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When you look good, you feel good. Advances in the medical field can have a tremendous impact on a person’s self esteem and overall health.
A type of laser therapy moving to the forefront of the medical world is endovenous therapy for varicose veins in the legs.
“Endovenous laser therapy attacks the primary problem of leaking valves in the thigh,” explains Dr. Gwen Nazarian of Consulting Radiologists, Ltd. in Minneapolis. “The way the procedure works is it delivers a laser energy to the tissue so it closes the vein that has the leaky valve.”
According to “Epidemiology of Varicose Veins,” by J. Surg, approximately 25 percent of women and 15 percent of men have superficial venous insufficiency of their legs with visible varicose veins.
The procedure is not painful and can be performed in an outpatient setting. Complications are exceedingly rare; recovery is minimal. The procedure only takes about 45 minutes and patients start seeing
results right away.
“It used to be that patients had to have vein stripping, which required recovery from surgery. Now, with this therapy, after the procedure patients can walk right out of the office and perform their daily functions,” says Dr. Nazarian.
Another field boasting incredible technological advancements is that of hair transplantation (dissecting and implanting hair follicles from areas of greater density to areas of lesser density) and laser hair therapy (non-surgical treatment for thinning hair).
Wally Schmelz, president of Advanced Medical Institute, Inc. in Eagan, says misconceptions in the field include believing misleading claims about hair products advertised on TV, and getting beyond the stigma of so-called “plugs” of years past.
Schmelz explains, “Today we use a technique called Microprecision Follicular Grafting which is the art of dissecting and implanting hair follicles in the natural follicular groupings of one to four hairs. With this procedure, it is absolutely impossible to get an unnatural looking result.”
Hair transplantation is more affordable and more popular than ever, he says.
Another field that has undergone many changes is that of bariatric surgery.
United Hospital has partnered with Bariatric Surgeons of Minnesota, Dr. William Rupp and Dr. Peter Kelly, enabling them to be jointly awarded the American Society of Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence designation. Over 400 bariatric surgeries are performed at United Hospital every year.
According to the Allina Bariatric Centers of Excellence, a good candidate for bariatric surgery is someone with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 40 without co-morbidities, or over 35 with high-risk co-morbidities—such as severe diabetes—despite their best efforts of weight control and diet. A person’s BMI is a measurement of body fat based on an individual’s height and weight. It is an accurate way to determine if a person’s extra pounds translate into potential health risks.
Good candidates for this procedure must be able to participate in treatment and long term follow-up care. Once they’ve had the procedure, they must follow a regime during the weight loss phase.
“This is a major medical procedure,” says Dr. Guilford Hartley, a medical director at Hennepin County Medical Center, where about 300 bariatric surgeries are performed every year. “It can be valuable and life-saving, but it doesn’t come free.” He points out that it’s not a cure to obesity, but rather a tool to help people treat their obesity.
“After the surgery, you’ll never again be able to eat too much in one sitting, but the surgery doesn’t stop you from nibbling all day long,” says Hartley, who conducts initial evaluation of gastric-bypass candidates and provides comprehensive follow-up care. “That little snack can move on through and make room for the next one. People need to eat three meals a day with no snacking between. If they do graze, they can gain the
The average amount of weight lost is 60 percent of the excess weight, Dr. Hartley says. Some people lose 20 percent; some lose 100.
At the Allina Bariatric Centers of Excellence, weight loss averages about 8 to 10 pounds per month until the goal weight is achieved.
Complications of bariatric surgery include infection, bleeding and the decreased absorption of some vitamins.
“Any major abdominal surgery can have complications,” says Dr. Hartley. “And even though the surgery may have a small percentage of risks, the risk of not having the surgery is even greater. Severe obesity can result in early death.”
Positive change is also encouraged in the HealthEast Women’s Heart Advantage program, created to educate women about cardiovascular disease. The survey results are from the third phase of a long-term outreach initiative based on the commitment HealthEast has to improving women’s health. The survey revealed that women are more educated about the dangers of heart disease, and may know what the risk factors and preventative measures are, yet aren’t consistently turning that knowledge into action.
HealthEast Women’s Heart Advantage campaign urges women to read about disease treatment options, speak to family and friends about symptoms, complete self-risk profiles, talk with their doctors about cardiovascular concerns, and participate in health screening programs. In essence, the HealthEast family of hospitals, clinics and physicians is encouraging women to be their own best health care advocate.
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