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Women who answer God's call provide valuable local ministries (1/11/04)

Pastors predict bleak future if local casinos open (12/28/03)

Soap, figurines, candles keep books company in Christian stores (12/21/03)

In order to form a more perfect union (11/30/03)

Federal Marriage Amendment receives Fellowship’s endorsement (11/23/03)

Drug czar congratulates Teen Challenge (11/16/03)

Christian fiction no long back-shelf item (10/19/03)

DREAM3 benefits churches (10/19/03)

Youth rise to DC03 challenge (10/12/03)

Ministry uses drama, music to touch city for Christ (9/28/03)

Displeased viewers protest raunchy programs (9/21/03)

Grit, determination key to cities blocking cable pornography (8/31/03)

Economic slump doesn't always derail giving (8/24/03)

Ruling threatens family, Christian leaders say (8/17/03)

Anti-aging options require balanced approach to health, beauty (8/10/03)

Convoy of Hope reaches out to inner-city neighborhood (7/27/03)

Fight for the flag moves to nation’s schools (7/20/03)

Drama speaks volumes to alienated veterans (7/13/03)

Church's integrity well received following nightmarish ordeal (6/29/03)

Tornadoes cut wide swath across nation's midsection (6/22/03)

Accountability partners provide human feedback that filters don't (6/15/03)

Checking out your horoscope? God advises you to skip it (6/8/03)

Christian filmmakers pursue wider market success (5/25/03)

Intervention is key to preventing suicide (5/18/03)

Adoption often right decision for young expectant mothers (5/11/03)

Dallas-based ministry keeps inmates out of jail (4/27/03)

Medical analysis of Jesus' death generates interest (4/20/03)

Small-town church reaches community (4/13/03)

Young married couples lulled by false sense of security (3/30/03)

Virtual gambling days may be numbered (3/23/03)

Contemporary Christian music copes with its continuing success (3/16/03)

A/G prayer event set for gathering in nation's capital (3/9/03)

Volunteers give church voice in community (2/23/02)

Federal law protects churches in zoning battles (2/16/03)

Singles find cyberspace dating not always match made in heaven (2/9/03)

Predators often plan strategies long in advance (1/19/03)

The Cross and the Switchblade still makes impact 40 years later (1/12/03)

Frontline Reports

2002 PE Report stories

2001 News Digest stories

2000 News Digest stories

Anti-aging options require balanced approach to health, beauty

By Katy Attanasi (8/10/03)

A generation ago, Americans who wanted to stave off the aging process had limited options beyond an inexpensive bottle of hair dye or makeup.

But with 78 million aging baby boomers, a new era has dawned in the desire to keep the earthly shell looking young. Those willing to part with the money can do more than hide wrinkles and cover gray tresses. A variety of tucks, lifts and augmentations will change features, eliminating everything from double chins to bulging hips.

The availability of modern cosmetic procedures has made the recent trend the most extensive and expensive makeover in history. From 1996 to 2001, the number of Americans undergoing cosmetic surgery rose by a whopping 1,125 percent. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, nearly 6.9 million cosmetic procedures occurred in the United States last year, with females undergoing 88 percent of them. Last year, despite the economic downturn, baby boomers spent $30 billion on anti-aging products. No longer are senior citizens the prime market. Middle-aged people routinely undergo costly procedures that often require repeat visits.

Christian dermatologist Bill Alms says a variety of factors motivate people to seek these procedures. “Some people do it to make themselves feel good, younger or more attractive,” he says. “Other people are driven by cultural values. They feel that they can’t succeed at their job if they look old.”

Three of the top five nonsurgical procedures are Botox injections, collagen injections and chemical peels — all designed to decrease wrinkles and make people look younger with minimal side effects. In 2002, 1.1 million people were treated with Botox, a 31 percent increase from the year before.

Botox, when injected, temporarily paralyzes muscles of facial expression such as around the eyes or on the forehead. No muscular contractions mean fewer wrinkle lines. The effects of the procedure last around four months. Injections cost around $300.

Alms, who attends Fairfax (Va.) Assembly of God, says side effects of Botox can include bruising and slight muscular paralysis. Incorrect injections around the mouth can result in temporary speech problems.

Collagen injections also cost around $300 and reduce wrinkle lines by filling them in under the skin. During a chemical peel procedure, a less expensive option at $100, chemicals are put onto the face to reduce wrinkles by getting rid of excess skin. The results of both procedures are temporary.

Laurie A. Casas, chair of the Communications Commission for the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, says the organization stresses to patients that an operation is not a panacea. “We help them with nonsurgical options such as health, nutrition and exercise before turning to other nonsurgical or surgical options as ways to combat the aging process,” she says.

The most common cosmetic surgical procedure involves people looking for a different facial feature. Last year, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 354,327 people had a nose-reshaping operation, at an average cost of $3,469. The latest craze in plastic surgery is a three-hour procedure in which withered, discolored and bony hands get a transfusion of fat liposuctioned from other body parts. The cost: $2,000. Hair transplants, at $5,000, are also growing in popularity. Though readily accessible, cosmetic procedures create a challenge for this generation’s Christians to balance their desire for beauty with their responsibility for stewardship.

Alms believes media images of young and beautiful celebrities contribute to the popularity of elective procedures. “People want to retain youth and beauty as long as they can,” he says. “This can be a problem if a person feels that they’re not fulfilled or they are empty without it.”

The pressure to look young and beautiful is immense, according to Chele Sachs, a cosmetic saleswoman who attends Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church in Omaha, Neb. “Media images of youthful beauty provide a standard that we see as normal even though this is irrational,” she says. “When people evaluate their faces, shapes and sizes, they tend to compare themselves to those beautiful people.”

Network reality TV shows such as Extreme Makeovers and Are You Hot? The Search for America’s Sexiest People seem to confirm that Americans are preoccupied with looking good.

Covering up signs of aging may mask symptoms of more serious health concerns, according to Robert Goldman, chairman of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine Board. “Anti-aging doctors employ innovative diagnostics and therapeutic interventions to detect, prevent and treat aging-related diseases,” he says. But he emphasizes that focusing on mental health and spiritual wellness can be two of the most potent life-improving tactics anyone can employ.


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