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Plastic Surgery Tourism Trend: Good Idea, Bad Idea?

girl with suitcaseAmidst all the media headlines that seem to continually offer conflicting messages, is traveling abroad for cosmetic surgery a good idea or a bad idea? On the one hand, headlines proclaim safety issues that have negatively affected some American patients who travel for well-known “discount” surgeries in less regulated countries. On the other, they hail international travel as a growing trend in the industry, with instances of good, if not stellar, surgical outcomes. Budget-conscious consumers want to know: Is there risk, or not?

The fact is, when it comes to plastic surgery procedures, there is always risk, and the right answer is, regardless of where you choose to have yours, smart patients take the time and effort required to know what they’re doing in order to mitigate that risk. That’s according to a recent article in Metro New York, “Surgeons Predict Seasonal Spike in Americans Seeking Plastic Surgery Abroad,” published in their December 10, 2013, edition. Patient Irina Gonzalez told Metro that her surgical trip abroad to Colombia was inspired by a friend who recommended a specific doctor there for a combination of post-gastric bypass surgeries, including liposuction, breast augmentation, upper- and lower body lifts, and arm lift. According to the article, Irina considers her plastic surgery tourism experience and results a success.

At the same time, Metro spoke with a New York-based and American Board of Plastic Surgery-certified surgeon Stephen Greenberg, MD, who pointed out that he sees many patients for corrective work who return from abroad with botched surgeries. “It’s common for someone to go and have cheap surgery and their breasts are uneven or they have a scar they don’t like,” Dr. Greenberg told the news source.

While one issue is safety, and a lack of strict regulations, which may lead to the procedure-related complications he sees, Dr. Greenberg told Metro that more frequently the issue is that US patients simply aren’t happy with their results.

The two most popular plastic surgery spots lately? Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, said Dr. Greenberg, and perhaps the two countries to avoid, if that’s where these unhappy patients have traveled for their surgeries abroad.

As for Irina, “ …I don’t have any regrets,” she told Metro, who also claims that most of the local and US patients who go to South America for plastic surgery are satisfied customers, with this caveat: “It’s safe for the people who know what they are doing,” she told the news source. “I felt like I did because I speak Spanish and I had this family connection. I had a lot of advantages I feel the typical American might not have.”

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Mommy Makeover: Passé or Here to Stay?

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There are somethings that will never change: Babies will be born, bodies will change, and, yes, mommies will seek out body makeovers. Frequently that means perking up deflated breasts and tucking stretched out tummies. We’ve been doing it for decades, but does that mean that it’s time the Mommy Makeover was replaced with something more high-tech or glamorous? Don’t bet on it!

Despite the fact that many things change in the aesthetic world, the Mommy Makeover is one thing that’s here to stay. While the name was initially used to described a growing trend in the industry, today it has earned permanent status as a tried-and-true solution to the new baby, new body phenomenon. The makeover is often considered in terms of multiple treatments performed on the same day to restore a woman’s body to pre-pregnancy form. Procedures often include some combination of breast augmentation / breast reduction / breast lift, tummy tuck, and liposuction. In fact, for the past 10 years, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) has reported breast augmentation (implants, lift and/or reduction), tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) and liposuction in the top 5 procedures performed by their members on women in the United States. Here’s how these three treatments break down:

Better Breasts

Post-pregnancy breasts can leave even the most practical woman at least slightly disconcerted by the change in size and shape that reflects back in her mirror image. When looking to restore your breasts the options are a breast reduction to reduce overly large, heavy, or sagging breasts; breast implants to restore volume to a deflated breast; and / or a breast lift to elevate the existing breast tissue.

Tummy Control

Just like a deflated balloon, the post-pregnancy tummy often is wrinkled and misshapen with excess skin that just won’t retract. That’s why a tummy tuck is often the best solution for the new mommy’s body.

Lower Body Liposuction

No matter how disciplined, diet and exercise don’t always deliver desired results post-baby. Any stubborn pockets of fat that are leftover in the thighs, buttocks or hips is best removed via liposuction.

One thing is for certain: The Mommy Makeover has earned status as an effective combination of procedures that restores (perhaps even improves) the original contours of the post-pregnancy body. So despite the fact that technologies may evolve and beauty products will come and go, one thing is for sure: As sure as babies will continue to be born, the Mommy Makeover is here to stay.

Are You Ready?

Choose wisely. Get the facts and find a reputable doctor in your area!

Spider Vein Treatment: Test Your Beauty IQ

You’re young. You’re fit. You have beautiful skin. Are you at risk for spider veins? Read on as we tackle the myths and the facts in the name of great legs everywhere…
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1. Only old people have spider veins.

False! It’s actually pretty common for younger women in their 20s and 30s to get spider veins. While aging is one of the risk factors for these pesky little skin discolorations, they can also be a result of pregnancy, sun damage, being overweight, your genes, medication and extended time on your feet.

2. You’re at less risk for spider veins if you exercise regularly.

False! The truth is, whether it’s the result of medication or lifting weights, anything that puts pressure on your veins can cause them to enlarge and become visible as spider veins.

3. Spider veins do not pose any health risks.

True! As luck would have it, spider veins may not be the most aesthetically appealing, but in general, there are no related health risks. That said, if you were to have multiple spider veins pop up on your stomach or arms, a doctor should be consulted to rule out certain rare genetic conditions.

Treatment 101

If you discover that you’re one of the many who indeed have spider veins is it necessary to have spider vein treatment? Nope. However, if you really don’t like the way they look, you have options.

First, the easiest option is to simply cover them up—and no, we’re not talking about wearing long pants on a hot day! A little makeup goes a long way to blend spider veins in with your regular skin tone. If you’re looking for something more permanent, consider an in-office laser or sclerotherapy treatment. Both target spider veins in such a way that they dry up and are resorbed by the body naturally. While laser treatment is less invasive, sclerotherapy (injections) are more effective for larger veins.

The good news with treating spider veins is that all options are fairly cost effective. On average, treatments are about $300 per session. You may need 2 or 3 sessions, but results are permanent. Unfortunately, it’s likely that you’ll get more spider veins over time, but being aware of preventive measures—SPF, compression hose—can help to keep those pesky veins at bay.
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Laser Therapy: Power Up for Beautiful Skin!

If you’re still carrying around brown spots, rough skin, and fine lines from last summer’s sun exposure, it’s time to resolve to face the new year fresh. And, no, that doesn’t mean going under the knife. Today, skin rejuvenation can be found in the high-tech power of laser light therapy.

Lasers are like little miracle workers. By harnessing the power of light, lasers have the ability to zap those brown spots away, smooth out rough skin texture and fine lines and wrinkles, and, with the appropriate amount of lead time, even create a hair-free skin surface by summer!

Essentially, a laser uses a focused beam of light to target specific skin flaws, such as brown spots or scars, or to rejuvenate the skin overall. With dark spots, the light targets the pigment to break it down and eventually fade or disappear; for skin rejuvenation, it uses laser light to burn tiny holes into the skin, which jumpstarts collagen production to bring back the elasticity of a more youthful looking face.

But the truth is, lasers can be complicated. “Laser” has become a catch-all term for the variety used to treat different skin concerns. Some hurt more than others. Some deliver results with minimal downtime. Others require a week or more until you can emerge from hiding. Main categories include IPL, ablative, and non-ablative (fractional):

• IPL (intense pulsed light) lasers are used to treat large areas of sun damage, including pigment/dark spots on the face, neck, chest and more. IPL is also used to reduce Rosacea-related inflammation on the cheeks/face and to treat red, blue or purple spider veins. IPL can be used for overall photorejuvenation and to permanently remove hair. Expect redness in the treated areas for about 24 hours. Pigment and blood vessels should fade within two weeks. This treatment can be painful, and most doctors will prep your skin with a numbing cream prior to treatment.

• Ablative lasers are used to provide dramatic skin improvements with a single treatment. Treatment with an ablative laser removes the top layers of skin for complete resurfacing to get rid of wrinkles, scars, rough texture and sun damage. This procedure requires anesthesia and post-treatment pain management. While the results can be dramatic, expect initial healing to take up to four weeks, and at least one year with zero sun exposure. Fractional ablative and erbium lasers offer an effective alternative to the more traditional ablative laser treatments by delivering exceptional results without damaging the top layer of skin.

• Non-ablative fractional lasers offer a less-invasive alternative to ablative lasers. The non-ablative fractional laser creating tiny “wounds” in the skin to treat crow’s feet, blotchy skin, large pores, brown spots and more. As the wounds heal, new skin emerges. Treatment can be uncomfortable, so your doctor may use a topical anesthetic or other method for pain and/or anxiety management. After treatment, your skin may look sunburned for a few days, but there is no significant downtime required. Because this is less invasive, achieving your desired results will likely take multiple treatments.

An important note: Winter is the perfect time to get laser treatment. Why? Because chances are, you don’t have a tan. Tan + laser is a big no-no—even if it’s a spray tan—because the laser can mistake it for a big brown spot and remove pigment that should not. Do not get laser treatment if you’re tan, even if it’s a spray tan, because the laser can misread tan skin as a big brown spot. Burning or discoloration could result.

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Celebrity Credibility? New Research Says Trust Real Medical Experts, Not A-Listers

From Jennifer Aniston’s “Rachel” haircut to widespread use of Rachel Ray’s “EVOO,” celebrities have clearly demonstrated their influential power over the masses. But would you trust an A-Lister as a credible source for medical advice, including cosmetic surgery? Whether you know it or not, for most of us the answer is yes, according to a new study published in the latest issue of BMJ, “Following Celebrities’ Medical Advice: Meta-narrative Analysis.”

Lead study author Steven Hoffman, MD, and medical student Charlie Tan, McMaster University, Ontario, Canada, conducted a meta-analysis of data gleaned from electronic database searches. They targeted studies that have examined celebrity influence in economics, marketing, psychology, and sociology to try and determine how celebrities influence the medical decisions made by the general public.

What They Found

This is where it gets interesting. Not only did their research demonstrate that when A-Listers endorse products, we go after those products with a herd-like mentality (no big surprise there), but it also suggests that the reason we buy into celebrity trends is to elevate and acquire their perceived social capital. In other words, if we look like them, or somehow walk in their footsteps, some of their social standing and desirability rubs off on us.

This is great news for marketers whose sole purpose is to get us to buy what they’re selling, needed or not. It’s also great news for campaigns with the important purpose of promoting disease awareness (think Katie Couric’s Colonoscopy and Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s). The not-so-good news is that it can be used to promote bad medical advice. As the study authors aptly point out, “The influence of celebrity status is a deeply rooted process that can be harnessed for good or abused for harm.”

Trust the Experts

Regardless of medical-related scenario, experts agree that the best rule of thumb is to do your research. When you’re looking for information or ready to pull the trigger on any kind of procedure, it’s very important to gather reliable information and never to simply rely on the advice of friends, family members or celebrities.

The researchers in this study take this one step further, recommending that our medical and public health experts actively draw the line when celebrity influence is used irresponsibly. “Public health authorities can use these insights to implement regulations and restrictions on celebrity endorsements and design counter marketing initiatives—perhaps even partnering with celebrities—to discredit bogus medical advice while promoting evidence based practices.”

Until that day comes, however, it’s up to the individual to be smart and make good decisions, and the experts at are here to help. Trust us to help you find accurate information and to find the best doctors in your area.

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