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.
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.
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
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.