It’s a rare woman who always likes what she sees in the mirror. But it’s natural to feel good about ourselves when we believe we look our best. Several St. Louis medical professionals recently shared their perspective on changing appearances and changing lives. There are many ways to enhance appearance and boost self-confidence in the process.

Plastic Surgery

    L. Mike Nayak, M.D., of Nayak Plastic Surgery & Skin Enhancement Center, tells it like it is. “On occasion, I do advise a patient to avoid or postpone plastic surgery,” he says. “Sometimes, the patient looks so good to begin with, we couldn’t achieve enough improvement to warrant the risk, recovery and expense associated with surgery.”

    When surgery is warranted, Nayak loves watching his patients exude new self-assurance and enthusiasm when they see the final results. “Most women who are young seek to change something specific that they don’t like about their facial structure or features. I can see them become more outgoing and dynamic by the time they see me for a six- or 12-month follow-up,” he says. “Older patients typically want to restore a more youthful appearance, often matching their outward appearance to their youthful outlook.”

    Facial plastic surgery involves intricate, complex procedures that may require significant recovery periods, so it should not be entered into lightly, Nayak says. “But it’s fantastic when people are thrilled with the results. It makes it all worthwhile.”

Skin Rejuvenation

    For women who worry about looking tired or angry when they feel neither, Botox and dermal fillers are an excellent solution, says Helen Kim-James, MD, of Chesterfield Valley Dermatology.

    “Women are seeking minor cosmetic procedures at a much higher rate than a few years ago,” she says. “They prefer quick procedures with little to no downtime, minimally invasive techniques, a natural look and noticeable but lasting results.”

    Kim-James recalls one patient who had lip augmentation with the filler Juvederm. “She told me she went out and bought 20 tubes of lipstick after the procedure,” she says. “Previously, she had never worn lipstick or make-up. She was just happy to be able to enjoy something she had always wanted to do.”

Cosmetic Dentistry

    Tooth whitening tops the list of cosmetic dental procedures that help people create their ideal smile. “Whitening very quickly and inexpensively brightens the teeth and rejuvenates the smile,” says Charles Fuszner, DMD, a St. Louis dentist. “The feedback I get is consistent that people are happier after they’ve had their teeth whitened.”

    Yet whitening is only the tip of the iceberg. “From the standpoint of improving one’s smile, which is the center of expression, there’s a whole host of procedures,” Fuszner says. Veneers are a popular tool for closing gaps, and reshaping and resizing teeth to improve symmetry. “They control for color, shape, size and position to create perfect proportions,” he adds.

    Fuszner had only a few patients seeking cosmetic procedures a decade ago, but now sees one or two a day for consultations or cosmetic procedures. He finds that people who are in the public eye and those seeking career advancement often pursue a more pleasing smile in order to present themselves more favorably. Women seek more cosmetic procedures than men, who tend to have such procedures later in life when the teeth have become more noticeably discolored or damaged.

Surgical Procedures

    “Breast surgery is a wonderful procedure that changes a woman’s self-esteem and self-image,” says Michele Koo, M.D., of the Aesthetic Surgery Institute. “It’s remarkable how much more confident and comfortable a woman feels after her breasts are made shapelier, whether the breasts are being made bigger or smaller. She feels sexier in and out of clothes and that affects her opinion of herself in a major way.”

    Koo also recommends abdominal procedures to change body contours. A tummy tuck, clinically known as abdominoplasty, is the answer to significant weight loss or pregnancies that have left a woman with excess abdominal skin and slack musculature.

    “I have so many stories of men and women who have lost a significant amount of weight or feel trapped by the body that genetics handed them who then underwent plastic surgery to transform their body from what they thought was ‘freakish,’ ‘abnormal’ and ‘bizarre,’” Koo says. “It’s an amazing phenomenon to be able to change peoples’ psyche from one of recluse, shy and ‘fat’ to one of sexy, confident and comfortable. It happens every time as long as my patient is willing to undergo the surgery and post-operative lifestyle change of diet and exercise.”