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CONTACT: JENNIFER CRONIN
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-5661; fax (319) 335-9917
e-mail:jennifer-cronin@uiowa.edu

Release: April 14, 1999

UI plastic surgery World Wide Web site reaches 100,000 hits

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Want more information about a facelift? Check out the University of Iowa plastic surgery World Wide Web site.

The site -- http://www.surgery.uiowa.edu:80/surgery/plastic -- is a popular resource for people seeking information on various cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries. Designed to be a patient education tool, the site just reached 100,000 hits in little more than a year.

Site creator and UI plastic surgeon Albert E. Cram, M.D., professor of surgery, orthopaedic surgery and otolaryngology, could not be more pleased with the response.

"It is great to know that we are providing people with the information they need," Cram said. "Patients considering cosmetic surgery often are reticent to talk to their local physicians. In the past, they often got their information from supermarket tabloid magazines. With our site, people can get up-to-date information they can trust."

Cram originally created the site in 1995 but did not put a counter on it until last year. Since that time, the number of daily hits has ranged from 50 to 400. In addition to providing information on procedures such as breast augmentation and reduction and facelifts, the site also asks viewers to voluntarily fill out a questionnaire as they browse the topics.

"Oftentimes, we think we know what people need to know about," Cram said. "But this survey helps us to really find out what information they need and want."

The site generates a fair amount of e-mail as well. Many people write asking questions about procedures and what they should look for in plastic surgeons. Occasionally, the responses lead to patients for Cram, such as one individual from Central America and another from the Middle East. Both people, after visiting the site, decided to have their procedures done at the UI Hospitals and Clinics.

The UIHC created the Division of Plastic Surgery in 1987. When it started, the program primarily offered reconstructive procedures with only a small number of cosmetic cases; however, as the staff has grown from one to four, the cosmetic surgery volume has increased exponentially. The surgery staff now averages 10 reconstructive cases and eight cosmetic procedures each week.

Cram said the craze to trim this, add that and reshape any problem area is due primarily to the large number of aging baby boomers. These individuals, wanting to remain competitive professionally and socially with Generation Xers, have placed an emphasis on looking their best. Plastic surgery is one way they can defy the aging process.

Cram also pointed out that plastic surgery is becoming an option for everyone and is no longer limited to the rich and famous.

"The average income level for someone having a procedure is something like $45,000," Cram said. "People are willing to pay to look younger and better. With Americans spending $16 billion a year on over-the-counter cosmetics, it is obvious that appearance is something people care about. Plastic surgery is just another way for them to achieve their goal."

As for the Web site, Cram said he plans to continually add information in response to requests that he receives and as new procedures become available.

"The beauty of this educational effort is that you can update it continually instead of waiting for the next edition of a book to come out," he said. "I hope to make this site into a global resource."