Sun damage is very common, especially after the summer. Wrinkles, fine lines, and pigment spots are bound to show up after excess time in the sun.

Luckily, our Atlanta plastic surgery practice can combat this damage with skin resurfacing techniques. That doesn’t mean you should sit out and bake to your heart’s desire though, especially when it comes to tanning beds.

Roughly 120,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States. Even despite the fact that melanoma is a major issue, people are fake-baking now more than ever. But scientists may have found the reason as to why people continue to use tanning beds at their own risk. The UT Southwestern Medical Center performed a recent study that suggests that tanning beds cause a neurological reward-and-reinforcement trigger in people. Therefore, people are are actually addicted to fake baking.

It seems that brain activity and corresponding blood flow found in drug and alcohol addicts, is found to be very similar in people who use tanning beds. After each session of tanning, the person who has tanned feels rewarded, even though they know they could be doing some severe damage to their skin. The rewarding feeling outweighs the potential damage, meaning they will more than likely return for another session soon.

Tanning is especially popular with the younger crowd. Unfortunately for them, people under thirty years old who fake bake at least ten times a year are eight times more likely to develop malignant melanoma. Consider the fact that regular fake bakers usually utilize tanning beds far more often than that, and they are on the road to skin cancer very fast. Before you use a tanning bed, I urge you to think about the many consequences.

To your health and beauty,

Alan Larsen

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It’s not uncommon that prospective patients visit me in my Atlanta plastic surgery practice for a liposuction procedure in hopes that lipo can help rid them of fat.

Well, liposuction does eliminate fat, but not every kind of fat, and not fat located just anyplace in the body. The fat I can’t eliminate with liposuction is what this article is all about: visceral fat.

Chances are that you, your friends and neighbors are fighting an enemy you know little about. Answer the following, and please prove me wrong.

The answer is E. Fat is not just a bland storage depot. It is an active source of signaling proteins that regulate all of the above and more.

Before you spread a little butter to celebrate the multi talents of fat, the sad truth is that too much of fat is still a bad thing. The chocolate lining here is that if you lose fat, you may see a lot more improve than just your waistline. You can fundamentally alter your metabolism. The trick is to know what fat to lose, and how to lose it.

The body stores two types of fat–subcutaneous and visceral (also called abdominal) fat. Fat stores on the body are essentially either of these two types, which are, respectively useless and evil fats. Subcutaneous fat is useless. You don’t need it. Visceral fat is evil.

Subcutaneous fat lies beneath the skin. It’s the love handles, the flab around your waistline, the thunder thighs, the back fat, the fatty bottom. This I can remove by liposuction, and even take some of that liposuctioned fat and insert fat into your lips for a lip enhancement or even into the backs of your hands if your hands are wrinkly.

Liposuction is popular simply because it’s such an easy way to eliminate subcutaneous fat. I just make tiny incisions and suck the fat out. Voila! It’s done. Over 200,000 liposuction procedures are performed a year in the US and it’s the most popular procedure done by plastic surgeons in Atlanta and all over the US.

Visceral fat is the evil fat. Why? Because it’s deep inside the abdomen and packed around the organs like the stomach, liver, intestines, etc. This kind of fat contributes to a higher risk for nasty conditions like heart disease, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and hypertension. While your gene pool certainly contributes its influence on visceral fat, your food choices are the real decision-makers in terms of how much visceral fat you carry around. I can’t liposuction out a beer belly, for example. Or do much for women with a protuberant belly that’s full of visceral fat. Liposuction can only remove the fat beneath the skin, not deep inside the body.

Although most people with visceral fat stores are easy to identify by their protuberant belly, lots of people have visceral fat stores that don’t look fat. According to some radiologists, extensive research shows that MRI can identify the amount of visceral fat in humans. This may end up being the manner in which we assess levels of visceral fat in the future.

The only way to eliminate visceral fat is through exercise and eliminating the bad dietary habits that created the visceral fat in the first place. Again, the hereditary component is still there and you cannot change your genes, but you can change your habits—what you eat, what you drink and how much you work out. Studies on animals have proven that surgical removal of visceral fat makes the animal healthier. Unfortunately, we can’t duplicate this in humans. The only surgery that eliminates visceral fat is bariatric surgery, such as LapBand surgery or gastric bypass. There are prescription medications that can decrease your appetite, or decrease fat absorption.

I predict that eventually, we will have minimally invasive surgeries that do for visceral fat what liposuction has done for subcutaneous fat. We will be able to selectively and delicately remove the bad fats from the abdominal cavity using advanced robotic technology. Until then, while you diet and exercise, take inspiration in knowing that even if your weighing scale denies you exciting results, you may be dissolving some evil visceral fats within.

To your health & beauty,

Dr. Alan Larsen

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Women Who Want ‘Revenge on Cancer’ May Have Better Psychological Responses

Certain personality traits are linked to higher quality of life scores in breast cancer patients who undergo breast reconstruction after mastectomy, reports a study in the January issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

Silvio Bellino, MD, and colleagues at the University of Turin, Italy, gave a battery of psychological tests to 57 women with breast cancer who underwent mastectomy and immediate breast reconstruction. The goal was to look at how various personality dimensions and patterns of interpersonal functioning affected quality of life after surgery.

Personalities Affect Women’s Outlook after Breast Loss and Reconstruction

After adjustment for other factors, two personality types were linked to higher quality of life scores. This included women with high scores for the temperamental characteristic of “harm avoidance” – a group that Dr. Bellino and coauthors characterize as “apprehensive and doubtful.” For these patients, they write, “Restoration of body image could help…to reduce social anxiety and insecurity.”

Patients rated as “vindictive/self-centered” on a scale of interpersonal problems also had higher quality of life scores. “Vindictive/self-centered patients are resentful and aggressive,” according to Dr. Bellino and colleagues. “Breast reconstruction could symbolize the conclusion of a reparative process and fulfill the desire of revenge on cancer.”

None of the other psychological or other factors evaluated – including the characteristics of the cancer and its treatment – were significantly related to quality of life scores. Overall, mastectomy followed by breast reconstruction yielded significant improvement in quality of life.

As survival rates improve, there is increased attention to the quality of life in breast cancer survivors. More women are undergoing breast reconstruction immediately after mastectomy, which seems to reduce the psychological impact of treatment. The new study is one of the first to look at how personality factors might affect patient satisfaction and quality of life after mastectomy and breast reconstruction.

The results suggest that some personality characteristics have an important impact on psychological recovery after breast cancer treatment. Based on their findings, “A preoperative personality assessment of patients requiring breast reconstruction will be useful to identify predictive factors of better subjective quality of life after surgery,” Dr. Bellino and colleagues believe. Such an assessment could help to identify women who could benefit from a brief course of psychotherapy during the period after reconstruction, with the goals of “preventing depressive symptoms and improving interpersonal relations.”

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If you’re considering breast augmentation, it is important to be an active participant in the process. The ASPS has developed the following list of questions to ask during your consultation:

  • Are you certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery?
  • Were you trained specifically in the field of plastic surgery?
  • How many years of plastic surgery training have you had?
  • Do you have hospital privileges to perform this procedure?
  • Is the office-based surgical facility accredited by a nationally-or state-recognized accrediting agency, or is it state-licensed or Medicare-certified?
  • Am I a good candidate for breast enhancement or breast enlargement?
  • What will be expected of me to get the best results?
  • Where and how will you perform my breast augmentation surgery?
  • What shape, size, surface texturing, incision site and placement site are recommended for me?
  • How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
  • What are the risks and complications associated with my procedure?
  • How many additional implant-related operations can I expect over my lifetime?
  • How will my ability to breastfeed be affected?
  • How can I expect my implanted breasts to look over time?
  • What are my options if I am dissatisfied with the cosmetic outcome of my implanted breasts?
  • How will my breasts look if I choose to have the implants removed in the future without replacement?
  • Do you have breast augmentation before-and-after photos I can look at for this procedure and what results are reasonable for me?
  • If so, at which hospitals?
  • How are complications handled?
  • After pregnancy? After breastfeeding?
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