Health and Beauty by Jean Stratton

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Cosmetic Surgery Is Booming As More of Us Seek Rejuvenation

Considering a little nip and tuck? A bit of body contouring? Liposuction, a tummy tuck, breast aug, brow lift, or full-fledged face lift? You are definitely not alone.

Never before have so many sought the services of cosmetic surgeons. All ages and both sexes are opting for a wide variety of procedures, which increasingly offer advanced, state-of-the-art technology. It may not be the Fountain of Youth, but until the real thing comes along, it can be a convincing substitute.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 320,022 people had liposuctions, 254,140 had breast augmentation, and 128,667 had face lifts in 2003.

Indeed, people are very aware of the opportunities of cosmetic surgery today. TV shows emphasize make-overs of all sorts, and there is often more openness among those who have experienced surgery. It is not quite the secret it once was.

In addition, the Baby Boomer generation is at an age when such procedures can be desirable, and when a group that large dips it collective toe into the water, it clearly has an impact.

"There is such an interest in it now," reports Princeton Facial Plastic surgeon Dr. Eugenie Brunner. "The press and media show that people of all strata are doing it. Also, people are in the work force longer. They are feeling a pull to look younger. They may feel young, but when they look in the mirror, the face doesn't match how they feel."

Facial plastic surgery can include the complete face lift, or partials, such as brow lift, eye lifts, nasal and neck contouring, mid face lift, and mini lift (for those with minimal signs of aging).

Healthy and Natural

Dr. Jill Hazen of Hazen Plastic Surgery points out that "Some people like to have one procedure and come back later for others. In Princeton, people often break it up because they think it is more natural. Others decide to do it all at once. They all want to look healthy and natural."

Body contouring is right up there with facial rejuvenation, and the most popular plastic surgery in the country is liposuction, reports Dr. Marc Alan Drimmer, Director of Princeton Plastic Surgery Associates and Chief of Plastic Surgery at the University Medical Center at Princeton.

Liposuction is a means to improve body shape using a tube and vacuum device to remove unwanted fat deposits that don't respond to dieting and exercise. Areas such as chin, cheeks, neck, upper arms, abdomen, buttocks, hips, thighs, knees, calves, and ankles are candidates for liposuction.

The procedure can be performed in the hospital or in the doctor's office, depending on the extent of the surgery. If it's a small area, needing only local anesthesia, it is often done in the office. When it requires general anesthesia, most surgeons operate in the hospital.

"I am offering a very exciting new Vasar® liposuction procedure," says Dr. Hazen. "It's a new technology that makes liposuction less traumatic. With ultra fine canulas, it's easier to extract the fat, and it's easier on the patient."

Any surgery involves risk, and all the doctors agree that safety is the most important issue. People with certain medical conditions are not suitable for plastic surgery.

Realistic Expectations

"Patients need a medical clearance from their internist before surgery," notes Dr. Drimmer. "In addition, a patient must have stopped smoking at least two weeks – and preferably a month – before surgery."

Realistic expectations are also very important, he adds. "If someone is 60, they won't look 40, but they will look younger than 60. No one just comes into my office once. I meet with them and discuss the procedure, and then they come back again. I spend a lot of time with them before the surgery."

Many plastic surgeons are adding non-surgical procedures to their practice today, and such treatments as Botox, Restylane, Radiance, collagen, and others have become very popular. Many doctors also have skin care treatment centers for such conditions as Rosacea, acne scarring, spider veins on the nose, etc.

For those not ready to step into surgery, these treatments are a positive alternative. They help to plump up creased, furrowed, or sunken facial skin, and add fullness to lips and back of the hands.

Botox, one of the most popular procedures, is especially effective on forehead and frown lines. It blocks nerve transmissions, and relaxes the muscles whose repeated contractions cause the lines. It generally lasts up to four months.

Restylane is the first and only cosmetic dermal filler made of non-animal-based hyaluronic acid (a natural substance in the human body). It can help to restore volume and fullness to the skin to correct moderate to severe facial wrinkles and folds, such as nasolabial folds. Results can last six months or longer, twice as long as collagen.


Radiance is the latest injectable dermal filler, reports Dr. Drimmer. It is especially useful for the nasolabial folds and lines in the face, augmentation of the lips, softening of facial scars, and filling of depressions. One of the advantages of Radiance is its potential for a long-lasting effect. Results can be effective from one to three years.

Dr. Brunner notes the popularity of a special "Foto facial" procedure, which consists of an intense pulse light treatment to decrease sun spots, brown spots, redness, and facial blood vessels.

"A new technique is Thermage," she adds. "This is an FDA-approved radio frequency treatment to tighten collagen and lay down new collagen. It takes an hour and lasts two to six months. It's a nice alternative to surgery."

Selecting any of these procedures or surgery requires an investment of time and money, and as Dr. Hazen points out, "People have to want to do it for themselves. If something has bothered them a long time, it's a way to help. I've done ladies who felt so down about themselves, and after surgery, they are new people."

Indeed, so often, if you look better, you feel better (and vice versa). Notes Dr. Drimmer, "The big pleasure is to see someone so happy after the surgery. You see her carrying herself differently. She can be a different woman. I have to say I love what I do, and I want the result to be perfect!"

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