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Ever had a doctor inquire about your ‘lifely-ness’? That’s the word Dr. Joseph Muccini coined to explain his philosophy about skin health and how it impacts overall quality of life. “It’s one thing to be alive; it’s another thing to be alive and well and feeling great about yourself,” he explains. “There’s a misunderstanding sometimes in the Midwest—a mindset that vanity is somehow a cardinal sin. People are skittish about things that would make them feel better about themselves. It’s not about vanity; it’s about making the most of what you have.”

In his practice, MidAmerica Skin Health & Vitality Center, Muccini treats skin diseases from acne to cancer, as well as offering cosmetic services to restore what he calls the ‘vitality’ of the skin. “Just because you’re free of skin disease doesn’t necessarily mean you are the poster child for skin vitality. You might be 36 and have skin that makes you look 51. That’s skin that might be healthy, but it’s missing the vitality.”

Comparing skin enhancement tools to a painter’s palette, Muccini says a synergistic approach works best. “If a painter only has two colors, there’s a limit to what he can create. But a range of services and products, combined correctly, can give very nuanced and precise results.” The integrated technique is sometimes referred to as a ‘liquid facelift,’ although Muccini is cautious about the implications of the term. “You can’t do with syringes what you can do with surgery, but a selective application of several different things can achieve dramatic results that would be impossible with a single product.” His practice utilizes the Cutera laser, including LimeLight for IPL (intense pulsed light) therapy, and Ulthera ultrasound skin-tightening technology, as well as Botox Cosmetic, Radiesse and Juvéderm.

Although technology offers the tools, Muccini says a patient’s mindset is critical. “I like to explore what a patient is thinking, what their expectations are. If a person has had five unsuccessful relationships and has a cosmetic procedure, thinking it will help, guess what? They’ll go out and have their sixth unsuccessful relationship!” he points out. “What needs to change is their attitude about themselves. It doesn’t do any good to have a big bowl of icing if you don’t have a cake.”

In addition to skin care, Muccini’s practice now offers Zerona body contouring. Featured on The Dr. Oz Show and Rachael Ray, the Zerona laser is the newest tool for removing excess fat. “What I like about this—it doesn’t kill anything,” he explains. “Liposuction removes (kills) fat cells and people think that’s what they want. The problem is, if I take away your fatstorage capacity and you gain weight, you will have to expand your remaining storage tanks. So you may remove fat from your midsection, but you’ll put it back on the top and bottom and start to look sausage-like, with a small link in the middle.” The Zerona laser works differently, Muccini notes. “It actually makes fat leak from the cells, similar to how it would if you were exercising. You’ll even lose fat in areas that aren’t being treated, as the cells ‘talk’ to each other. And it’s very safe!” Studies have shown the Zerona process can actually help lower cholesterol, he adds.

Fat that is released from cells can be used as fuel, Muccini notes, so the process is enhanced by exercise. “You know that plateau—that one place where you thought you couldn’t get rid of fat? Oh, yes you can! This will kick-start your effort.”