Whether bariatric bypass, liposuction, treadmill and/or dieting is the reason, many of them wouldn’t mind a remedy. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery predicts at least a 20 percent increase in patients seeking body lifts or body contouring in 2005.
"Body lifts are not to remove fat but to reshape contours," said Marie Czenko Kuechel, a longtime consumer-education consultant on plastic surgery. "We’re all familiar with the tummy tuck; it’s almost the same idea for thighs" (and arms and lower bodies).
The growing popularity of such procedures contributed to a 12 percent increase in cosmetic surgeries overall in 2003. Non-surgical enhancement – Botox and other injections, etc. – increased 22 percent.
So it was only a matter of time before a magazine dedicated itself to the latest treatments, along with over-the-counter cosmetic products. Enter the 250-page premiere issue of NewBeauty, a publication that emerged, fittingly, from Boca Raton, Fla. (which Self magazine recently dubbed the most vain place in the U.S.). Two more issues of NewBeauty will publish in 2005, priced at $9.95.
"The whole idea when we started down the road two years ago was to create this brand that people will know to turn to whenever they have cosmetic enhancement questions," said Publisher Adam Sandow, who previously started theknot.com, a wedding Web site. "I was amazed there wasn’t a trusted brand that existed."
In an effort to become one, NewBeauty established an 11-member advisory board, including past presidents of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and doctors such as Dr. Dean Toriumi, a facial plastic surgeon and professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Czenko Kuechel is editorial adviser.
Hairstylist Frederic Fekkai also is on the board. "In many cases, our solutions are non-surgical," Sandow explained. "We’re not pushing surgery."
At least two board members vet all articles and advertisements to weed out "puffery or fringe science," Sandow said, and to ensure the doctors carry relevant certification. That may be from the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the American Board of Dermatology, for example.
Sandow said the magazine has rejected six figures’ worth of ads. Spas are allowed to promote medical procedures only if they have a board-certified doctor on the premises or affiliated with it. "There are lots of medi spas out there run by people who don’t fit our criteria," Sandow said.
Yet, Sandow knows he can’t please everybody in a complicated realm that the mass media – TV reality shows in particular – often trivialize or vilify.
A lightning rod in NewBeauty’s 13 regional editions are the "advertorial" doctor profiles at the back. An introduction to the section states that they are paid listings.
But the full-page profiles, presented in interview-style format with a headline and photo, could be mistaken for editorial endorsements.
Plus, in some circles, a prejudice persists against doctors advertising, although the American Medical Association, on urging from the Federal Trade Commission, lifted the ban years ago.
"A number of us have still not adapted, though it’s not considered unethical anymore, at least legally," said Dr. Peter Fodor, the current president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, whose practice is in Los Angeles.
His society’s code of ethics permits advertising by its members as long as it’s not misleading – using a photo of a model with text that falsely implies she has been a patient, for instance.
Fodor was approached by NewBeauty and declined to advertise or be on the board, he said, partly to avoid conflicts with his position as society president, but also because he has never advertised in 20-some years of practice. "But I wouldn’t point a finger at anyone who’s advertising, in an ethical manner, their true credentials."
The profiles list board certifications, alma maters, affiliations, office locations and phone numbers, as well as the doctors’ areas of focus and philosophy.
"I perceive a need for as much solid information as possible," Fodor said. "Any magazine that has content that is very scrutinizingly edited from a scientific standpoint, but in lay terms, ultimately helps our patients."
Whether the market can support the magazine remains to be seen, said Steven Cohn, editor in chief of Media Industry Newsletter.
"You’ve got to be pretty wealthy to afford a lot of these procedures," Cohn said, "but, obviously, this is a booming business, because everyone wants to look young."
© 2005, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.