10%      is the discount patients receive on cosmetic surgery once they collect 60,000 points (5 points for every dollar spent) under Dr. Daniel Ronel’s Rewards Program.

"You get more bang for the buck with a breast augmentation."—Dr. Daniel Ronel regarding a 2009 American Society of Plastic Surgeons report that breast augmentation now surpasses liposuction as the nation’s most popular plastic surgery

Nationally, cosmetic surgeons are reporting procedures are down by as much as 20 percent these days—but some Santa Fe surgeons say otherwise.

"I had the highest number of patients last month than I ever had," Santa Fe and Albuquerque-based plastic surgeon Dr. Daniel Ronel tells SFR. "It's a little like the real estate market: [Santa Fe] is a little different from the national trend."

Ronel says the uptick may be because more patients are signing up for smaller procedures, like Botox and eyelid tucks, as opposed to the "big ticket" items like face-lifts.

But he also believes there's an economic motivation.

"My feeling is that people still need to look good and have to be more competitive in the marketplace," Ronel says.

Dr. Patrick Hudson, who also operates in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, agrees that minor injectable procedures are up in Santa Fe. However, he's seen a 10 percent decrease in business overall, which led him to drop his prices 10 percent earlier in the year. He disagrees with Ronel's job-market theory.

"I thought that at the beginning…but I'm not seeing people come in and saying they need to be competitive," Hudson says.

Nor is the American Society of Plastic Surgeons—at least when it comes to men.

"There was maybe one doctor out of 200 who said [he or she performed a procedure on a man] that was job-related," ASPS spokesman Brian Hughins, who recently conducted an informal survey, says. (Hughins says women may perceive cosmetic surgery as a way to stay competitive, although that doesn't necessarily translate into getting a procedure.)

If plastic surgery is a bit more recession-proof in Santa Fe, there could also be ethnic factors: A March ASPS study indicates that in 2008 white clients dropped 2 percent while Hispanic patients increased by 18 percent.

Either way, Ronel is promoting affordability. In addition to his discount program, he also has a new budget-wise enhanced collagen product, Artefill.

Yet even Artefill has suffered in this economy: Its original developers, Artes Medical, laid off 100 people in December and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Cowen Healthcare Royalty Partners, a global firm, bought the product during Artes' liquidation and invested $34 million.