July 02, 2003
Cox News Service
West Palm Beach, Fla.
How many beautiful twenty- or thirty-somethings have you seen who are lusting after the latest nonsurgical cosmetic treatments, wanting to bathe in Botox or luxuriate in lip plumpers or cuddle up to collagen?
There's nothing wrong with that, of course. These increasingly available and popular ways to restore youthful appearances make many men and women feel better about themselves and give them more zest for life and career.
But my curiosity about these injectable makeovers _ Botox and collagen products like the hot, new CosmoDerm are injected into the skin _ took a different turn when I saw a friend waiting anxiously to receive an injectable medication for rheumatoid arthritis.
Here is a woman who might really want, and need, the kind of "upper" that these procedures supply. Would she be a candidate for them? What conditions might prevent women or men from getting these products administered?
I talked to three different doctors, and got three different responses.
Dr. Abdala Kalil, a former emergency-room doctor and internist trained at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, operates the Miami Beach-based Vitality Institute, and also offers his services at The Moor Spa in Vero Beach, Fla., Anushka Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and The Laser Center in Key West, Fla.
He said he didn't see any problem in giving these services to people who might be on steroids or taking medication for diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. However, drugs such as steroids affect your immunity, and you might be more susceptible for skin infections, so he would be "more careful cleaning the skin or so on.
"If you have a chronic disease that's really active, active lupus on the face, then probably it's reasonable just to wait until the disease is under control," he said. "You're not needing emergency Botox."
He added, "If I have any doubt, I will send them to a specialist. They shouldn't be compromising their health."
Dr. Leslie Baumann, a dermatologist and researcher at the University of Miami, was more cautious.
"Any immune diseases such as MS (multiple sclerosis), lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, I would not do collagen or Botox in these because they could, but probably do not, increase the immune response and worsen these diseases. It is theoretical but I would not do it myself in these patients."
A dermatologist in New Orleans, Dr. Nia Terezakis, who is a spokesman for the American Academy of Dermatology, said she had no qualms about using Botox in people with diabetes, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis.
She would not, however, use collagen in people with lupus or rheumatoid because, "I wouldn't want to stimulate their immune system in a negative way. I don't know that it would harm them, but why take a chance?"
The best answer, then, is to speak with your treating physician before you go for any cosmetic procedure with these conditions. Quality of life beats quality of skin, hands down.
Carolyn Susman writes for The Palm Beach Post.
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