then injecting that into women's backsides. And I've seen it happen a couple of times where women just get these horrible infections.

And it's very difficult to take the silicone out because it's just disseminated throughout the tissues. And you, basically, have to take it out by piecemeal. So it's very, very difficult. [MUSIC PLAYING] In the modern day, that still exists.

But what also exists is a separate economy of either injectors who have maybe gotten a weekend's training session, ordering product off the internet and selling it out of their cars in parking lots. And people will do this in abandoned buildings. They'll charge, basically, slightly more than cost.

Or, alternatively, you can go out of the country to something that looks more like a doctor's office, but isn't approved by the FDA. There isn't an a board of US plastic surgeons licensing these people. And so you get a variety of results, right?

Because if you're going for a BBL where you're going to be in a hyperbaric chamber with lasers pointed at you, a doctor, on staff, in a private suite, that is addressing your aftercare 24 hours a day for months at a time-- I had a doctor on call who I could call it 2:00 in the morning and did for two months after my surgery because I needed that because it was like being in a car accident. I had whole parts of my body taken off and put back on. I did not understand what I was getting into.

Wow. But you're not getting any of that. So if you see on Instagram my result, it's going to be very different than a result you're going to get in Turkey.

And Turkey has some of the best plastic surgeons in the world. But that doesn't mean that it's still a great way for you to save money. So as you should with any cosmetic procedure, we got a second opinion from possibly YouTube's most beloved facial and hair surgeon, Dr.

Gary Linkov. Here's Dr. Linkov on why surgery tourism can get pretty complicated. [MUSIC PLAYING] Well, you just don't fully know what you're getting into.

Unless you have some close contacts in the country where you're visiting, I would argue that it's much harder to really know what you're in for when you're traveling abroad. All these elective cosmetic surgeries have inherent risks and they can all land you in the hospital, potentially, if something goes wrong. So if you're going to end up in the hospital, I think it's better to be local, close to friends and family, than somewhere far away where you don't really know their hospital system.

You don't know how well you'll be taken care of. So there's like the worst case scenario. And then, even in the best case, let's say nothing really truly bad happens to you, but communication is more challenging if the language is different than what you're used to.

And you don't know like the licensure status of the clinic fully. It's kind of hard sometimes to discern. I think, in the United States, I think, it's a little easier to find out if your doctor has the proper licensure, if the clinic is legally established.

I think it's harder to do that when you're traveling far away. [MUSIC PLAYING] Here's Dr. Steinbrech on the kinds of bad results he's seen from consumers who were looking to save a couple of dollars. [MUSIC PLAYING] Again, it can be bad. I've had patients that have come in that have had bad injections, like gluteal injections, like these women that have, or men, an implant.

I've seen breast augmentation go wrong, or an implant. I do male plastic surgery, so maybe a pec implant that was just tossed into a guy that is not done sterility, or even liposuction. I've seen videos of people that do liposuction, and the assistants and the doctors are not even wearing sterile gloves.

They're wearing gloves out of the box. And they're doing a liposuction on the table where the patient doesn't even have sterile drapes underneath them and they're still in their house clothes. They're still on their street clothes.

So I've seen videos of these things. And we see them in our office, people that have a bad infection, or they've had a bad infection, been in the hospital, and they come out and they have bad, retracted, and collapsed scar tissue that we then have to help out. [MUSIC PLAYING] It's so interesting, the history of this sort of back alley approach for trans people. How has that shifted over the, obviously, social media boom?

Like, what are you seeing there? And it just seems like-- I mean, this is probably cliche, but like they get younger and younger these days. And I have a daughter.

She's four years old right now, but I'm already worried about her seeing images on the internet and worrying that she needs to look a certain way. One of the worst phrases introduced into plastic surgery culture in the last 10, 20 years is preventative Botox. What?

People will get preventative Botox, preventative filler. People will get facelifts before they need them in anticipation. There are pop stars.

Not going to name names because I don't want to be sued. But there are pop stars who have clearly had brow lifts before they were 23 years old. And it's not only setting them up for failure, it's setting young girls, boys, everyone else up for failure because you see these people that have not only unreachable aging standards, unreachable beauty standards, and unreachable standards of youth.

Even young people don't have their eyebrows high enough to be young-presenting, anymore. And social media is a culture of instant dopamine release, instant serotonin. A before and after is a really quick way-- Your brain is presented with the narrative, oh, wow, they look so terrible.

I can identify all these things I would fix. And then, you swipe and instantly not only are you told you were right and that they look better, but you're given a very well lit and very possibly filtered example of just how easy it was. It's just a swipe.

And you start associating, oh, it's just an injection, it's just a swipe, or it's just this quick surgery, it's going to take me two weeks off of work, it's just a swipe. And it starts looking more and more not just accessible, but mandatory. Everyone on Instagram, if they don't have plastic surgery or cosmetic procedures, they're faking it with filters.

And then, all you need to do to solve your problems is simply hop on a flight down to Mexico and get a mommy makeover at a highly discounted rate. OK. What is a mommy makeover?

A mommy makeover is a package of cosmetic surgeries or procedures. Usually, it's whatever surgeon's best skills are. Generally, it will include a breast augmentation or lift, a tummy tuck and a BBL.

And are women having this really soon postpartum? Some people are having it post c-section when the baby has just come out. Like, they're going right into massive surgery.

Oh my God. So a mommy makeover is one of the most popular procedures that you can get. Of course.

Like, what do they think we need? Please, tell me. You'll need a breast augmentation and lift.

You'll need a tummy tuck, a BBL. You will need-- OK, the butt? Like, really?

The butt? Postpartum? Why?

People think that if they change-- I thought this. That if they change one thing, they should change the other because their proportions will be different. Oh.

And because of that, the price goes from, oh, I just wanted a tummy tuck, to suddenly it's five procedures. And you're looking at a price and you're staring down the gun of $20,000 $30,000 financing plans because that's another element. I was about to say, like, because from what I'm maybe just inferring, that you had your procedures done here in the States.

And it seems like there's a huge market for this overseas. Like, I have heard of people who go to Thailand to get their arms reduced or something like that. What is the market out there like?

So in the US, you either pay extremely high fees in one lump sum, or you can do a financing option, like CareCredit, which tells you, oh, it'll just be a monthly payment of $600, $700 for the next several years. But if you were to miss a payment or needed to reduce your payments temporarily, that's where the fees and the traps start coming in, and the cheaper options start looking a little more attractive. And who is providing this financing?

Is it the hospital? Like, who's offering this? So plastic surgeons, generally, will make a deal with one or two financing companies.

For example, CareCredit is the most popular option in New York and California. Interesting. And they have one-on-one relationships with these financial institutions that they are not disclosing to patients.

And what are the interest rates on things like this? So you are told with the financing that it's a 0% interest situation. Like, you're just going to be paying the cost of your procedure, and we're all fine with it.

However, if you miss a payment, if you need to, again, reduce payments, if you need to refinance, or if you go into bankruptcy, this is where suddenly fees and problems, and collection agencies, interest rates skyrocket. It's like a predatory credit card. Oh, I was just about to say.

I'm wondering-- I mean, because I'm assuming insurance is not obviously touching any of this. No. In general, insurance, unless it is physically painful or some sort of thing that's keeping you from living your "best life", for lack of a legal term, you will not get any coverage.

And sometimes, people like the trans community will only get really minimal coverage for things that are vital to their health and wellness. Here's more from Dr. Linkov on what you should do if you are craving a cosmetic procedure that you can't necessarily afford. [MUSIC PLAYING] You know, no one needs any of this stuff.

So I think, you know, because we get some people who email us or call us out of desperation. And if it's something that they just had a really bad injury and they need help, I mean, that almost always gets covered by insurance. So a couple of thoughts on this topic.

One is that it's OK to put something off and just save up to get it done at whatever place they feel would be safe and also have a higher chance of giving you the results that you want. So it's OK to wait and save up. So I think that's one thought.

Another thought is that, well, it could end up being more expensive to go abroad. Again, not every place abroad is bad. But like if you go to a place that is not as reputable, that's just like in and out, cheap surgery, the amount of money that you'll then have to pay to repair that subpar work that you had initially, that might end up being more expensive than just going to the "right" place from the get-go.

So you have to think about revision costs. Most places will charge more for revision surgery than for the primary surgery. So always better to do it right the first time.

Also, because it's surgery, it's not easily reversible. So certain things just can't be reversed. So then, now, not just like the cost element of it, but it'll potentially never look like it should because of what was done in the first place. [MUSIC PLAYING] So when you're presented with a health care industry that doesn't care about you, and extremely predatory, and if anything sort of deceptive industry, that is targeting such specific insecurities, and you're so driven to fix this problem at any cost, you start looking at other options.

And some of those options are, hey, this place does discount filler, it's a Med spa, this person's a trainee, maybe I'll just get lip injections, to going overseas to Turkey, going to Mexico, going to Thailand, where you will pay for a flight, a hotel, food, and cosmetic surgery as one part of a giant, essentially, vacation package. Wow. You're staying at a resort, or you can go even cheaper, if you really want to go really cheap, and you can drive to Tijuana, get your filler at a pharmacy and drive home same day.

And it is a very popular option. And you have no idea what they're putting in your face, by the way. Do you know-- Like, I was about to say.

Like, do you know people who have done this and what has their experience been like? Yeah, I have friends who've gone to Turkey to get veneers and injectables. Wow.

Some people have had great results. Five years in, I can't tell you how those teeth are going to age, I can't tell you what's going to happen with their filler, if it's going to migrate, if it's real product or if it's product being-- There's an entire industry of fake pharmaceuticals coming out of China and Russia. Oh, absolutely.

And the data on that stuff is awful. I mean, just in the US, like prescription drugs alone have increased by like 76% in price over the last 20 years. So we're kind of being, I mean, forced to look at other options.

But some of the studies on these drugs that are being created in kind of lower to middle income countries are just really bad. Like the counterfeits are everywhere. i mean, maybe you'll just get cheap hyaluronic acid with no cross-linking, which is when the product is improved by being warmed a bit so that it doesn't migrate, it doesn't travel around the face. You might just be getting a temporary, harmless, but not the product you ask for, or you might actually be getting Fix-A-Flat.

And you don't know until you know. And you're going to somebody that you're trusting based off of social media reviews, friends. Yeah.

How are people finding these things? A lot of it is Instagram. I mean, you can go on Instagram and see Turkish veneers.

I mean, the algorithm wants you to see it. It's pushing it. It will look at your demographic information and say, hey, you will really want to see this content because everybody wants to see this content.

And veneers, for example, are a perfect example of it's such a quick before and after. So explain what a veneer is to people who might not know. So a veneer is when they shave your tooth down to a little nub and-- I'm just like seeing like vampire, like batboy. [LAUGHTER] Yeah, no.

It's not an attractive process. There's no going back. Like, this seems like forever.

They don't always shave your teeth all the way down. But the vast majority of the time, there's going to be some shaving done to reshape your teeth because a veneer needs to cover the tooth. It can't look like horsey.

I mean, it can't, but it often does. This is a forever thing. People, like a lot of celebrities, get it.

Really? They shave your tooth down to a little nub, and then they take a veneer, which is a fake tooth, usually made of porcelain or some other really hard material, and they affix it for, usually, they'll give you a rating of 10 years. I just had a crown put on and it's a similar process.

And it is a 10-year period before it will fall off or you'll just get it replaced before it falls off. But that's the life cycle. So every 10 years, you've got to get all these things replaced?

Yeah. So when you see celebrities-- A lot of the time, reality stars-- This is such a weird-- Go with me. I watch a lot of reality TV.

I am here. Upwards of 10 scenes where a reality star's tooth just falls out in the middle of like their partying. [LAUGHTER] So they're at a club or they're at a restaurant on a date, and their tooth will fall out. I've seen Lindsay Lohan's teeth fall out on her Oprah show.

Stop. There was a whole episode about Lindsay had to find a dentist in New York who could put a tooth on by the evening and she was "running late". So there was this crazy cosmetic dentist flown in to stick a tooth on.

And that is in LA, by the way. That is a cottage industry. On the backs of bad plastic surgery, there is a cottage industry of people who will either pop on a veneer wherever you are and need it, or will fix, "revise", bad plastic surgery because people have learned their lesson.

And veneers are an example of such a quick before and after that improves "everyone's appearance". Everybody likes white, straight, Chiclet teeth. Yeah.

And it looks good on everyone. You can just buy the teeth off the shelf. And that is kind of the problem too, right?

Like, these teeth aren't custom-made for your mouth. So you'll see a lot of UK influencers for whom a flight to Turkey is very cheap with very Chiclety British teeth. Bless.

And, you know, veneers can look really good and they can be the right choice for you. But it's an expensive procedure that you're agreeing to long-term costs. And I don't think people think about that when they're going to get a really cheapo job done.

And I think the reality that I've heard from friends who've gone to Turkey and had veneers done is that it doesn't set in until your teeth are sanded down and you're sitting in the chair. So you know what these mommy makeover things remind me of is I know you watched the LuLaRoe documentary. I absorbed that thing like it was water.

Like Osmosis. Just let it seep into your marrow. It was a very unique circumstance where these mostly women had found themselves in a circumstance where they were being preyed on for insecurities in finance.

Yes. But the people preying on them quickly realized they had other insecurities that could also be preyed on in a financially lucrative way. The intersection of image and the MLM culture that's found in Pyramid schemes, like LuLaRoe, is I think especially prevalent where I live.

I'm from Texas. But I remember some of these women who have made it to some of the top, top levels in these "businesses", talking about the major sacrifices and the mommy guilt. I remember this.

I'm like, wait a second, you're saying that we can have babies, use all these products to look a certain way, be at a certain level of health, and yet you're not with your kids? Wasn't that the whole point? Like it-- Ugh.

You start out with one ask or one problem you want to solve and, a lot of the times, these organizations quickly colonize other parts of your brain. Like in LuLaRoe, they started out saying, we'll create a fun way for you to have a part-time job. And then, quickly it becomes, hey, did your body is wrong?

We can fix that, too. Yes. And these compound each other and it creates what's called a sunk cost fallacy, where you start to gain.

Let's talk about this because this is actually a really, really interesting behavioral economic term. So how would you describe sunk cost fallacy? It's where you've already spent some capital, whether it's time, emotion, energy, work, on something that isn't getting your results.

But the amount you've already spent, you don't want to walk away and get nothing, right? Plastic surgery can be a sunk cost fallacy all its own without any related business issues because if you've spent years injecting things into your face and you've told yourself a story of it making you beautiful, and slowly your aesthetic standards have shifted, where your lips don't need to just be big, they need to be ginormous. And they don't need to just be ginormous, they need to be the first thing said about you because people always, always talk about your lips, right, how beautiful they are.

So to maintain that, what if they were a little bigger? And you used to feel like you saw some sort of effect. And now, it just looks normal.

So let's do more. And when you've put that much time and energy into your lips, to walk away or to get it dissolved completely is just off the table as not ever going to be an option. So I'm curious.

For you, personally, do you want more? Is this something that you are wanting to continue for yourself? There are things that, long-term, I have liked the effect of and that I will go back for.

However, I have an agreement with my husband, at this point. It is this is what my face "needs". This is what I needed to produce the initial change that I wanted and that I was satisfied with.

Any more than that-- And it's great having someone in your life to check in on this because it's going to be easy to convince yourself otherwise. Any more than that, let's have a really big discussion about where we are and what this is actually costing, not just in pain and money, but what it's actually costing psychologically. Yeah.

Are you still paying for some of your older surgeries? I am still paying for the massive surgery that I had done on financing. And that ended up being an OK road for me, so far.

But I do have it hanging over my head for the next two years. And as we've seen recently in the news-- I don't know if you've been watching. Things are not stable. [LAUGHS] So I don't know where my finances are going to be in two years.

And that reality didn't sink in until I was done with the surgery and back at my regular job and realized maybe I don't want to be at this job for the next two to three years. So my finances changed drastically. And it's really easy also to think that you know a fixed idea of what the future is.

I know, for example, I'm going to get a little bit of filler in my lip until the day I die because it really balances my bottom face out and I like it. That's great. And I'm never going to not like it.

Yeah. But it's really, really easy to tell myself that story. But I don't really know.

Five years, 10 years, maybe standards will change, or maybe we'll be in a post-apocalyptic Mad Max escape and you'll see the magic spell wear off my face. [LAUGHTER] And we'll probably watch all of this just play out via Instagram, where we'll still be watching everyone's ever-changing faces because that kind of subconscious control and stranglehold on our brains, it literally has begun to shift how we see the human face. Period. Explain.

So you look at somebody like the Kardashian-Jenner clan who have had plastic surgery. They use filters very heavily, airbrushing. I mean, boutique retouching being done by like an army of people.

Oh my gosh. I just like see in my mind that they probably have like-- There's a whole warehouse of people that do nothing but Photoshop. You know, if when you go on Instagram-- Your brain doesn't keep in mind all of those advantages.

It's like there's no disclaimer. It's like there should be a little disclaimer. Like you know in the 90s when it was like, this music is filthy.

Don't let your children listen. There used to be a push in magazines, especially teen magazines and fashion magazines, to put a disclaimer if something was photoshopped. And that did get past in certain countries.

Unfortunately, because the internet is so unregulated, we can barely get people to disclose what is Sponcon, let alone, disclosing on every selfie, I've had thousands of dollars of filler and custom massages and stuff. What is Sponcon? Sponcon is when an influencer is paid to do an ad of some kind.

But in general, Sponcon tries to hide the fact that it is being paid for. Sponsored content. I get it now.

So it might be me standing and saying like, hey, guys, I've always hated my butt, and then like showing off this amazing new butt and mentioning some workout that I'm doing, without disclosing that the workout paid me. And I also had a BBL for free last year. [LAUGHS] You know? That would be like a tough influencer reality that a regular person is faced with and they would have no clue.

The financial relationships behind this and the incentive to use filler and filters, it goes beyond just like, I look prettier, so this will be good for my career as an influencer. It really becomes, if you're not engaging with this culture, you're leaving money on the table. Ooh.

If you're an influencer and you, for any reason, focus on your appearance, say, you do makeup or whatever, you could go sign up with a Med spa in your area who will give you not just free treatments, but also payments per post, where you talk about the doctor, you mention how great you look because of the doctor, and they'll negotiate in an opinion for you to have on social media officially. Wow. And people would have no clue.

It would just be you going to your local doctor and being "transparent". And so what looks like a healthy relationship with looks and a healthy understanding of the process is, in fact, a wolf in sheep's clothing. And the subconscious parts of your brain slowly start to shift what is a normal face to what is a regular or average face, which is most people are getting their lips done, most people have had Botox.

If I'm seeing somebody and I assume they have Botox, I assume they have filler, they're a reality star, they're an influencer, they've talked about it, but to me, it's not that they've had that and I'm thinking, oh, they wouldn't normally look like this. It's I shouldn't look like this. I should have had that.

Why haven't I done the thing that the successful person has done, the beautiful person? And it starts to shift your brain where it's not enough to have abs. You have to have sculpted eight pack.

And then, it's not enough to have an eight pack because your pecs are out of proportion, right? So you need to-- And you see this in the gay community in particular because not only is there less of an open discussion around cosmetic procedures-- Oh, really? Oh, no.

I mean, this stuff is shut down. I only go to the gym. I only do creatine.

I wear sunblock. I eat green food. So not only are these people getting procedures done in secret, they're very different procedures than other populations might get.

And so you don't even know that they're on the table as things you can have done. Yeah. Like, if you don't know that you can get your neck lifted, if you don't know that you could have your elbows lifted, you wouldn't know that that's what someone's had done because you wouldn't even to look for it.

Yeah. So you've told yourself, I have to get this stuff done. And you think, Oh, I'll get filler and I'll look like this person, without realizing this person didn't just have filler and their filler isn't something that they're paying for.

So what kind of procedures are we talking about and what is the range of possible prices that they can be? So it depends if you're in the US, the UK, or if you want to go abroad for some cheap tourist plastic surgery. You might be paying like 10 to 20k for a mommy makeover in the US.

Something closer to 13 to 18k in US dollars in the UK. Those are comparable prices because it's a comparable experience. If you go abroad, you could go down to $9,000, maybe $10,000, $11,000, depending on what is on your menu of what you're getting.

And that price cut of, say, like almost 50%-- Yeah, that's huge. That starts to look huge. And if you're throwing in a hotel package and flights, it looks like a trip.

And it looks like you're getting not just a vacation and cheap plastic surgery, but a whole experience that you'll get to post on Instagram. Oh my gosh. Do people post like, hey, I'm going to get a surgery in Thailand?

I've seen people who go for a surgery. Like, say, you want to get a nose job and you're in the US, that's going to cost you on average 5 to 7 grand, most of the time, for a really good nose job with, say, revisions thrown in. You're going to pay paying 10 grand.

You could hop on a flight. And probably flight and hotel included, you could be paying $2,500 to $4,000 abroad, and then you get the whole process of the flight, you get to stay in a nice hotel with a pretty view. It's like an experience.

And by the way, let's take a beach selfie while we're at it. 100%. That's all Instagram content. And for some people, that's a really attractive thing to throw in.

So a facelift that you're paying $3,200 for abroad comes with a bunch of different additives that then you might get for the 8 to 10K you might spend in the US. Some people in the US are spending $250,000 on a deep plane facelift. What's that?

A deep plane facelift is where they lift the skin from beneath the muscle, move everything up all as one large piece, then remove extra skin, close everything up. And then, most of the time, if you're getting deep plane, you're spending money. So then you're being put-- Like, Marc Jacobs has openly done this.

Oh. Actually been pretty transparent about it. You're being put in a-- I remember him posting about this.

And his post-surgery face, like after the fact, I think after he sort of healed up, like showed some of the images of when he did have bandages on. Do you think that's a good thing? It's good to have transparency.

And it is definitely superior to people getting it done and lying. Yeah. But we also need to be conscious of the fact that we are normalizing this and making it an everyday thing, like an oil change.

And it is, in fact, a massive medical procedure that you should be taking as seriously as you would any other massive medical procedure. Yeah. Marc Jacobs gave us a lot of insight into his process, which included a hyperbaric oxygen chamber.

Wow. Lasers to increase blood stimulation. He had a private surgery suite with an entire staff, being pumped filled with, like, designer painkillers.

Jeez. It's a very different experience than the average person would have with a facelift. But something tells me that if you're doing this overseas that like-- I would be afraid of infections.

And like, how do you know that this is not just going to blow up on you after you go home? I mean, what's interesting is that an overseas experience looks more like a Marc Jacobs experience than a I'm going to go to a surgeon in my local city who has good reviews on Google, because you're like, oh, well, I'm getting the surgery suite, so it must be the same experience Marc Jacobs is getting. But if you go with this cheaper experience, you are saving your money by saving the clinic or the doctor a ton of overhead in the form of extra safety checks, board approval, name brand drugs, or even just generics that are made with reputable sources.

And the effects of this can be devastating. You can go from a complete medical failure, which includes infections, skin falling off, scars healing wrong, painful-- Some people's skin is so tight they can't move their jaw because it was done inexpertly. And then, not only are you living like with a disfigurement now and the emotional fallout of that, you've also paid a bunch of money, likely all you had because you felt the need to save money on this.

And now, you're going to have to get revisions and extra medical follow up, which may not be covered by insurance, in order to even salvage what's left of your appearance and your finances. And so people will find themselves not just in US plastic surgery debt, but their abroad plastic surgery debt, and the flights and whatever else, as a big, giant lump sum. And we haven't even talked about the amount of time people have to take off of work and parenting.

I was about to say. I mean, the investment of money is one thing. But the investment of the time it takes.

Like, I'm just thinking, just having a baby and the amount of time I truly needed to recover and I didn't even have a c-section, which by the way, is a major surgery, too. That's another thing that's like no one talks about how intense. Like, organs are literally taken out of your body.

And you just think it's just a little slit, and then the baby comes out. No. No, that's not what it's like.

I mean, I had a tummy tuck, which is a similar procedure. And it took me-- I took a month off of work. Wow.

Two months really before I could function in my day-to-day life without assistance and six months before I felt like a person who could go on a run or trip and not panic. Yeah. And that is not a realistic amount of time for the average person, especially someone who might be in other kind of financial constraints.

I mean, I think about those LuLaRoe women, and I think, you've got a "small business", it's not, on your hands creating a giant financial problem for you. Or, even if you're at the top of it and it's benefiting you, it's creating a huge amount of chaos and drama in your personal life and below you. But you've got likely family obligations, which is why you took that "business opportunity" in the first place.

Then, you've got surgery and your own emotional reaction to your changing appearance. It's an overwhelming traumatic experience. And we're not even discussing the mental health care costs associated when something goes wrong in a plastic surgery procedure.

Because the kind of body horror you would feel, if you-- I mean, think about the level of betrayal. I mean, I felt betrayed when I got stretch marks naturally. Really.

The body betrayal I would have felt if something had gone wrong with my tummy tuck. Like, I had worked this hard. I had spent all this money.

I had waited this long. The emotional fallout from that could take you years to pull apart. And that isn't free either.

All of this is a really expensive, huge life choice. And what you save in the short-term, the bill comes to you, one way or the other. So while we're usually telling you about the value of saving your money, let's hear once again from Dr.

Steinbrech on what your priorities should be when it comes to something as dangerous and permanent as a medical procedure. [MUSIC PLAYING] This is why you want to spend quality money. Because if you go cheap, you're at a much higher chance of having a problem. And then, I see it all the time, that people say they have a problem and I say, you look familiar.

Oh, yeah. I need to fix my pec implants because I didn't-- You did a consult for me three years ago, but I went with some guy in Tijuana. Not that Tijuana is necessarily bad.

I'm just giving you an example. And I had a problem. And now, I need you to fix it.

Well, it's going to be-- Now, you're paying the price that you were going to pay with me to begin with and you paid the price for that other surgeon. So it's wiser to wait just a couple more months or to use a couple of companies that will spread out the balance, even though we never want to go out and get a lot of debt in credit, bad debt. But if you really have to have it, it's better to do a little bit more that you can responsibly.

And I think these are the people that are on this podcast or people that are responsible with their finances. Get one of those and invest in a little bit higher quality rather than trying to pay off a cheaper surgery in one shot that then you have a complication with. [MUSIC PLAYING] So I think, something that I would hope that people take away from this is that plastic surgery is an extremely, extremely intense experience. And it is something that you need to get into consultation with people trust, whether that is a mental health professional, family members, ideally, multiple people.

So that you can, over time, check in and make sure that what you're seeing in the mirror is what other people are seeing, that your goals are achievable and attainable and realistic. You're never going to be perfectly symmetrical after plastic surgery. And that is a promise you might think you're going to get.

But the body heals the way that it heals. So I would want people to approach the topic with a ton of reverence and a ton of respect. But I would also hope that people walk away with the understanding that, even though girlboss style feminism told us for a really long time that self-objectification was feminist because it's you doing it and you can create a profit and it puts you in the driver's seat, to have some skepticism, even for the things that you think are empowering.

Because, at the end of the day, if you're paying someone for a product, there are people trying to take advantage of you, even if it's just a receptionist trying to upsell you. Everyone in that experience looks like a doctor and they are a salesperson. Wow.

And you need to go to multiple different people, get multiple opinions. Do not commit to things immediately. And spend the money on a circumstance that feels safe.

Don't spend too much. Don't go for the $50,000 Marc Jacobs facelift. Go to a few different local professionals that have great reviews and that have been board certified.

Find one that feels comfortable and accept what the cost is. And remember that none of this is necessary. You do not need a facelift.

You do not need filler. Self-acceptance is free. And it's a lot better for you.

I mean, snaps on that. Thank you so much for sharing your personal experiences, the good parts of it as well as the bad because I think that's the stuff that's missing from those just flat 2D images and that little box of text that we get. Well, that's the show for this week.

You can find Too Good to Be True wherever podcasts are available. And while you're there, we'd love for you to rate the show and leave us a review. I've been Ryan Houlihan and you can find me on all social media at Ryan Houlihan.

I've been Julia Lorenz-Olson. You can find me on YouTube at my PBS show Two Cents. And every once in a while, I'll look at Instagram.

My handle is @yayitsjulia. [MUSIC PLAYING]