Thursday, May 22, 2008

Top Medical News of the World

Dementia in the Family? Get a Tummy Tuck!

Now, nobody ever said the way to prevent a case of Alzheimer’s later on in life is to rush out and get a tummy tuck . But it might improve the odds of keeping all, well okay, most of your marbles as an old timer.

Here’s how scientists found that belly fat can put bats in your belfry:

Kaiser Permanente in Northern California studied 6,583 of its patients and measured their stomachs between 1964 and 1973 when the study group was 40 to 45 years old.

Three decades later, the researchers went back and measured the same subjects’:

  • Waist sizes
  • Dementia rates

(SXC Photo)

Results? People with large bellies were 2.6 times more likely to develop dementia than people with a normal waist size. And the news got worse as study group stomachs grew larger. Obese study subjects with really large bellies -- on the order of a Santa Claus belly -- were 3.6 times more like to go bonkers as an old person.

Conclusion? Other than dieting and regular, hard exercise (whew! I get exhausted just thinking about it!). The only other way to cut down on belly fat seems to be via a tummy tuck (“abdominoplasty”).

Actually, most guys would consider the procedure if it were known as a “gut tuck” or maybe a “gut check.” There’s just something too delicate about the word “tummy.” Can you imagine anybody referring to the “beer gut” as a “beer tummy?” I should say not! It takes many years of dedicated, hard work to create a beer gut!

Obesity and Bad Breath

The bad news for overweight people never seems to end.

If being driven crazy by a little flab isn’t bad enough, Israeli researchers have found that obesity can cause bad breath, too. It’s sorta the same old story: take a group of people, study them and compare who’s got what. In this case, a study of 88 people found that the most overweight also suffered complaints about stinky breath! Nobody seems to know why yet. Maybe a tummy tuck fixes the bad breath thing, too! Read more.

Sleepy? Get a Nose Job!

Daytime sleepiness is a huge problem. Just check out living rooms at 9 in the evening and count the number of snoozers in front of a blaring T.V. Lack of z’s has also been blamed on a number of disasters from Three Mile Island to the Exxon Valdez oil spill to a massive failing of freshman English every year at most colleges and universities. (Well, okay, the colleges and universities, I attended, anyhow!)

(SXC photo)

Researchers in Taiwan studied 51 patients with symptoms of daytime sleepiness. The researchers accessed the patients a month before and three months after surgery. They found a significant drop in the rates of daytime sleepiness and blocked nasal airways.

Attention wives! Here’s the really good news: Most of the subjects also quit snoring!

One of the first things a plastic surgeon will do if you go in for a nose job will be to check on how well you breathe through your nose. Read more about sleepiness and having a nasal surgery.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Top Ten “No-No” Herbs in Plastic Surgery

So you’re going in for a nip ‘n’ tuck to rejuvenate some sagging, drooping whatevers. Good for you! It will help you look and feel better.

But before you go under the knife, here’s a pearl of wisdom. (Not from me, of course; the information comes from some very smart doctors!)

Did you know that taking herbs can cause trouble during your surgery?

Sure, herbs are 100% natural but, hey, so are snake bites! And, to borrow a line from George Carlin, any time you’re talking about snake venom, all you need to know is: it’s bad for ya!

Insider hint: never confuse the word “safe” with “natural.”

Insider hint number 2: no known herb can create a breast augmentation, a face lift or remove fat from your body. But you’ll see tons of ads that promise just that. (Read more about overblown ads in cosmetic plastic surgery).

Turns out herbs are powerful medicines that vary in strength depending on if you consume the leaf or the root and the time of year the herb was picked.

Herb medley
SXC Photo

We mention all this because Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the leading professional journal for plastic surgeons, recently found that 55 percent of plastic surgery patients use herbs while only 24 percent of the general public take them. Read more.

You want to quit any herb at least several weeks before your surgery, according to top plastic surgeons Robert Kotler, M.D. in Beverly Hills and New Mexico plastic surgeon Patrick Hudson, M.D.

Surgeons bellyache because patients often forget to mention the herbs they take, thinking it makes no difference to their medical histories. And then things can get complicated or go south in the operating room (O.R.) when other meds interact with the herbs.

Here’s the list of verboten herbs before your plastic surgery procedure

1. Ginseng

Used to enhance energy levels, ginseng in the O.R. can cause high blood pressure or a racing heart if combined with some of the medicines used by the anesthesiologist. Ginseng can also slow blood clotting.

Sweet herbs
(Bura photo)

2. Ephedra (aka ma huang)

Consumed in many diet aids, ephedra increases blood pressure and, during surgery, may increase it too much when combined with common medicines.

3. St. John’s Wort

Used to treat depression and anxiety, St John’s Wort can prolong the effects of some narcotics and anesthetics. It also interacts with Demerol, a prescription pain reliever.

4. Ginko Biloba

Taken to increase circulation, ginko can cause excess bleeding in the operating room.

5. Feverfew

Often used to treat migraines, feverfew can also increase bleeding during surgery.

6. Garlic

Usually taken to lower blood fat levels, garlic can also cause too much bleeding during an operation.

Garlic chives
(jkingsbeer photo)

7. Licorice

Many people with stomach woes take licorice. But during surgery, it can cause liver problems and water retention.

8. Glucosamine

Consumed to ease joint distress, glucosamine contains chemical elements that mimic human insulin and may cause high blood sugar while you are under the knife.

9. Chondroitin

Often taken as a folk remedy for bone arthritis, chondroitin can cause excess bleeding if combined with doctor-prescribed blood thinning medications.

10. Valerian

Valerian acts as a mild sedative when you take it at home. But in the operating room, it can increase the effect of anesthesia and cause a deeper sleep.

Other herbs often mentioned in the same breath as “surgical complications” include echinacea, glucosamine, goldenseal, melatonin, kava and milk thistle.

Just remember: herbs. It’s bad for ya!

What’s Your Favorite Herb?

NEXT: Top Ten Fat-Sucking Tunes