By Nadine Kam
Photos courtesy Geri Berger
Pineapples Boutique owner Geri Berger, at left, as Mrs. Hawaii International in 2004, and at right, seven years later after Botox and Restylane treatments. She's since added the Madonna Lift to her regimen.
In today's paper, I've written about some of the newest beauty enhancers, from the new Hydrogen Head Spa at Laka Skin Care & Spa, to breast lipoaugmentation with Drs. Todd Mirzai and Bao Phan, which achieves what many women want, transplanting the fat from thighs and waistlines, to the breasts, something many have always dreamed about.
Even though I write about these things all the time, I'm not one to seek out such treatments in my personal life. On the one hand, I think lifestyle has a lot to do with appearance, and even though it was a little late to start, once I learned that nutrition and environment have more to do with signs of aging than the aging itself, I tried to pay more attention to sun avoidance and diet, and tried my best to avoid smiling with my eyes, which helps produces the crinkling and crow's feet many spend good money trying to erase.
So it was funny when I was interviewing Dr. Melanie Tantisira, a board-certified opthalmologist, about the Madonna Lift, and told her I was trying to live my life without expression (though I never grew out of making funny faces), and she said, "Just do Botox and keep your full range of expressions."
I also talked to former Mrs. Hawaii International 2004, Geri Berger, who said she started noticing her wrinkles after smiling her way through appearances during her winning year. That's when she started with Botox, at about 34, then Restylane, and most recently turned to Tantisira again for a Madonna Lift. The CO2 laser treatment was pioneered by Dr. Bruce Katz of New York's Juva Skin & Laser Center, and named after his famous pop star client.
During the approximately 10-minute treatment (allow an hour for numbing the eyes), metal shields are placed in the eye to protect it from damage. The laser sends in columns of energy to stimulate collagen production around the eyes, the smooth and lift the area. The cost is $1,500 for three sessions.
Geri said her goal is not to alter her appearance, but maintain it in order to avoid or delay surgery down the line. A treatment like the Madonna Lift may prevent the need for future eyelid surgery to remove skin that droops from old age. According to Tantisira, those who have 1/2 to 1-inch of extra skin are no longer good candidates for the 10-minute laser treatment.
Geri said she believes she looks better today than during her pageant year, and asked me if I'd had any work done.
Chalk it up to Chinese genes, but I don't have the wrinkles that are a source of so much anxiety to others. Even so, it's hard to ignore the "beauty arms race" that has made it almost impossible to embrace the idea of growing old gracefully. I mean, how can anyone appreciate being a natural looking 40 or 50, in the company of enhanced peers?
I would do anything to avoid a needle, but my primary concern has always been collagen loss, and while we can control a lot of things regarding appearance, nothing can prevent the hollowing effect of collagen loss. So who knows? When you're young, it's easy to say, "I'm not going there," but I may become so dismayed looking in the mirror one day that I break down and opt for fillers.
Melanie Tantisira is at the True Vision Center, Medical Arts Building, 1010 S. King St., Ste. 503. Call 591-9111 or visit truevisioncenterhawaii.com
Drs. Todd Mirzai and Bao Phan have offices at the Kapiolani Women's Health Center, 1907 S. Beretania St., Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. Call 952-9779. Visit www.mirzaiplasticsurgery.com
Laka Skin Care & Spa is at 320 Ward Ave., Suite 200. Call 397-5252. Or visit lakaspa.com