Iowa City woman the only certified oncology aesthetician in Iowa


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Amid the federal government’s overhaul of the health-care system, one local salon owner hopes to expand health-insurances coverage for care outside the realm of hospital rooms.

“We’ve been trying,” Tracy Lacina said. “We’ve had people lobbying, but the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

Lacina owns the Skin Deep Salon, 2771 Oakdale Blvd., Coralville, which offers oncology care, along with services for the general public.

Her certification in oncology aesthetics followed her undergoing training to learn how the body reacts at the dermal and lymphatic level to cancer treatment. She is the only certified aesthetician with this specialty in Iowa.

She currently pushes legislators and insurance companies to recognize alternative treatments as additional help for patients, while providing her expertise to locals.

Her services include skin treatments — such as massages and exfoliations — to rid the skin of dead cells. Additionally, the treatments replace moisture lost in the skin because of chemotherapy treatments.

The skin undergoes intense adjustments of its own as the toxins from the treatments exit the body through the skin, leaving it dry and causing pain for the patients. Lacina’s massages target the skin in hopes to purge the body of the toxins.

Lacina, a uterine-cancer survivor, wanted a more challenging career path, so she left her position as a dental hygienist to earn a license as an oncology aesthetician. 

Annie Graf, a stage-four breast cancer patient, has been seeing Lacina for roughly a year as a client. She was referred to Lacina by one of her nurses as treatment outside the realm of the hospital. She said Lacina’s treatments have made a drastic difference following her chemotherapy.

“There were times when I couldn’t walk,” Graf said. “I’d go to her, and she’d massage it out to the point where I could actually have some movement in my joints.”

Lacina’s willingness to help has been a staple to her patient’s well-being.

“She tries to do whatever she can,” Graf said. “She does her best to fix anything you need to have fixed.”

Stephanie Seckel, Lacina’s daughter, has worked with her since 2008. Seckel said the relief her mother and coworker provides for the clients is priceless, often providing them a luxury they’ve been without since their diagnosis.

“They’re so stressed out with what they’re going through,” she said. “It’s a safe haven they can come to and relax, and maybe they haven’t been able to do that in months.”

Seckel said administering this care has become a way of life for Lacina.

“This has become her vocation,” Seckel said. “When she came across oncology [treatment], it was like a fire lit under her. She has passion and really found her purpose.”

But even as Lacina provides treatment for her clients, she presses the public to focus on the more widespread issue that insurance companies fail to recognize her treatments as a part of their coverage, leaving patients to absorb the costs.

But a change won’t happen until more providers like her create businesses in Iowa, drawing attention to the need.

“Until we get enough people out there promoting, we’re not loud enough,” Lacina said. “We’re not getting enough attention.”

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