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Stretching Relief

Unique treatment alleviates pain and restores flexibility.

At 62, Raymond Way retired from his business in Rhode Island, and eventually fled the northern winters. Now 73 and living in Cape Coral, Raymond enjoys outdoor activities, including tennis and golf. He was dismayed when he injured a hamstring muscle in his right leg while golfing – twice.

Dr. Jeffrey P. Johnson of Johnson Medical Center in Venice treated Raymond Way for leg and back pain using Sedative Stretching.

Now, Raymond can get a
full golf swing.

“The first time I hurt it, I don’t remember the specific injury,” he says. “I was playing eighteen holes several times, and my leg just started really hurting, and I couldn’t play anymore.

“The second time, I felt it instantly. I was going back for a shot, and I was trying to get a little too much in the swing, and there was a shooting pain in my hamstring. I almost fell down. I knew I was in trouble.”

The injury stopped Raymond cold. He managed to make it off the golf course, but the pain didn’t subside. It began affecting him in his daily life as well as in his leisure activities.

“I had a very sharp pain in my upper right leg,” he describes. “I had difficulty walking, much less playing golf, and I was limping. When my hamstring tightened up, my back got fouled up, too.”

After the first incident, Raymond completed a course of physical therapy. He found the process long and arduous and not very effective, yet he agreed to another session of PT after the second injury at his orthopedic surgeon’s recommendation. It offered limited relief. Still struggling with pain in his right leg, Raymond tried a pain management program.

“As part of pain management, I was given an injectable steroid in the buttocks where the hamstring attaches,” he explains. “That worked, but in order to get to that treatment stage, I had to go through all the other options first, which takes about a month and a half. Then, I started thinking about how to prevent further injuries and the same types of situations.”

He found a solution while sitting in his doctor’s office. He picked up a copy of Florida Health Care News, and read an article about Jeffrey P. Johnson, DC, of Johnson Medical Center in Venice and his unique treatment protocol called Sedative Stretching.

“As I read the article, I thought, This sounds like a good idea,” he recalls. “I’m very inquisitive and open minded, so I called and set up a meeting with Dr. Johnson to find out more about it.

“Dr. Johnson is an extremely pleasant guy and very encouraging. Sedative Stretching is a different approach, and he believes in it. His presentation of the treatment is extremely professional. I was impressed by how crystal clear and enthusiastic he is about it.”

As part of Raymond’s evaluation, Dr. Johnson examined his back as well. He told Raymond that the muscles in his lower back were locked up.

“He said treating my back would be a little difficult,” offers Raymond, “but he felt he could address those muscles during the procedure. In other words, I was a candidate for the process.”

During their discussion, Raymond inquired if he had to return for a second treatment on his back. Dr. Johnson quickly clarified that Sedative Stretching is not localized to one area of the body, such as the leg.

“He told me, We treat both legs, both arms, the neck, the back, everywhere,” states Raymond. “I thought that was a really good idea. It’s the kind of approach I was looking for because it would prepare my whole body for the future. It made a lot of sense.”

Lost Flexibility

Many people with various painful muscle and joint conditions can be helped with Sedative Stretching. Ideal candidates are those with conditions such as unresolved neck and back pain, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, sciatica, frozen shoulder, acute and chronic muscle spasm, headaches and failed back surgery syndrome. Others who will benefit from the procedure are people who want to regain lost flexibility and those who are “sick and tired” of being “stiff and sore.”

“People start losing flexibility when daily activities result in minor injury and inflammation, which is normal,” educates
Dr. Johnson. “With inflammation, however, part of the body’s natural healing process is to lay down a mesh of connective tissue, commonly known as scar tissue. Over time, layer upon layer of scar tissue can form in the muscles, tendons and ligaments around the joints, restricting the joints’ ability to move properly. These layers of scar tissue are called adhesions.”

Symptoms commonly associated with this condition include the slow and insidious loss of flexibility, as well as an increasing achiness and soreness. Most people attribute this to normal aging. However, it’s not normal to become stiff and sore with age – it’s just very common.

“They don’t always realize it, but people will compensate for stiffness and soreness in how they move their bodies,” states
Dr. Johnson. “This is evident everywhere while watching the way people walk, bend, twist and turn.”

In many cases, people will wait until significant damage has occurred from excessive wear and tear before they seek appropriate care. Often, patients will utilize over-the-counter and prescriptive medications, which help alleviate their symptoms. Unfortunately, this gives the patient a false sense of being “cured” while the underlying scar tissue continues to cause excessive damage.

Maximizing Mobility

During the Sedative Stretching procedure, the patient is put under light sedation, sometimes called twilight sedation. With the patient relaxed, doctors can then take the affected joints through their normal full range of motion, freeing the adhesions that have developed between the joints that are causing the patient’s pain.

“While the patients are sedated, we use light, comprehensive stretching techniques,” informs Dr. Johnson. “Because we don’t have to contend with tense, guarded muscles, we are able to free up the scar tissue and mobilize the joints without causing the patient any discomfort. This would be impossible to do without the use of sedation.

“A team approach is used with Sedative Stretching. During the procedure, there are generally multiple health care professionals present, including anesthetists and nurses. Patients usually require only one procedure. It is rare that patients require a second procedure to fully address their condition.”

There are typically a couple of weeks of rehabilitation following the treatment to reinforce the increased movement obtained from the procedure. During this time, patients are instructed how to perform stretching exercises to prevent the condition from recurring, notes Dr. Johnson.

“By following this protocol, patients regain the flexibility they had decades before, and typically, they return to activities they haven’t done in years,” he asserts. “This is truly correcting the original cause of their conditions.

“In most cases, more can be accomplished with one Sedative Stretching procedure than with years of other stretching therapies, thereby adding years and quality to the life of a person’s spine and skeletal system.”

Stretching Boot Camp

When Raymond arrived at the surgery center for his Sedative Stretching, he felt well prepared. He’d just had a different procedure a few weeks previously, so he was familiar with the type of anesthesia being used. Further, Dr. Johnson had explained the process so well, he knew exactly what was going to happen to him.

Dr. Jeffrey P. Johnson of Johnson Medical Center in Venice treated Raymond Way for leg and back pain using Sedative Stretching.

“Within two or three days, I started feeling relief from my leg pain.” – Raymond

“I wasn’t conscious while they did it, but I know they stretched all my muscles to where they need to be, but they didn’t overstretch me,” notes Raymond. “Afterward, I went to breakfast and then went to Johnson Medical Center, where Dr. Johnson went through the stretching again, without the anesthesia.

“That began two weeks of pretty intensive stretching, almost like a boot camp of stretching. I’d go to Johnson Medical Center.
Dr. Johnson would do the chiropractic treatment and then I’d do the assistive stretching. Hamstring exercises are not pleasant; they hurt, but the therapist there is very good.”

Once the two-week rehabilitation program is completed, patients need to continue stretching at home to gain the best benefits from Sedative Stretching. It also helps the positive effects of increased mobility and flexibility last.

“Dr. Johnson emphasizes the stretching,” comments Raymond. “He says if you’re just going to get the treatment and not stretch regularly afterward, don’t have it done. I understand that, and when I get up, I say, I’ve got to stretch today.

“It aches a little when I stretch, but it feels so much better afterward. It’s a learning experience about how to do it, but again, if you don’t do the follow-up, don’t bother with the procedure.”

Quick Relief

Many people having Sedative Stretching start to feel better shortly after the procedure. That was the case for Raymond as well.

“Within two or three days, I started feeling relief from my leg pain,” he confirms. “And my back got better and better each day, too.”

While Raymond maintains his home stretching routine, his hamstring muscle continues to loosen and feel better. As he improves, his daily life is returning to normal. He is especially thrilled to get back to his favorite activities.

“Now, I feel very good,” he reports. “I couldn’t golf before, but now I can. Actually, I’m playing better than I was before. I can also walk fine, and I have absolutely no limp. It’s a tremendous difference, really. The procedure was a huge success for me.

“I definitely recommend Dr. Johnson and his Sedative Stretching!”

FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo by Fred Bellet. Graphic from

Smile Makeovers

In 2001, Dominica Grant was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, but the Venice native hasn’t let it slow her down. She remains active with family activities, including helping her brother at his embroidery shop during the busy seasons.

Dr. Alexander Gaukhman of Siesta Dental, with offices in Sarasota, Port Charlotte and Osprey, gave Dominica Grant a smile makeover with upper and lower dentures done in one day. He gave Mike O’Neill a dental implant-supported denture.

“With my new dentures, I’m one of the proudest people in the world to smile and show everybody my teeth.”
– Dominica

The MS affected Dominica in other ways, however, including her dental health. Unfortunately, problems with her teeth became serious over time.

“My mouth was completely destroyed,” she shares. “Most of my teeth had broken, cracked or fallen out. I had five or six teeth that were actually broken down in the gums.

“I couldn’t chew. My teeth reacted to anything hot or cold. I couldn’t eat any kind of sweets or chocolates or ice cream. I took a lot of ibuprofen and put heating pads on my face to help ease the pain. When I smiled, I never showed my teeth because of how bad they were.

“I learned to manage with the problems because I was never at a point where I could afford to get my teeth fixed.”

In her search for a dentist who offered both quality and affordable services, Dominica found one who also had exceptional patient reviews, Alexander Gaukhman, DMD, of Siesta Dental. She made an appointment.

“When I went in, I was scared to death,” relates Dominica. “I knew how bad my mouth was and the extent of digging Dr. Gaukhman was going to have to do. But the compassion he had and his understanding of pain made the appointment a lot easier for me. He was very passionate about his work.”

“Let’s Do It!”

When Dominica arrived at Siesta Dental, Dr. Gaukhman recalls, she was anxious about seeing the dentist and uncomfortable about the state of her teeth.

“Dominica was very worried and nervous about the work she needed to have done,” states Dr. Gaukhman. “She told me she would like to have her teeth fixed, but I explained that would not be a smart investment for those teeth.

“Her teeth were not in good shape. They were cracked and broken and really not worth saving. I told her the most reasonable option was to have them removed. After we discussed that, we decided to go ahead and take the impressions and schedule her to get the dentures, which would give her a complete smile makeover.”

“All the other dentists wanted to do a crown here, a crown there, a partial here,” describes Dominica. “Dr. Gaukhman said he could do that, but I’d have problems in the future. Then, he said, point blank, The answer is to pull all your teeth and do full upper and lower dentures.

“To me, that was huge. I said, Let’s do it! That was on a Monday, and the surgery was done that Friday.”

Under One Roof

When Dr. Gaukhman does a complete makeover, he generally does everything the day of the surgery appointment. He transforms smiles in a single day, with all procedures done in his office.

Dr. Alexander Gaukhman of Siesta Dental, with offices in Sarasota, Port Charlotte and Osprey, gave Dominica Grant a smile makeover with upper and lower dentures done in one day. He gave Mike O’Neill a dental implant-supported denture.

To secure a lower denture, the dentist first places a series of dental implants. The denture is then locked onto the implants
by connecting pieces
called abutments.

“At Siesta Dental, we take impressions and get the dentures done in a matter of hours,” he verifies. “The patients come in the morning, and in the afternoon, they leave with a great smile.

“We have a dental lab right on the premises, so the dentures can be created almost instantly. By the time the patient is sedated for the tooth extraction, we have the dentures fabricated.

“Placing the dentures right after tooth extraction surgery has added benefits for the patient. The dentures act as a bandage, minimizing bleeding and swelling. Also, the patient’s smile looks good right away.”

It’s a big advantage for patients to not have to go to two or three different dentists to get the entire denture procedure done. Many times, there is one dentist who extracts the teeth, a separate dental lab that makes the dentures and a different dentist who fits them.

“Here, everything is done in one place,” observes Dr. Gaukhman, “everything from impressions to tooth extractions to denture fabrication to delivery. Sometimes, adjustments are needed for the dentures after they have been fitted, and that is done right here on the spot. By doing everything here, I stay on top of the entire process.”

Dazzling Smile

If Dominica had taken any of the other dentists’ advice and tried to restore the teeth she had, it would have taken years to complete and would not have lasted. She was pleasantly surprised by how little time it took for Dr. Gaukhman to perform her one-time smile makeover.

Dr. Alexander Gaukhman of Siesta Dental, with offices in Sarasota, Port Charlotte and Osprey, gave Dominica Grant a smile makeover with upper and lower dentures done in one day. He gave Mike O’Neill a dental implant-supported denture.

Dominica shows a big smile to the people who come into her brother’s shop.

“The procedure was quick,” she notes. “The length of time it took to complete my mouth was about thirty-five to forty minutes. It was truly amazing. Now, I have full upper and lower dentures. We also discussed placing two dental implants in my bottom jaw to hold the lower denture in place a little better.”

The dentures Dominica received during her smile makeover at Siesta Dental not only improved her dental health, but also are fully functional. She’s still getting used to having the new teeth in her mouth, but she’s already back to eating some of the foods she used to avoid.

“I can chew now,” she enthuses, “although there are some foods I haven’t attempted. I’m not ready for steak yet, but I can actually eat ice cream again, which is awesome. I went and bought half a gallon of ice cream, and it’s almost gone.”

Dominica likes the way people react when they see her restored smile. Now, she has a bright, toothy grin when before she never let her teeth show. It’s an amazing transformation for her.

“My mom first noticed when I smiled and actually showed my teeth,” she comments. “I hadn’t shown my teeth in years because they were so bad. With my new dentures, I’m one of the proudest people in the world to smile and show everybody my teeth.”

While Dominica was nervous about her dental needs at first, Dr. Gaukhman’s approach to his work took all the uncertainty away. He fully prepared her for the procedure and relieved her anxiety.

“Dr. Gaukhman is awesome,” she says. “He explained everything to me. I knew what I was going into before the procedure, and I knew what would happen afterward. He and his entire staff are truly phenomenal. I would recommend them to anybody.”

The customer service Dominica received from Dr. Gaukhman and his staff put her at ease. They made her feel calm and comfortable. She knew for certain she found the right dentist when Dr. Gaukhman approached her with his treatment recommendation.

“I’m very grateful for Dr. Gaukhman and the staff at Siesta Dental.”

Mike O’Neill has a rich store of memories to share.

There was his freshman year at St. Cecilia High School in Englewood, New Jersey, where he played football under Coach Vince Lombardi. “A few years later,” recalls Mike, “Lombardi coached for the Army, and then went on to the Giants. The rest is history.”

Then there was his four-year stint on an aircraft carrier in Korea, and his 24-year career with the Del Monte food corporation. “I retired from Del Monte,” he says, “but I didn’t like sitting around at such a young age, so I took a job with Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts, purchasing physical education equipment.”

Somewhere along the line, Mike recalls an incident that took place at an American Legion baseball game. “This was up north, and something happened to one of the coaches that really stuck in my mind. He was giving a pep talk to the guys on the bench, and while he was talking, his dentures flew right out of his mouth! All the kids – they were sixteen and seventeen years old – just started laughing. The coach himself laughed, too, but whenever I recalled the incident later, I imagined how embarrassing that must have been.”

Dr. Alexander Gaukhman of Siesta Dental, with offices in Sarasota, Port Charlotte and Osprey, gave Dominica Grant a smile makeover with upper and lower dentures done in one day. He gave Mike O’Neill a dental implant-supported denture.

“I’m completely satisfied with what Dr. Gaukhman has accomplished for me.”
– Mike

Mike is now enjoying his second retirement, living in Englewood, Florida and maintaining an active lifestyle.

“I power walk at a good clip,” he explains, “and I play tennis three times a week. I also work out at the YMCA three nights a week. Oh, and I love going on cruises.”

Mike’s active lifestyle has led him to recall that long-ago denture mishap more frequently in recent years.

“I held on to my natural teeth for a good long while,” he says, “but eventually, I had my upper teeth replaced with a full traditional denture. I lost many of my lower teeth, too, and used a partial denture to replace all but my remaining six front teeth.

“I started having trouble with those last six teeth,” Mike confides. “I was worried about losing jawbone strength because I had so few teeth, and one of my teeth was noticeably stained. I knew they all had to come out, but I didn’t want to have a traditional lower denture plate. My upper plate was fine,” he adds, “but I’d seen people with lower dentures moving around in their mouths or slipping out completely.

“I didn’t want my teeth flying out of my mouth on the tennis court or while working out or power walking.”

Fortunately, Mike had begun seeing Alexander Gaukhman, DMD, at Siesta Dental, for his dental care. Dr. Gaukhman offered him a wonderful solution.

“I lucked out,” says Mike. “Dr. Gaukhman is extremely professional and friendly. He also has a great sense of humor. I felt comfortable in his care.”

The Gold Standard

“I enjoy helping patients overcome their dental challenges and fears,” assures Dr. Gaukhman, “and the option that I thought would be best to meet Mike’s needs was an implant-secured lower denture.”

Dr. Gaukhman explains that dental implants are now considered the gold standard for replacement of missing teeth, whether a patient is replacing a single tooth or a complete upper or lower arch.

Implants are fabricated from a biocompatible metal that stimulates the jawbone to carry nutrients to the gums, and they have the additional benefit of restoring almost all of the chewing strength of natural teeth.

“Dentures and partials like Mike used simply don’t have the chewing strength of natural teeth, or teeth secured by implants,” notes Dr. Gaukhman. “A person with a healthy set of teeth can bite and chew with five hundred to nine hundred pounds of pressure per square inch. The chewing function of a person using traditional dentures with no permanent stability drops to about forty-five pounds of pressure. This severe drop-off in chewing power limits the kinds of food a person can enjoy. It also impairs digestion because foods aren’t cut up and processed by the teeth before they reach the stomach.”

Dr. Gaukhman adds that denture pain can also keep patients from enjoying a healthy diet.

“Patients often complain of gum pain because their dentures press against and irritate their gum tissue,” he continues. “The gum pain is bad enough, but as a patient continues to wear dentures year after year, another change is taking place beneath the gum, in the bone of the jaw.

“When the jawbone no longer supports natural teeth, the jaw bone begins to resorb,” explains Dr. Gaukhman. “Without bone support, the dentures lose even more stability and move around in the mouth, causing irritation and further deterioration of bone mass. As the denture rides lower on the bottom jaw, it eventually presses against small nerves that once were protected by the bone and teeth, which is extremely painful.”

Dr. Alexander Gaukhman of Siesta Dental, with offices in Sarasota, Port Charlotte and Osprey, gave Dominica Grant a smile makeover with upper and lower dentures done in one day. He gave Mike O’Neill a dental implant-supported denture.

File photo

Dr. Gaukhman explains that when the dentures compress these nerves, many patients describe a feeling like an electric shock, and will even avoid food to keep from experiencing the pain from this “live wire.”

“Fortunately, dental implants offer a much better option for patients than the gradual decline that is inevitable with ill-fitting dentures,” reports Dr. Gaukhman.

“Advances in implant dentistry make this solution available to more patients than ever before, with advanced, affordable techniques that allow us to place functional implants during a minimally invasive, single surgical visit.”

“A Super Dentist”

“As soon as I heard about implant-secured dentures, I was interested,” says Mike, “and my results prove that Dr. Gaukhman was right: He extracted my six faulty teeth and placed implants in my lower jaw to support a removable denture.

“I’m completely satisfied with what Dr. Gaukhman has accomplished for me,” adds Mike. “I have a beautiful, white smile; my teeth are so strong that I can even bite through peanuts with them, and when I’m out on the tennis court, I don’t have to worry that my teeth will go sailing over the net.”

Mike is also impressed with the excellent care he received from Dr. Gaukhman and the staff at Siesta Dental. “He’s a super dentist,” he emphasizes. “He really is. And he’s got a staff that is second to none. Believe me, they take good care of me. If I ever have even a minor problem, I go see them and they correct it right away. I love it!”

FHCN articles by Patti DiPanfilo. FHCN file photos of Mike. Dominica photos by Fred Bellet. Graphic courtesy of Siesta Dental.

Donate Life

April 17th, 2017

Stock photo from 181432865

April is National Donate Life Month. It’s a chance to put the spotlight on the issue of organ, eye and tissue donation in this country.

First, let’s take a look at some statistics. According to Donate Life America, more than 118,000 men, women and children are awaiting lifesaving organ transplants. Every ten minutes, another person is added to the national transplant waiting list. Every year in the US, 8,000 deaths occur because organs are not donated in time.

The heart, lungs, kidneys and liver are the organs that most quickly come to mind when we think about donation and transplants. Right now, more than 4,000 people in the US are waiting for a new heart, 1,400 are waiting for new lungs and 14,000 are waiting for a liver. Kidneys are most in demand. Those waiting for new kidneys account for 82 percent of people awaiting new organs. That equates to more than 100,000 people.

Hearts and lungs must come from deceased donors, but healthy living people can donate kidneys and sections of their livers. These are called living donors, and their bodies will compensate for the loss of one kidney or section of liver. Living donations help make more organs available to more people in need of transplants.

There are additional organs and tissues that can be used to save lives and heal hurting bodies. For example, people with serious complications from Type 1 diabetes might be treated with a pancreas transplant. These are often done along with kidney transplants. Almost all donated pancreases come from deceased donors, but it is possible to donate part of a pancreas.

For every cornea (the transparent layer in the front of the eye) donated, two people can have their sight restored. Since 1961, more than 1.5 million men, women and children worldwide have had their sight restored thanks to corneal transplants.

Many people don’t realize – I know I didn’t – that intestines can be transplanted in people who suffer intestinal failure. When intestinal failure occurs, the sufferer’s own intestines stop absorbing the nutrients, fluids and electrolytes needed for the body to function properly.

Most intestinal transplants are done in conjunction with liver transplants, and the intestines come from deceased donors. Living donors, however, can donate a segment of intestine for transplant, but this type of transplant is less commonly performed.

Something else we might not think of are the various body tissues that can be transplanted. Donate Life America notes that every tissue donor can restore the health and heal the lives of more than 75 people. Tissues that can be donated include heart valves, tendons, veins, skin and bone. Transplanted tissue comes from deceased donors.

There’s no question organ, eye and tissue donation benefits many people. In 2016, 33,600 transplants gave new life to patients and their families. Living donors and families of deceased donors also gather great satisfaction and solace in having helped others through their donation.

Something doesn’t jibe, though. About 95 percent of Americans are in favor of being an organ donor, but only 54 percent are actual registered donors. Let’s increase that percentage during National Donate Life Month. Don’t just think about becoming an organ donor, register!

Dental Implants: A Secure Solution

Rosemarie Blackburn, 73, admits she wasn’t as diligent about caring for her teeth as she got older. She was sure that led to the problems she began experiencing with them.

Dr. William Vaughn of Implant Dentistry of Florida in Melbourne is creating a full upper arch with dental implants and a fixed prosthesis for Rosemarie Blackburn.

Even the temporary dentures made Rosemarie happy.

“I neglected my teeth for a long time,” she confirms. “The problems started when I got into my sixties. My teeth began to hurt, and I had root canals and other dental work done. Then, my gums started receding, and my teeth began falling out.

“I lost a lot of my back teeth, and I only had seven teeth left. I could still eat, and people couldn’t see my missing teeth when I smiled because I still had five teeth in the front. But I knew I couldn’t live like that anymore. I had to do something.”

Rosemarie’s dentist at the time started to restore the bottom of her mouth, but she was more concerned about the more visible top. She wore a removable partial denture that no longer stayed in place and sometimes fell out. Rosemarie wanted a dentist with rejuvenation expertise to rebuild her upper teeth.

“I have a friend who had her teeth done by Dr. Clark Brown,” she reports. “She told me I should go to him, so I did.”

Rosemarie is referring to Clark F. Brown, Jr., DDS, at Implant Dentistry of Florida in Melbourne. Dr. Brown is a comprehensively trained and experienced dentist who has practiced cosmetic, general and implant dentistry for more than 30 years.

When Rosemarie arrived at Implant Dentistry of Florida, she met with William S. Vaughn, DMD, Dr. Brown’s talented associate. Dr. Vaughn’s recommendation was to remove all of Rosemarie’s remaining teeth and rebuild an upper arch using dental implants with a fixed appliance, or prosthesis. Rosemarie liked and trusted Dr. Vaughn, and she agreed with his recommendation.

Implants and Prostheses

Dental implants are the best thing next to natural teeth, states Dr. Vaughn. With fixed restorations or prostheses attached, they provide a secure solution to missing teeth.

“Removable prostheses, such as standard dentures and bridges, reduce the patient’s chewing ability,” he notes. “That results in a lower quality of life because they are not able to eat all the foods they want. In addition, many people don’t like the idea of having removable teeth, which can come out accidentally while eating or talking.

“We can circumvent that by using a prosthesis that stays in place and is held securely by dental implants.”

A dental implant is a small, titanium screw that is inserted into the jawbone. As the bone heals, it fuses to the implant, creating a secure bond. The body doesn’t reject the implant because it doesn’t recognize titanium as a foreign object. A prosthesis, such as a denture or partial bridge, or an individual crown is attached to the implant.

“With a fixed prosthesis, the dentist can remove it if necessary, but otherwise it stays solidly in place,” explains
Dr. Vaughn. “Because they’re secure, fixed prostheses can withstand greater forces than standard dentures and bridges. This gives the patient greater chewing ability than they would have with something removable, and a higher quality of life.

“When I first saw Rosemarie, she had a partial denture on top that was no longer working for her. Her remaining teeth were infected, so we removed them. She wanted a solution that was secure and couldn’t be taken out. She previously had a fixed prosthesis placed on her lower jaw, and she wanted something similar to replace her upper teeth.”

Start to Finish

The process of restoring Rosemarie’s upper teeth is ongoing. She’s healing now and looking forward to the next step, when she will get her prosthesis. She’s thrilled by how Dr. Vaughn is taking care of her in the interim.

“Dr. Vaughn pulled all of my top teeth,” she relates. “In May, he will start getting the implants ready, but my mouth has to heal first. The new teeth will be screwed in where the implants are, and the appliance will stay in. In the meantime, I have a denture on the top.

“The denture is temporary, so I can go out and not look like an old woman. Also, if I had no teeth on the top, I couldn’t eat.”

Rosemarie is excited about the new prosthesis for her upper arch, but she’s already pleased with the quality of work done on her temporary denture. She’s amazed Dr. Vaughn took the time to make her look good while she’s waiting for the finished product.

“The denture looks like my real teeth,” she says. “In the front, I had two teeth that were whiter than the others, and the teeth in the dentures look just like the ones in my pictures.

“I recommend Dr. Vaughn and Implant Dentistry of Florida. I tell all my neighbors about them. I say, Go to Dr. Vaughn if you have problems with your teeth and need a dentist. He’s one of the best!

No More Dental Phobia

I was having some trouble with my teeth,” says Eleanor Brown, a Boston native. “My daughter, Debbie, is a dental assistant, and she’d been trying to get me to go to the dentist, but I’m the biggest chicken under the sun when it comes to dental work.”

Dr. William Vaughn of Implant Dentistry of Florida in Melbourne is creating a full upper arch with dental implants and a fixed prosthesis for Rosemarie Blackburn.

Eleanor works away at her sewing machine with a smile on her face.

Debbie continued to encourage Eleanor, but bad experiences in her past left Eleanor fearful of dentists and uncooperative with treatment.

“As a young child, my parents didn’t have an awful lot of money, so when I went to the dentist, it was never pleasant, and it always hurt,” she describes. “As I grew, it would take a major event for me to go to the dentist.”

The dental issue Eleanor now faced was becoming a major event, and Debbie knew Eleanor needed treatment soon or she would face losing a tooth.

“I had one tooth on the upper left-hand side that was cracked,” notes Eleanor. “That particular tooth had come off at the root and was tilted sideways. I didn’t eat on that side at all. I was afraid that I would knock it out of place, and then I would really be in pain.Dr. William Vaughn of Implant Dentistry of Florida in Melbourne is creating a full upper arch with dental implants and a fixed prosthesis for Rosemarie Blackburn.

“My daughter looked in there and said, Mom, you need to go to the dentist. I said, I’m not going. She said, I’ll find you somebody I know is very good and won’t scare you to death.” To Eleanor’s daughter, the obvious choice was clear: Clark F. Brown, Jr., DDS, at Implant Dentistry of Florida in Melbourne. Dr. Brown is a comprehensively trained and experienced dentist who has practiced cosmetic, general and implant dentistry for more than 30 years.

After an examination, Dr. Brown recommended removing Eleanor’s failing tooth and replacing it with a dental implant and restoration crown. Most all patients, young and old, are candidates for dental implants, notes the dentist, but there are some factors that must be considered when creating a plan for placement of the implants.

“There are certain things you need,” Dr. Brown confirms. “For example, you need to have a certain thickness of bone and enough depth to place the implant. If the bone is a little thin or shallow, I can still place implants – they just have to be the right implants for that particular situation.

“I use a number of different brands and styles of implants so I can select the implant that is ideal for each individual location. One of the brands, which I used on Eleanor, is called a Bicon® Implant. Bicons are shorter, wider implants. They are ideal for situations when the dentist needs to avoid vital structures that are very close to the site of the implant, such as the sinuses and nerves. The shorter implants can also eliminate the need for additional procedures, such as bone grafting.”

Eleanor may have been fearful when she started her treatment, but she became a pro at seeing the dentist after meeting Dr. Brown. By the time her implant was finished, she felt totally comfortable with him and was amazed by how he made the entire process so simple.

“I love that man,” enthuses Eleanor. “He is so wonderful. I waltz in and out of there like I was going to the hairdresser or something. It’s absolutely easy. Remember, I am Chicken Little, and to have all that work done and be happy about it is a major event for me.”

Eleanor is also thrilled with her results. She likes that she no longer has to avoid chewing on one side of her mouth or stay away from certain foods for fear of losing a tooth or being in pain.

“It is absolutely gorgeous,” she says of her implant. “I love it. And anything at all I want to eat, I eat.”

Most of all, Eleanor is thrilled with Dr. Brown and how he proved to her that there’s nothing to fear from the dentist.

She smiles and says, “He is so awesome!”

FHCN articles by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo by Nerissa Johnson. Graphic from

Blast Stubborn Belly Fat in Three Weeks

Christina Booth had a two-fold reason for wanting to lose weight. She was seeking to improve her health and to reduce some stubborn body fat that just wouldn’t go away.

Christina Booth and Doug McLean lost pounds and inches using Dr. Tred’s Ultimate Laser-Assisted Weight Loss System at Slim Body Laser Spa in Stuart.

Christina has gone from a size 12 to a very comfortable size 10 in only three weeks.

“My upper body was my main concern,” Christina shares. “That tends to be the most dangerous part of a woman’s body as she gets older due to the risk of diabetes. My mom suffered from diabetes, and I’ve been nervous about it because I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes in September. The other thing I noticed was my face had become very full.

“I tried a variety of ways to lose weight, focusing on my midsection. I tried dieting and eating better, and I also tried exercising. I even got involved in boxing. Nothing was working, and it was very discouraging.”

About a year ago, before she began at Slim Body Laser Spa in Stuart. Christina attempted a regimented, medically supervised 40-day program to lose weight and the flab around her middle. It allowed her 400 to 500 calories a day, and restricted her from contact with anything oily.

“It was so strict I had to change my toothpaste,” she notes. “I was not able to touch my dog’s food or my dog. I had to change my shampoo and body soap, and I even had to buy new makeup. It was that ridiculous.

“I decided it just wasn’t normal. I lasted twenty-one days. During that time, I lost seven pounds, but had barely any girth loss whatsoever, and I felt frustrated.

“I looked into other ways to lose weight,” she adds, “but I’m not into anything invasive; that really scares me. I’m not a pill freak either, even though my primary doctor put me on a prescription medication to help. It did nothing.”

Finally, Christina found a solution. As the marketing director of an Alzheimer’s disease and assisted living community, Christina participated in a recent health care networking event in Stuart. Another participant at the event was Tred Rissacher, DC, of Slim Body Laser Spa, where he offers his Ultimate Laser-Assisted Weight Loss System. Dr. Tred’s display for Slim Body caught Christina’s attention, so she stopped by his booth and began chatting with the doctor and his staff.

“I was quite intrigued,” she says. “They explained a bit about the program. They described how the laser mainly targets the subcutaneous fat (called stubborn fat) you have and can also reduce through eating better that internal fat which lies over your organs, which is so bad for you and so difficult to lose.”

Dr. Tred also described how, while receiving the laser sessions, the body will also gently detoxify, so patients can feel better and have more energy at the same time.

“I thought, This treatment can’t hurt, it’s noninvasive; it won’t do anything to harm me,” comments Christine. “We went ahead and set up a time for a consultation.”

Christina’s consultation appointment was scheduled for two days before Thanksgiving. She was not planning to start a weight loss program at that time of year. Her goal was to begin after the New Year. However, Dr. Tred encouraged her not to wait.

“After I sat and talked with Dr. Tred, I decided now was as good a time as any,” states Christina. “I figured if I can carry this plan through at this time, then I’ll prove to myself how strong I am. If I get results, too, that’s even better.”

Belly Bulge

Doug McLean spent a long career as a court reporter in Boston, Massachusetts. He retired in 2001 when he was 60 years old. Now, he lives the bulk of the year in his home in Stuart with his two dogs.

“We live in Florida most of the time, but I still own a small co-op in Copley Square in Boston,” he remarks. “I rent it to the Boston Symphony Orchestra for eight months out of the year.”

Like Christina, Doug had some stubborn body fat that he couldn’t seem to lose. His was concentrated around his waist and stomach.

“I had a pot belly, and I didn’t like it,” he offers. “I was stretching my buttons on my shirt. My pants were a tight thirty-four around the waist, and I was uncomfortable.”

Doug tried diet and exercise. His attempts to battle the bulge go back to his pre-retirement days in Boston. Even then, nothing helped reduce his stomach.

“When I was working as a court reporter, I used to walk up to my office every morning,” he recalls. “It doesn’t sound like much until I tell people I walked two hundred and fourteen steps. A friend of mine and I used to jog five miles six days a week, but I still could never get rid of that pot belly.

“I’m seventy-five years old now, and I’ve been exercising pretty regularly since I was fifty. Nothing has worked.”

The Slim Body Laser Spa display at a local shopper’s market drew Doug’s attention. He stepped up to the booth to find out more about Dr. Tred’s Ultimate Laser-Assisted Weight Loss System. Dr. Tred himself was there to explain his innovative program.

“The display said the treatment could shrink fat cells, and that caught my eye,” comments Doug. “I also noticed that a person could lose several inches in nine treatments in three weeks. Dr. Tred told me more about it, then offered me a deal for nine sessions.”

A Laser Session

As part of Dr. Tred’s Ultimate Laser-Assisted Weight Loss System, patients receive nine 30-minute laser sessions in three weeks. 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.Christina Booth and Doug McLean lost pounds and inches using Dr. Tred’s Ultimate Laser-Assisted Weight Loss System at Slim Body Laser Spa in Stuart.

During the laser sessions, 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.”

Dr. Tred’s laser weight loss system is most effective when the patient also follows a healthy eating plan. The staff at Slim Body Laser Spa will counsel patients on nutrition and help them develop a healthier diet.

“During the treatments, I lay on a table, and the staff put the laser paddles at my targeted areas,” describes Doug. “They left me there for ten minutes and put on soft music. After ten minutes, they came in, turned off the laser and moved the paddles to another targeted area. They did that three times for a total of thirty minutes. Then, I went on the vibrating machine.

“The staff also gave me diet guidelines, and explained the importance of eating five times a day. They described what snacks to get and showed me how to make protein shakes.”

Fat Cells Targeted

Over the last six years, more than 3,800 clients have shed thousands of stubborn pounds and inches 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 acts directly on the problem fat cells.

“When applied to the body, laser energy 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,” continues 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.”

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

Christina Booth and Doug McLean lost pounds and inches using Dr. Tred’s Ultimate Laser-Assisted Weight Loss System at Slim Body Laser Spa in Stuart.

After three weeks, Doug lost five inches and is very satisfied with his look.

“Patients do need to eat right and exercise in order for the results from these treatments to be long-lasting,” Dr. Tred cautions. “If a person follows the entire plan, they will be more than happy with the results they see.”

Comfy Clothes

Dr. Tred’s Ultimate Laser-Assisted Weight Loss System proved beneficial for both Doug and Christina. They are thrilled with the excellent results they achieved.

“I am extremely happy,” states Doug. “I lost five inches in three weeks. When I started, I weighed more than one hundred sixty-one pounds. I weighed myself two days ago, and I weighed one hundred fifty, so I lost more than eleven pounds.”

Christina experienced success with Dr. Tred’s program as well. She carefully watched her progress during the course of her treatments.

“I didn’t notice any change after my first session,” she relates. “By the second time, I could see something happening. By the third session, my husband told me he could see a difference in my face. By the fifth time, when they re-measure and photograph you, I almost fell on the floor.”

By the time her nine sessions were completed, Christina had lost nine and a half inches overall and nearly 12 pounds. She was amazed.

“I was absolutely floored,” she says. “When I saw my face, it was astounding. It was incredible to see the difference in my double chin. It was almost gone. My cheeks have slimmed down, too, and the treatment had a positive effect on my entire body.

“My clothes are now loose, and I can actually wear things I couldn’t before. I’ve gone from a size twelve to a very comfortable ten. My husband said, Your body hasn’t been like this in a while. It’s great to see the difference and get such quick gratification.”

Doug had a similar reaction. After his inch and weight loss, his pants are no longer tight, and his shirts lie smoothly and evenly.

“My clothes fit beautifully now,” he confirms. “On New Year’s Eve, I went to a party at Allegro. I wore my tuxedo and felt very comfortable in it. The buttons on my shirts are nice and neat, and I’m down to a thirty-one-inch waist.

“I believe you have to devote yourself to any program you do. Since I started with Slim Body, I’ve been walking four to five miles a day and going to the gym most days. I am one hundred percent pleased with Slim Body Laser Spa. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to lose weight.”

Christina feels much better and looks forward to her next doctor appointment. She expects the symptoms of her pre-diabetes to improve since she’s lost the excess fat around her torso. In the meantime, she enjoys the attention she gets from others who’ve noticed the change in her appearance.

“People look at me and say, Your face looks different. Your body looks different. You’ve slimmed down. What are you doing?” she reports. “Just hearing that is so meaningful to me because I know I finally found something that really helped me.

“I can actually see and feel the results,” she adds. “Dr. Tred’s laser system at Slim Body Laser Spa works!”

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

Weight and Cancer Risk

April 10th, 2017

There are a slew of health consequences that go along with carrying excess weight. It increases the risk of many problems, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and joint disorders. What’s more, research has linked weight and obesity to many types of cancers.obesity-cancer_istock_4574943

As part of one study, researchers analyzed 204 previously published studies to explore a possible link between weight gain, obesity, waist size and 38 different cancers. The results, which were released in March 2017, found “strong evidence” supporting a connection between these factors and 11 types of cancers, including breast, ovarian, kidney, pancreatic, colorectal and bone marrow.

A study released in 2016 had similar results, finding solid evidence of an increased risk for 13 types of cancer. Their list also included breast, kidney, ovarian and colorectal, as well as stomach, thyroid, uterine and multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. According to the chair of the group conducting this study, the 13 cancers they identified together account for 42 percent of all new cancer diagnoses.

When studying the link between weight and disease, researchers generally use a measurement known as Body Mass Index, or BMI, which is a ratio of weight to height. A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered a healthy weight. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is overweight, 30 or above is obese and 40 or higher is morbidly obese. In general, the higher the BMI, the greater the risk for health problems, including the cancers studied.

There are several ways extra weight can affect the body and increase cancer risk. For one, it increases the levels of insulin and insulin growth factor-1. Higher levels of these substances may help some cancers develop. Also, obesity tends to affect immune system function, causing chronic, low-level inflammation, which is linked to an increase in cancer risk.

People who are overweight also release higher amounts of certain hormones like estrogen, which can feed the development of cancers such as breast and endometrial. Finally, fat cells themselves, might have an effect on the way the body regulates cancer cell growth.

If you need more convincing: The World Cancer Research Fund says excess weight contributes to as many as one out of three of all cancer-related deaths. Further, they estimate that about 20 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the US are related to body weight, physical inactivity, excess alcohol consumption and/or poor diet, and thus could be prevented.

Does this mean all I have to do is lose weight and I’ll be fine? Actually, there’s been more research done on the link between weight and cancer risk than on the effect on risk of losing weight. What is known is encouraging and suggests losing weight is beneficial.

Most researchers and health care professionals agree. Avoid gaining weight through your adult years. If you are already overweight, try not to gain any more, and it will certainly do you well to take off a few pounds. Losing weight will lower your risk for many cancers, and other health problems as well.

Return Engagement

Past success prompts second visit. 

Lorraine Thompson never knew what caused it, maybe she twisted the wrong way while exercising, but she recalls excruciating pain in her back that limited her activity. This experience occurred nearly five years ago, but she remembers the pain like it was yesterday.Dr. Christopher Valencia of Valencia NeuroSpina Center in The Villages treated Lorraine Thompson for back pain using IDD Therapy, and for stroke.

“For almost two months, I was in pain all the time,” describes the New Jersey native. “I had a hard time walking because it was so intense, and I couldn’t golf. I couldn’t even bend over to tie my shoes.

“My lower back was the biggest problem, but my legs bothered me as well. It was like a sciatica pain.”

Lorraine tried a chiropractor, but he couldn’t help her. She took painkillers, but found their side effects unbearable. She became distraught until she heard about Christopher L. Valencia, MD, of Valencia NeuroSpina Center in The Villages.
Dr. Valencia’s credentials impressed her, and the services he offered intrigued her.

“It occurred to me, He’s a neurospine specialist. He knows everything about the spine,” relates Lorraine. “I decided to make an appointment with him.”

Dr. Valencia gave Lorraine a complete, hands-on examination, and then recommended a specialized, noninvasive treatment called intervertebral differential dynamics, or IDD Therapy, to help alleviate her pain. IDD Therapy is a unique form of spinal decompression, but unlike other machines touted as spinal decompression, IDD Therapy is supported by published research.

“My IDD Therapy involved six weeks of treatments,” states Lorraine. “But within three weeks of starting, my back was a lot better. I could stand, walk better and do a little more activity. After the full treatment, I was back to golfing, walking and working out at the gym.

“Dr. Valencia also gave me some exercises to do and showed me how to move more properly. That was the end of that, and my back was good for four years.”

Then, last July, Lorraine tripped and fell when she didn’t lift her foot up over a curb. Her back pain returned with a vengeance.

“My back started throbbing,” she notes. “My neck started bothering me, and my hip and thigh were also painful. I wasn’t going back to a chiropractor, and my primary care physician would just prescribe painkillers.

“I went straight to Dr. Valencia. I thought, He fixed my back before; I’m going to have him do it again. I’m currently being treated with IDD Therapy. I’ve had four treatments so far, and I already feel a difference.”

Lasting Relief

When Lorraine returned to Valencia NeuroSpina Center, Dr. Valencia remembered treating her four years ago and achieving a successful outcome. He was not surprised that the relief she experienced after IDD Therapy had lasted so long.

“As part of my protocol, there are back mobilization and strengthening phases during which patients are taught exercises specific for the spine,” explains Dr. Valencia. “They are instructed on how to incorporate those activities into their daily lives, so they’re actually exercising and strengthening their backs while they’re doing other, everyday things.

“Many patients ask me if they would benefit from a maintenance program. I tell them there is no published research indicating efficacy of a maintenance program of IDD Therapy or spinal decompression, so I don’t offer it.

“When patients receive IDD Therapy at Valencia NeuroSpina Center, they achieve lasting results and don’t need a maintenance program. We treat them for twenty sessions, and they’re good to go for at least three years.”

Lorraine did benefit from the comprehensive, hands-on evaluation
Dr. Valencia gives to all patients who visit Valencia NeuroSpina Center. The evaluation includes a physical exam and a complete neurologic exam. Through his assessment, Dr. Valencia was able to determine the source of Lorraine’s back pain, which was pressure on the nerves leaving the spinal cord.

IDD Therapy decompresses the spine and eliminates the pressure on the nerves. It is highly effective for treating back pain, and is providing Lorraine with significant relief. Once again, Dr. Valencia’s comprehensive assessment uncovered another, potentially deadly disorder as well.

“During my thorough neurologic examination, I noticed some facial signs and some weakness on one side of Lorraine’s body,” he remarks. “Things I look for in my patients include flattening of the nose-to-mouth fold, facial drooping and asymmetry. Then, when I examine them, if I find they are also weaker in one arm or leg, that usually signals a stroke.”

Dr. Valencia ordered an MRI, with which he was able to confirm that Lorraine had suffered a subclinical stroke. A subclinical stroke is a silent stroke, so mild that the patient does not even notice it. A subclinical stroke may not show any outward signs, but can be picked up by a thorough neurologic evaluation.

A subclinical stroke definitely injures the brain, causing gait problems and cognitive impairment. It is also a prelude to further, more serious, clinically debilitating – even fatal – stroke (20 times the risk).

“The results of Lorraine’s work-up told me we needed to be more aggressive about managing her stroke risk factors,” observes Dr. Valencia. “For example, her cholesterol level and blood pressure now had to be much lower than usual. In addition, I stressed lifestyle factors such as weight control, a healthy diet and increased exercise. Doing this, we cut back on her risk for stroke and dementia by almost fifty percent.”

Treating the Patient

As a neurologist and internist, Dr. Valencia stresses the importance of a thorough physical exam to gather all of the information possible about the patient’s condition. His patients have praised that his exam is so thorough and exhaustive that he finds disorders that might otherwise go undetected.

“When a physician is skilled and takes the time to do it right, there’s so much the physical exam can tell them,” concludes
Dr. Valencia. “Our very comprehensive examination is able to pick up problems that may actually kill patients.

“I joke with my patients that they make me feel like a mechanic. They come to me for a simple oil change, but then I find more dangerous problems with the brakes and engine.”

Dr. Valencia further notes the significance of treating the patient, and not just the patient’s diagnostic tests. Symptoms have to be analyzed. For each symptom, there’s a historical battery of questions that need to be asked. Then, the physical examination gives additional clues and answers.

“He fixed my back before; I’m going to have him do it again. – Lorraine

“The proper physical examination still requires actually touching the patient,” he offers. “The clinical evaluation – the History and Physical – then gives the physician the ability to order the most appropriate and correct tests.

“Here, we’re still very much hands on. We treat patients, not tests, and we save patients time and money by not ordering unnecessary tests. We let the evaluation direct the testing, which is the way it’s supposed to be.”

Amazed and Grateful

Lorraine was amazed Dr. Valencia was able to diagnose the stroke that left her weak on one side of her body. She now understands why she was unable to lift her foot over a curb, which caused her fall in July.Dr. Christopher Valencia of Valencia NeuroSpina Center in The Villages treated Lorraine Thompson for back pain using IDD Therapy, and for stroke.

“Dr. Valencia did an MRI and said I’d had several mini strokes,” she offers. “He started me on a stroke regimen to help prevent a big stroke. He prescribed a blood thinner and medicine to lower my blood pressure.

“As for my back, Dr. Valencia says I have arthritis. But by going to him and getting IDD Therapy, and also doing my exercises, I’m living a healthier life and doing the activities I avoided before.

“I do a lot of walking, and I also get on the treadmill and the bicycle. I’m going to the gym again and working out. That’s what I wanted to do.”

Lorraine returned for IDD Therapy after she fell because of the exceptional results she experienced the first time, and she is seeing similar improvement early in this course of treatment. She knows she can turn to Dr. Valencia if anything else should happen to her.

“I’m happy Dr. Valencia helped me, and I’m thankful I can go to Valencia NeuroSpina Center for my back problems. It’s a relief to know Dr. Valencia is around.”

FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photos by Jordan Pysz.

On Your Feet Again

Advanced treatment regenerates nerves damaged by neuropathy.

George Potprocky was a career firefighter. He served for 35 years, first in Ohio, then Florida, then Tennessee. When he finally retired from the job in 2013, he returned to the sands of Florida. When he moved, he brought a nagging problem in his feet with him.

Nurse practitioner Carol A. Merrill, ARNP, at Neurogenx™ Nerve Center in St. Petersburg treated George Potprocky for diabetes-related neuropathy in his feet.

With feeling back in his feet, George can stand and walk when
working on the racecar.

“About five years ago, I was on a cruise, and I went to get out of the pool,” remembers George. “My feet were so tender, it was hard to get up the ladder, so I just came out from the shallow end. After that, my feet would get numb, and then they would tingle.

“I thought it was because I did a lot of walking and standing on concrete, or from the shoes I wore, or because I was getting older. But my family doctor told me I had pre-diabetes, and the problem was neuropathy.”

Neuropathy is a condition in which damaged nerves send faulty signals to the brain, resulting in feelings of pain, tingling, numbness and burning. Diabetes often leads to neuropathy because high sugar levels in the blood can damage nerves.

George’s doctor told him there was no cure for neuropathy, but there were some medications to treat its symptoms. George was concerned about side effects and decided not to go down that path. He chose to live with the discomfort. Unfortunately, his condition continued to deteriorate.

“I started getting shooting nerve pain and a feeling of little, burning needles in my feet,” he describes. “Then, those feelings came less and less often, and my feet got more and more numb.”

While numbness was an improvement over burning needles, George was concerned about having no feeling in his feet. He was especially afraid he would injure them and not be aware because he could not detect pain. He was having difficulty getting around as well.

“Once, I lost a nail and didn’t realize I lost it because I couldn’t feel it,” he recalls.

“It was also hard for me to walk any distance. I’m part of a team that works on a racecar, and every time we’d go to the track, the other guys would walk up to the line. I’d take the scooter because I couldn’t walk that far. I finally said, I’ve got to do something about this.”

George researched his options, and his hopes soared when he discovered Neurogenx Nerve Center in St. Petersburg. Neurogenx, he learned, has a specialized treatment that regenerates damaged nerve cells and actually cures neuropathy. George contacted Neurogenx right away for a consultation. He started their program last June.

Patented Technology

On his initial examination at Neurogenx Nerve Center, George described numbness and tingling in his feet, notes certified nurse practitioner Carol A. Merrill, ARNP, who treated him.

“George could feel touch on his feet, but he couldn’t feel pain, vibration or any type of light sensation,” states Carol. “He could walk, but he was unsteady. He works with racecars, and he was at the point where he took the golf cart everywhere he went when he was at the races.”

Carol agreed that George’s pre-
diabetes was the cause of his neuropathy, and that his high blood sugar level had begun to damage the nerves in his feet. He was an ideal patient for the Neurogenx treatment.

“The treatment protocol we use at Neurogenx Nerve Centers restores the function of damaged nerves and actually heals them so patients have fewer symptoms,” observes Carol. “The energy from the Neurogenx machine is able, over time, to regrow nerves and help them work more efficiently.”

The equipment at Neurogenx is advanced and unique, and uses a patented technology called Electronic Signal Treatment (EST). A leading-edge approach, EST uses high-frequency electronic waves to reach deep down through muscle and tissue to the cellular level.

Changes then occur at the cellular level. These 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 help the cells to regenerate, enabling healing, relieving pain and restoring function.

During the treatment, electrodes are placed on the areas to be treated, and the electronic waves are passed through. Each treatment session lasts 40 minutes. A full course of treatment is generally 24 sessions, but may include more.

“When patients reach the twenty-fourth treatment, if they’re not where we, or they, want them to be, we can continue to help them,” assures Carol. “We will do as many treatments as necessary to achieve the best possible results.

“After his course of treatment, George has much better feeling in his feet. He can feel vibration, light touch, sharpness and temperature change. His motor and sensory reactions also improved immensely.”

“My Feet Feel Great”

Patients begin to notice improvements in their neuropathy symptoms at different stages of the treatment process. Some detect changes after a few sessions; others take longer. George’s progress was slow and steady, but he was thrilled when he started to realize results.

“After a while, I got more feeling back,” notes George. “Now, I can feel the floor when I walk; before, I couldn’t. My wife used to tell me my feet were cold, but I didn’t know they were cold. I can feel that now. I’ve already gotten back at least eighty percent of the feeling in my feet, and it keeps getting better.”

George appreciates the staff at Neurogenx Nerve Center, but recognizes his own role in the treatment process. He is so committed to his care, he drives 26 miles from Dunedin to St. Petersburg for his sessions.

“Everyone at Neurogenx is great,” he comments. “They’re a super group of people, and they work together as a team. A lot depends on me, though. At the beginning, they stressed that I needed to do my job and show up for my appointments, and I do.”

Mobility is the big test for George. Since he’s recovering sensation in his feet and has better balance, he’s getting around more, even at the racetrack, and feeling more comfortable doing it. He’s relieved he finally sought help for his neuropathy.

“My feet feel great,” he reports. “I started walking again. Every morning, I get up and go for a walk.

“I’m glad I went to Neurogenx Nerve Center. I would definitely recommend them and their treatment!”

FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo by Jordan Pysz. Stock photo from

Win the Weight War

Bariatric surgery is a tool in the battle with obesity.

Amylee Hornyak is a mover and a spinner. As a career, she’s an architectural sales manager and licensed designer for an acoustical tiling company. As a part-time job and hobby, she works as an instructor at a fitness center and a spin leader at a fitness cycling studio. But even with this active lifestyle, Amylee couldn’t keep her weight down.

Dr. Keyur Chavda of Surgical Associates of Tampa Bay in Brandon performed sleeve gastrectomy bariatric surgery on Amylee Hornyak.

Amylee uses diet and exercise to maintain the weight she lost through bariatric surgery.

“I’ve battled weight issues my whole life,” she admits. “There’s something in my family’s genes, especially the women. We look at food, and it just jumps on our bodies. I tried every diet. They’d work for a little while, but the weight always came back.

“Then in December 2008, I lost my mom to cancer. In January 2009, I lost my first-born son. I became depressed and packed on the pounds. I went up to two hundred seventy pounds, although I carried it well on my five foot, seven inch frame.”

In 2010, Amylee gave birth to her second son. She was elated by the boy’s arrival, but gained additional pounds during the pregnancy. She couldn’t seem to lose any of the weight after that, and it began to create problems in her daily life.

“I was not very mobile because I had so much weight on me,” she states. “As my son began to grow, it became an issue. When he was two and three years old, I couldn’t chase after him the way I needed to. I also had problems sleeping because I developed sleep apnea. I quit breathing one hundred thirteen times a night.

“My clothes didn’t fit, and I would sweat all the time. It was just horrible.”

Amylee gave up on dieting, and the exercising wasn’t helping enough to battle her obesity. One day, she met a friend at the fitness center who’d had gastric bypass surgery, and she suggested Amylee consider bariatric surgery.

Amylee began searching for programs in the area that offered this kind of surgery. She found one that stood out from the crowd, the bariatric surgery program directed by Keyur A. Chavda, MD, of Surgical Associates of Tampa Bay in Brandon.

“I went to one of their informational seminars where they explain the different types of surgery,” relates Amylee. “Next door was a support group for people who’ve already had surgery. A couple of them came over and told their stories. They were really inspiring. All the positive results really gave merit to Dr. Chavda’s program.”

Amylee decided to go forward with surgery. It was performed on April 15, 2014.

A Smaller Stomach

When people eat, food goes into the stomach, and they feel full. The problem is with the size of the stomach. It takes quite a large quantity of food to fill it. This created the concept behind bariatric surgery.

“There are different types of bariatric surgery, but one thing common with all of them is making the stomach smaller,” explains Dr. Chavda. “The stomach is generally decreased to hold a three- to five-ounce capacity, so patients get full after eating three to five ounces of food. They lose weight by eating small portions and not being hungry all the time.

“If they follow our directions, adjust their diet and exercise, the weight loss can last forever. With traditional diets and commercially available weight loss programs, once people stop doing them, most of the people eventually gain back the weight they lost and sometimes more.”

Types of bariatric surgery include gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, gastric band and duodenal switch. Dr. Chavda chose sleeve gastrectomy for Amylee after completing a history and physical exam, and discussing the options with her.

“We talked about gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy,” notes Dr. Chavda. “We agreed sleeve gastrectomy would be a better choice for her.”

Amylee’s surgery, like 99 percent of the bariatric surgeries performed by Surgical Associates of Tampa Bay, was done laparoscopically through small incisions using thin surgical instruments.

During the procedure, Dr. Chavda removed three-quarters of Amylee’s stomach to create a small pouch so she could get full eating less food. This approach produces a second benefit because the section of stomach removed creates hormones that control metabolism, hunger and cravings. Amylee’s surgery and recovery went exactly as planned.

“Everything went very well with Amylee,” confirms Dr. Chavda. “After surgery, she followed the diet and exercise plan and was very motivated. That’s something we tell all of our patients; they have to do their part. Amylee did hers, and now she motivates others to diet and exercise for healthy living.”

Keeping It Off

Amylee agrees that her surgery and recovery went perfectly. She was impressed by how quickly she was back to her activities and seeing results.

Dr. Keyur Chavda of Surgical Associates of Tampa Bay in Brandon performed sleeve gastrectomy bariatric surgery on Amylee Hornyak.

Before & After

“The surgery was painless,” she reports. “I was up and walking later that day. I had surgery on a Wednesday, and was back spinning on Saturday.

“I had to do a two-week, all-liquid diet prior to the surgery, during which I lost nineteen pounds. Within a week of surgery, I lost another eleven pounds. Because I worked out, I lost three to six pounds a week.

“Before my surgery, I weighed two hundred sixty-eight pounds, and my BMI was forty-four. Right now, I weigh one hundred fifty-eight pounds, and my BMI is twenty-five.” BMI, or body mass index, is a measurement of total body fat based on a person’s weight in relation to his or her height.

The weight loss made a tremendous difference in Amylee’s daily life. She’s thrilled by the way she looks now and by the improvement in her mobility and sleep. She notes the importance of doing her part and not relying on surgery alone to achieve results.

“I feel amazing now,” she notes. “I can wear cute clothes. I can chase after my son. I can spin like a maniac. I went from not breathing one hundred thirteen times a night to sleeping soundly all night long. I’ve even inspired others to change their habits.

“Surgery works, but it’s a tool, not a solution, and the tool is only as good as the person using it,” she cautions. “If it isn’t used correctly, it’s not going to work. People have got to maintain what they eat and work out. If I didn’t spin and eat right, I definitely would have gained all the weight back.”

When Amylee first heard about bariatric surgery and even after she decided to move forward with it, she really didn’t believe it would help her. She’d battled her weight for such a long time, she didn’t think anything was going to reduce it, not even surgery, so she didn’t tell people about her plans. With her successful results, she’s finally opened up about having the procedure.

“I decided to tell my story because Dr. Chavda is amazing, and he definitely changed my life,” says Amylee. “This surgery is the best thing I’ve ever done. I would do it again, but only with Dr. Chavda. He is amazing. Surgical Associates of Tampa Bay is amazing. The support they give is top notch.

“To me, Dr. Chavda is a superhero!”

FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photos by Jordan Pysz. Stock photo from Before and after images courtesy of Amylee Hornyak.
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