Self-Image Cosmetic Surgeon's Focus

By Wolfe, Lou Anne | THE JOURNAL RECORD, December 1, 1993 | Go to article overview

Self-Image Cosmetic Surgeon's Focus


Wolfe, Lou Anne, THE JOURNAL RECORD


Journal Record Staff Reporter

They come, hoping to improve their mirror image. But cosmetic surgeon Dr. Lori Hansen has a higher goal _ she strives to improve her patients' self-image.

A person's appearance and self-image often are intertwined. Hansen knows that, and her profession is more than an occupation. Call it a calling.

"Surgery's easy, but it's hard to make somebody feel better about himself," Hansen said. "What attracted me to this whole profession in the first place is, society makes us feel like our whole self-worth is based on our appearance. But it's what's inside _ your relationship with the Lord, who you really are _ that's important."

Hansen was among three physicians chosen by the Collagen Corp. to appear in a "documercial" on the use of collagen for facial rejuvenation. A documercial is not as commercial as an "infomercial," and it's not exactly a full-fledged documentary, she explained.

Collagen is a lotion-like filler substance injected barely beneath the skin, to plump out depressions such as wrinkles or acne scars. "Purified cowhide collagen, saline and local anesthetic," to be exact.

"Probably the No. 1 thing collagen is used for across the country is wrinkle correction," Hansen said. "It was originally made in hopes it would work with burn victims, but research showed it was better filler material." The substance also works for scars incurred from accidents or car wrecks, or any place there's a depression in the skin.

A fad among models is to have the product injected under the lips to give a pouty effect, she said.

Collagen "replaces what the body has lost due to aging, smiling and frowning. The reason we have wrinkles, depressions and acne scars is because those areas have lost collagen fibers."

People sometimes get collagen mixed up with silicone, but the look and feel of the two are quite different. Collagen looks like lotion, while silicone is like oil.

"Collagen is so compatible with tissue that the body doesn't know it's there," Hansen said.

Drawbacks to collagen treatment are that 3 percent of people are allergic to the product, and the treatment is not permanent, requiring repeated applications ranging from three months to two years apart.

The average patient takes about 1.5 cubic centimeters every six months. "It's a maintenance thing; acne scars last a little longer, so the treatments may be once a year," she said. Facial areas that are very expressive, such as around the mouth and eyes, would require more frequent applications.

"It really is something you need to work into your schedule, just like a haircut or perm," she said.

And 10 percent to 15 percent of Hansen's clients are men.

Other treatments, such as dermabrasion, are difficult to hide, which presents a problem to men because most of them don't wear makeup. Most of the men who have collagen treatments for wrinkles like the fact that they don't have to take much time away from the office. "Really, that's true of women, too," she said.

A treatment usually takes from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how much conversation is exchanged in the meantime.

The tiniest needle manufactured is used to apply collagen. Hansen said some people think it hurts a little, while others don't seem to mind. A topical anesthetic is used for sensitive patients. The treated area shows redness for about the first 24 hours, but after about an hour it's safe for women to apply some makeup or for men to use a cover-up product.

Hansen speaks from experience, because she uses collagen treatments herself. She said the better her face looks, the more professional credibility she has. …

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