Doctor in the House — Ask Dr. MannyAging Gracefully

It's a boy!!! It's a girl!! Oh, wait, the second one is two minutes behind the first one! Congratulations, you are proud parents of twins!

Every time I deliver a baby, or babies, I am amazed by the beauty of a newborn. True, they are crying, needs to be cleaned up. I always wonder if they are perhaps already longing for days, months of warmth of their mother's body. But they are so beautiful, perfect no matter what. So and yet from the moment we are born we start counting the days; first visit to the pediatrician, first vaccine, pre-school, adolescence, you get the picture. Some babies are bigger, heavier, longer then others. "Oh she is 7 months old. But she looks like she is almost one." Well, her mom or dad may be really tall, or they may have taken after a family member. Somewhere down the line, those babies grow up and as they get older, they choose to alter their bodies. Misconception about age starts early on. And then cravings for quick fixes kick in.

Perception and aging have always traveled together. Now don't get me wrong - I think aging is beautiful. Besides, there's no escaping it. There is nothing more elegant than to see people appreciate their age but also adapt their behavior to make the best of their life. Aging isn't only about those crows feet around the eyes, gray hair, comfortable shoes, flannel pants etc. Aging is about experiences time brings with it. It's about coming a full circle. That is why the topic of health is part of our everyday lingo. Eat right, exercise regularly, see your doctor, get your vaccinations, educate yourself - these are all principals of healthy living. Of course, nature does throw us a curve once in while and creates unpredictable circumstances - cancer, trauma, genetic diseases or loss of value in our 401Ks. All of this is out of our control.

For many of us perception is a strong motivator. "Keeping up with the Jones's" comes to mind. And it's not just about who has a greener lawn, or a better garage or better landscaping. Some time people treat their worldly possessions better than their health. I have seen grown man cry over a scratch on the hood of their car yet they don't hesitate to light up a cigarette. The same holds true for some women; they can find time to shop but got forbid they can make time to get a mammogram.

I think many of us have lost sight of the things that are important. May be it all started when we began to put numbers into our age. Then one day we get a cosmic message. "Look at your self... you are forty five but you look like 50." Now that could be a major kick in the gut for some, and their egos and vanity are not just bruised... they are bleeding. So, what do people do? They reach for a quick fix: Plastic surgery or some form of it. Bigger breasts, defined calves, smaller thighs, Angelina Jolie-like lips, hair plugs... you name it. Surgery is no small thing. Anything that has to do with going under the knife should NOT be taken lightly. Perception !!! It is one of the original deadly sins ( It was deleted from the text by ancient writers, they did not want across to pushy) and all of a sudden we go for the quick fix.

A colleague of mine, who's 30 years old, told me a story. When she was 24, her mother told her to, in addition to eating right and getting as much exercise as possible given her really busy schedule, she should treat her skin well. She told her: "Honey, go and get yourself an age-appropriate eye cream. If you have to spend a bit more, do it. But remember in 10, 20 years that kind of care will pay off. You'll be glad you got that $40 eye cream and used it every morning and every night. Think of it as an investment in your future." Her mother isn't very fond of plastic surgery. Although a doctor herself, she's a believer in natural aging, aging we can do gracefully and without radical procedures. This young lady often gets mistaken for a 26-year-old and thinks of it as a curse and a blessing. But she knows her mother is right. You have to invest in your bodies, inside and out. And that doesn't mean doing radical things.

Ah doctor Manny you are just jealous, you say. You lost your hair, you're middle age and God knows you could loose a couple of pounds. True. I wish I could look like Tom Cruise but I don't let perception become my primary motivator for my health. I do want to look good, but most of all I want to FEEL good. And by the way I don't blame people for wanting a quick fix. I blame some doctors and non doctors for creating cosmetic medical procures that don't improve health and only help their financial status.

Cosmetic surgery has it's indications and plastic surgeons have made a tremendous contribution to the welfare of many patients. Plastic surgery can improve one's health and appearance and it doesn't always have to do with vanity. Sometime it's purely medical. Yet the medical community needs to become more responsible in monitoring the services these cosmetic counters are providing - going under the knife to create fake muscle or whatever else it may be is no small thing. Look at your kids now and spare them the cost, possible complications and obsession with vanity early on. Talk to them about confidence and misperceptions early on. It just may stick.

"Dr Manny, they are ready for you in makeup!"

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit