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Even if you haven't seriously considered doing it, you've likely wondered: what if you could just erase that wrinkle or siphon away that extra flab?

So what's involved in cosmetic surgery? How safe is it? And what psychological issues should you sort out before going under the knife to change the way you look?

Robert Lipsyte turns to his panel for the facts and raw feelings. Hollywood publicist and author Leslie Oren tells why her own procedures were necessary in the visual culture of show business. Feminist attorney Kathy Rodgers argues we must become more realistic about aging women's bodies-and send a fresh message to young people about disengaging from stereotypes and absurd unrealistic ideals. Dr. Gerald Pitman, Clinical Professor of Surgery at NYU's School of Medicine, adds that the seriousness of undergoing surgery should never be understated. "It is never just liposuction," he says, adding that post-op recovery gets harder as we get older. But on the upside, he has seen cosmetic procedures have a "truly transformative" effect on individual patients.

Next, author and longtime feminist Faye Wattleton engages in a surprisingly frank conversation about her own cosmetic procedures. Even as she was fighting for women's rights as the youngest and first female president of Planned Parenthood, Wattleton says she was aware of the impact her appearance had on others-and on herself. And she freely admits that she began visiting the plastic surgeon in her 40s!

Finally, New York Review of Books contributor and author Darryl Pinckney poignantly describes the pleasure of trading the hip, downtown lifestyle of his youth for the cozy domestic pleasures of middle age.


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