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FirstHealth of the Carolinas
Indulging yourself By Stacy Tomasic
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There’s no denying it; life’s pace is just not as leisurely as it once was. For those who came before us, "me time” was commonly observed every evening on the front porch swing or at the family dinner table.

But as our schedules have become crowded with activities and events, we no longer have time to do the greatest activity of them all—absolutely nothing.

Doing nothing is an indulgence that may produce feelings of guilt for many, but taking some time for yourself is important for both your mental and physical health. Scheduling some official “me time” on your calendar and seeking professional help (in the form of a massage therapist or esthetician) is a good first step toward putting yourself at the top of your list of priorities.

At the FirstHealth Center for Health & Fitness–Pinehurst, massage therapist Michele Santiago helps people unwind from the stress of everyday life.

“In today's world, everyone is multi-tasking,” Santiago says. “How many of us are making mental checklists of the 20 things we must accomplish today, while returning phone calls and e-mails, while searching the World Wide Web and researching our latest medical, mental or family issues?”

There are few places in the world where you are encouraged not to think, but the massage table is one of them. To help her clients truly unwind, Santiago lays some ground rules so that her clients can effectively leave the outside world behind while they are with her.

Cell phones and Blackberries must be turned off as Santiago encourages her clients to forget their mental checklist of “to-do’s” and try instead to mentally shut down.

The connection between mind and body is a strong one. As the mind relaxes, so does the body, but the residual effects of stress on the body can still require some attention. A common complaint Santiago hears from her clients regards the classic mind/body ailment—tension.

“When muscles are tight, there is constriction of circulation to the affected area,” she says. “Through massage, the area is relaxed so that circulation may be improved. As clients receive more massage, they become more aware of their bodies and where they hold tension.”

Ah, massage
A treatment that Santiago recommends to her tension-filled clients is hot stone massage. This ancient therapy originated 5,000 years ago in India, and uses smooth river rocks, heated to a muscle-melting 120 degrees, to help people reach a deeper state of mental and physical relaxation.

The stones, which come in a variety of sizes to treat a variety of areas, retain heat better than hot water bottles and penetrate deeper into the muscle than heating pads. They are never still. The massage therapist glides them across the skin and treats problematic joints and muscles with pressure.

The result, says Santiago, is a deeper state of total relaxation. “I tell my first-time clients not to plan on doing anything after their hot stone massage,” she says.

Pampering your face
When one speaks of indulgence, relaxation and pampering, one typically thinks of a massage. But spa enthusiasts will tell you that those unfamiliar services buried deep in the spa menu with scary, even painful sounding names such as “Sea Salt Scrub” not only provide just as much bang for your “pamper me buck” as a massage, but they can also help you look better. (And they won’t hurt a bit!)

Facials, or facial massage, don’t stop at the chin. They often include a neck-and-shoulder massage as well as a hand-and-foot rubdown.

Facial massage uses gentle strokes to stimulate the tissue while toning the muscles of the face and neck. Blood flows to your skin, nourishing it and giving you a post-facial “glow.”

Facials are typically customized to treat a variety of skin conditions such as acne and dryness, and the materials used to achieve this are often found in your refrigerator rather than your medicine cabinet. Oatmeal, honey, even pumpkin are used in facial treatments to address the skin’s specific needs.

The pampered male
Women have long been fans of facials and other spa services, but one large population has always been conspicuously absent from the waiting area—men. Many large cities have spas that cater only to men, and their popularity has grown as society’s acceptance of male pampering has increased.

Thanks to the “metro-sexual” man—a man who not only takes care of his physical health through diet and exercise, but also minds his aesthetic well-being through spa and salon visits, more and more men have discovered that a day of relaxation is not just for the ladies.

“Men are beginning to appreciate what a good facial and proper skin care can do for their appearance,” says Santiago. “Spa treatments are a way for men to take care of their skin that will enhance their ‘maleness,’ not take away from it.”

Bonnie Tilley, spa coordinator for the FirstHealth Center for Health & Fitness, attributes the big increase in male clients to their wives, who are encouraging their men to try spa services. Tilley also cites the Center’s association with the hospital, which she believes helps men feel more comfortable in the spa atmosphere. She estimates that 40 percent of the Center’s massage clients are male. Surprisingly, a full 15 percent of its nail service clients are men, too.

According to nail technician Kristen Guinn, men typically receive gift certificates from wives who are tired of the husband’s unsightly hands and feet. Pedicures are more popular with men than manicures, although Guinn points out that many businessmen who work on a face-to-face basis with clients get regular manicures.

The modern manicure focuses on the whole hand, and not just only on the nails. Hot paraffin wax is used as a mask that leaves the hands (or feet) soft and smooth. And men can put their nail polish fears to rest. Gone is the clear coat of polish that used to cap off a man’s manicure. Now nails are buffed to a healthy, natural shine that won’t tip off their buddies to their time in the manicurist’s chair.

FYI: Pinehurst will welcome a new, full-service spa this fall when FirstSpa opens for business. To be located in a new addition to the FirstHealth Center for Health & Fitness-Pinehurst, FirstSpa will offer an array of body and facial treatments, massage, nail and waxing services, all in a luxurious and calming atmosphere.

Opting for cosmetic surgery
By Judy Morganthall
Everyone wants to look his or her best, and more and more people are turning to cosmetic surgery as a way to do that.

It’s not just celebrities or the wealthy. Cosmetic surgery has become more accepted among people who might never have considered it in the past.

“We all want to reflect our best self,” says Jefferson Kilpatrick, M.D., of Pinehurst Surgical Facial Plastic Surgery Center.

From surgery that can involve multiple procedures to nonsurgical treatments that are relatively low risk and require no recovery time, the options are endless for both women and men of almost every age.

According to Dr. Kilpatrick, modern cosmetic surgery isn’t just about erasing the effects of aging, it’s also about prevention. Focusing on skin care is one way for a patient to look as good as possible, he says.

People in their 20s, and even their teens, are seeing plastic surgeons for microdermabrasion, a deep exfoliating procedure that reduces fine lines and wrinkles, acne scars and unwanted pigmentation. The more complicated surgical procedures are oriented toward structural changes that result from aging.

Dr. Kilpatrick says that he listens to patients explain what bothers them about their features before coming up with a treatment plan to try to meet the patient’s goals and expectations.

“I try to have something for everyone,” he says.

Steven Zoellner, M.D., of Pinehurst Plastic Surgery Specialists also offers a range of aesthetic procedures—from eyelid surgery and chemical peels to liposuction and breast augmentation. While media exposure—from makeover shows to documentaries about patient stories—and Internet research have raised awareness about procedures, patients need to talk with the plastic surgeon to sort out what’s reasonable for them, Dr. Zoellner says.

“It’s very important when a person sits down with a plastic surgeon that they’re getting the full scope of what’s involved and not just how simple it is to have a procedure or surgery done,” says Dr. Zoellner. “Safety risks should never be downplayed with any of the aesthetic procedures or choices people are making.”

With more injectable fillers (such as collagen and Restylane) awaiting FDA approval, patients will have even more aesthetic products to consider in the future. “We try to have a comprehensive approach to a patient’s aesthetic concerns,” Dr. Zoellner says.

According to Dr. Zoellner, liposuction is the most popular procedure for body contouring, but he works with a patient on all of the factors involved in reaching goals.

“Almost always, particularly in body contouring, it’s a combination of looking at lifestyle—exercise and diet—as well as what the surgical approach will do for them,” he says. “They all go hand-inhand to get the best result.”

It’s also important for the patient to realize that he or she won’t become someone different when they have a procedure. “Our goal is to help them feel better for themselves,” Dr. Zoellner says.