Healthy and Happy

Elective procedures can yield myriad benefits for women

Pressure Points

Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese practice, can alleviate aches, pains, menopause symptoms, digestive problems, increase relaxation and possibly aid fertility. Michelle Buchanan, certified acupuncturist at Isthmus Acupuncture Center, says when acupuncture “meridians” (pathways that carry energy throughout the body) are imbalanced or blocked they can cause pain or illness.

“About eighty percent of people in general respond to acupuncture and feel a significant improvement,” says Buchanan. ”It’s becoming more accepted.” The hour-long procedure inserts needles (it’s not painful) into acupressure points, generally from the knees and elbows down, with many in the hands and feet.

“Acupuncture releases endorphins, reduces stress and relaxes the body,” says Buchanan. “It balances hormones and helps return the body to a balanced state.”

Face the Facts

A facial elective procedure means plastic surgery, right? Not necessarily. There are non-invasive ways to perk up your visage, which in turn can boost your self-esteem—especially if you suffer from chronic skin conditions.

Lasting SkinSolutions offers laser treatments that stimulate the body to heal itself, says Kim Schuchardt, LSS physician assistant and certified laser technician. Acne scarring, rosacea, sun damage, excessive hair and wrinkles all can be addressed; the SkinTyte laser can even stimulate the healing of collagen fibers, thereby thickening the skin’s support structure. If you suffer from droopy eyes, you might try a laser lid lift that’s non-invasive but produces a similar effect to eyelid surgery. Schuchardt says results can last for years.

Weighty Matters

Carrying extra pounds isn’t just superficial; it’s a matter of life or death. Excess weight can lead to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and other health complications. Morbid obesity cuts a person’s life expectancy by a third, says Carl Sunby, staff surgeon at St. Mary’s Hospital and advanced laparoscopic and bariatric surgeon.

Adults with a body mass index of 35 along with two associated diseases or those who are morbidly obese (40 BMI) without disease are eligible for laparoscopic gastric band surgery or gastric bypass surgery. Both have benefits and drawbacks, and most patients decide on their own which one is right for them.

“Our goal is to get people off of medications and resolve health conditions. It resolves those medical conditions and will increase longevity. It’s truly amazing to watch the transformation—it gives the patient a better sense of self and overall improves health.”

Quick Read: Medical Maze

Dean Health System offers many elective procedures for weight management and cosmetic surgery, including non-surgical weight-loss options with the Comprehensive Weight Management program. Other procedures that may yield cosmetic and emotional benefits include breast reduction surgery and laser vision correction.

One roadblock for many patients, though, is insurance coverage, something Dean’s Melissa Wollering says they’re encouraging employers to consider. “We can only hope that more employers will cover [bariatric surgery] and we certainly believe it’s a benefit for wellness and health.”

Echoes St. Mary’s Sunby: “So far with HMOs there’s been a huge bias to look at the short-term rather than the long-term. We’ve been working very hard to improve this—being able to get bariatric surgery covered [by insurance] could open it up to a lot of people, and it’s our hope to improve that.”

Shayna Miller is associate editor of Madison Magazine.

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