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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on June 21, 2000. All rights reserved.
Looking Your Best, With Help from the Doctor
Options for improving your looks and self esteem
Include surgical, chemical, and laser treatments
A day at the spa can make you feel glorious. But for
those who want a more long-lasting improvement in the way they look
and feel, a consultation with a plastic surgeon may be the next step.
"The satisfying results, the improvement in self-esteem, and the
good safety record of facial plastic surgery explain why it is so
very popular today," says Eugenie Brunner MD, a Princeton-based
specialist in facial plastic surgery and otolaryngology (the branch
of medicine focusing on the health and treatments for the ear, nose,
In fact, a visit to her website (www.brunnermd.com) offers an eye-opening
introduction to the world of surgical and nonsurgical options that
are available through the expertise of today’s plastic surgeons. And
website visitors can expect to add a few more multi-syllable words
to their vocabulary, such as rhytidectomy (facelift), blepharoplasty
(eyelid surgery), rhinoplasty (nose surgery), mentoplasty (chin implants
and chin reduction), otoplasty (ear surgery), and malar augmentation
(enhanced cheekbones). Chemical peels, collagen treatments, botox
treatments, and laser resurfacing procedures are also defined.
"My job is to give information and to discuss what is best for
the individual so that he or she can make an informed decision,"
says Brunner in an interview at her office at the Woodlands Professional
Building at 256 Bunn Drive. Brunner is one of four plastic surgeons
to be featured on a panel, "Straight Talk About Plastic Surgery,"
at the U.S. 1 Health Fair on Tuesday, June 27, at 4:15 p.m., at the
Holiday Inn Princeton.
Brunner notes that the most frequently requested nonsurgical procedures
(which range in cost from $70 to $500) are light peels, collagen treatments,
and botox (or botulinum toxin type A) treatments. Also popular eyelid
lifts and various "rejuvenation surgery" combinations (including
face and neck lifts). Her initial consultation for $115 involves a
thorough facial analysis and a complete head and neck exam.
Brunner uses digital imaging to educate her patients to the before-and-after
"The digital imaging is not a promise," says Brunner. "It’s
a worksheet to open up communication and help people express expectations."
She offers the following advice to individuals considering the services
of a plastic surgeon:
"First, have a heart-to-heart with yourself, defining what improvement
is your number-one interest. Then consult with one or two board-certified
plastic surgeons for their opinions. Ask each surgeon to explain both
surgical and nonsurgical options. Ask about risks, recovery time,
expectations, and pre-surgery and post-surgery photos of others they
have helped. Also ask your surgeon for the opportunity to talk to
other patients who have had the same procedure you are considering.
It’s so important to choose a surgeon you trust; communication style
and level of comfort are important qualities."
Eugenie Brunner was born and raised in Princeton, where
her father worked as a mathematician and her mother was a professional
ballet dancer with the New York City Ballet. She attended Rutgers
University and the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, received
her training in facial plastic surgery and otolaryngology at New York
University Medical Center, and completed a fellowship in facial plastic
and reconstructive surgery at the University of Toronto through the
American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
She describes her expertise as being "comprehensive surgical management
to improve, augment, and restore function and personal appearance
due to aging, birth defects, accidents, and diseases."
Surgery at 932 State Road also specialize in the latest advances in
cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery, as well as hand surgery
"We provide care to a huge mix of patients, ranging from children
bitten by dogs to women in need of breast reconstruction following
a mastectomy," says Leach, who serves as chief of plastic surgery
at the Medical Center at Princeton. "We also see many individuals
seeking what is called anti-aging treatments, such as face lifts,
liposuction, and changes due to sun damage. Privacy is a significant
issue for the patients we serve, and we are taking several measures
to increase each person’s comfort level." These include a recent
relocation to more private office quarters that include a full operating
room and a full-service spa.
"The most frequently requested treatments in cosmetic surgery
are what we call body contouring, which includes liposuction, tummy
tucks, breast augmentation or reduction, and facial rejuvenation,"
says Hazen. "We want people who are satisfied with the results.
That’s why we take the time to educate people and give thorough explanations
about what is available. Realistic expectations are key to patient
satisfaction, without glossing over the details." For example,
they tell patients receiving liposuction that although they will see
a 50 percent improvement following their surgery, it will take two
or three months to see the full results of their treatment.
Both Leach and Hazen spend at least an hour with a new patient during
the first office visit, which costs $100 and is later subtracted from
the charge for any surgery they do. "We don’t operate on anyone
without seeing them at least twice," they explain.
Born in Camden and raised in South Jersey where his mother was a nurse
and his father worked in the life insurance business, Thomas Leach
received his education at Rutgers University and the University of
Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Fully trained and board-certified
in all areas of reconstructive surgery, he has been in practice in
the Princeton area for nine years.
Hazen was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where her father worked as an attorney
and her mother’s occupation was "raising seven children."
Before making the decision to become a surgeon, Jill Hazen was a
pianist, majoring in music at college. "I’ve always enjoyed working
with my hands," she says, explaining how well-suited she is for
the very meticulous and very delicate work of surgery. She attended
college and medical school at the Oklahoma State University College
of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery, as well as serving a five-year
internship in general surgery at the University of Medicine and Dentistry
of New Jersey in Stratford, and advanced training in hand surgery
and microsurgery in Des Moines, Iowa, Phoenix, Arizona, and East Virginia.
After nine years of extensive training, she came to Princeton in 1994
with her husband (owner of the Metuchen Inn in Metuchen), and now
has three children.
In addition to choosing "someone who will spend time listening
and talking with you," Leach and Hazen offer the advice to individuals
who don’t have a clue where to begin in shopping for a plastic surgeon
who is right for them:
Women can ask their gynecologist, family doctor, or dermatologist
for referrals to plastic surgeons. Be sure your plastic surgeon is
board-certified. Ask about the hospital affiliations that each plastic
surgeon has. And shop around, meeting with three or four plastic surgeons
for initial consultations until you find the one you are most comfortable
with before making a final decision for surgery.
Kevin Nini MD FACS, another Princeton-based plastic
surgeon who offers a full range of surgical and nonsurgical treatments,
is also eager to discuss what’s new in his profession. His offices
of Plastic Surgery Arts are on 60 Mount Lucas Road and in New Brunswick.
"What makes us distinctive from others in the area is our highly
individualized care and commitment to new technologies, such as minimally
invasive endoscopic surgery," says Nini. "This technology
allows us to use small video cameras and smaller incisions. And we
also work with emerging holistic treatments, including vitamins, herbal
preparations, body wraps, and massage. We have discovered that these
advances can reduce the healing time, which means the recovery time
for eyelid procedures can be as short as a long weekend with no bruising
for our patients."
Born and raised in Princeton, where his father is a tradesman and
his mother serves as the dean of continuing education at Mercer Community
College, Kevin Nini began his medical education at UMDNJ-Robert Wood
Johnson Medical School. His advanced training included five years
at Pennsylvania Hospital, two years at the University of Florida,
and one year at the University of Miami. He started his practice in
the Princeton area in 1992.
"My profession is seasonal," explained Nini, who charges no
fee for an initial consultation. "In the spring, people request
facial surgery, liposuction, and breast reconstruction. During the
summer, we have a little of everything. And in the fall, the most
frequently requested procedures focus on facial cosmetic surgery.
We also can design a nonsurgical skin care treatment plan that helps
address aging of the skin, acne pock marks, or other conditions, based
on each person’s goals and time horizons."
The most satisfying aspect of his profession is the positive outcomes.
"I’m in a position to make people happy," says Nini, who along
with his partner Robert Olson MD FACS, volunteers overseas several
weeks each year to perform surgery for children with cleft palates
or burn victims in the Far East, Africa, and Central America. "Both
surgical and nonsurgical treatments can make a dramatic improvement
in the way people look and feel and function."
His advice in shopping for a plastic surgeon: Look for someone certified
by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. "There are many boards
with names that sound similar, but I recommend that people start with
a telephone call to this board," says Nini.
Certification requires five years of special training, passing a written
and oral exam on all plastic surgeries, from head to toe, and submitting
two years of work for review, says R. Barrett Noone MD, director of
the American Board of Plastic Surgeons, located on Market Street in
Philadelphia (215-587-9322). Noone went to the University of Scranton,
Class of 1961, and the University of Pennsylvania Medical School,
and he practices at Bryn Mawr Hospital. The most rewarding cosmetic
surgeries, he says, are breast reconstructions after mastectomies,
and he has done a thousand such procedures.
Noone also says to check with the state medical licensing board for
a valid and unrestricted license. The complication rate is difficult
to obtain, says Noone, but consumers could call the state medical
board to see if any complaints have been lodged. Ask how many times
the surgeon has done the operation you have chosen and whether he
or she has privileges to do that operation in any hospital.
Any operation causes scars and changes in sensation, warns Noone.
An article in U.S. News & World Report (www.usnews.com) reports that,
from eyelid lifts, scleral show can be a complication. A tummy tuck
can result in bowel paralysis. From vein removal or collagen injections,
there can be an allergic reaction to hardening solutions. Even from
pinning back a youngster’s protruding ears, an infection can develop.
Asked what surgery he would not recommend to his 19-year-old daughter,
Noone says it is easier to answer in the positive: someone that age
might benefit from rhinoplasty (commonly known as a nose job) or breast
reduction, to reduce discomfort in the back and shoulders. As a matter
of fact, except for cosmetic reconstruction after a mastectomy, breast
reduction is just about the only cosmetic operation that insurance
companies will cover. Even breast reduction might result in scars,
changes in sensation to the nipples or breast, and destruction of
the milk ducts, resulting in an ability of the woman to breast feed
Liposuction is another suitable operation for the younger patient.
"It is not for fat people, but is best for the young person with
normal weight, localized areas of genetic fat disposition," says
Not good candidates for any operation: patients who have high risk
medical problems such as uncontrolled diabetes, heart disease, or
significant anesthetic risks such as pulmonary disease.
Baby boomers are candidates for almost all operations, and they are
flocking to plastic surgeons in droves. "This is no epidemic of
aging actresses and jowly ladies-who-lunch," wrote U.S. News reporter
Doug Podolsky (October 14, 1996). "Even men, increasingly driven
to keep up appearances in a corporate world getting younger and leaner
by the quarter, are joining the beauty pageant in record numbers.
And the baby boomers, surely the most self-indulgent and youth-obsessed
generation, are turning 50. This is a crowd whose self-image does
not include a turkey neck. When reality hits, they’re there with their
credit cards and willing to dip into retirement savings to stop the
If baby boomers are good candidates for face lifts, younger people
are not. Noone turned down a request from a 40-year-old woman who
thought she was aging too quickly and wanted a face lift. "I did
not feel the benefit she would get would warrant the risks," says
Noone. "She looked too young for the operation."
By the way, is it time to change the terminology of
plastic surgery? The word "plastic" conjures up images of
Barbie dolls and Tupperware bowls and plastic slipcovers. Just how
much "plastic" is involved in the day-to-day world of plastic
surgeons these days?
"The word comes from the Greek root, to change," explains
Leach. "While we do work with such materials as facial implants
and silicone-based devices, there is not a whole lot of plastic in
my profession. But we’re all stuck with the term `plastic surgery’
And for those readers who need another good reason to quit smoking
cigarettes, feel free to bring up the topic of smoking with a plastic
surgeon. "Smokers are not good candidates for plastic surgery,"
says Brunner. "Smoking changes the blood supply to the skin, which
results in smokers not being good healers." Brunner tells her
patients who smoke to quit smoking — and that means being off
the nicotine patch as well — for at least two months. For some
patients, that accomplishment itself serves as the jumpstart to rejuvenate
their bodies with not only external enhancements but improvements
to their health in other ways.
fax, 609-921-7040. Home page: www.brunnermd.com.
08901. Robert M. Olson MD FACS and Kevin T. Nini MD FACS, 732-418-0709;
fax, 732-418-0747. Also at 60 Mount Lucas Road, 609-921-2922.
Road. Thomas A. Leach MD and Jill Hazen DO, 609-921-7161; fax, 609-921-6263.
Home page: www.princetonplasticsurg.com (under construction).
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