The Facelift Price – Is it a Good Economic Investment?

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the US economy.  We lost 9 million jobs in 2020.  People want to be in a good position when the pandemic ends and the economy starts to rebound.  They want an edge in getting the job they want, keeping the job they have, and earning the income they need.  Many used working at home as an opportunity to improve their appearance.  The question is:  Is the facelift price they paid (or are considering paying) a good economic investment?  Will it help them earn more in the future?  Is the facelift price worth the money?

Do better-looking people fare better at work?

Some 50 years ago, researchers explored the “beauty bias” that most have seen firsthand.  Their studies proved that attractive people really do have an advantage.  Harvard Business Review discussed how this translates into the workplace:

As a comprehensive academic review summarized: “Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.”

US News and World Report agrees.  In “Why it Pays to Be Attractive,” it stated:

A number of studies examining the relationship between beauty and money show that more attractive people not only earn higher incomes, they also work more productively and profitably for their companies, obtain more loan approvals, and negotiate loans with better terms than their less-attractive counterparts.

It’s clear that being more attractive can provide a real advantage at work.  Does it also help you get and keep a job?

Looking for a job?  Attractive faces can really go places

Attractive students have an edge in college admission and grades

Many believe that a lucrative career starts with getting into the right college or university.  Harvard Business Review found a beauty bias in higher education admissions:

A pro-attractiveness bias already exists in education, with studies showing that physically attractive students tend to obtain higher grades at university, partly because they are deemed more conscientious and intelligent, even when they are not.

Furthermore, attractiveness already helps students get into universities in the first place, by eliciting more favorable evaluations during college admissions interviews.

So, more-attractive students have an edge in college interviews.  That can help them get into more desirable schools.  Professors there see them as better students, whether they are or not, and reward them with higher grades.  Does this “beauty bias” continue after graduation?

As Harvard Business Review showed above, it does.  Business journal Forbes reported that an attractive face can get you a job interview:

In an experimental study, researchers sent 11,000 CVs [resumes] to various job openings, including identical CVs accompanied by candidate photographs of different levels of attractiveness. Attractive women and men were much more likely to get a call back for an interview than unattractive (or no-photograph) candidates were.

Study after study shows that better-looking men and women are more likely to get hired, receive higher wages, get promoted, and make more over their careers.  Now, it might be easy to see how people who look like models and movie stars would fare better.  But what happens to people at the lower end of the looks scale?

Unfair bias against less-attractive people

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Unattractive people face bias

Research reveals that the advantage attractive people have over average-looking people is far less than the disadvantage unfairly given to less-attractive people.  I say, “unfairly given,” because studies find no connection between looks and intelligence or capability.  For instance, the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study graded over 10,000 males’ attractiveness based on their high school yearbook photos.  Then it looked at their earnings in their 30s and 50s.

Co-author John Scholz, Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and Provost at the University of Wisconsin – Madison summed up the conclusion of this large study, writing:

“There is a durable, persistent, and economically large correlation between the facial attractiveness of men, as measured by their high school yearbook photos and their earnings in the mid-30s and their early 50s.”

“The attractiveness premium does not appear to result from greater cognitive ability, high school class rank, or greater educational attainment of attractive men…It appears, then, that attractiveness is a characteristic that is directly rewarded in the labor market.”

So, these economic advantages do not result from attractive people being more intelligent, more resourceful, or more conscientious workers.  They get paid more because of their looks.  Worse, unattractive workers suffer from substantial bias.

As Forbes reported, economists Daniel Hamermesh and Jeff Biddle evaluated three studies and found that good-looking men made 5% more than their average-looking counterparts. But men who were rated as “quite plain” or “homely” were paid 9% less than average. The effect on women’s paychecks, while not as extreme, was similar.

Ominously, Forbes also stated:

Unsurprisingly, the beauty bias transfers into the workplace, with scientific studies showing that less attractive individuals are more likely to get fired, even though they are also less likely to be hired in the first place.

So, less-attractive people are less likely to get hired, are paid less, and are more likely to get fired.  One has to wonder:

Why do more attractive people have such an advantage over less-attractive ones?

Harvard Business Review speaks of a “very well-established “halo” effect whereby attractive people are generally perceived as being more sociable, healthy, successful, honest, and talented.”  This has even proved true with children.

The human brain automatically associates good qualities with good looks, and less-desirable qualities with less-attractive looks.  It’s inaccurate and unfair.  But you might as well protest the law of gravity.  It exerts its power whether we like it or not.

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Theresa, 67 – Before & After facelift, blepharoplasty & laser resurfacing by Dr. Brian Machida

Is the facelift price a good investment?   

CONTACT Dr. Machida Inland Empire, CA 

Attractive people have a clear built-in edge over average or unattractive people.  Many of these studies were done using facial attractiveness as the yardstick.  It’s clear that a good-looking face can provide a real advantage.  So, if your looks are fading, you might well wonder: “Is the facelift price worth the money?”

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Before and After Facelift by Dr. Brian Machida

If you’re working in a high-visibility field like entertainment, sales, or the executive suite, the answer seems obvious.  A facelift in Southern California, where I practice, ranges from $7,000 to $15,000, depending on the doctor and what you have done.

Surgeons in high-rent districts like Beverly Hills and New York City charge more.


Research consistently shows that people with better-looking faces have greater self-confidence and enjoy social advantages.  So, restoring your good looks or correcting a facial imbalance provides a payoff that exceeds your paycheck.

Of course, no one can guarantee that improving your looks will save your job, bring in higher sales commissions, or help you get the job you want.  But all the research shows that attractiveness gives you an edge. Unattractiveness is a serious disadvantage.  Improving your appearance may well be an investment worth making.

If you’re in Inland Empire and would like to discuss your options, you can find me at STC Plastic Surgery in Ontario.

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Before and After facelift by Dr. Brian Machida

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About Dr. Brian Machida, MD, FACS

Dr. Brian K. Machida, MD, FACS is a double board certified facial plastic surgeon. He has an exceptional level of experience, having performed ( read more )

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