Karen Springen

Stories by Karen Springen

  • Surgery: No Lift for Face-Lifts

    After years in the Florida sun, banker Eleanor Hager, 55, says she looked "frumpy and old and tired." She initially wanted a face-lift, which can cost $20,000 and require two weeks to recover. Instead she got an upper-eyelid-lift and laser treatments on her face and chest. It cost her $6,000 and she was back at work the next week. "I would absolutely go and do it again," she says.Fellow patients agree. A new American Society of Plastic Surgeons survey found that last year face-lifts were, surprisingly, no longer ranked among the top-five cosmetic surgical procedures. (The top five are liposuction, rhinoplasty, breast augmentation, eyelid surgery and tummy tucks.) Patients are instead turning to minimally invasive facial procedures that are both easier and cheaper. Doctors performed 108,955 face-lifts last year, but they did a whopping 3.8 million Botox treatments and 1 million chemical peels. Of course, it's not a permanent fix. Botox has to be repeated every three to four months,...
  • Sports: A Safety Course

    With spring officially starting this week, golfers are gearing up for the green. And injuries. Every year, more than 100,000 get hurt on the course. We asked health experts for advice. Dr. Anthony Rankin, professor of orthopedic surgery at Howard University, blames poor technique for much of the hurt. Lessons will not only improve your swing, but will also make you less prone to back, shoulder, hand and thumb aches. Otherwise, the wrist, rather than the arm, takes the pressure of the swing. Go to NATA.org for more safety tips. To elongate your muscles before a game, use a golf club or stretch pole (you can get one for $50 at golfstretchingpole.com ). To stretch your fingers, grip and release your steering wheel or even squeeze toys. But don't swing multiple clubs at a time to warm up. "The pull of the weight of the clubs will stretch your muscles farther than you want to go," says Rick Martino, director of instruction for the PGA. Finally, walk the course, says Joseph Myers of the...
  • Style: The Limo is Extra

    Finding the perfect prom dress is tough. If you live in a small town, it may seem impossible. That's a big reason more teens are starting their search online. Janet Mitchell of Tillson, N.Y., bought her daughter Vicki a green dress for $229 at sydneyscloset.com , which sells plus-size gowns. Because Vicki wears size 16, the Web dramatically increased her choices.Sites like tjformal.com offer much bigger selections than department stores; cbslimited .com , for example, features more then 2,000 dresses.Leave time; gowns can take up to 10 weeks to arrive. Carefully measure your bust, waist and hips, then check size charts.When in doubt, buy big. Plan on alterations. Check return policies; Web retailers often don't accept returns. Now all you have to do is find a date.
  • Weddings: White: So Worn Out

    This June, when Amanda Moore, 25, gets married in Beverly Hills, Fla., she intends to wear a black gown with pink daisy accents. Black, she says, is slimming, and pink matches a special necklace from her great-grandmother. "My mother-in-law was the only one who was, like, 'Oh, my gosh, you have to call the church and make sure it's OK'." (She did. It is.)Moore's not alone in bucking altar etiquette. Jeffrey Moore, a senior vice president at wedding-dress superretailer David's Bridal, says 20 percent of its gowns now include color; they were all white (or ivory) just three years ago. The stores now carry 32 accent hues, including apple red and pool blue. (Toni DeLisi, owner of Memorable Events in Ramsey, N.J., says half of her brides accent with colors like ice blue.) There is color in 16 of 31 gowns in Vera Wang's spring '06 collection.Weddings aren't as traditional now, and that "trickles down" to apparel, says Moore. The trend in "destination weddings" also helped spur the pro...
  • Tractors: Let The Good Times Roll

    By day, Mike Hepworth works full time as an oil-company consultant. By night, he cultivates his three-acre Oregon garden with his own $12,000 John Deere tractor, complete with cup holder, headlights and adjustable cushioned seat. He's not alone. A growing number of "hobby farmers"--and even people with normal lawns--are buying so-called compact utility tractors. Last year Americans bought an estimated 900,000 "garden" tractors, up from 500,000 in 1999, says Bruce Butterfield, research director for the National Gardening Association (and a tractor owner himself). Experts estimate that hobbyists, who make less than $500 a year from selling crops and livestock, account for 55 percent of compact-tractor sales; just 25 percent of the buyers are professional farmers.Manufacturers have taken notice. This month Home Depot started selling its lawn tractors to consumers online. Also this month, John Deere introduced its new $16,000 3203 compact utility tractor "for economy-minded large-...
  • People: He's Cooking

    Oprah, add this name to your book-club address list. Jeff Henderson, 41, a cocaine dealer turned high-end chef, just signed a six-figure deal with William Morrow/HarperCollins to write his memoirs. Henderson pitched his book with the title "From Cocaine to Foie Gras."Known as Chef Jeff, Henderson--born in southern California's Watts and raised by a single mother--says he earned as much as $35,000 a week dealing cocaine in San Diego. He wound up in prison in 1988: "People say I got arrested. No, I got rescued," he says. At the time, he likes to say, the only thing he had ever cooked was crack. But while incarcerated in six different prisons for eight years and nine months, he worked in prison kitchens. First, he cleaned pots and pans. Then he prepared meals, bartering food for services like haircuts. His signature dish in prison: fried chicken, served every Sunday. Today it's a pan-roasted Chilean bass with fingerling potatoes --a $26 entree at the Cafe Bellagio, where he is...
  • Food: Mercury Rising

    Is your dinner fishy? There might be reason to worry. A recent study from the University of North Carolina at Asheville found that one in five women of childbearing age tested for mercury had levels that could cause neurological damage in babies. The culprit: fish--eaten by many of the 6,600 participants--which carry mercury from coal-fired power plants near lakes, streams and oceans. (Mercury is no longer used in vaccines, with the exception of some influenza vaccines.) Unfortunately, cooking doesn't eliminate mercury stored in muscle tissue. Big predators pose a greater risk because they also absorb mercury from smaller fish they consume. The FDA recommends you don't eat swordfish, shark, king mackerel or tilefish more than once a week, and pregnant women should eat them no more than once a month. Safer meal options are catfish, farm-raised trout, farm-raised salmon and shellfish like shrimp. (See ...
  • States: Time to Stub Out Smoking

    Tobacco, Virginia State Sen. Charles Hawkins reminded folks last week, is "a legal crop." But the places where you can legally use it are quickly being stubbed out. Hawkins's fellow senators--in the heart of tobacco country, no less--approved a statewide smoking ban in bars, restaurants and most public enclosed places. Though it will face tough opposition in the House, "it's a breakthrough," says state Sen. Brandon Bell. ...
  • Medicine: Hitting the Strip

    A generation that's killed bad breath with Listerine strips can now tackle colds and coughs the same way. Current products that melt on the tongue include Pfizer's Sudafed ($6), Novartis's Triaminic ($6) and TheraFlu ($5), and InnoZen's Suppress Cough strips ($3). They seem to get medicine into the body faster, and they're good for senior citizens or anyone who has difficulty swallowing pills. The downside is they can hold only small amounts--say, 25 milligrams--of active ingredients, so you might need to pop several. Then again, the strips don't require measuring or any water, dissolving in about 10 seconds. "It's easy for somebody to medicate themselves without anyone knowing, especially in a church," says Gary Kehoe, a developer of medicated strips. Within a few years, expect the technology to be licensed to companies for prescription drugs that don't require too big of a dose. But they would need FDA approval first. Good candidates include hormone-replacement therapy, birth...
  • Hospitals: No Candid Camera

    Viviana Chapman, who's due to give birth on March 1, was looking forward to capturing the event on camera. "This was going to be our memory forever," she says. But Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago, like a growing number of the 2,778 U.S. hospitals with delivery rooms, is turning down patients' requests to videotape births. The official reason: privacy and safety concerns. But some say the real reason is that hospitals are afraid the tapes will be used against them in malpractice suits. Though videos rarely yield evidence, Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital in 2004 banned cameras during births, in part because some patients with tapes threatened lawsuits. "It doesn't mean that malpractice occurred," says hospital spokeswoman Kelly Sullivan. "But [the tape] can be used as a weapon in manipulating a pain-and-suffering award that shouldn't be awarded."Doctors say the no-movie-camera policies benefit patients. Tripods can fall into the "sterile field," says Laura Riley,...
  • Leisure: Safe On Your Skis

    This year about 10 million Americans will hit the slopes to ski and snowboard. One out of 250 will also hit the ground--or a tree--and go home injured. We asked the pros for some advice on how to stay safe. (See www.apta.org or nsaa.org for more info.) First, remember: it's your head, so wear that helmet. Snowboarders often fall backward onto their wrists, while skiers are more prone to hurting their knees. Make sure you're properly padded. Even in the cold, you can get burned from too much sun, so goggles and suntan lotion are a must. Finally, ask an expert to double-check your ski bindings. If they're too tight, they might not release properly in a fall. "Your knee is going one way, but the ski is still attached," says Debbie Cyphers, a member of the National Ski Patrol.
  • Batteries Included

    For years, entrepreneur Howard Gould took a Lincoln Town Car to his office from his home on Manhattan's Upper West Side. But those gas-guzzling days are over. Today, he dials OZOcar, New York's first all-hybrid car service. Then he settles into a 52mpg silver Prius--outfitted with leather seats, Wi-Fi, an Apple iBook and Sirius satellite radio.Since OZOcar opened its car doors in September, founders Jordan Harris and Roo Rogers have signed on blue-chip clients like Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs. By the year-end, they plan to more than double their 72-vehicle fleet and expand to London, Chicago, Madrid and Frankfurt.Rides cost about the same as traditional black-car services--a good deal for the company since the retail price of a Prius is about half that of a Town Car. Passengers may feel a bit cramped and there's not much room for luggage, so for $20 extra, OZOcar now offers hybrid SUVs. But for most customers, being "eco-chic" is comforting enough.
  • Books: Required Reading

    To celebrate black History Month, share one of these books with your kids. "I Lost My Tooth in Africa," by Penda Diakite ($16.99; ages 4 to 8), was written by a 12-year-old girl about her sister, who wants to lose her tooth on a family trip to Mali. "The Champ: The Story of Muhammad Ali," by Tonya Bolden ($17.95; ages 5 to 8), retells the tale of the boxing legend. "My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up With the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," by Christine King Farris ($6.99; ages 4 to 8), was written by King's sister about their childhood experiences with segregation.
  • Truly American Dance

    Fifty years ago, Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino started the Joffrey Ballet with six dancers, a borrowed station wagon and a U-Haul. Though Joffrey himself is no longer alive, Arpino, now 83, and the company's 47 dancers are celebrating their half century of performances with productions like John Cranko's "Romeo and Juliet" (opening Feb. 15). Featured in Robert Altman's movie "The Company," the Joffrey is mentioned in the same breath as the New York City Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre. It jumpstarted choreographer Twyla Tharp's career--and its dance corps featured stars-in-the-making like Alvin Ailey. Eleven years ago, the Joffrey moved from New York to Chicago. Karen Springen peeked in at "Romeo and Juliet" rehearsals at the Joffrey's studio--and chatted with Arpino and executive director Jon Teeuwissen, who is widely credited with the company's financial turnaround. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: When you cofounded the Joffrey a half century ago, did you ever expect you'd get to...
  • Health: Weightwatcher

    Should you take the weight-loss drug orlistat? It's already available by prescription, and last week a government advisory panel recommended that the FDA approve the drug for over-the-counter use. That could happen as early as next fall. The pill (sold by Roche under the brand name Xenical) blocks up to a third of fat intake and is usually taken with every meal. In test trials, obese people who took the drug lost about six pounds more than those who didn't. ...
  • A Series of Extraordinarily Fortunate Events

    In her bedroom bookshelf, Isidora Coric, 8, keeps more than two dozen "Magic Tree House" books lined up numerically. She reads the tales in order, too. "She will not skip," says her mom, Valeria Coric. When Isidora visits the bookstore near her home in Lincolnshire, Ill., she always checks for new additions. She's about to be in luck: Random House is printing 300,000 copies of "Night of the New Magicians," the 35th installment in Mary Pope Osborne's wildly popular series about a boy, Jack, and his sister, Annie, who travel to different times in history. If she can't wait until the pub date in March, she and other "Magic Tree House" fans can always scoop up "Pompeii: Lost and Found," an Osborne-written picture book that's out this week.Today children's series are more popular than ever with kids--and therefore with publishers. After all, if kids get hooked on characters like Jack and Annie--or Harry, Ron and Hermione--they're sure to buy the sequel, and the sequel to the sequel and ....
  • Hybrids: Taken for an Enviro-Friendly Ride

    King County, which encompasses Seattle, has a bus fleet of 1,400. Only 236 are hybrids, but fleet manager Jim Boon anticipates that number will multiply: "Having the stored energy in the batteries gives us much better fuel economy."Seattle's taking on enviro-friendly causes is no shocker. But other cities are, too--with prodding from officials who want to decrease emissions and noise and save money on fuel. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley has proposed an ordinance requiring any fleet owner with 50 or more medallions to have at least one hybrid or alternative-fuel vehicle by June 2007. "Mayor Daley's goal is to have the greenest city in America," says Norma Reyes, commissioner of the Department of Consumer Services, which oversees taxis. In New York City, lawmakers should vote soon on whether to turn all cabs into hybrids in the next half decade.Hybridization could take time: taxi operators typically run cabs for five years, and transit systems run buses for 12 to 18. Hybrid models...
  • The Ultimate Transplant

    For thousands of people whose faces have been disfigured by third-degree burns or other injury, life often becomes an endless series of painful operations. Surgery is performed to transfer skin to the face from the back, buttocks, thighs or even scalp; to improve breathing; to enable patients to open and close their eyes; to restore facial expression. A few patients have had as many as 120 operations. "It's a roller coaster. You're healing well, and then you have to go in for another surgery," says Amy Acton, executive director of the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors.Now burn victims can consider another option: a face transplant. Last week French doctors performed the first partial procedure when they gave a brain-dead patient's mouth, nose and chin to a 38-year-old woman mauled by a dog. In the United States, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic, whose institutional review board last year approved the experimental treatment, are interviewing potential patients who would receive...
  • A Teen Health Gap

    Think about your pediatrician's office. Chances are that "Winnie-the-Pooh" or "Sesame Street" murals decorate the walls and restless toddlers pass the time before their appointments by playing on the floor with brightly colored toys. Now imagine you're a 16-year-old girl waiting for your checkup in this same room. How comfortable would you feel? How likely would you be to tell the doctor who has treated you since you were in diapers that you're thinking about sleeping with your boyfriend and you need birth control?...
  • Health: Beating The Blues

    Can't seem to get into the holiday spirit? Here are some tips for avoiding seasonal depression. ...
  • Schools: Burger With a Side of Cool

    The hottest lunch hangout at Sterling High in Sterling, Ill., is U.B.U. lounge. On school days, it's mobbed with teens who order chicken wraps and fruit smoothies. When they're not lolling on designer furniture, the lounge's customers are singing along to the likes of Beyonce or Gwen Stefani, whose songs are piped in for the lunch hour. Students love the place, but principal Jerry Binder is its biggest fan: U.B.U. is the school's new jazzed-up cafeteria. "It's just more attractive, so kids want to stay for lunch," says Binder. Sterling is one of 130 schools trying out U.B.U., which was launched by food-service provider Aramark as a way of boosting sales and luring kids away from fast-food stores. This fall, sales of meals at Springfield, Mo.'s Glendale High School, a U.B.U. pilot school, are up 40 percent. Aramark's planning on taking U.B.U. to all of its 420 school districts. But lounges aren't likely to appear in all of the nation's 28,000 high schools. Michael Carr of the...
  • Liposuction: Going Micro

    Brandy Montoya, 28, eats healthy and visits the gym at least three times a week. But as hard as she tried, she could not get the bottom half of her body to match her smaller torso. So in July, she signed up for $9,000 worth of liposuction. Denver plastic surgeon John Millard performed a new procedure, LipoSelection, which uses ultrasound to liquefy fat before it's suctioned out of the body, often resulting in less bruising. Montoya said goodbye to millions of fat cells on her thighs, her hips--and even the inner part of her knees. "I look like somebody you'd be jealous of, I really do," she says.Liposuction has long been the nation's top plastic-surgery procedure. But with advances like LipoSelection, which promises a quicker recovery, and the use of tiny suction tubes ("canulas") that allow doctors to target smaller body parts, it's growing faster than ever. Lipoplasties were up 24 percent last year over 2003, to 478,251.The newest lipo converts aren't settling just for having...
  • Health: Sweeter Dreams

    Most kids need at least 10 hours of sleep. But if your child isn't getting enough, should you turn to sleeping pills? Many parents do. Last week Medco Health Solutions, a managed-care company, released an analysis that showed sleeping-pill usage has increased 85 percent among kids 10 to 19 in the last five years. Before you consider a prescription, doctors say parents should try safer alternatives. At bedtime, calm your kid down by "getting the electronics out of the bedroom," says psychologist Jodi Mindell, coauthor of "Take Charge of Your Child's Sleep." That includes TV, videogames and instant messaging--and ease up on caffeinated beverages like soda, too. Instead, consider a warm, relaxing bath and a story. (A 2004 National Sleep Foundation poll showed that reading helped kids nod off.) Finally, stick to a regular (early!) bedtime. For more info, see sleepfoundation.org and nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/sleep/starslp/ . Sleep tight.
  • Health: Less Pain In The E.R.

    When it comes to emergency rooms, children are less likely than adults to receive appropriate pain medication, report several recent studies. "One of the great myths that float around is that children don't feel pain," says Dr. Alfred Sacchetti, a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians' pediatrics committee. Here are some steps parents can take to make their kids' visits less traumatic:At check-in, ask whether your child should receive an analgesic so it can start to take effect, suggests Dr. Robert Kennedy of St. Louis Children's Hospital.Stay with children as long as possible to comfort and distract them. Dr. David Schonfeld of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center says to cuddle your kids, blow bubbles or play music.Avoid lying. Don't say, "It's just like a mosquito bite," if the child needs 12 stitches, says Stanford University's Dr. Bernard Dannenberg. And keep in mind that not all injuries require pain medication: with a dislocated finger or elbow, it's...
  • Cosmetic Surgery: And in This Hand...

    People always told Jill Mattek, 55, that she looked a good decade younger. After all, the Vero Beach, Fla., spa owner works out regularly and uses Botox, sunscreen and Retin-A creams on her face. But Mattek didn't think her hands, with their lumpy veins, matched the rest of her body. "The hands were the giveaway," she says. So she had vascular surgeon Asad R. Shamma perform a laser treatment to eliminate the lumps.Having turned back the clock on their faces, baby-boomer women are now tackling their hands. Plastic-surgery associations don't yet track exactly how many patients undergo these cosmetic procedures, but Houston dermatologist Marjory Nigro says, "Five years ago, nobody would ask you about hands. Now they say, 'Look at my veins. Look at my brown spots'." Robert Weiss, an associate professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins, says he had treated the ropy-looking veins of five to 10 patients annually as of two years ago; this year he expects to work on hundreds.Shamma's...
  • DESIGNING HEART-HEALTHY COMMUNITIES

    Forecasting heart disease is becoming an ever-finer art, as researchers learn more about the risk factors. But here's a predictor you may not have heard about: street address. In a study published last year, scientists at the RAND Corp. scored 38 metropolitan areas on the "sprawl index"--basically a measure of their dependence on cars. When the researchers tallied disease rates for the same areas, an interesting pattern emerged. Other risk factors aside, people in densely populated places graced with sidewalks and shops had the lowest rates of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and stroke. And the rates rose steadily as communities became more spread-out and less walkable. Statistically, a person living in Boston or San Francisco was healthier than an identical person in Atlanta or San Bernardino. Without even trying, the folks in those more-compact communities were apparently exercising enough to ward off chronic illness. As the RAND team deduced, "suburban design may be an...
  • Technology

    By Kay ItoiAre you lonely? do you have trouble getting up on time? If you live in Japan, help is on the way. Starting this week, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will begin taking orders for Wakamaru, the world's first communicative home-use robot. Those willing to shell out $14,300 will get a one-meter-tall bright yellow companion who will follow them around, keep them on schedule, chatter idly and even worry if they get stuck in traffic.Life with Wakamaru will be a lot like having a precocious child who likes to house-sit and never throws tantrums. In the morning, the robot will come to your bed to wake you at a preprogrammed hour. While you dress, he'll recite the day's headlines and advise if you should take an umbrella. He moves about smoothly on a wheeled pedestal, and will even see you off at the door.Wakamaru's oversize round eyes and childlike gestures are what first attract people, says Junji Suzuki, a Mitsubishi Heavy manager. The robot can recognize up to 10,000 words--and...
  • Packing: Lighten Up Your Load

    Your bags are locked, the taxi's honking, but your 3-year-old won't leave home without her entire Barbie collection. To avoid this kind of glitch, Laurel Smith, founder of the kids' travel site momsminivan.com, asks her kids, 6, 9 and 11, to do their own packing. They lay out a complete outfit for each day of the trip--plus two extra pairs of underwear. She checks their work, and makes suggestions like "We're going to Arizona. I'm not sure you really need the snowsuit." Her kids also load their own small backpacks with dolls, books and art supplies. The kids carry these bags themselves, which discourages overpacking.You need to be willing to let them make some mistakes, but not big ones. If you kid "is so fixed on bringing four of his big bears that there just isn't going to be room for his swimming trunks," stash the overflow in your own suitcase, says child psychiatrist Elizabeth Berger. After all, the ultimate goal is to have a great vacation.
  • Photos: Fake Sweat Included

    Cindy Glover, 41, remembers her high-school yearbook photos: "All the girls wore wool blazers." But for her son, Austin, 17, a senior from Spencer, Iowa--and many of his peers nationwide--it's another story. Photographer Rick Krebsbach spent four hours shooting Austin indoors, outdoors, in his wrestling gear and shirtless while holding his football helmet. For the athletic shots, Krebsbach even "put water on him to make him look like he was dripping [sweat]," says Glover. She expects to spend about $700 on the photos and "image collection" book.Gone are the days of poorly lit "mug shots" in powder-blue tuxes. Today, high schoolers are opting for fashion-model-style photos. "I've had a kid bring swords in," says Krebsbach. "You name it: horses, a semi [tractor]. If you can think of it, they've brought it in." While many schools still require formal shots, students exchange customized photos and use them in special senior pages.Photographer Larry Peters shoots seniors on sets at his...
  • HEALTH: WHEN PLUMP IS PRETTY

    Women who want fuller cheeks and softer lines between their noses and lips have a new tool at their disposal. Sculptra, a cosmetic "volumizer" approved last year for facial-skin atrophy in HIV patients, stimulates the growth of collagen and reduces sagging and wrinkling. Dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons are using it off-label on patients who don't have HIV. Sculptra's main advantage is that it lasts longer than Restylane, the No. 1 cosmetic "filler": two years, compared with six to nine months. But, unlike collagen shots, Sculptra can't be used to plump lips. Complications are rare but can include allergies and infection. And the results are subtle. "It is not 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'," says Dr. Paula Moynahan of New York's skinklinic. Patients typically need one to three sessions-- with treatments starting at about $500. See sculptra.com for info.