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What’s the cost of perfection?

September 8, 2008 |

As baby boomers start to notice a few lines, wrinkles, cellulite or blurry vision, some are considering elective treatments such as chemical peels, spider vein treatments, non-surgical face-lifts, Botox and bladeless LASIK.

And the opening of the new Reid Hospital this month might help raise regional awareness of the opportunities available at the hospital as well as area medical spas, doctors’ offices and other local medical facilities for such procedures.

Those who offer the procedures say some patients are drawn to Richmond from Indianapolis, Cincinnati and the Dayton, Ohio, areas because of lower prices, experienced professionals and increased awareness and demand for services.

Those attributes, they say, have helped them weather current economic conditions.

“By charging $350 for a non-surgical face-lift, Bliss Medical Spa makes it affordable for a lot more women as opposed to the $1,200 that is being charged at most plastic surgeons’ offices,” says Melinda Johnson, owner and laser therapy specialist of Bliss Medical Spa. Bliss has been located in Richmond for nearly a year at 434 N. 10th St. in The Loft and also has a site in Muncie.

“Laser hair removal will continue to be a large part of our business due to the emotional effect that dealing with embarrassing facial hair has on a woman’s self-esteem,” Johnson says. “In the Depression, women might not have been able to afford a new dress, but they would still scrape together enough to have some lipstick. We are experiencing a similar lipstick economy. Women will come up with the $50 to get their facial hair removed because it is a priority to them. It is something inexpensive that they can do to feel better about themselves, no matter what else financially or otherwise might be going on in their lives.”

Baby boomer boom

Dr. Vasilis Makris of Makris Vision Group, 2302 Chester Blvd., says many baby boomers are more active and concerned about their appearance than previous generations.

“The cosmetic market is going to explode,” he says.

Although care for cataracts, glaucoma and other conditions is still a big part of his practice, Makris says his office does quite a bit of lower eyelid surgery and procedures such as removing fat to reduce bags under the eyes that can offer a “dramatic improvement.” Other options include eyebrow lifts, forehead work and Botox injections.

“Sometimes surgery is not just cosmetic or functional — sometimes it’s both,” Makris said. “You fix it and in the process you look better.”

For example, droopy eyelids might interfere with vision, and insurance might offset the procedure’s cost if documentation proves it’s needed.

Makris also helps people see better with an improved eye procedure — bladeless LASIK vision correction. Makris says bladeless LASIK is less traumatic to the cornea. The traditional approach is to use a glorified razor blade to create the corneal flap needed for LASIK, but with bladeless LASIK, a laser is used. That means the healing time is minimal because the wound size is so tiny and the visual result is better faster, Makris says. It’s also extremely rare that patients need to go back for an enhancement with the newer surgery technique.

He said he plans to acquire a laser for skin treatments such as rosacea and spider veins. It’s a natural transition, he says, because lasers are used for eye surgeries.

Range of clients

Those seeking elective skin or eye procedures in the area represent a wide age range of clients.

“It’s never too soon to start anti-aging and it’s never too late to start,” says Josie Finocchiaro, an aesthetician at Safire Medical Spa, which has been open for a year at 1911 Chester Blvd., Richmond.

Finocchiaro says the first step many choose to improve skin is a chemical peel. She says she has patients ranging in age from 16 to 90 for the procedure. The deep cleansing and deep exfoliation that utilizes acid leads to a more even, brighter skin complexion and reduces lines and wrinkles, she says. Chemical peels can be customized for those facing acne and rosacea, for example. Finocchiaro encourages repeating the treatment every three weeks.

Even though procedures such as Botox have become part of some Midwesterners’ vocabularies only recently, new techniques are already gaining in popularity.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Botox injections declined 13 percent in 2007 from the previous year.

“The statistic goes along with what we are hearing more and more from our clients,” Johnson says. “They want a more natural procedure for anti-aging. Non-surgical face-lifts offer them that alternative. … The current trend is towards non-invasive procedures to utilize the body’s own naturally healing process. This generates more collagen, thus gaining the elasticity back into the skin, promoting a tighter, smoother appearance.”


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