Health, Wellness and Beauty

What's out there and where to start?


Hawaii is no exception to the nationwide boom that has more Americans than ever seeking personal improvement. Reflecting the rest of the U.S., Hawaii residents made the wrinkle-erasing injections of Botox the most popular cosmetic procedure in the Islands, according to many of the professionals interviewed. The most dramatic self-improvement growth nationwide over the last decade has been in these so-called “lunch-time” or nonsurgical procedures, such as Botox, laser hair removal and chemical peels.

“Mommy Makeovers”—mainly tummy tucks and breast lifts—are among Hawaii’s most popular cosmetic surgeries in recent years, according to the chiefs of plastic surgery at two of Honolulu’s leading hospitals, Dr. Randy Wong of Straub Clinic & Hospital, and Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children’s Dr. Robert Peterson, who is also the plastic surgery surgeon at Athena Clinic – Hawaii Cosmetic Surgery Center. “The kids are grown and gone from the home and now these women can devote time for themselves,” says Dr. Wong.

New technologies, better noninvasive procedures that reduce pain and hasten recovery, and recent breakthroughs in science can provide new opportunities to look and live better.

The Queen’s Women’s Health Center exemplifies the trend toward a holistic approach to looking and feeling one’s best. Shaped by input from women’s focus groups, the four-year-old Center is envisioned to serve the whole person, says its medical director, Dr. Diane Thompson. From its soothing, spa-like setting to an array of services that range from the latest medical procedures and therapies, such as mammograms and cancer treatments, to facials, massages and hula classes, the Center houses services that focus on the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of women.

For dentists, a good smile is both healthy and attractive and, in recent years, much more. New dental techniques and improved materials allow Dr. Cecile Sebastian to perform nonsurgical “face lifts”— actually, full mouth reconstruction—that can change the facial contours by giving back facial support. “Faces of patients with a lifelong history of teeth grinding and a bad bite can actually shrink as they age, causing wrinkles. We can not only reconstruct a healthier, normal bite, but also help increase facial height for a younger look,” says Sebastian.

Advances in corrective eye surgery give new hope to those seeking cataract surgery from Aloha Laser Vision’s Dr. Alan Faulkner, who specializes in refractive surgery to correct vision.  Cataract patients not only have their vision improved with cataract removal, but can also wind up tossing their glasses as well.

Keeping pace with the soaring popularity of cosmetic procedures are fitness and wellness activities that continue to expand with mind-boggling variety and options to offer stimulating and fun alternatives to such traditional workouts as running, weight training and yoga stretches.

Pole Dancing and Cardio-Salsa, for example, are the latest exercise classes at the new Heaven on Earth Spa, Club & Café, located on the ground floor of Kakaako’s new Koolani Tower. Offered six nights a week in classes of 15, pole dancing sessions, are sold out every night, says Heaven on Earth’s Lora Nakai.

To complement a new look and a healthier outlook, at-home care has also grown increasingly sophisticated and diverse with skin care products, teeth whitening strips, and hair care products that can literally turn back the clock. Skin care products, particularly, have seen phenomenal growth in recent years and experts agree that Europe is ahead of the U.S. for high-end quality and safe skin care lines.

One of the newest are Swissclinical skin care products,a compact 15-product line loaded with quality natural and organic plants and herbs, as well as skin-enhancing vitamins A, B5, B6, C and E. The line is specially formulated as powerful preventive and protective cosmeceutical formulas in Switzerland, using the latest standards in science and biotechnology.

It can be particularly beneficial to Hawaii residents, since 80 percent of skin aging can come from sun damage, says Kevin Ledesma, president of Maui-based Swissclinical USA, Inc., the exclusive U.S. distributor. The products are also safe, free of parabens, colorants and mineral oils, and its fragrances are 99 percent free from allergens, adds Ledesma.

The driving forces behind this widespread boom in self-transformation, say experts, are the aging of the nation’s 78 million Baby Boomers, whose oldest members began turning 60 in 2006; Americans’ greater use of discretionary spending; and the prevailing cultural shift of makeover acceptance, as seen in the popularity of such television shows as
Extreme Makeover.

While women account for about 90 percent of all cosmetic procedures, a growing number of men have sought to improve their appearances, with hair transplants, Botox, liposuction and eyelid surgery among the most popular procedures for men. And with new advances in laser-assisted corrective eye surgery, natural-looking teeth veneers and whitening techniques, and acne-banishing facial procedures, teenagers can also find ways to look their best.

Health and Wellness

A positive outgrowth of the self-improvement phenomenon is the current public awareness and concern about health, wellness and longevity. Before embarking on a new regiment, such as undergoing cosmetic surgery, joining a fitness gym or going on a diet, experts recommend seeking medical advice first to determine one’s readiness for any procedure or new

“Even if you have no symptoms, your doctor can assess your risk and readiness for change, which includes ordering the lab work we do. We are part of the total diagnosis your doctor can provide you about the state of your health,” says Edward Hope, vice president of marketing for Diagnostic Laboratory Services, Inc. (DLS), one of Hawaii’s largest medical testing laboratories, offering a comprehensive range of routine and esoteric testing services and the most sophisticated forensic toxicology and substance abuse testing services in the State of Hawaii.

The common and routine blood test can provide your physician with valuable information as to whether your cholesterol, electrolytes, glucose for diabetes detection, kidney function and more are within “safe” limits. Undetected physical conditions and poor health can make new activities, procedures and products risky, particularly elective surgery. “As part of preventive medicine, lab results can provide parameters for even healthy people ready to start a new regiment,” says Hope.

Providing your individual test results is part of DLS’ larger focus on overall community health. With one of the most high-tech facilities in the state, DLS is at the forefront of improving community health, working with the State of Hawaii as the first line of detection for infectious diseases, including TB testing, and serving as the National Center for Disease Control (CDC) Asia-Pacific testing facility. Owned by Queen’s and Kuakini Health Systems, DLS sees its work for private physicians as part of an overall health awareness that has helped make Hawaii one of the healthiest states in the U.S.

Dr. Thompson, of the Queens Women’s Health Center, believes that anyone thinking about a new look also needs to consider how to be prepared emotionally. Expectations can lead to disappointment and stress. She says one must also ask: “Will I be feeling better inside? And how am I going to maintain this new image with exercise, a good diet or regular care, etc.?

“When making any decision about a procedure that will change the way one looks, one has to deal with the mind/body connection,” says Thompson, who oversees the diagnostic and therapeutic treatments at the Center that emphasize this balance of body and mind. With an emphasis on prevention, the Center provides all ancillary services from first test through to any procedures and support services needed for the patient’s well-being.

“Our Navigator Program is one of the best we have because it helps patients navigate the system—from organizing appointments to asking doctors the right questions—to alleviate their burdens and help them get better,” says Thompson. “When a woman faces a major health issue, such as breast cancer, we understand she also needs to feel good about herself in body and mind.” Among other specialists, the Center has on staff an oncologist and psychiatrist, as well as spiritual advisors, genetic counselors, skin care specialists and massage therapists.

Thompson, who is also medical director of the new Queen’s Cancer Center, which features the Da Vinci robotic surgery technology and the new intense radiation Tomo Therapy, says both Centers are committed to supporting a healthy mind/body balance with a focus on prevention and education.

So eat healthy, get sleep and see your doctor and dentist regularly to build your foundation of good health, the experts interviewed all say. When you are ready in mind and body, you can embark with confidence on your personal journey of self improvement to ensure the best and lasting results for a “new you.”