Make More Money by Getting Plastic Surgery?

Without a doubt, your career is your most important financial asset. As such, most financial experts will suggest you should do all you can to make the most of it and maximize your compensation. But is there a limit to what you can and should do to make more money? Blogger Penelope Trunk cites a new book that says good-looking people make more money than not-so-good-looking people. And well they should. The facts suggest that good-looking people make more for their companies and thus deserve higher pay…

Now Trunk isn’t saying that it’s fair that better looking people are treated better, she’s just recognizing the fact that they do get some breaks which helps them earn more.

So what if you’re not as good-looking as you’d like to be? Or maybe you’d like to give your career a little boost? Trunk suggests that plastic surgery is not only a good option, but that eventually it will become a rather common practice — something many people will do to help out their careers:

We don’t flinch when we hear that Cameron Diaz got a nose job or Brad Pitt had his ears pinned. It seems like a reasonable thing to do given their profession. And look at Chelsea Clinton. She did a few changes just as she hit the adult world as a consultant at McKinsey. She’s not an idiot, and she certainly does not seem obsessed by her appearance. But she realized that she was not great looking, and the plastic surgery seems to have made some improvements.

And just ten years ago, I remember talking with my friends about how gross Botox is. But my friend Sharon, who is a hairstylist in Los Angeles, says that the majority of her clients–who range from normal housewives to corporate lawyers–have had some sort of Botox injection. She says it’s so mainstream in Los Angeles that it’s almost a statement if you don’t have it.

So my prediction is that soon we will all capitulate to the undeniable evidence that we have more opportunity in life if we are better looking, and it’s relatively easy to buy good looks. So we will. It will be something everyone does as they graduate from college, and not just the most rich and privileged kids. Plastic surgery will be for the go-getters and career-minded. Just you wait and see.

Certainly, it’s a touchy subject. There’s a lot more to plastic surgery than making more money at your job. What’s your take on the issue? Is this a viable method for adding to your income or is it simply too much in pursuit of another dollar?

Plastic surgery is the next must-have career tool. Maybe [Brazen Careerist]

(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. This isnt exactly a shocking revelation. Weight loss, better posture, being clean shaven, nicer (more expensive) suits. Ive noticed that all have a direct impact on my career.

  2. Amy Alkon says:

    It’s almost a statement if you don’t have Botox?

    Yeah: “I’m secure enough that I don’t have to have my face frozen.”

    There are people who have plastic surgery and don’t go overboard, but you see a hell of a lot of women in Los Angeles with cat face and volleyball boobs, and they really just look scary and pathetic.

  3. ClayS says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace:
    And all the things you mention are greatly preferable to plastic surgery.

    And what does the Brazen Careerist have to say about that teenage girl that died during a stupid breast augmentation?

  4. Katorok says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace: how do people notice you’re wearing more expensive suits without you actually telling them?

  5. rachaelmw says:


    The individual you’re referencing didn’t have a breast augmentation. She was undergoing surgery to correct asymmetrical breasts and a few other issues.


  6. satoru says:

    I think the article confuses correlation with causation. I believe that most economists and psychologists would agree that being successful is 50% attitude and 50% luck.

    Going from that assumption, there is evidence that having plastic surgery does give an individual a boost in self confidence and self worth. Therefore if you have increased self-confidence then you are more likely to pursue your goals to be successful.

    The underlying commonality is motivation and drive to succeed. How you mentally accomplish this is somewhat secondary.

  7. All the higher level executives in my company are ugly as sin. I think anyone who is serious about having their company grow is going to hire the best man/woman for the job. Not the most attractive. It all depends on the job really. Sales? It is probably better to be attractive. Computer programming? Hire the smartest/most hard working person you can find.

    The problem with succsess is that you can’t messure it with out comparison to others. Same goes for looks.

  8. Pithlit says:

    I think a lot of it has to do with the area you live in and what line of work. Good looks can certainly grease the skids no matter what, but I don’t think it’s always a necessity. Plenty of people are financially successful through their careers without botoxing themselves to death.

  9. emdy says:

    my Chinese professor told us that after graduating from university, female students in China, if they can afford it, get surgery to look better. They need all the edge they can get because there are so many people trying to get the same jobs.

  10. johnva says:

    Personally, I think people look worse with plastic surgery and I think LESS of people that have it. It tells me that they are probably superficial.

  11. bohemian says:

    There was a recent revelation that botox is causing brain damage.

    I see way too many people who have had their face botoxed or sliced and diced until they look freakish.

  12. Buran says:

    @PrestonBerryworth: Thank you. If you can do the job, you can do the job. No one “deserves” more based on how they look. If they perform better at the job, then they deserve more. That is the only criteria that matters. Why person A does well will be different than why person B does, but it’s not necessarily their looks.

  13. guroth says:

    @Katorok: You clearly don’t know much about suits.

  14. Techguy1138 says:

    It shouldn’t matter but I won’t be against it if it helps me provide better for my family.

    The payout would have to be pretty big for me to change my face but I could deal with lipo if that time ever comes.

  15. youbastid says:

    While this is pretty old news, it does beg the question: Should there be affirmative action for ugly people?

  16. @Katorok: I notice. :) Well, I suppose not if they’re EXPENSIVE, but I notice if they’re well-made. You can tell from across the room.

    Not that I’m sitting there judging people on their clothes, but if I was managing people who needed to look professional, I’d probably poke them in the right direction if they needed poking. Because other people will judge.

    Different note, when I was in law school, career services told me nobody would hire me unless I grew my hair longer (I’d donated it to Locks of Love a few weeks earlier), dyed it brown, and ironed it straight. They told me that my natural hair (curly and red) looked “frivolous” and “ethnic” and “not trustworthy and serious enough” for a lawyer.

    I told them they could stuff it.

  17. JollyJumjuck says:

    People who work in sales would probably benefit the most from some sort of “augmentation,” rather than any other area of business. Sure, the interviewer might be tempted to hire the more attractive applicant (all other things being equal), but a salesperson who is attractive, knowledgeable and charming can make significantly more sales than one who is just knowledgeable and charming. Witness the typical pharmaceutical salesperson (a.k.a. glorified model). The most successful tend to be young attractive women who sell their products to male doctors.

    Ultimately it is the individual’s choice whether (and the amount of) plastic surgery is needed to “get ahead.” It is, however, a sad comment on human nature that we place such a high value on attractiveness.

    Shakespeare once asked, “Could beauty…have better commerce than with honesty?” and then answers, “…the power of beauty will sooner transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the force of honesty can translate beauty into his likeness.” It seems that this issue has been with us for a long time.

  18. chrisjames says:

    @satoru: Or the assumed causation may be reversed. People who are making more money or are at a higher or more secure career level might spend more time and money beautifying themselves.

    If you follow the reference trail from this article, there’s not much more than speculation about the data. The only message is the correlation, which is an interesting statistical fact and shouldn’t affect individual choice.

  19. youbastid says:

    @Buran: It’s not about just doling out money to people that look better. But if two people perform exactly the same and one looks better, it’s pretty obvious who’s going to succeed.

    Also, the people who look better tend to succeed when their job involves meeting people face to face. The company they work for doesn’t decide that, the clients do.

  20. nequam says:

    @Katorok: Tailoring makes the suit. The most expensive suit in the world will look like crap if it doesn’t fit. That said, a person who pays $1000 for a suit probably is more likely to have it well tailored than one who buys a $200 suit.

  21. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    @nequam: I wear $200 suits from Land’s End and I dare someone to try to tell the difference between a $200 suit and a $1,000 suit.

  22. LucyInTheSky says:

    this is awful. plastic surgery a ridiculous waste of money. people shouldn’t have to worry enough about their looks so that they have to go get crap injected into their faces of have things pumped into or out of their bodies. disgusting. truly disgusting.

  23. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    @LucyInTheSky: Well excuse me for liking porn.

  24. SCROTUS says:

    @bohemian: Right, but that’s sickular logic: you need to be brain-dead to get botox, which causes you to be brain-dead. So the next time you need a little needling, try heroin – it makes you heroic.

  25. Snowblind says:

    Huh. Must have excluded Michael Jackson’s loss of income from plastic surgery when they did the cost/benefit calculations.

  26. thelushie says:

    Work with what ya got, baby! It is also amazing how attractive someone becomes when they have a great personality and are extremely intelligent (yes, this has been backed up by research), even if the workplace. Attractiveness is also subjective. What is attractive to one may not be attractive to another. As for “universal attractive”. Yeah, ok but there are so few people with that x factor that most of us normal people don’t have to worry about it.

  27. It’s usually obvious when people have work done, and my respect for them drops. Why are so many people so shallow?

  28. kyle4 says:

    Bill Gates…hot?
    Steve Jobs…
    Steve Ballmer…
    Martha Stewart….hot?

    I’m sorry what again?

    Oh, and in twenty years when they discover botox causes cancer, than I’m sure they’ll regret ever recommending this stuff. What happened to being happy with the way you developed naturally? I don’t want to live in a superficial world thanks.

  29. kyle4 says:

    Bill Gates…hot?
    Steve Jobs…
    Steve Ballmer…
    Martha Stewart….hot?

    I’m sorry what again? Oh, and in twenty years when they discover botox causes cancer, than I’m sure they’ll regret ever recommending this stuff.

    (Btw, sorry if this is a double post but after six minutes it still hadn’t shown up)

  30. LUV2CattleCall says:

    On a related note, I’m going to tax-writeoff every can of diet coke, every lite anything, every package of food I bought that said “0-transfat” on the label…etc…. heck, I may even writeoff my new car since it has cupholders which can hold a diet coke (old car had crappy ones). Oh, also writing off my new laptop and home entertainment system since watching TV/being on Consumerist gives me less time to eat.

  31. mwshook says:

    On my first day of medical school, it was hard to keep from noticing how the average attractiveness level of my class was very high. There were some ugly people, but it was definitely not a normal distribution.

    Most of us in my residency class (men and women) have put on considerable weight, dealing with stress by eating cookies. All of the women have had one or more babies during residency, which adds weight and destroys any chance of getting 2 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

    So medical students are hot, but by the time you’re finished with residency, I think all the sleep deprivation and overeating makes most doctors look less attractive than the average 29-year-old.

  32. I think it’s a giant load of crap. I would see this on shows like Extreme Makeover on TV. There are usually two cases on these shows. The first one is a real hard luck case – and accident, a disfiguring birth defect, that sort of thing. Heroic plastic surgeon gives said hard luck case his or her life back. Bravo. Cut to commercial. Second case is some “professional” type who is hitting 40 and needs “fine tuning” to get over the hump at work. I’m surprised they aren’t providing 1-800 numbers for people to call at the end of the show with “operators standing by.” I told my wife I flat-out refuse to watch that shit, and if she turns it on, she can watch it by herself.

  33. Mr. Gunn says:

    satoru: Exactly. Correlation does not equal causation, yet they’re asking a question that assumes plastic surgery makes you more attractive.

    In many cases, it really doesn’t. Also, stop with the fake tan nonsense. It just makes you look like a douchebag.

  34. lala_yang says:

    Your Chinese professor is exaggerating. Seriously, one or two around him/her might have done it, but it’s not like Chinese college gals do it as a ritual post-graduation. And trust me, just like in the US, career wasn’t really the top reason why they went for the nip ‘n tuck.

  35. ltlbbynthn says:

    Well, there’s getting quality work and looking like you’ve had plastic surgery. One of those things is really tragic. I think some surgery is fine, but not to the point where we as a society think fake breasts and waxen features are normal. I bought a promo bottle of vodka a few weeks ago, and it came with a calendar of women in bikinis. They all looked different, except for their identical racks. I couldn’t stop saying what a shame it was they didn’t have real breasts. They would have been SO much more interesting. you know most of them got implants specifically so they could be bikini models.