For the record, I had lasik performed September of 2004, and I have absolutely NO regrets. I was very nearsighted, and had astigmatism and all that jazz. My eyes are too dry to wear contacts comfortably, so lasik was a present for myself.
I paid around $3900 for my Lasik, and it was with a doctor I really trusted that was recommended by my personal eye doctor (who said he sent his own children to her). You only get one set of eyes, so it pays to do it right. Do your research. There are different methods of lasik. The newest technology (3-D Wavescan) is more advanced, and gives you a laser job that's more tailored to teh exact shape of your eyeball. Because of my thin corneas, I couldn't get that, and I had to have the traditional lasik, which obviuosly I have no complaints about. I thikn it would have been closer to $4500 had I had the wavescan version.
Just make sure you are comfortable with the doctor you choose. Even though so much of it is computerized, you want someone who knows what they are doing!
As for side-effects, most of the complications and side-effects are experienced by people who had the surgery years ago, before they perfected the technology. I was really worried about the stories of people who had night-vision problems (saw "halos" around lights at night) and couldn't drive anymore. I had absolutely NONE of these problems at all! The worst of it for me was that my eyes were really dry for about 2 weeks... felt like I had my contacts in and I couldn't take them out! But after that - perfect. I am 20/20 exactly. Never been happier with the decision. Yeah, I was kinda nervous myself, but I've had the same eye doctor since I was 5 years old, and I knew he wouldn't send both his children AND me to a doctor who didn't know what she was doing!
If you have any questions about the actual procedure, feel free to ask me on this thread or PM me. I'll be happy to answer any questions based on my experiences.