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The Feel-Good Report

Face FactsFacing Facts

When you’re diagnosed with cancer, you think you have bigger problems than worrying about getting a facial. But the truth is that when the body has been ravaged by radiation and chemotherapy a person’s skin is almost nothing like it was when he or she was healthy.

“They have literally been burned from the inside out,” says Susan Watts, the only clinical oncology esthetician in Southwest Florida and owner of Simply Faces Clinical Oncology Esthetics in Naples. “Their skin is likely finer than it has ever been—it is like tissue paper—and can literally break because there is no moisture.”

Because of the changes in the epidermis, traditional esthetics can actually do more harm than good, leaving clients with an even worse sense of self. Watts helps return that moisture with various techniques and therapies.

“Medical teams are way too busy to educate everyone, so there is no one on hand to help these people who now look like they have never looked before in their lives,” says Watts. “People just get ushered out the door … I’ve had patients literally cry because they didn’t know what I do existed. People say they would hide in their house for six months.”

Among Watts’ specialties are shirodhara, an Indian process that stimulates the skin, hair and the third-eye chakra with a constant stream of warm oil, and a facial method created for Princess Diana that is massage-based.

Simply Faces Clinical Oncology Esthetics, 293-9987, simpyfacesbeauty.com


Fox Plastic Surgery CenterAging is for Suckers

Is it possible that the fountain of youth actually exists within our own bodies? It may seem surprising, but area plastic surgeon Elizabeth Fox is using her patient’s own stem cells to fill in deficient areas and to smooth out lines and wrinkles that are giving away our age. But just where have these stem cells been hiding?

“Behind your knees,” says Fox. “That’s the densest fat we have.”

In an approximately 20-minute procedure, Fox extracts the fat with a small cannula, then, with a centrifuge, spins out unwanted plasma and oils, leaving clean fat stem cells looking for something to do. When those are injected into the required areas (think those marionette lines or the roadmap on your forehead), they mature into younger cells of adjacent tissue. It rebuilds as it fills in.

“When that fat cell is injected into a wrinkle, the stem cells can augment the collagen, the blood supply and the dermis of the skin,” says Fox. “In addition to being used for smoothing out lines and wrinkles, it can be used for loss of volume on the face. It also seems to refresh one’s complexion.

“Plus, the results are permanent. Often fat injections replace the need for Juvederm and Radiesse, so it can be a cost-effective option,” adds Fox.

And if your knees don’t look particularly plump, the fat can also be harvested from the abdomen and the hips. (Yep, you’re the Niagara Falls of youth.) Best of all, postoperative recovery can be in as little as one day to one week. So if you could use a sip from the fountain of youth, call Fox. It might be the first time you look in the mirror and appreciate a knee to the face.

Fox Plastic Surgery Center, 827 Myrtle Terrace, Naples, 262-8585, elizabethfoxmd.com


Brain ExerciseExercises for Your Brain

Regular exercise works wonders on the human body, just ask any personal trainer. We spend countless hours in the gym doing biceps curls, crunches and pushups in order to keep visual confirmation of what shoes we’re wearing. But what are you doing for your brain health? (Well, you’re reading this and that’s a start.)

While studies show that physical exercise is a priority when it comes to maintaining healthy brain function, socialization is a very close second. And no, updating your Facebook status doesn’t count. You need to get out and connect face-to-face. To that end, Cindi Ryerson has opened Millennium Cognitive Café in Bonita Springs. “We’ve created a membership where people can come in, do some brain games together, take classes, listen to lectures, do some brain activities—all in the atmosphere of a coffee shop,” says Ryerson. “We have Wiis and computer programs—we have a whole gamut to meet any level of interest.”

Best of all, it really does look like a coffeehouse, replete with bistro tables and actual coffee. But for $23.95 per month, members get access to a massive amount of cognitive stimulation that you won’t get just by reading the answer cards of Trivial Pursuit on your couch at home. The café has rooms for socializing and traditional games (think Sumoku, chess, backgammon, The New York Times crossword puzzle, etc.), brain circuit training, for lectures and a computer room featuring the Dakim Brain Fitness Program.

“There are four workstations with the Dakim program,” says Ryerson. “It works in 20-minute sessions and will customize a program just for you. It will score you, and the next time you log on, it will adjust itself so you can work on the areas where you were a little weak.”

As a personal trainer might tell you that you have the triceps of a kindergartener, Dakim might discover you need a little more muscle tone on the right side of your brain.

“Really, anyone can benefit from it, but we’re focusing on baby boomers and above,” says Ryerson, a registered nurse. “The more you can work your brain, the more you will build new neurons and delay the impact of potential dementia down the road.”

Millennium Cognitive Café, 3525 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs, 676-8034, brainfitnesscafe.com

Hooray for Estrogen?

Estrogen Revisited is not likely to be the next Harry Potter, and for that we are sad (if only because we’d actually be willing to attend a midnight screening of Estrogen Revisited and the Deathly Hallows). But this book will likely be much more important to you once you’ve given up on all things wizards and Hogwarts. Written by Donna Walters and Dr. Blane Crandall, an OB/GYN with (Naples Community Hospital), the book discusses the options women have when it comes to menopause. That’s right, options.

Prior to 2002, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was a no-brainer, thought to add energy, boost sex drive and lift spirits. It was also thought to help prevent heart disease, osteoporosis and breast cancer. But then, in 2002, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) basically said that HRT might actually cause more problems than it corrects. The news got a lot of attention and caused many women to stop therapy altogether. But Walters and Crandall believe the WHI was inaccurate and assert that while the data from the WHI study was “excellent,” it was “incorrectly analyzed as a result of the authors having little or no understanding of the history of breast cancer, heart disease or Alzheimer’s disease.” Basically, they say the data was misinterpreted and for some reason, no one else in the medical community questioned it, leaving millions of women to suffer the effects of menopause. Effects HRT would avoid.

To that end, Dr. Crandall makes some pretty damning statements, claiming that in the next 23 years, eight million women in the United States and 100 million worldwide will die prematurely and that those deaths will be the direct responsibility of the WHI, NIH (National Institutes of Health) and the FDA. It’s as though he’s taking on Big Tobacco. The book is a compelling read (assuming you have an interest in menopause, estrogen or might be married to or dating someone who does).

As always, we suggest you educate yourself as best you can to discover what is right for you. Read the book and decide for yourself. We certainly believe in better living through chemistry. And frankly, isn’t it already hot enough down here?

Estrogen Revisited is available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.

Post-Op Style

Mastectomies are traumatic enough without the added insult of your clothing not fitting properly. Luckily, there is now a place for post-surgery women to go for clothing designed just for their special needs. BetterFit Boutique in Naples carries a full line of fashionable intimate apparel, swimwear, tops and breast forms for women struggling to return to normalcy.

“A lot of women come in and have no idea what comes next,” says Angela Hinton, owner of BetterFit and a certified fitter for post-mastectomy products from the fashionable Anita and Amoena lines. “They listen to the doctor, they have the surgery and really have no idea what comes next. I explain their needs and help educate them … When they feel better about themselves it really goes a long way toward their healing.”

Unlike most medical clothing suppliers who tend to direct consumers to a catalog, BetterFit has swimwear, bras, camisoles and breast forms in-house to try on.

Some places are just catalogs, other places make you try clothes on in the hallway, still others might have the bras but not the proper personnel who can do the fitting,” says Hinton. Best of all, BetterFit gives women a chance to shop from stylish options and not those hideous white medical options most people think of.

“You would never know these didn’t come from Victoria’s Secret,” says Hinton. “These are fashionable bras that go under T-shirts and camisoles. I choose items that really suit a woman’s body. A lot of these women are athletic—they play golf, they play tennis, so we even have sports bras.”

All the bras and swimwear tops feature pockets sewn into them to hold a breast form in place for security and peace of mind.

“These have improved immensely in the past three or four years,” says Hinton. “No one can tell that they’ve lost a breast.”

BetterFit Boutique, 3845 Beck Blvd., Suite 807, Naples, 430-2220, www.blrmed.com

This article appears in the January 2012 issue of Gulfshore Life.

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