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Plastic Surgery for Better Pay: How Much Would it Cost to Make Me Look Like Johnny Depp?

Plastic Surgery for Better Pay: How Much Would it Cost to Make Me Look Like Johnny Depp?


As we learned on DocShop last year, attractive people really do make more money. According to that article, attractive people make approximately 5 percent more than their less attractive co-workers. This means that in some fictional workplace, Orlando Bloom would be out-earning Humphrey Bogart (and not just because Bogie's been dead for 51 years). According to an article in U.S. News and World Report published in May, some people are actually getting cosmetic surgery as an investment in their careers.

The idea of undergoing plastic surgery for better pay intrigued me, particularly given the lengths some people are willing to go in order to climb the corporate ladder or get a better wage. It led me to the following thought experiment:

How much would it cost to make me look like Johnny Depp?

Hubert Vigilla Johnny Depp


Johnny Depp

Now, it's not like I'm that bad looking or anything. I don't wear a sack over my head when I go out in public. Dogs play with me whether I wear a steak around my neck or not. I don't have a part-time job ringing bells in Notre Dame. But I know for a fact that I'm no looker.

On the other hand, Johnny Depp is indisputably dreamy. If I looked like him, I could probably earn more money. In that fictional workplace I mentioned above, I could probably make about as much as Humphrey Bogart and Henry Fonda combined. Heck, throw in the fat guy from Borat for overtime pay and Joey Ramone for a Christmas bonus.

Below is an estimate of how much it would cost for me to be Depputized.

* The price ranges below are based on national averages that include estimated procedure fees, surgeon's fees, facility fees, and hospital fees. The estimated costs are guesses based on a median of the price range. Actual prices will vary by location and by surgeon.

Facial Plastic Surgery

"Ten thousand? We were talking about a lot more money than this."

The first step in turning your humble narrator into Johnny Depp is rearranging my face. As of now, I look absolutely nothing like Johnny Depp save for the fact that I, like him, have two eyes, a nose, and a mouth.

A nose job would be in order since my nose looks nothing like his. His nose is straight, chiseled, noble, and suitably aquiline. By comparison, my nose is like a fallen pear sticking out of the dirt. I could probably go for some eyelid surgery as well just to match the shape of his eyes better. Cheekbone implants would also help facilitate this metamorphosis, as it would be more convenient than sucking in my cheeks all the time.

Price range: $7,000-$19,000

Estimated cost: $12,000

Hair Transplant Surgery

"Oh, he's just like any other man, only more so"

Yul Brunner. Common. Lex Luthor. These are just three men who have pulled off the bald look with remarkable aplomb. I've been doing the shaved head thing for awhile now and it's worked out nicely. I don't have to visit the barbershop and I'm more aerodynamic. But Johnny Depp has flowing, radiant hair like Samson, so I must too.

Now, I could spend money on an expensive, custom-made hairpiece ($300 or more) or a couple of bucks on an old Shatner-model toupee (three box tops off your favorite breakfast cereal, plus shipping). Hair transplant surgery would certainly be more convincing for the overall effect, so I'd go that route.

Price range: $6,000-$20,000

Estimated cost: $10,000

Leg-Lengthening Surgery (Height Increase Surgery)

"I think I'll go to sleep and dream about piles of gold getting bigger and bigger and bigger."

Now, I'm taller than Prince (though he is so funky), but I'm still a short guy. Johnny Depp is 5'9". I could remedy this height difference by strapping on some platform shoes, wearing a spiffy pinstripe suit to elongate my frame, and sitting on phone books wherever I go. Surely this would not go well during a job interview.

INTERVIEWER: Hello, Mr. Vigilla. Please take a sea--what are you doing? Are those phone books?

ME: Yes, they are. Don't mind me.

INTERVIEWER: Why are you wearing that suit?

ME: You like it?

INTERVIEWER: White with red pinstripes?

ME: Well, you know, nothing else was clean. Not that I wouldn't go to the dry cleaners before an important interview--because, you know, I'm such a responsible candidate for this job--but, ummm, this was clean and it's kinda spiffy.

INTERVIEWER: And the platform shoes?

ME: My dog ate my other shoes.

INTERVIEWER: What kind of dog do you have, Mr. Vigilla?

ME: It's a, ummm, one of those... I don't really have a dog.


ME: This isn't going well, is it?


ME: I should probably go now, shouldn't I?


ME: Do you want to keep these phone boo--?


The surgery itself seems pretty harrowing. Here's the description from an ABC News health article published last year:

"Imagine, if you will, a surgeon breaking your leg bones in four places, then attaching a steel scaffold frame to the outside of your limbs with metal pins jutting into your bones. Every day for months you rotate screws attached to the pins in your legs. There are many moments of excruciating pain and the constant worry of infection. After that there is a grueling regimen of physical therapy."

All that for just two or three extra inches of height?

Sold. 5'9", here I come!

Price range: $70,000-$125,000

Estimated cost: $100,000


"Mostly, I remember the last one, the wild finish: A guy standing on a station platform in the rain, with a comical look on his face, because his insides have been kicked out."

I'm not overweight or anything and I'm actually in decent shape--I run three miles every other day, I do caveman exercises (push ups, sit ups, basic freeweight work) regularly, and I eat well overall. Yet even still, there is that little bit of flab around the waist, which I'm convinced is made out of pizza and falafel.

I could work out more and avoid unhealthy foods altogether, but that is not always guaranteed to trim away the last bits of flab. I could get a gym membership so I can use all of their fancy machines ($30 a month plus any initial fees) and maybe even get a personal trainer to help me out ($25 to $200 an hour). Since this thought experiment involves surgery, I'm going in for liposuction once my legs heal.

Louis Theroux, one of my favorite broadcasters/television documentary personalities, did one of his recent hour-long programs on the plastic surgery scene in Beverly Hills. Theroux tends to immerse himself in his subject matter. In the past he's attended a professional wrestling training camp, driven in a demolition derby, tried out for a pornographic film, and even lived with the Westboro Baptist Church for three weeks. In Louis Theroux: Under The Knife, Theroux underwent liposuction, paying for it out of his own pocket. He's not overweight either and he wound up paying $5,000, which seems about right for my situation.

Price range: $3,500-$10,000

Estimated cost: $5,000

A Hill of Beans in This Crazy World

"Don't you sometimes wonder if it's worth all this?"

At a total estimated cost of $127,000, it would be one hefty investment to turn your humble narrator into Johnny Depp (let alone some strange-looking guy that kind of resembles Johnny Depp). And really, I don't know that I'd want to. I guess for some people, an investment in plastic surgery may help them with their careers, particularly if that's expected of them and especially if their profession requires them to be a public face for their company. I don't think any of those avenues would be open for me in the first place. Those types of careers don't really fit who I am.

If I looked like Johnny Depp, the best job I could land would probably be a Johnny Depp impersonator. I'd dress up like Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean and hang out in front of Mann's Chinese Theater. An average day would consist of taking photos with tourists, making witty pirate banter with everyone, and hitting on the lady dressed up like Wonder Woman.

While staggering around Mann's Chinese Theater, I'd look over the celebrity imprints and see Humphrey Bogart's hands and feet and his message to someone named Sid. Humphrey Bogart--he never stopped traffic with his good looks. He didn't have good looks to begin with. He probably wouldn't be the leading man in the films of today. And yet he does have something a lot of the other schmoes don't: He was good at what he did, and he was cool because he didn't try to be someone else.

Instead of trying to look like Johnny Depp, I'll just be me. And maybe I'll try to be like Bogie--not looks-wise but attitude-wise. You don't need to be a looker to be cool. Bogie knew that. He was just Bogie. And besides, try as hard as he might, Johnny Depp will never be quite as cool as Humphrey Bogart. No one ever will.

Here's looking at you, kid.

--subhead quotations from the films The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

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