Trends with Teens and Plastic Surgery from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery

Statistics gathered over the last several years indicate a rise in the overall number of cosmetic (aesthetic) surgeries; however, the percentage of teenagers (those 18 and younger) having cosmetic surgery has remained relatively constant, with nonsurgical procedures including laser hair removal and chemical peels being the most popular in 2009, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
Statistics gathered over the last several years indicate a rise in the overall number of cosmetic (aesthetic) surgeries; however, the percentage of teenagers (those 18 and younger) having cosmetic surgery has remained relatively constant, with nonsurgical procedures including laser hair removal and chemical peels being the most popular in 2009, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) . The most frequently performed surgical procedure for this age group in 2009 was nose reshaping (rhinoplasty). Most experts agree that for appropriately selected teenage patients, cosmetic plastic surgery can have a positive impact on physical and emotional development.

Evaluating Teenagers for Cosmetic Plastic Surgery
As the premier society of American Board of Plastic Surgery certified surgeons specializing in cosmetic surgery, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery offers these guidelines for evaluating teenagers who are considering cosmetic plastic surgery:

Assess physical maturity: Operating on a feature that has not yet fully developed could interfere with its growth, and continued growth could negate the benefits of surgery in later years.
Explore emotional maturity and expectations: As with any patient, the young person should appreciate the benefits and limitations of the proposed surgery, and have realistic expectations.
Check credentials: State laws permit any licensed physician to call themselves a “plastic” or “cosmetic” surgeon, even if not trained as a surgeon. Look for certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. If the doctor operates in an ambulatory or office-based facility, the facility should be accredited. Additionally, the surgeon should have operating privileges in an accredited hospital for the same procedure being considered.
Explore risks and expected recovery times: Teens and their parents should understand the risks of surgery, postoperative restrictions on activity, and typical recovery times.

Common Cosmetic Plastic Surgical Procedures for Teens
The following are among the most common surgical procedures performed on those 18 years of age and younger, according to ASAPS statistics:

Rhinoplasty: Nose reshaping is the most requested aesthetic surgical procedure by teens. It can be performed when the nose has completed 90 percent of its growth, which can occur as early as age 13 or 14 in girls and 15 or 16 in boys.
Breast reduction: Breast reduction is frequently performed on girls with overly large breasts that may cause back and shoulder pain, as well as restrict physical activity. Breast reduction usually is delayed until the breasts have reached full development.
Correction of breast asymmetry: Surgery can be performed when one breast significantly differs from the other either in size or shape. Except in cases of asymmetry and post trauma reconstruction, federal regulations prohibit breast implants for those under 18.
Treatment of Gynecomastia: In some teenage boys, excessive breast development (gynecomastia) can become a significant psychosocial problem. Excess tissue can be removed to achieve a more masculine body contour.
Chin augmentation: Chin augmentation often is performed in conjunction with rhinoplasty to achieve facial balance.
Trends in Teen Cosmetic Surgery
“Trend” reports in the media of a significant increase in teen cosmetic surgery are not supported by authoritative statistics compiled by ASAPS:

For those 18 and under:
Ten Years Ago: there were 145,094 procedures in 2000 representing 2.5% of the total;
Five Years Ago: there were 240,682 procedures in 2004 representing 2.0% of the total;
Last Year: there were 160,283 procedures in 2008 representing 1.6% of the total;
This Year: there were 203,308 procedures in 2009 representing 2.0% of the total;

The number of lipoplasty procedures performed on those 18 and younger has remained low, reflecting careful patient selection among this group: ASAPS statistics show that the number of procedures has increased from 2,504 in 1997 to 1,559 in 2009.
In 2009, there were 2,953 breast augmentation procedures performed on women 18 an under, 0.9% percent of the total number of breast augmentation procedures. The reasons for surgery were:
40% Cosmetic Bilateral Breast Augmentation;
24% Severe Asymmetry;
12% Poland’s Syndrome (congenital absent breast);
9% Tubular breast Deformity;
10% Congenital Micromastia (severe underdevelopment);
4% Other

To see the story of a teenager who decided to have rhinoplasty please watch the following video from Project Beauty:
http://www.projectbeauty.com/index.php/videos/watch/allisons-story/

To see a young man’s first hand experience with gynecomastia please watch the following video from Project Beauty: http://www.projectbeauty.com/index.php/videos/watch/wills-embarrassing-problem/

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Beware of Cosmetic Surgery Scams

In tough economic times, many people are searching out deals for plastic surgery procedures in an attempt to keep the cost within their budget. However, many of the providers offering “discount” services are not truly qualified to perform the procedure. Often this can result in serious injuries to the patient.

Recently, two sisters in Southern California were arrested on suspicion of medical malpractice after allegedly running an illegal cosmetic filler business. Both sisters were practicing without a license. Police have received reports from several victims claiming that the fillers used in their treatment had hardened into solid plastic, resulting in serious infections. The fillers were primarily administered in the face and buttocks.

“Cosmetic surgery scams like the one recently uncovered in the Los Angeles area underscore the importance of working with a board certified plastic surgeon,” says Houston plastic surgeon Dr. Leo Lapuerta of The Plastic Surgery Institute of Southeast Texas. “By choosing a board certified plastic surgeon, you can be confident that your surgeon has undergone the most rigorous training and has the extensive experience necessary to help you achieve exceptional results with the highest levels of safety.”

To ensure that your procedure is performed safely and skillfully, you should seek out a surgeon who has been certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and is a member of either the American Society of Plastic Surgery or the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. In order to receive board certification, surgeons must undergo several years of advanced training in the field of plastic surgery and pass challenging, comprehensive exams which test their knowledge of the best plastic surgery practices available. By working with a board certified plastic surgeon, patients can be certain that they will not fall victim to cosmetic surgery scams.

About The Plastic Surgery Institute of South East Texas

The Plastic Surgery Institute of South East Texas is run by Dr. Leo Lapuerta, a triple board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon specializing in procedures that will enhance the breast, body, and facial regions. Dr. Lapuerta has three offices in the Houston, Texas area: Silverlake Professional Center in Pearland, St. Joseph’s Hospital in Houston, and Southeast Memorial Hospital in Houston.

In today’s economy, looking good is no longer something we can dismiss as frivolous or vain. How beauty can affect your job, your career, your life.

Most of us have heard the story of Debrahlee Lorenzana, the 33-year-old Queens, N.Y., woman who sued Citibank last month, claiming that, in pencil skirts, turtlenecks, and peep-toe stilettos, she was fired from her desk job for being “too hot.” We’ve also watched Lorenzana’s credibility come into question, as vintage clips of her appearance on a reality-TV show about plastic surgery portray a rambling, attention-obsessed twit, stuffed to the brim with implants and collagen. (“I love plastic surgery,” she coos. “I think it’s the best thing that ever happened.”) Creepy, yes. But for all the talk about this woman’s motives—and whether or not she was indeed fired for her looks—there’s one question nobody seems to want to ask: isn’t it possible Lorenzana’s looks got her the job in the first place?

Not all employers are that shallow—but it’s no secret we are a culture consumed by image. Economists have long recognized what’s been dubbed the “beauty premium”—the idea that pretty people, whatever their aspirations, tend to do better in, well, almost everything. Handsome men earn, on average, 5 percent more than their less-attractive counterparts (good-looking women earn 4 percent more); pretty people get more attention from teachers, bosses, and mentors; even babies stare longer at good-looking faces (and we stare longer at good-looking babies). A couple of decades ago, when the economy was thriving—and it was a makeup-less Kate Moss, not a plastic-surgery-plumped Paris Hilton, who was considered the beauty ideal—we might have brushed off those statistics as superficial. But in 2010, when Heidi Montag’s bloated lips plaster every magazine in town, when little girls lust after an airbrushed, unattainable body ideal, there’s a growing bundle of research to show that our bias against the unattractive—our “beauty bias,” as a new book calls it—is more pervasive than ever. And when it comes to the workplace, it’s looks, not merit, that all too often rule.

Consider the following: over his career, a good-looking man will make some $250,000 more than his least-attractive counterpart, according to economist Daniel Hamermesh; 13 percent of women, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (and 10 percent of men, according to a new NEWSWEEK survey), say they’d consider cosmetic surgery if it made them more competitive at work. Both points are disturbing, certainly. But in the current economy, when employers have more hiring options than ever, looks, it seems, aren’t just important; they’re critical. NEWSWEEK surveyed 202 corporate hiring managers, from human-resources staff to senior-level vice presidents, as well as 964 members of the public, only to confirm what no qualified (or unqualified) employee wants to admit: from hiring to office politics to promotions, even, looking good is no longer something we can dismiss as frivolous or vain.

Fifty-seven percent of hiring managers told NEWSWEEK that qualified but unattractive candidates are likely to have a harder time landing a job, while more than half advised spending as much time and money on “making sure they look attractive” as on perfecting a résumé. When it comes to women, apparently, flaunting our assets works: 61 percent of managers (the majority of them men) said it would be an advantage for a woman to wear clothing showing off her figure at work. (Ouch.) Asked to rank employee attributes in order of importance, meanwhile, managers placed looks above education: of nine character traits, it came in third, below experience (No. 1) and confidence (No. 2) but above “where a candidate went to school” (No. 4). Does that mean you should drop out of Harvard and invest in a nose job? Probably not. But a state school might be just as marketable. “This is the new reality of the job market,” says one New York recruiter, who asked to have her name withheld because she advises job candidates for a living. “It’s better to be average and good- looking than brilliant and unattractive.”

Remember the story about the 1960 Nixon-Kennedy debate? It goes to show our beauty bias is nothing novel. At the time, radio listeners thought Nixon had won, but those watching Kennedy’s tanned, chiseled face on TV, next to a worn-down, 5 o’clock-shadowed Nixon, were sure it was the junior senator. There are various explanations for some of this. Plato wrote of the “golden proportions,” which dubbed the width of an ideal face an exact two thirds its length, a nose no longer than the distance between the eyes. Biologically speaking, humans are attracted to symmetrical faces and curvy women for a reason: it’s those shapes that are believed to produce the healthiest offspring. As the thinking goes, symmetrical faces are then deemed beautiful; beauty is linked to confidence; and it’s a combination of looks and confidence that we often equate with smarts. Perhaps there’s some evidence to that: if handsome kids get more attention from teachers, then, sure, maybe they do better in school and, ultimately, at work. But the more likely scenario is what scientists dub the “halo effect”—that, like a pack of untrained puppies, we are mesmerized by beauty, blindly ascribing intelligent traits to go along with it.

There are various forces to blame for much of this, from an economy that allows pickiness to a plastic-surgery industry that encourages superficial notions of beauty. In reality, it’s a confluence of cultural forces that has left us clutching, desperately, to an ever-evolving beauty ideal. Today’s young workers were reared on the kind of reality TV and pop culture that screams, again and again, that everything is a candidate for upgrade. We’ve watched bodies transformed on Extreme Makeover, faces taken apart and pieced back together on I Want a Famous Face. We compare ourselves with the airbrushed images in advertisements and magazines, and read surveys—like this one—that confirm our worst fears. We are a culture more sexualized than ever (Mad Men notwithstanding), with technology that’s made it easier than ever to “better” ourselves, warping our standards for what’s normal. Plastic surgery used to be for the rich and famous; today we’ve leveled the playing field with cheap boob jobs, tummy tucks, and outpatient procedures you can get on your lunch break. Where that leads us is running to stand still: taught that good looks are no longer a gift but a ceaseless pursuit.

Deborah Rhode, a Stanford law professor and author of The Beauty Bias, is herself an interesting case study. During her term as chair of the American Bar Association’s commission on working women, she was struck by how often the nation’s most powerful females were stranded in cab lines and late for meetings because, in heels, walking any distance was out of the question. These were working, powerful, leading women, she writes. Why did they insist on wearing heels? Sure, some women just like heels (and still others probably know their bosses like them). But there is also the reality that however hard men have it—and, from an economic perspective, their “beauty premium” is higher, say economists—women will always face a double bind, expected to conform to the beauty standards of the day, yet simultaneously condemned for doing so. Recruiters may think women like Lorenzana can get ahead for showing off their looks, but 47 percent also believe it’s possible for a woman to be penalized for being “too good-looking.” Whether or not any of it pays off, there’s something terribly wrong when 6-year-olds are using makeup, while their mothers spend the equivalent of a college education just keeping their faces intact. “All of this is happening against a backdrop of more women in the workplace, in all kinds of jobs, striving toward wage equality,” says Harvard psychologist Nancy Etcoff. “So we’re surprised—but we shouldn’t be—how this [beauty curse] continues to haunt us.”

Forty years ago, when feminists threw their bras into the “Freedom Trash Can” outside the 1968 Miss America pageant (no, they didn’t really burn them!), it was to protest the idea that women had become “enslaved by ludicrous beauty standards,” as the organizers put it. At the time, women still made up just a fraction of the workforce, and yet they were rejecting the notion that, in work or play, they had to be confined to the role of busty secretary—a mere office toy. A decade later, as women entered the workforce in droves, it was boxy suits, not bustiers, that defined their dress. But today’s working women have achieved “equality” (or so we’re led to believe): they dominate the workforce, they are household breadwinners, and so they balk at having to subvert their sexuality, whether in the boardroom or on the beach. Yet while the outside-work milieu might accept the empowered yet feminine ideal, the workplace surely doesn’t. Studies show that unattractive women remain at a disadvantage in low-level positions like secretary, while in upper-level fields that are historically male-dominated, good-looking women can suffer a so-called bimbo effect. They are viewed as too feminine, less intelligent, and, ultimately, less competent—not only by men but also by their female peers.

To add an extra layer of complexity, there’s the conundrum of aging in a culture where younger workers are more tech-savvy, cheaper, and, well, nicer on the eyes. Eighty-four percent of managers told NEWSWEEK they believe a qualified but visibly older candidate would make some employers hesitate, and while ageism affects men, too, it’s particularly tough for women. As Rhode puts it, silver hair and furrowed brows may make aging men look “distinguished,” but aging women risk marginalization or ridicule for their efforts to pass as young. “This double standard,” Rhode writes, “leaves women not only perpetually worried about their appearance—but also worried about worrying.”

The quest for beauty may be a centuries-old obsession, but in the present day the reality is ugly. Beauty has more influence than ever—not just over who we work with, but whether we work at all.

Beauty That Gives Back: Botox Celebrates Your Acts of Kindness!

The Botox fans in my life fall into either one of two categories, the “Hush hush, it’s my dirty little secret,” kind or the “I’m a Botox user and proud of it,” kind. If you’re a lover of this little injectable fountain of youth, why not join a new group of Botox users that give back to struggling communities?

You may recognize this beauty as a carpenter on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition ( I’m a huge fan); television personality and Botox Cosmetic Advocate, Didiayer Snyder. When the toolbelt comes off, she’s still working to help those in need.

Didiayer, along with Vanessa Williams, author Vicki Iovine, actress Virginia Madsen and gold medalist Nadia Comaneci are celebrating acts of kindness around the US with Allergan (maker of Botox) for the Botox Cosmetic My Expressions of Kindness Campaign. Their goal is to raise a quarter of a million dollars for three charities: Make It Right, Dress for Success and Children’s Action Network. If you are currently receiving Botox treatments or are considering them, all they ask is that you visit ExpressKindnessCampaign.com and fill out a “My Expressions of Kindness” profile. Upon doing so, $25 will be donated to the charity you choose. It’s that simple!

The Botox fans in my life fall into either one of two categories, the “Hush hush, it’s my dirty little secret,” kind or the “I’m a Botox user and proud of it,” kind. If you’re a lover of this little injectable fountain of youth, why not join a new group of Botox users that give back to struggling communities?

You may recognize this beauty as a carpenter on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition ( I’m a huge fan); television personality and Botox Cosmetic Advocate, Didiayer Snyder. When the toolbelt comes off, she’s still working to help those in need.

Didiayer, along with Vanessa Williams, author Vicki Iovine, actress Virginia Madsen and gold medalist Nadia Comaneci are celebrating acts of kindness around the US with Allergan (maker of Botox) for the Botox Cosmetic My Expressions of Kindness Campaign. Their goal is to raise a quarter of a million dollars for three charities: Make It Right, Dress for Success and Children’s Action Network. If you are currently receiving Botox treatments or are considering them, all they ask is that you visit ExpressKindnessCampaign.com and fill out a “My Expressions of Kindness” profile. Upon doing so, $25 will be donated to the charity you choose. It’s that simple!

injectables

With so many different types of fillers available today, finding the right one to address your specific aging concerns can be a challenge. While all injectables and fillers work toward the same overall goal of smoothing out lines and wrinkles and adding back lost volume, some offer immediate results that last only a few months while others garner delayed yet long-term results.

Factors that will determine the right filler for you:
Careful discussion with your doctor about the area being treated, how much correction you need, thickness of the skin, budget, tolerance for risk, and how long you want the results to last can best help to customize a treatment for you.

DEFINING INJECTABLES
Injectables are generally broken down into fillers, which includes collagen and hyaluronic acid, and denervating agents, like Botox. Learn more

ABOUT THE PROCEDURE
Injections are performed in the in-office exam room of your dermatologist, plastic surgeon or facial plastic surgeon. Learn more

FAT INJECTIONS
You can forgo the pharmaceutical filler route and use your own body fat as an injectable filler. Learn more

WHO DOES IT
You should never be injected with a filler or denervating agent like Botox without consulting with a doctor first. Learn more

Average Cost: $500-$2,000, depending on area treated

Length of Procedure: 15 minutes to an hour

Recovery Time: Zero to 10 days, depending on filler used and area treated

Treatment Frequency: May require only one treatment; semipermanent or permanent fillers may require more than one treatment to achieve desired results. Results will diminish if treatment is not repeated once the filler begins to reabsorb.

Risks: Temporary bruising, swelling, possible infection. Semipermanent and permanent fillers may migrate or cause lumpiness and granulomas.

Duration of Results: Temporary fillers last from three to six months or more; semipermanent fillers last two years or more. Permanent fillers are permanent and can only be corrected through surgical removal.

botox® – injectables

Denervating Agent: BOTOX
It’s important to know the difference between Botox and fillers (Botox stops the muscle contractions; fillers plump up the furrows), but it’s even more important to emphasize that in trained hands, Botox does not paralyze muscles. Rather, it is used in an artistic fashion to restore a more youthful appearance to the face.

A relatively painless procedure, Botox injections are virtually downtime free. Muscle actions play a big role in aging around the eyes, as contractions lead to initial dynamic wrinkles followed by more permanent lines; Botox is great for stopping crow’s-feet and the vertical frown lines between the brows, and it prevents the muscle movement that leads to fine lines and furrows. The treatment can also be used as an “injectable browlift,” to slightly elevate the brow and eliminate horizontal lines across the forehead to help the upper face look younger and more relaxed. Many plastic surgeons consider Botox to be an integral part of a surgical browlift, since its use before surgery can help relax the muscles and facilitate healing.

Just like injectable fillers, a topical anesthetic may be applied to make treatment more comfortable. Then, over a short period of time (roughly 10 minutes, depending on how many areas are being treated), your doctor will strategically place several injections. You may be red or bruised at the injection sites for up to a few days, and in rare instances, patients will report mild flu-like symptoms after treatment. Results become visible in three to seven days, and last for three to four months. Botox is not a permanent solution—you’ll need repeat treatments every three to four months. Your doctor may choose to use the treatment in conjunction with a filler to provide the best results.

FYI:
PurTox, Reloxin and Xeomen are three other versions of botulinum toxin type A that are currently in FDA trials.

Other Uses for Botox:
Botox is approved by the FDA to treat severe underarm sweating that cannot be managed by topical agents such as prescription antiperspirants.

It can also be used as part of a “nonsurgical nosejob” to relax the muscle that pulls the tip downward, creating a more upturned appearance, or to soften the “bunny lines” on the sides near the top of the nose.

Botox can play a part in neck rejuvenation as well. Strategic injections into the muscles that cause the appearance of the tight cord-like bands in the neck can be relaxed and rendered invisible for up to six months. Your doctor will likely ask you to grimace to make the bands visible before administering roughly three injections.

There is also clinical evidence that shows Botox is an effective treatment for migraines, and yet another recent study shows the benefits of it for incontinence. One small-scale study has also demonstrated that it can help alleviate depression, so psychiatry is another area of medicine that may benefit.

Did You Know?
Doctors have observed that repeated Botox treatments may last progressively longer as the facial muscles atrophy from non-use.

Can Botox Prevent Wrinkles From Forming?
In a word, yes. Small amounts of Botox can be used to help break unconscious wrinkle-forming habits, such as frowning and squinting, that lead to crow’s-feet. When you look at the costs associated with multiple Botox injections now, compared to the cost of surgery down the line, it may prove to be more cost effective.

Losing Weight the Smartphone Way, With a Nutritionist in Your Pocket

FOR most of us, the formula for losing weight is a simple one: eat less, exercise more. But humans are anything but simple, and the majority of Americans struggle endlessly with losing pounds and keeping them off.

“We really haven’t come up with one good weight-loss solution,” said Dr. James A. Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic. “If we had, everyone would be using it.”

Consuming fewer calories is perhaps the most difficult part of the weight-loss equation; many dieters are daunted by the prospect of tabulating their daily intake. That’s why many experts and consumers are excited about the new weight-loss programs available for iPhone, BlackBerry and other smartphones.

The apps — which are simple, fun and often free — help users track the number of calories and nutrients they consume, as well as the number of calories they burn. Users learn to balance calorie intake and activity in real time.

Though there is no data on whether mobile apps are more effective than joining a traditional dieting program (apps are too new for long-term studies), their popularity is telling. Since LoseIt, now one of the most highly rated free apps, hit the iTunes store in November 2008, more than five million people have downloaded the program.

“We’re linking weight loss to the coolest gadgets in the world,” said Dr. Levine, who helped develop the Walk n’ Play app, which calculates the total calories one burns each day.

Dennis Dodge, 67, and his wife, Carolyn, 68, recently started using LoseIt to shed weight and control their diabetes. The retired couple, who live in Hampden, Me., tapped their age, weight and goals into their iPod Touches, and the app told them how many calories they should eat each day. Every day they record what they eat and how much they exercise.

The couple, who are using LoseIt as part of a diabetes program run by a local hospital, said they were intimidated at first by the technology but had found the app remarkably easy and even fun to use. “I am now more cognizant of my habits,” Mr. Dodge said.

Mrs. Dodge added: “With other diets you follow their regimen. With this, you set your own goal.”

When you track calories closely, you lose more weight, said Dr. Lawrence Cheskin, associate professor of health, behavior and society at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. But dieters who simply write down their intake at the end of each day tend to underestimate the calories they have consumed (call it wishful thinking).

The beauty of mobile apps is that they work in real time. You eat lunch and immediately log in your meal on your phone. The apps rely on databases to record the calorie counts of thousands of foods, whether a single item like an apple or a prepared meal like a sub sandwich, which takes the guesswork out of totaling calories.

Weight-loss experts are hopeful that apps will help turn chronic dieters into healthy eaters. If you’re looking at a menu wondering whether to order pasta primavera or a Caesar salad, an app can tell you on the spot which option has fewer calories.

Over time, this information becomes part of your own internal database and, the thought is, dieters begin to make healthier choices.

Dana Green, a diabetes specialist at St. Joseph Healthcare Diabetes Institute of Behavioral Medicine in Bangor, Me., has been testing the LoseIt program with a small group of his patients, including the Dodges. Since April, almost all of the 17 patients, ranging in age from 48 to 76, have lost weight and lowered their blood sugar. One man lost six pounds; two of the women in the program were able to reduce their insulin intake by 20 percent, Mr. Green said.

“Patients begin to see their patterns and habits and so make better decisions,” he said. “I’m extremely optimistic.”

With mobile apps, dieters also can better visualize the relationship between exercise and eating. A 30-minute walk burns about 100 calories, they learn, while jogging for the same time at 6 miles per hour burns four times that.

When the user realizes she’s almost hit her daily calorie limit, she can opt to go to the gym — or to eat carrots for dinner. “We’re teaching people to think like economic consumers,” says Charles Teague, the chief executive of FitNow, which produces LoseIt.

If want to give a weight-loss app a try, there are a few things to bear in mind before you get started.

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE It is always a good idea to check with your doctor before beginning a weight-loss plan. Your primary care physician can help you set reasonable goals and also take a look at the app you’ve chosen to make sure it seems legitimate and reasonable.

“Apps are not regulated,” said Dr. Joseph Kim, founder of the Medical Smartphones blog. “There is no certification process to vet which weight-loss apps are better than others.”

SIMPLICITY COUNTS Opt for an app that is basic and intuitive. “The interactive part of these programs is what makes them successful,” said Mr. Green, the diabetes specialist.

Losing weight is hard enough — you don’t also need to contend with a program that has an annoying interface, is slow or too complicated.

SHARE YOUR PROGESS Some apps, like LoseIt, let you share your dieting progress with friends or other users via Facebook or Twitter. Many apps are linked to Web sites where users can chat on forums and blogs. If human support is important to you, choose an app that has social networking built in.

Not all experts are convinced that will be enough, however. “What we’ve learned over the years is that support from a real human, face-to-face, is essential to keeping weight off over the long term,” said Dr. Cheskin of Johns Hopkins.

“It’s worth trying something new,” he added, “but don’t expect miracles.”

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