CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Dr. Choon Kia Yeo gives a treatment for cellulite to Kevin Wallace at Honolulu Medspa.
The doctor is in
A surgeon has found that how people look can be as important as how they feel
Dr. Choon Kia Yeo didn't go to medical school to deal with body image issues, fat concerns or cellulite. His aim was more serious: saving lives and helping cure people of life-threatening ailments. The idea of surgery for vanity's sake was folly.
But 10 years ago he looked into a mirror, saw the lines on his face and, in that instant, saw the future. The lasers he had been using for surgery had appearance-boosting applications as well.
"We all want to look younger. It makes us feel better. I was looking at myself in the mirror thinking I need all these treatments! After that I was always on the lookout for the latest developments. There was a self-interest in it."
Hawaii's population is aging, but the desire to look and feel younger than one's years is a part of human nature. Yeo came to the conclusion that physical and mental health often go hand in hand, and maintaining one's appearance can go a long way in tending to self-esteem and well-being, leading individuals to take better care of themselves.
Yeo, who continues to practice general surgery at the Queen's Medical Center, founded Honolulu Laser Center and Spa six years ago to help people deal with unwanted body hair and the surface effects of aging. But with new demands and new technology, the center has undergone a recent face lift of its own, with renovations and a name change, to Honolulu MedSpa, reflecting the ever-narrowing gap between medical and spa services.
An open house last week allowed Yeo to show one of the newest machines in his arsenal: a machine that uses dual radio frequencies to reduce cellulite and excess fat, smoothing wrinkles and tightening skin while contouring the body.
Yeo says that when he was younger, he embraced the benefits of surgery to heal. Since then he's grown to appreciate the idea of preventive care and less invasive procedures.
"The less invasive, the better," he said, as he explained the Accent XL System. It's a slower process than liposuction, which involves four to six treatments, but "it's better than liposuction because it requires no surgical risk or anesthesia," Yeo said.
Like heating a piece of fat in a frying pan, Yeo said the Accent XL uses radio frequency to melt fat, which is then eliminated from the body through natural processes. At the same time, it boosts collagen production "so you get healthier skin."
He said it's commonly used to deal with belly fat, double chins, hips and flabby arms. The cost of treatments is $500 for the face, including neck and jowls. Body treatments are priced per concentration on 5-by-7-inch areas, at $150 per specific body region. Four to six treatments per area are recommended for optimal results.
The Accent XL will not be used on those with metal implants, active herpes or skin lesions, those who are pregnant or breast-feeding, or those with compromised immune systems, because of a lack of research in these areas.
At the open house, about a dozen men and women also lined up for a HydraFacial treatment, serum-based dermabrasion that involves one step to cleanse the skin, one to exfoliate using an alpha-hydroxy serum, and one last procedure to deposit an antioxidant serum to hydrate skin. The cost of the treatment is $130.
Dead skin cells, blackheads and excess serum were vacuumed into a water-filled tube that turned brown with each treatment. Clients sensitive to appearances all insisted, "Not all that's mine!"
Honolulu MedSpa is at 1650 Liliha St., Suite 102. Call 528-0888.