Author Archive

Concierge Medicine

A better buy than insurance

For Cynthia Lopresti, having easy access to a primary care provider who understands her is more than a convenience. It’s a lifeline. This prerequisite guided her choice of provider when she and her family relocated to the bay area.

Michael Zimmer, MD, of Zimmer Medical Services in St. Petersburg discusses high insurance costs versus concierge medicine. He also treats Cynthia Lopresti for her primary care needs.

Cynthia likes how Dr. Zimmer listens to his patients.

“I have multiple medical issues,” explains the Miami native. “I need a physician who will work with me, who is willing to listen to someone who’s very outspoken and informed about her medical problems. I need a doctor who will always be there to help me.”

Cynthia found that physician in Michael A. Zimmer, MD, a board-certified internist with Zimmer Medical Services in St. Petersburg.

“I found Zimmer Medical Services through my insurance,” she describes. “I interviewed Dr. Zimmer, and he was open to working with all my chronic health issues, so I signed up with him. That was about twelve years ago.”

In February of this year, Dr. Zimmer converted his traditional internal medicine practice to a model of medical practice called concierge medicine. The concierge model is based on a limited membership, so physicians can spend more time with patients. It also allows for more and easier access to the physicians.

That is the feature that sold Cynthia on Dr. Zimmer’s practice change.

“With my health issues, a concierge program works great because I’m able to communicate with Dr. Zimmer at any time,” she states. “I can email him or call him day or night if I have a problem. That’s a huge asset to me.”

Affordable Model

As in Dr. Zimmer’s practice, concierge medicine is generally an option of primary care providers, who offer the most commonly used medical services. For most people who use these services, concierge medicine is more cost-effective than insurance.

“With the cost of insurance and high deductible plans, patients often have to pay a lot of money out of pocket to meet those deductibles,” observes Dr. Zimmer. “With concierge medicine, there’s a set monthly or annual fee, and oftentimes, it’s much lower than patients’ deductibles. This makes the concierge option more affordable than insurance.

“Patients then purchase a low-cost plan to cover less common specialist visits, emergencies and hospitalizations.”

“I was apprehensive in the beginning because I had Blue Cross/Blue Shield through the Affordable Care Act,” describes Cynthia. “I worked with Blue Cross to get a different plan that was affordable, so I could also do the concierge program with Dr. Zimmer. It was worth it to continue with him because of my multiple health issues.

“Doing it this way, I can remain with my current primary physician, because my biggest concern was I wanted to stay with Dr. Zimmer. Period.”

Included in Dr. Zimmer’s concierge plan are routine physical exams and assessments for managing chronic medical conditions, as in Cynthia’s case. Patients get care for acute illnesses as well as preventive medical services. The doctor also provides many common procedures, including Pap smears, bone density tests and pulmonary function testing. In addition, he coordinates any tests and visits to specialists, if needed.

Dr. Zimmer’s concierge program provides his patients easy access to him. Like Cynthia, they can consult with him via cell phone or email if they have questions or concerns. When patients do go to the office, he devotes substantial time to their appointments. Instead of a fifteen-minute visit, he spends thirty to sixty minutes with them.Michael Zimmer, MD, of Zimmer Medical Services in St. Petersburg discusses high insurance costs versus concierge medicine. He also treats Cynthia Lopresti for her primary care needs.

“Now, I can spend time with my patients,” confirms Dr. Zimmer, “and the patients can see me instead of seeing the nurse practitioner. In addition, I’m able to check in on my patients if they’re in the hospital. I never would have that opportunity before.”

Phenomenal Report

Not only does Cynthia manage her own chronic health conditions, she also is the primary caregiver for her aging mother and ailing husband. As a caregiver, she’s in regular contact with many doctors’ offices for her family members. In her experience, none rates as high as Zimmer Medical Services.

“I have not come across an office that is as easy to work with as Dr. Zimmer’s practice,” she states. “I never have a worry. I know if I call them I’m not going to have a problem. That’s a wonderful feeling.”

With the concierge model, physicians also have more time for continuing education and staying current. Cynthia admires that Dr. Zimmer is up-to-date on all of the new technologies and medications. She appreciates the doctor’s approach to her care as well.”

“Dr. Zimmer is conservative, which is very important, and he doesn’t rush to judgment,” she reports. “He listens. He takes his time and is very thorough.

“I think Dr. Zimmer is a fantastic human being and a phenomenal physician,” she adds. “He is compassionate and caring, and he has the best staff I’ve ever encountered in any physician’s practice. They’re really great people. They’re very concerned and thoughtful. They all give wonderful care.

“I recommend Dr. Zimmer and Zimmer Medical Services to anybody.”

Endovenous Ablation of Bulging Leg Veins

As regional human resources director for Brookdale Senior Living Solutions, Steve Martinez covers facilities in Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. Despite the traveling, the Key West native finds his work very gratifying.

Dr. Vijay Narasimha of Surgical Associates of Tampa Bay in Brandon treated Steve Martinez for venous disease using endovenous ablation with radiofrequency waves.

Steve and Shadow take a break from running around.

“I love my job,” shares Steve. “I get to interact with many different individuals and with the residents as well. I feel very blessed and rewarded by my work because I actually make an impact on people’s lives.”

Steve lectures and provides staff training. That keeps him on his feet for long periods of time. His job also requires a lot of walking at the various facilities and flying throughout the territory he serves. These activities put pressure on his existing varicose veins and caused other, serious symptoms in his legs.

“The problem with my legs was not just aesthetic,” he emphasizes. “It was truly a medical issue. There were times where the veins bulged, and my legs were black and blue from the varicose veins; but by the end of the day, I was also in severe pain.

“By the time I rested after work, I had a lot of leg swelling. I’d wake up at two o’clock in the morning with both legs cramping up on me, and it was difficult to relax those muscles. The cramping was horrible, and the pain was sharp, like needles, especially in my lower legs.”

Steve tried to treat his discomfort using heat and ice, but got little relief. He discussed the problems with his primary care provider, who suggested he visit a specialist in vein disorders. His doctor recommended Vijay B. Narasimha, MD, of Surgical Associates of Tampa Bay in Brandon. Dr. Narasimha also got a stamp of approval from Steve’s wife.

“My wife worked for Brandon Hospital, so she knew many of the physicians,” explains Steve. “She said Dr. Narasimha was definitely somebody I wanted to see. So, I had a referral from my wife as well as my primary care provider.

“I went to see Dr. Narasimha, and I loved being in his office. He had a great bedside manner, and his staff was phenomenal. They all gave great customer service and made me feel really relaxed.”

Venous Disease

Dr. Narasimha describes how the human circulatory system is made up of two types of blood vessels. Arteries bring oxygen-rich blood down from the heart, and veins take oxygen-depleted blood back up. There’s a difference in how the two types of vessels keep blood flowing.

“Unlike arteries, veins don’t have peripheral pumps to keep blood moving,” informs the doctor. “Instead, they use the action of the leg muscles. Every step we take squeezes the blood and gives it a momentary push. When we pick up our feet, however, the muscles relax, and the blood has a tendency to flow backward.

“Veins are built with valves to prevent blood from coming back, but over the years, for various reasons, these valves become dysfunctional and begin to leak. As a consequence, there’s enormous pressure on the veins, which interrupts smooth blood flow, dilates the veins and makes them leak fluid into the surrounding tissues. This is the sequela venous disease.

One effect of venous disease is that the pressure causes the veins to enlarge and elongate. With no place to go in the legs, these veins become very tortuous. This results in a common symptom of venous disease: varicose veins. Other symptoms of venous disease include swelling, cramping, burning, heaviness, discoloration, pain and ulcers on the skin.

“Steve presented to me with a history of leg pain and swelling that had been ongoing for several months,” reports Dr. Narasimha. “He was also cramping at night. Before coming to me, he tried compression stockings at the recommendation of his primary care physician, but those did not provide him much relief.Dr. Vijay Narasimha of Surgical Associates of Tampa Bay in Brandon treated Steve Martinez for venous disease using endovenous ablation with radiofrequency waves.

“We performed an ultrasound and identified his great saphenous vein, the superficial vein running down the length of the leg, as his most problematic. I recommended an endovenous ablation using radiofrequency waves.”

During an endovenous ablation, Dr. Narasimha inserts a catheter into the target vein, and radiofrequency waves are delivered through the tip of the catheter. The waves generate heat energy that causes the vein to shrink, closing it. Other veins in the leg continue returning blood to the heart.

“Dr. Narasimha did an evaluation and determined I would benefit from surgery,” relates Steve. “He did one leg first, let that recover and then did the other leg. During the procedure, he inserted a probe, cauterized some of the veins and diverted the blood so the flow would be more consistent.

“I haven’t had a single cramp since then.”

According to Dr. Narasimha, most patients report feeling remarkably well at their initial postoperative visit, which generally takes place a week to ten days after surgery.

“At that time, nine out of ten patients say they have no pain and most of their symptoms are essentially gone,” he notes.

In Training

Steve recovered quickly. Today, he feels much better and has no trouble being on his feet. He even put his legs up to a challenge.Dr. Vijay Narasimha of Surgical Associates of Tampa Bay in Brandon treated Steve Martinez for venous disease using endovenous ablation with radiofrequency waves.

“My legs feel remarkable now,” he raves. “All of my symptoms have been resolved. I recently trained and completed a 5K walk for Moffitt Cancer Center. I would not have completed this walk without having the vein treatment.”

Although he wouldn’t model them for photographs, Steve’s legs look much healthier as well. The ugly varicose veins are gone, as well as the unsightly discoloration. The condition of his legs overall has improved.

“I’m not a spring chicken anymore, so my legs aren’t all that attractive,” he confirms, “but my veins no longer bulge, my legs are no longer black and blue and there’s no more swelling or pain.”

Not only is Steve happy about the results of his treatment, he’s also thrilled by his entire experience at Surgical Associates of Tampa Bay. He gives kudos to the surgeon and his staff.

“I think part of the overall treatment is the way you’re treated as a patient,” says Steve. “Dr. Narasimha and his staff were professional, friendly and engaging.

“The care Dr. Narasimha provided was top-notch. His staff was very accommodating and reassuring. They helped me through the process because I was nervous about the surgery. It’s not a complicated surgery, but surgery is surgery.

“My vein procedure was one hundred percent successful. I feel as if I’ve never had a problem with my legs.”

FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo by Fred Bellet. Running photo courtesy of Steve Martinez. mkb

Kids Get Arthritis, Too

July 17th, 2017

Arthritis is often associated with age, and when I say “age,” we usually think of people getting arthritis as they get older. But that’s not the complete picture. The Arthritis Foundation reports that an estimated 300,000 children in the US suffer from a form of the disease known as juvenile arthritis.Support Children with Rheumatoid Arthritis

July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month. This is a good time to learn more about this childhood affliction. There are many types of juvenile arthritis, but we’ll concentrate on the most common form, juvenile idiopathic arthritis or juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

When something is referred to as idiopathic, it means the exact cause of the problem is unknown. Experts do know that juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, a disorder that leads the body’s own protective immune system to attack healthy cells and tissues. This disorder causes inflammation in the tissue that lines the inside of joints, leading to pain and dysfunction.

Each of the different forms of juvenile arthritis has its own set of signs and symptoms, but some of the most common symptoms, especially with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis include:

  • Joint stiffness, especially in the morning
  • Pain and tenderness
  • Joint swelling
  • Redness and warmth
  • Limping and difficulty walking
  • Reduced activity level
  • Difficulty doing daily activities

Juvenile arthritis can affect one or many joints. In addition, it can also affect the eyes, skin, muscles and gastrointestinal tract. Juvenile arthritis afflicts children of any age, but most often occurs in those age 16 or younger.

Diagnosing juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can be a challenge. Early in the course of the disease, pain may be minimal and joint swelling may not be obvious. There are no tests to diagnose the problem, and a blood test that helps diagnose rheumatoid arthritis in adults is not definitive for children. The diagnosis is made based on your child’s medical history, the physical examination and the exclusion of other possible reasons for the symptoms.

If you suspect juvenile arthritis, it’s best to contact a specialist in arthritic conditions, such as a pediatric rheumatologist. The doctor is actually part of a team providing care to your child. Other members of the team include physical and occupational therapists, nurses, possibly a social worker, and other doctors to treat problems associated with the arthritis.

There is no cure for juvenile arthritis. However if it is diagnosed early on and the proper treatment is given, the condition can go into remission. That’s when your child has responded well to treatment and no longer has symptoms. The disease is still there, it just isn’t active.

The goals of treatment for juvenile arthritis are to control symptoms, prevent joint damage and maintain function. The treatments used are aimed at relieving pain, reducing swelling and increasing joint mobility and strength. While each form of juvenile arthritis has its own treatment, care for rheumatoid arthritis generally includes targeted exercises, medication and a healthy lifestyle.

Your child may be the one with juvenile arthritis, but it affects the entire family. But family members can help by being supportive and treating the child as normally as possible. Here are some other things you can do, courtesy of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases:

  • Get to know your child’s disease. Learn all you can about it.
  • Consider joining a juvenile arthritis support group.
  • Encourage your child to do the exercises taught by the physical and occupation therapists.
  • Stay in touch with your child’s school to help make school tasks as easy as possible.
  • Most of all, keep an open dialogue with your child about the disease, its symptoms and treatments.

Reversing Neuropathy

Noninvasive treatment conquers painful syndrome.

As an administrator of a private Christian school, it’s clear St. Augustine native Lynne Gregory loves kids and devotes her life to them.  She’s also the mother of seven kids of her own: twin boys, two stepchildren and three adopted daughters.

Dr. Thomas LeBeau of Neurogenx™ Nerve Center of St. Augustine in St. Augustine treated Lynne Gregory for neuropathy.

Lynne’s love of children
extends to her students.

Six years ago, Lynne’s life was threatened by a serious disease, but saving her life left her in pain and nearly disabled.

“In 2011, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent chemotherapy,” shares Lynne. “After about the fourth chemo treatment, I noticed a change in my feet. It became painful for me to walk. After a couple more treatments, it was very noticeable that there was a serious problem with my feet.”

Lynne’s oncologist diagnosed her with peripheral neuropathy caused by the chemotherapy. With neuropathy, the peripheral nerves that run from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body are injured. Common symptoms include pain, burning, tingling, numbness, and a pins and needles sensation that occurs most often in the feet.

“My neuropathy manifested itself mostly as pain,” describes Lynne. “I did have some tingling, but not much numbness. The pain in my feet felt like I was walking on rocks. It took me a long time to get going because pain was shooting through me. If I sat down and tried to stand back up, it was excruciating.

“I also suffered from extreme itching, but it wasn’t typical surface itching. It was deep within my feet.”

Trying to find a solution, Lynne looked in many directions. Over the years, she visited a podiatrist and a neurologist, went through physical therapy and used transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). She also tried at least ten medications at different dosages, but none of these treatments brought much relief. The pain soon affected her daily life and routines.

“Everything we do, we do as a family, such as walking, playing and taking trips to Walt Disney World®,” she states. “The neuropathy significantly impacted these activities with my family because I had to take high doses of pain medications just to keep going.”

After all the treatments she tried had failed, Lynne went back to her oncologist. The doctor told Lynne about a new neuropathy program available at Neurogenx Nerve Center of St. Augustine. Lynne was excited by the prospect of a new treatment and made an appointment with Thomas A. LeBeau, DPM, at Neurogenx right away.

“I met Dr. LeBeau, and he performed a complete evaluation,” recalls Lynne. “He quickly realized I had tried everything and nothing helped. He also asked about my quality of life. When I went back for my second appointment, he told me I was accepted into the program.”

Electrical Solution

There are different varieties of peripheral neuropathy, explains Dr. LeBeau. Common causes of neuropathy include diabetes and exposure to toxic chemicals, including the medications used in chemotherapy.

“Our nerves are very sensitive to nutrition, oxygen availability and how the body metabolizes food and fuel,” he elaborates. “In cases like diabetes, it’s a metabolic problem. The nerves are not getting what they need and are affected by the imbalance in a person’s metabolism.

“With chemotherapy, the chemical agents used to fight cancer cause a breakdown of and damage to the nerves, especially the tiny nerves at the surface of the skin. People who have been exposed to pesticides, Agent Orange, jet fuel, heavy metals, etcetera are also susceptible to neuropathies.”

Until Neurogenx, the most common treatment for neuropathy was medication. In Lynne’s case, she had been taking an opioid and a nerve pain medication. Unfortunately, as with many patients, these drugs affected her ability to function normally.

“For decades, the treatment for neuropathy was pharmacological, using medications such as LYRICA® and gabapentin,” acknowledges Dr. LeBeau. “These treatments just covered up the symptoms. The problem is, the nervous system is an electrical system, and we were trying to treat it with chemistry.

“Neurogenx approaches the problem from a physics standpoint. Electrical problems are treated with an electrical solution. The Neurogenx treatment uses
computer-generated wave patterns of electrical energy and applies them to the nerves. This energy initiates changes at the cellular level, and enables the nerves to revive, regenerate and actually regrow.”

Changes that occur at the cellular level include a reduction in swelling, the removal of excess fluid and waste products, a leveling out of pH and an increase in cellular metabolism. These alterations relieve pain, enable healing and restore function.

I was skeptical of the treatment at first, but once I got into it and started seeing results, I thought, Wow, this may be the trick,” comments Lynne. “It turned my skepticism around.”

“Neurogenx is non-narcotic, nonsurgical and noninvasive,” notes
Dr. LeBeau. “It is not painful, and its electrical energy is applied over a period of weeks to revive those nerves back to their previous working state.”

A full course of treatment with Neurogenx is generally 24 sessions, with some patients going longer for follow-up treatment. About four sessions into her treatment, Lynne started to notice significant changes in her condition.

“The pain level lessened, and the itching subsided,” she reports. “Now, the itching has gone away, and the pain has decreased immensely, so I don’t need to take as much pain medication. In fact, I changed my prescription altogether.”

“After going through the treatment, Lynne was able to cut down on the number of medications she was taking, and eliminate the nerve pain medication entirely,” confirms Dr. LeBeau. “The last time I saw her, she was almost completely off of the pain medication as well.

“From a medical practitioner’s standpoint, it is very gratifying for me to provide this treatment after more than twenty-five years of treating neuropathy the old way using drugs.”

Good Bad Days

The Neurogenx treatment changed Lynne’s life in a very positive way. She feels her results are excellent, and she now lives with minimal pain, sometimes no pain at all. She ranks her pain level now at a one or two at the most.

Dr. Thomas LeBeau of Neurogenx™ Nerve Center of St. Augustine in St. Augustine treated Lynne Gregory for neuropathy.

“Neurogenx is non-narcotic, nonsurgical
and noninvasive.”
– Dr. LeBeau

“If I’m highly stressed, don’t eat well or am on my feet a lot, they will sometimes hurt,” she describes, “but even my bad days now are not as bad as my good days were.”

Not only is Lynne thrilled about her results, she’s also delighted by her entire experience at Neurogenx. She thinks everybody there provided excellent and friendly care.

“Dr. LeBeau is awesome, and he’s got a top-notch staff,” she says. “They’re very educated, knowledgeable and personable. And their treatment was a success.

“I absolutely recommend Neurogenx Nerve Center of St. Augustine – and their treatment – to anyone with neuropathy!”

For Lynne, it was very emotional to live in excruciating pain all the time. Since her Neurogenx treatment, her life is back on track, and she’s able to spend more time with her children.

“I don’t have to take a break from my family,” she relates. “We can plan trips together, walk and play, and I don’t have to worry about whether or not I can keep up. I’m able to be a part of the activities again. It’s great.”

FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo by Jordan Pysz. Graphic from mkb

Humbled by HPV

July 10th, 2017

Photo Courtesy of iStockphoto.comHuman papilloma virus, or HPV, is a bad dude, and actually quite common. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are about 79 million Americans currently infected with HPV. That adds up to about four in ten American adults currently infected, and about 14 million new infections occurring each year.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) explains that HPV is actually a family of more than 200 related viruses. More than 40 types of HPV can be easily spread through direct sexual contact, including vaginal, anal and oral sex.

Genital HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. It’s been referred to as the “common cold” of sexually transmitted infections.

The NCI adds that nearly all sexually active men and women get HPV at some point. They estimate more than 90 percent of sexually active men and 80 percent of sexually active women will be infected with at least one type of HPV during their lifetimes.

In the sexually transmitted HPV group are viruses that cause warts on the skin on or near the genitals of the infected person. These are low risk for causing more serious disorders such as cancer. Other types of HPV viruses are high risk for leading to cancer.

In most cases, the immune system can battle the viruses and flush them from the body without causing any problems. These viruses occur without symptoms and go away within one to two years. However, some can hang on for many years, and if it’s a high-risk virus, it could progress to cancer.

The low-risk types of HPV can cause the genital warts, which often appear as a small bump or group of bumps that your doctor can diagnose on sight. The high-risk types of HPV can lead to cancer in areas such as the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus and back of the throat. Routine screening is needed to detect these cancers in their early, most treatable stages.

Fortunately, there is a vaccine against HPV, and it’s making a difference. Since it’s introduction in 2006, there has been a significant reduction of genital HPV in teenage girls and young women. In the first group, HPV infection has dropped 60 percent, and in the second group, it dropped 34 percent. This has decreased the risk of cervical cancer considerably.

The target for the HPV vaccine is young girls and boys. The current recommendation is for all children aged 11 or 12 to receive the two-dose vaccine. The idea is to give the vaccine before these children become sexually active and more likely to be infected by and spread the virus.

Catch-up vaccines are recommended for males through age 21 and females through age 26 if they were not vaccinated when they were younger. Vaccination is also recommended for people with compromised immune systems through age 26.

Many primary care doctors don’t include the HPV vaccine as part of a child’s regular vaccination schedule, so many American children don’t get it. According to Electra Paskett, a cancer control researcher at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, “The vaccine has the potential to prevent 30,000 cases of cancer each year and is woefully underused.”

There are other steps you can take to help protect yourself against HPV infection. They include using condoms correctly every time you have sex and getting your routine cancer screenings as recommended by your doctor.

Body Flab Be Gone!

Problem fat cells fall victim to painless process.

Jim Kohler fought a battle with cancer – and won. In 2015, he was diagnosed with Stage 3 lymphoma, but after combatting it for nearly two years, he was declared cancer free in August 2016. He was elated by his recovery and spent the following months eating and drinking in celebration.Jim Kohler lost pounds and inches using Dr. Tred’s Ultimate Laser-Assisted Weight Loss System at Slim Body Laser Spa in Stuart.

Jim’s reveling upended his generally healthy diet, affecting his weight, yet he’s always been an active man. For 38 years, he delivered mail in his native Buffalo, NY. Even now, after retiring and moving to Florida, he plays golf, rides his bike and lifts weights, but he noticed changes in his body that made him unhappy.

“I didn’t like the way I was looking,” states Jim. “I had big love handles and a belly. I’m five feet nine inches tall and weighed one hundred ninety-nine pounds. When you add weight, you feel it in your knees and everywhere else.

“My pants pockets were bulging. I bought three pairs of shorts with forty-inch waists, and I thought, This is really getting crazy.”

Late last year, Jim discovered the perfect solution to his flab and weight woes while waiting at his physician’s office for a post-cancer follow-up appointment. He found an article about the Ultimate Laser-Assisted Weight Loss System offered by Tred Rissacher, DC, of Slim Body Laser Spa in Stuart. The testimonial by Dr. Tred himself made a big impression on Jim.

“I was getting my checkup in December when I grabbed a copy of Florida Health Care News,” confirms Jim. “I was reading about Dr. Tred from Slim Body Laser Spa, and I said, If it worked for him, I’ll give it a shot. I went to Slim Body two days before Christmas.”

Session Specifics

“When I first met Dr. Tred, he set some goals for me to meet and explained everything that was going to happen,” shares Jim. “That’s when I had my first treatment.”

Patients receive nine 30-minute laser sessions in three weeks as part of Dr. Tred’s Ultimate Laser-Assisted Weight Loss System. The laser uses eight little “paddles” that house the laser energy. Each paddle is about the size of a cell phone. The laser energy is cool, does not heat up and there is no discomfort.Jim Kohler lost pounds and inches using Dr. Tred’s Ultimate Laser-Assisted Weight Loss System at Slim Body Laser Spa in Stuart.

“There was nothing to the treatment sessions,” agrees Jim. “There was no pain, no heat, no cold, nothing. I just lay there for half an hour for three weeks listening to classical music.”

During each laser session, a staff member places the paddles on the specific areas to be reduced. These areas are treated at each session. After the 30-minute laser session is completed, patients are encouraged to go to a wonderful area called the whole body vibration room.

“The whole body vibration treatment, along with drinking plenty of water and doing some mild exercise following the laser session, helps the body release the stubborn fat and burn calories at the same time,” explains Dr. Tred. “Whole body vibration is an important part of the program, especially for those who have difficulty finding time to exercise, since the whole body vibration helps in the fat-reducing, inch-loss process.”

Safe and Natural

More than 3,500 people have shed thousands of stubborn pounds and inches over the past four years with the help of Dr. Tred’s Ultimate Laser-Assisted Weight Loss System. Dr. Tred’s system succeeds when other attempts at weight loss have failed. The difference is the laser, which works directly on the problem fat cells.

“Laser energy, when applied to the body, safely causes microscopic pores to form in the fat cells,” informs Dr. Tred. “The fat leaks out and is absorbed by the body. It is then burned as energy or removed from the body safely and naturally.

“Most people want to get the fat off safely with good nutrition, minimum exercise and no downtime,” adds the doctor. “This laser treatment is an effective method that doesn’t take long. In a series of nine thirty-minute sessions, patients can lose three to nine inches of belly fat, and their health can improve dramatically. This allows for a long-term solution to keeping the weight off.”

Dr. Tred does mention, however, that diet modification and some exercise can help the process to be more sustaining.

“Patients do need to eat right and exercise in order for the results from these treatments to be long-lasting,” he acknowledges. “If people follow the entire plan, they will be more than happy with the results they see.”

Jim understands the benefits of exercising.

“I belong to a fitness center that’s right down the street from the auto parts store where I work,” he reports. “I also belong to SilverSneakers® at the gym. There, I ride the bike or do the treadmill and lift weights.”

Smooth Pockets

Slim Body Laser Spa in Stuart is not close by Jim’s Fort Pierce home. However, with the results he was getting from Dr. Tred’s laser system, Jim had no qualms about traveling to get there.

Jim Kohler lost pounds and inches using Dr. Tred’s Ultimate Laser-Assisted Weight Loss System at Slim Body Laser Spa in Stuart.

Jim’s now wearing his “skinny clothes.”

“It’s about thirty-three miles each way from my house to Slim Body Laser Spa,” he comments, “but I didn’t mind the drive because I noticed right off the bat that my clothes started fitting better.”

As Jim continued with his treatment sessions, more improvement became evident. After he completed his nine laser sessions, Jim realized a dramatic difference in his body.

“I was one hundred ninety-nine pounds when I started at Slim Body,” he describes. “This morning, I weighed one hundred eighty-three. After nine sessions in three weeks, I’m down sixteen pounds and eight inches overall.

“Now, the love handles are gone. I lost in my middle, right at my beltline and right below my beltline. Those are the three areas they measured. In those spots, I’m down three, two and three inches.”

The changes in Jim’s body affect his wardrobe. He was thrilled when he had to return the shorts he bought with the 40-inch waists and go back to his “skinny clothes.”

“Everything fits better,” he offers. “I even had to put an extra hole in my belt. The other day, I put on a pair of old thirty-sixes I hadn’t been able to wear in a while. They fit perfectly. And my pockets don’t bulge; they lie smooth.”

Jim battled cancer and won, so he was in his physician’s office for a standard follow-up visit. Thanks to what he discovered there, he was able to fight a battle with stubborn body fat and win that one, too.

“I feel great,” says Jim. “This all happened because I went for my cancer checkup and picked up Florida Health Care News. When I read the article, I knew I had to give Slim Body a shot. I did and I’m glad I did.

“I’ve already told other people about it. In fact, Dr. Tred had me on his radio show. I absolutely recommend Dr. Tred and Slim Body Laser Spa. I am completely thrilled with them!”

FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photos by Nerissa Johnson. Stock photo from Before and after images courtesy of Slim Body Laser Spa. mkb

Wine: Healthy or Hype?

July 3rd, 2017

Photo courtesy of #516799356I’ll be honest. I’m a big fan of red wine and enjoy a glass most evenings. So it was especially interesting to me to read some different views on the possible health benefits of drinking wine.

There have been many studies done on the effects of alcohol consumption during the past five decades. Most of them report on the benefits and risks of drinking alcohol, including wine, in moderation.

Moderation is defined as one drink per day for women and up to two per day for men. A “drink” is 12 ounces of regular beer, 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits and 5 ounces of wine (not the whole glass!). Men can consume more because they are generally bigger and metabolize alcohol faster than women.

A number of those studies have shown that, if consumed in moderation, alcohol, specifically wine, can improve health, especially heart health. One study, released in 2003, found men who were moderate drinkers were 30 percent to 35 percent less likely to have a heart attack than those who didn’t drink at all.

Another study, from 2016, showed moderate drinking was associated with a 23 percent lower risk of heart disease in women. Additionally, alcohol consumption has been linked to a 30 percent to 40 percent reduction in the risk of Type 2 diabetes. In this article, wine is credited with numerous other health benefits, from reducing the risk of dementia to protecting against sunburn and more.

Several studies found it’s the ethanol in wine that’s beneficial. It can increase HDL, or “good” cholesterol, improve insulin sensitivity and slow down the blood’s clotting ability. It can also decrease inflammation inside the arteries.

Red wine is the target of many studies on the benefits of drinking alcohol. It contains a chemical called resveratrol and other antioxidants. Red wine provides all of the mentioned benefits and more. Researchers found resveratrol also helps make arteries more flexible, lowering blood pressure. Some suggested it can help people live longer, which caused a surge in the resveratrol supplement business.

Don’t uncork a bottle yet. Some more recent studies have suggested wine isn’t the health miracle some people purport it to be. One study, released in March 2017, reanalyzed a number of long-term studies on alcohol and mortality. The researchers discovered the leaders of the studies they reviewed overestimated the benefits of drinking.

What they found was a bias in how the researchers defined abstainers, those who stayed away from drinking. The study’s coauthor noted this group included people whose poor health led them to cut down or stop drinking. In light of this, the health and life expectancy of the moderate drinkers appeared especially good. He suggested, in reality, the risks of drinking are the same for everyone and are more significant than previously estimated.

Another study, this one from April 2017 and reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, had bad news for proponents of red wine. The study authors noted that resveratrol did not help people live longer, nor did it help them avoid cancer or heart disease.5

This study followed nearly 800 people age 65 and older living in two small villages in Tuscany, Italy. It found that consumption of red wine had no effect on life expectancy, and if it had any benefit at all, it didn’t appear linked to resveratrol. So much for the supplement business!

Some other studies have shown alcohol consumption increases the risk for cancer. A 2015 study found drinkers had a 2 percent to 6 percent higher risk. In another, a couple drinks a day was linked to a 26 percent increase in liver, colon and esophageal cancers in men. Women had a 10 percent increased risk for breast cancer.

You might think the big reduction in risk of heart disease outweighs the negatives associated with drinking alcohol, and that’s fine. Every article I read on this subject, however, ended the same way: with a reminder if you do decide to drink, do it in moderation. And don’t forget to eat right and exercise to get the best health benefits for your heart – and the rest of your body.


Back on the Trail

Fine-tuned program gets optimal results

Every year, retired nurse Don Esposito heads out to hike the mountains and trails of the Western United States. He hikes at home in Florida, too. Hiking is one of his favorite activities, along with biking and dancing. But on his last big hike, Don’s problem right knee finally gave out on him.

Dr. Vance Askins performed a total knee replacement due to arthritis on Don Esposito at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center in Bradenton.

Biking is no problem for Don with his new right knee.

“The problem was originally a high school football injury,” shares the New Jersey native. “I actually went into the service with the bad knee and had no problem in the infantry as long as I kept it strong. It just wore out over the years.

“Last year, I went out west and did eleven national parks. I started to have trouble hiking on the trails because there was climbing involved. It was something I did for many years despite my knee. I just learned to deal with it. This time, it got to the point I just couldn’t do it anymore.

“I had pain, but not a lot; I just had no strength in my knee. I could dance, but I couldn’t jump or do anything that required getting my knee up. I couldn’t climb steps properly. I had to go with the other knee first.”

Due to his medical background, Don was aware he needed to have his knee replaced. However, he believed the longer he put off surgery, the more advanced the technology and techniques for joint replacement would become. Now, the waiting was over. He finally accepted it was time to get the procedure done.

“Everybody says, You’ll know yourself when it’s time to get it done,” states Don. “I had been working in rehab for the last ten years, so I asked my therapist which physician I should choose.”

The therapist recommended Roland “Vance” Askins, MD, of Askins & Miller Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, a local practice that works closely with Lakewood Ranch Medical Center in Bradenton.

Structured Resources

“When Don came to see me, he had an arthritic knee that caused a varus deformity, or a bow leg,” describes
Dr. Askins. “His condition failed to respond to conservative medical measures, and was really affecting his quality of life. That’s the key indication for performing a total knee replacement, which I did.

“Don’s anterior cruciate and posterior cruciate, the main stabilizing ligaments in the knee, had also degenerated, giving him outer knee laxity. The replacement implants stabilized the knee in place of those degenerated ligaments, and the surgery corrected his bow leg deformity.”

Don was pleased with the surgery itself. He liked that Dr. Askins didn’t put him under general anesthesia.

“He gave me just enough anesthesia to put me to sleep so I didn’t remember the surgery,” relates Don. “When I woke up, the nurse told me to drink something. I could eat and drink right afterward. That doesn’t happen with general anesthesia.”

“I’m able to use interoperative measures for anesthesia, such as adductor nerve blocks and intra-articular injections at the time of closure,”
Dr. Askins explains. “That’s how I address the discomfort after surgery – the pain in the tissues around the knee, such as the skin, muscles and ligaments. The pain is from a soft-tissue disruption that occurs during the procedure.”

“I really like Dr. Askins,” notes Don, “and his work is outstanding. I was happy with Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, as well. I checked their rate of infections, and they have almost none. That’s probably why Dr. Askins does his surgeries at Lakewood Ranch.”

In addition to the low infection rate, Dr. Askins likes the surgical resources available to him at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center. That’s another motivation for performing his surgeries at the Bradenton hospital.

The physician especially likes the comprehensive, structured program for surgical patients provided through The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center, Lakewood Ranch’s 21-bed orthopaedic unit dedicated to the care of people having spine and joint surgery, including joint replacement. The program adheres to specific guidelines designed to initiate rehabilitation and enhance patient recovery.

“Lakewood Ranch has excellent protocols for all physicians, nurses and therapists to follow,” observes Dr. Askins. “The staff in The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center operates through a very uniform system that benefits everyone.”

Part of the postsurgical protocol is group physical therapy. It’s shown to have a beneficial effect on patients, as they typically urge each other to participate and complete the assigned exercises.

“It’s beneficial because the patients interact,” remarks Dr. Askins. “The group setting makes it a little competitive sometimes, but everyone is still going to improve at his or her own pace. What’s important is the patients ultimately reach their goals of getting good function out of their hip or knee replacement joints.”

“It was encouraging to see other people going through the same thing at the same time,” agrees Don. “It made me feel like I wasn’t being wimpy about it. I’m sixty-nine. There were some people my age in the group and some who were even older, and they handled the therapy really well.”

“The structured program in The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center is wonderful,” concludes Dr. Askins. “In addition to physical therapy, it includes pre-op education and addresses fall prevention and wound care postoperatively. As a result, the program has significantly decreased the number of people readmitted to the hospital for complications.”

Feel the Rhythm

Another part of The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center’s protocol is to get patients moving quickly following surgery. As a nurse, Don understood this helps prevent blood clots as well as aids with function of the replacement joint.Dr. Vance Askins performed a total knee replacement due to arthritis on Don Esposito at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center in Bradenton.

“I was up walking four hours after surgery, and therapy started right away,” confirms Don. “That’s the best thing to do with these types of surgeries. The worst thing is to not use the joint right away and have it lock up. The staff handled my post-op very well.”

The rest of Don’s recovery and rehabilitation went just as smoothly, and he’s now returned to his activities. He’s back to the trails and the dance floor, and his quality of life has increased significantly.

“I’m hiking again and having no trouble at all,” he reports. “I can dance, and we jitterbug and everything now. I’m also climbing stairs correctly. I climbed stairs the incorrect way for so long, I need to remind myself I don’t have to do that anymore.

“It takes about a year for a knee replacement to feel almost normal, but right now, mine feels like I never had anything done to it. The surgery was a wonderful success. My knee is really good, and I put a lot of mileage on it.”

Don credits his surgeon and the hospital for his successful knee replacement surgery and the exceptional outcome. He’s thrilled to let others know about them and his experience.

“I recommend Dr. Askins all the time,” he says. “I’ve always liked Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, and I would recommend it in a minute!”

FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo by Jordan Pysz. Graphics from mkb

Keeping Up Appearances

June 26th, 2017

Photo Courtesy of iStockphoto.comAs a nation, we’re almost obsessed with our looks. We’re always trying to improve our appearance, and many of us are dishing out some serious cash to do it. Here’s proof: According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), Americans spent $16 billion on surgical and minimally invasive cosmetic plastic surgery procedures in 2016.

What did all that money buy? With 290,467 procedures performed, breast augmentation was the most popular surgical cosmetic procedure last year. ASPS describes breast augmentation as a surgery that involves “using breast implants or fat to increase the size of the breasts, restore breast volume lost after weight reduction or pregnancy, achieve a more rounded shape, or improve natural breast size asymmetry.”

Other often-requested surgical procedures in 2016 were liposuction, with more than 235,000 surgeries performed; rhinoplasties, or “nose jobs,” with 223,000 procedures; and tummy tucks, with almost 128,000 procedures.

Liposuction removes excess fat deposits in target areas of the body, improving body contours and proportions. It also slims and reshapes the targeted areas. Rhinoplasty reshapes the nose. This surgery can make the nose larger or smaller, or it can adjust its angle in relation to the upper lip. During rhinoplasty, the surgeon can alter the tip of the nose, and correct defects such as bumps and indentations.

A tummy tuck, also called an abdominoplasty, is often used on people whose tummies bulge or are loose and sagging. During this surgery, the doctor can remove excess fat and skin from the tummy area. In many cases, the surgeon is also able to restore weakened or separated muscles, creating an abdomen that is flatter and firmer.

Additional surgeries that made the most popular list for last year include eyelid surgeries, or blepharoplasties, which lift drooping eyelids, and facelifts, which improve the appearance of sagging, wrinkled skin on the face and neck. There were more than 209,000 eyelid procedures and more than 131,000 facelifts performed in 2016.

In the minimally invasive arena, injections to treat wrinkles, such as those done with BOTOX® Cosmetic, top the popularity list, with 7 million procedures performed last year. Treatments like BOTOX Cosmetic block the nerve signals to the muscles so they can’t contract. This relaxes the wrinkles and makes the face smooth. Most often, they are used on crow’s feet, frown lines and deep furrows on the forehead.

Soft tissue fillers, such as those made with hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring substance, are second on the list of minimally invasive favorites. These fillers are injected into the face and lips to diminish lines and restore volume and fullness, resulting in a more youthful appearance. Last year, 2.6 million of these procedures were requested.

Other minimally invasive procedures that were popular in 2016 include chemical peels, with 1.36 million procedures performed; microdermabrasions, with 775,000 procedures; and laser treatments, with more than 650,000 treatments completed. Laser hair removal was also popular last year, requested in 1.1 million cases.

These are not the only cosmetic procedures, surgical and nonsurgical, available to enhance your overall appearance. Among the others are arm, thigh, brow, neck or even whole body lifts; ear and chin surgeries; and surgery to reduce breast tissue in males. Vaginal and buttocks enhancements are also growing more popular in this country. For another minimally invasive approach, there’s permanent makeup.

There are many cosmetic plastic surgery options, and many physicians performing them. Dr. Debra Johnson, president of ASPS, has a recommendation for anyone considering a procedure: “We always encourage patients to do their homework, make sure their plastic surgeon is board-certified and well-trained in the procedures the patient wants.”

Sounds like good advice.


Noninvasive Liposuction

Break up fat cells, reduce cellulite and tighten skin.

server at a local family restaurant, Patricia* meets a lot of people every day, so she always wants to look her best. When she noticed some flaws in her face and body, she became distressed at first – then inspired to act.Break up fat cells, reduce cellulite and tighten skin.

“I’ve always given to other people and let myself go,” admits the Florida native. “Now, I’m fifty-eight years old, and I’m getting some wrinkles. I’ve lost weight, and I used to lift weights, so my muscle tone is down. Both have given me saggy skin.

“I was getting very depressed when I saw myself in the mirror. I’m hard on myself anyway, but when I looked in the mirror, I thought, Ugh, I’ve got to do something. I’ve never done anything just for me, but I woke up one day and said, This is my year. This is my time.

Patricia didn’t have far to go to find help. Her neighbors are the parents of Christie J. Woods, owner and director of Weight 2 Go Health Center in Brooksville. Patricia heard Ms. Woods was performing body-rejuvenating miracles at her clinic and wondered if she might have a miracle or two for her. Christie made a great impression on Patricia when they met.

“I loved Christie,” remarks Patricia. “She’s a truly committed person. She has the same attitude as me. We don’t give up; we succeed. She has faith that whatever she says she can do, she can do. It’s going to happen.”

Christie told Patricia there was a nonsurgical solution to her concerns about loose skin and wrinkles. It’s called noninvasive liposuction, which uses radiofrequency energy to reduce fat and tone skin. She told Patricia she was a good candidate for the process and explained how it would be used to correct her specific problems.

Tri-Phased Solution

“When Patricia first came in for treatment, she had concerns about cellulite in her thighs and lax skin on her face, stomach and arms,” confirms Ms. Woods. “She had lost weight, so she had loose skin in those areas she wanted to tighten and firm.”Break up fat cells, reduce cellulite and tighten skin.

At Weight 2 Go Health Center, patients like Patricia can achieve their goals of toning and firming their bodies through noninvasive liposuction. The process is also effective at removing stubborn pockets of fat that often don’t budge with diet and exercise. The treatment works using heat in the form of radiofrequency energy.

“I decided to do a body overhaul,” describes Patricia. “After I had my first child, my stomach looked like a road map. My arms needed work because I used to lift weights, so I had a lot of skin that needed to be pulled back. I also had a lot of cellulite in my legs.

“For me, Christie suggested the suctioning and heat therapy from her liposuction machine.”

“The process has three phases that can be used,” explains Christie. “The first one is the cavitation phase, during which we focus on breaking up the fat cells in the patient’s problem areas. After that, there’s the vacuum phase, or suctioning, which sculpts and shapes the areas we’re addressing.”

During cavitation, the heat penetrates deep inside the skin to reach the patient’s fat cells and break them up. Any remnants of the cells are removed from the body through the urine and bowel movements. Suctioning uses the energy to minimize the appearance of cellulite and decrease the circumference and volume of the targeted areas.

“The last phase is radiofrequency,” continues Christie. “This focuses on tightening, toning and smoothing the skin. It works by promoting the growth of new collagen, a protein component of skin.”

The noninvasive liposuction treatments, Patricia soon learned, were simple and trouble free. She also discovered the process, which she is still completing, works quickly.

“There’s no pain whatsoever,” she offers. “I’m very relaxed when I’m in there; I could actually go to sleep. Nothing about it is uncomfortable. Some people might feel a little bit of a pull because the suctioning is strong, but it doesn’t bother me.”

Not all phases are used on every patient. For Patricia, the treatment focused first on sculpting and shaping her trouble spots and then on tightening and toning her loose skin. She didn’t require the cavitation phase, as she had no pockets of fat in her problem areas.

“There’s no downtime with noninvasive liposuction, and afterward, patients will just experience more frequent urination,” informs Christie. “That’s simply because the body is flushing out all of the byproducts of the process.

“Typically, we schedule six to eight treatment sessions. Patients generally see a difference after their first session and are eager to continue to see even more results.

“After Patricia’s first treatment, she burst into tears after seeing the results because she felt she would never get to see her body tight and firm again. She became very gung ho about continuing with the rest of her treatment sessions.”

“I’m really impressed by Weight 2 Go Health Center,” Patricia raves. “The total experience is wonderful, and I could see a difference in my body after the first day.”

Progressing Toward Goals

Results were visible after Patricia’s first noninvasive liposuction treatment, and she saw additional improvement as she continued with the process. She is amazed by the transformation of her face and body after just six sessions.Break up fat cells, reduce cellulite and tighten skin.

“In my face, I could see a difference right away,” marvels Patricia. “Now, quite a few of the wrinkles and the sagging are gone. It took a couple of treatments for my arms, but I can see a change. The cellulite in my legs has really started disappearing, and my stomach is one hundred percent Wow!

“Now, my stomach is much firmer. That alone makes me feel good because before, I wouldn’t even let my shirt go up. Now, it doesn’t faze me.”

The physical results Patricia has achieved have also impacted her emotionally. She no longer gets depressed when she sees her reflection in the mirror. Instead, she takes pride in her appearance and enjoys the quizzical looks on people’s faces when they see her.

“After the noninvasive liposuction, I feel one hundred percent better, and I have a lot more confidence,” she reports. “When I’m in public, people notice a change in me, but they’re not sure exactly what it is. They’ve noticed my face, but to them it’s not obvious because they see me every day. Still, they know something is different.”

Patricia is thrilled with how her treatment at Weight 2 Go Health Center is progressing and with what she’s achieved so far. However, she has a few words of advice for others who are noticing changes and flaws that don’t make them happy.

“I would tell people, Don’t wait so long. Do it,” she says. “I waited and didn’t take care of myself, so Christie had a lot of work to do on me. But if someone is just seeing problems, they need to treat them now. With noninvasive liposuction, their problems can be treated easily and at a relatively low cost.

“I definitely recommend Christie and Weight 2 Go Health Center. I wouldn’t go anywhere else!”

 *Patient name withheld at their request.
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