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Cosmetic Surgery Too Much of a Good Thing?

November 26th, 2012

When is cosmetic surgery too much of a good thing? I filmed a segment for the local Fox News Affiliate here in Minneapolis, hosted by Medical Correspondent, Dr. Archelle Georgiou.  They filmed part of the segment while I was performing a lower blephaorplasty or lower eyelid surgery.  My patient did have some other plastic surgery  in the past and while gathering routine background information, Dr. Georgiou inquired whether I felt that the patient was perhaps choosing cosmetic surgery too often.  In other words, did I think the patient suffered from a possible cosmetic surgery addiction?  As with all my patients, I am careful to evaluate a patient’s motivations for surgery and attempt to uncover any unhealthy desires for seeking cosmetic surgery.  In this case, I feel confident that my patient had legitimate concerns regarding the unsightly bags under her eyes and that she was an excellent candidate for eyelid surgery.   She expressed realistic expectations from the surgery and in my opinion; she is certainly not a cosmetic surgery addict.

However, while we are on the topic, let me elaborate. There are several characteristics that are common among cosmetic surgery addicts and for the most part, they are not dissimilar to other addictions.  Patients that have Body Dysmorphic Disorder are likely to seek cosmetic surgery to correct “perceived” physical flaws.   This disorder has significant psychological components and it is unlikely that any amount of cosmetic surgery will correct feelings of having physical deformity that may not exist.  This disorder leads some patients to have excessive cosmetic surgery.    As a physician, I feel a professional and moral obligation  to refer patients that exhibit these difficulties to the proper psychological care when it is appropriate.  

Without a doubt there are patients who do suffer from this problem.  The pop culture media machine is quick to point out the cosmetic surgery obsessions of Michael Jackson, New York’s “Cat Woman” and Joan Rivers, to name just a few.  

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New Tan Tax in Effect July 1

July 6th, 2010

10% tax on individuals receiving indoor tanning services was added to the new US Healthcare Bill and it is expected to generate $2.7 billion in revenue over the next ten years to help fund the $940 billion overhaul.   Taxpayers are likely to feel the pinch one way or another, as new revenue needs skyrocket.  I discussed this on KMSP-TV.

According to CNN’s Money, the average tanning customer spends about $15 to $20 per visit.  But for those customers hooked on the look of being tan, I seriously doubt that they will forgo the indoor tanning practice.     Maybe a more effective deterrent might be an educational campaign emphasizing the risks associated with tanning.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, indoor tanning before the age of 35 is linked to a 75% increase in the risk of melanoma.   It is the deadliest form of skin cancer.  It is only a guess as to whether teenagers will change their attitudes toward tanning and alter their behavior just because of this new tax.

Research has proven that exposure to UV radiation, whether from the sun or indoor tanning beds, can cause serious health concerns.  Educating teens on the risks and dangers might prove to be a more useful tool.   These concerns include:

Skin burns- frequent burns may lead to skin cancer; significant burns may lead to scarring.

Premature skin aging- wear your sunscreen everyday

Eye damage (short and long-term)- wear good sunglasses, a visor or hat during outdoor activity.

Skin cancer, including melanoma, again I recommend wearing sunscreen and to minimize sun exposure especially during mid-day when the suns rays are most direct.

The US currently spends about $1.8 billion on treating skin cancers each year and $300 million on melanoma alone.   This new tax might reduce the future costs of treating skin cancers, if perhaps indoor tanning usage actually declines. I would like to see the socially accepted notion of sporting a tan eventually dispelled as a sign of being healthy and beautiful.  In the meantime, certainly self-tanning lotions and potions might offer the best alternative for that bronzy summertime glow.

Next:  What to do with skin already damaged by too much sun?

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