05/26/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT
It's a Cinderella story but with liposuction and cosmetic dentistry instead of glass slippers and a gown. When ABC's Extreme Makeover offered up tens of thousands of dollars' worth of free nips and tucks, the network received 7,000 pleading videotapes, featuring imperfect Every men and-women like Melissa Jones, one of the 14 selected. With protruding ears and a dour smile, "I felt like I never measured up," Jones says. A new nose, ears and—why not?—bigger breasts changed that. Here, a look at three winners' lives once the stylists and TV cameras had gone.
MELISSA JONES, 28
WHAT SHE HAD DONE: Nose job, ears pinned back, breast implants, brow-lifts, tummy tuck, LASIK eye surgery, teeth whitened, hair colored
Says husband Kraig Jones, 39: "It's a tremendous change—but for the good."
UPKEEP: Jones, a Sacramento Internet retailer, says she's eating right and exercising. She also occasionally goes to a hairdresser for touch-ups.
Absolutely. "My look is sexier," says Jones, who is counting the days until her high school reunion in June. "I've gotten e-mails saying they can't wait to see me, which is surprising because people weren't very nice to me."
JOHN DRAKE, 56
WHAT HE HAD DONE: Face-lift, eye-lifts, neck-lift, ear pinning, fat injections to his cheeks and porcelain teeth veneers. The Olathe, Kans., florist also grew a beard.
"The first three days, all I did was stare at him," says wife Sheri, 38. "I couldn't sleep. I sat up in bed and just looked at him. I feel like a newlywed." So does Drake. Before, "I was embarrassed for myself and my family. I wanted them to have a husband and dad who was a sharp guy."
TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING?
Drake's son Nash, 2, didn't recognize Dad until he started singing Nash's favorite song, "Somewhere over the Rainbow."
SEEDS OF CHANGE: No longer mistaken for Nash's grandpa, Drake says he is dressing better and may give up the flower biz. "I would love to get into television."
TAMMY GUTHRIE, 40
WHAT SHE HAD DONE: Face-and eye-lifts, nose job, laser skin resurfacing, teeth whitened and straightened, hair highlighted and styled
WHY SHE DID IT: "It's important to be a great mother," says the St. Petersburg, Fla., mom of three, "but also to do things for yourself. I think I had lost that."
"Her eyes look wider and brighter," says husband Wally, 40. "The bags that were under her eyes, the skin on her neck—all that stuff looks perfect now."
UPKEEP: "I actually do less now," says Guthrie. "I don't have to put as much makeup on to cover wrinkles or dark circles."
Right after the surgery, "I was swollen, I didn't necessarily look that great, and I was missing my family. I thought, 'Should I have made this decision?' But in the end it worked out," says Guthrie. "It's not just a physical change. It makes you feel nothing's impossible."