Posts Tagged ‘dermatology’

Acne Affects How We See Others

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Coming from different aspects of the beauty continuum as we do, we’ve both had a longstanding interest in beauty and the perception of beauty and how they can impact how people feel about themselves and one another.  Two of the biggest things to impact teens’ psyches are weight/body issues and acne, so we decided it would be interesting to conduct an image-based study quantifying exactly how acne can alter others’ perception of teens.  The study coincided with National Acne Awareness Month, and the results were very interesting.

Working with the American Acne & Rosacea Society (AARS), we asked thousands of teens and adults to offer their first impressions of teens based only on photos of their face.  One face was without acne and one had been digitally enhanced with acne.  The results showed that teens with acne are more likely than teens without acne to be perceived as shy (39% vs. 27%), nerdy (31% vs. 17%), and lonely (23% vs. 13%). Perhaps not surprisingly, the opposite also proved true: teens without acne were more commonly perceived as self-confident (42% vs. 25%), happy (50% vs. 35%), and leaders vs. followers (49% vs. 29%).

We were expecting the results of the study to show that having acne would be difficult for teens, which it does, but what we both found most distressing was the extent to which acne can really skew the way society perceives teens. We live in a very visual society and based on the survey results, people do make snap judgments about teens with acne.  The results illustrate the fact that unfortunately, acne does play a role in how teens are viewed by both their peers and adults. So, what starts as a purely medical condition can have emotional and psychological implications for young people who are often already dealing with social, sexual and cultural chaos.

Our colleague Dr. Diane Berson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Dermatology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and a founding board member of AARS said, “What surprised me most about the survey was confirming the length teens will go to improve their acne and what they are willing to sacrifice.”  According to the study, if they could have clearer skin, 59% of teens would go cold turkey on Facebook for one year, 30% would give up dating for 12 months, 13% would take their mom or dad to the prom (now that’s a sacrifice), and 11% would be OK with seeing their grade point average drop.  That’s testament to the desperation with which teens view acne and its role as a kind of marker of social stigma—a modern-day Scarlet Letter, if you will.

To us, this indicates a strong and urgent need to connect with teens about what acne is and who develops it so that we can bust the myths surrounding it and foster greater self-esteem in those unfortunate enough to develop it.  Human beings of any age have a hard enough separating appearance from intelligence and moral character.  How much more difficult must it be for youths who are in the process of slowly (and sometimes painfully) discovering who they are and developing own their body image?  By teaching teens that acne is a disease, not a verdict, perhaps we can help foster greater understanding and kindness while making one of the obstacles on the path to adulthood a little easier to climb.

Stay beautiful,

Debi & Eva

Cosmetic Medicine: Not Recession-Proof

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Well, so much for the idea that doctors are any more “recession-proof” than anyone else.

We’ve heard that statement a lot recently.  Along with morticians, peace officers and firefighters, physicians are supposed to have some sort of “Get Out of Recession Free” card when it comes to an economic downturn, presumably because people still get sick, need therapy and so on.  But we’ve already seen evidence that it’s a false idea, as hospitals are losing money and some are threatened with closure.  So it should come as no surprise that cosmetic surgeons are seeing a downturn in their business.

After all, people are already delaying treatment and skipping medication for serious health problems because they lack health insurance or can’t afford the co-pays, so it’s hardly a shock that more are passing altogether on elective procedures.  That’s what the Chicago-based American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery says is happening.  In a survey of 242 members released on January 14, the Academy revealed that nearly 80% of cosmetic surgery practices had reported a drop in business, with the average being a whopping 50% reduction in the third quarter of 2008.

The Economic Impact Survey also showed that more and more patients are choosing cheaper, less-invasive procedures than when the economy was strong and they felt flush.  In fact, since all cosmetic surgeons have to train in another specialty before going into cosmetic medicine, the survey found that about one-third are going back to former areas of training such as general surgery, ear/nose/throat or obstetrics & gynecology in order to make a living during these tough times. Those who don’t want to go that route are shoring up their practices with cosmetic procedures that are more commonly done by a dermatologist: fillers, Botox, liposuction, chemical peels and microdermabrasion.

In fact, these non-invasive or minimally-invasive options are just about the only cosmetic procedures that are becoming more common, with reports coming in that the rates of Botox injections are actually up around the country.  What does this say about us as a people, especially since just a few posts ago we reported that people are still spending on beauty products such as cosmetics and skin care products?  Well, it’s obvious that there’s an inverse relationship between the cost of the procedure and the willingness to have it done.  A $30 jar of moisturizer is fine, but $2,000 for an eyelid lift…that’s going to have to wait until the stock market goes back up.

Clearly, we still are willing to spend money and invest in our looks.  It remains a priority for the same reason we discussed in that last post: because it gives us control over some aspect of things when it seems like everything else is spinning so out of control.  But we are becoming more luxury-conscious, and there’s a self-imposed “frugality line” that we won’t cross.  Hard economic times cause most of us to “reboot” our priorities and take a hard look at what is worth paying for and what must be put off, and the answer is different for everyone.  For some women, getting a regular microdermabrasion treatment in her dermatologist’s office will remain a priority even if she can’t afford a new pair of shoes; for another, she’ll make her own facial scrub with kitchen ingredients or do without.

Our theory is, the more your outer beauty is a critical aspect of your self-image and the more your self-esteem depends on it, the more willing you will be to spend money you might not have on cosmetic treatments.  The more comfortable you are with yourself on the inside, the more likely you’ll probably be to go back to basics until things turn around.  Inner beauty, thank goodness, tends to be free.  As the economic situation plays out, we’ll see if our theory is correct.

Stay beautiful,

Debi & Eva













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