There are many ways to improve your health, lose weight, get into an exercise program, or improve your nutrition intake. As a busy cosmetic plastic surgeon seeing a lot of women patients (and some men), I try to help each person find a pathway to improved aging so that they will get a better result from surgery or other age-improving procedures. Requests for help vary from asking for a dietary regimen, supplement suggestions, or a good weight loss program. Often patients ask for a dietary suppressive drug to “curb the appetite” or speed up weight loss. However, it has been shown that there is nearly a 100 percent failure rate of these drugs in weight loss programs, which is the reason that I don’t prescribe them.
One of the best programs in my long experience of trying to help people in their quest for better health is to offer a pre-surgical dietary program for my patients. The motivation level to look good and heal well makes this the optimum time to enact a program like this. This dietary pathway consists of low sugar, very little flour/wheat products, reduced alcohol intake, and adding highly nutrient foods, especially fruits and vegetables, to the person’s total intake. In addition to those changes, eating a small amount of protein and fat at each meal tends to increase energy and reduce hunger pangs.
By reducing “empty” calories, increasing nutrient foods, and learning how to eat well, the postoperative recovery period becomes a more favorable one. If this pathway is maintained, you can pretty much guarantee the success of the surgical result over the coming years. As you might imagine, it gives me great pleasure to see patients who undertook this pathway 10 or even 20 years ago and who continue to look good over those years. Of course, when this pathway is working well for you, there is a tendency to always think about and do healthier things in everyday life.
We know well that there are abrupt and difficult changes that occur in women at the menopausal age, and this involves slowing of the metabolism along with loss of elasticity of skin and hormonal changes. During this time it is particularly critical to maintain your body in the very best physical condition and to look for help and advice in learning how to handle these changes. Because of this, I frequently suggest my patients seek good advice on postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT), both for true improvement in body physiology as well as quality of life. There has been a lot of information along with statistical data to really frighten you into not pursuing HRT, but in the hands and care of a well-trained specialist in this area you can begin a regimen of HRT and continue to thrive.
Every person approaches the next day, as well as the coming years, in a different manner. I recently wrote about defining your goals for a 5- or 10-year period just to help formulate a plan for how to live. If you are in your 50s or 60s, do you want to weigh the same or even less in five years, have more energy, continue your positive outlook, be sexually active, look good, and continue to be someone your children and grandchildren admire and look up to? If you do want these things, it is up to you to seek help to establish these pathways and define who you are and will be. Also, success depends on coordinating multiple efforts to come up with a complete and total approach to your life pathway.
Of all the things to know, this is the best one. You can have total control of your life as well as your aging pathway, but only if you take charge. Not everyone is able to do that, but you can start by making a plan and beginning with just one change at a time (see past articles on TW’s website: “Your 5-Year Plan,” March 2011, and “Just One Thing,” April 2011. I have seen many patients over the years who have done just that and truly changed their lives.
Some examples are interesting to consider. Jane is a 63-year-old diabetic woman who lives in Kentucky and who came for cosmetic surgery last year. After consultation, we discussed a new diet, which was compatible with and enhanced her medical diet plan. She went with the changes, had surgery, and also lost weight. Along with her new diet, she added exercise and some supplements. She lost her need for insulin and other diabetic medicines. She has recently been told by a University of Kentucky endocrinologist that she does not have Type I or Type II diabetes, but she is only “pre-diabetic.” If she gives up her diet and exercise, she could go back to a diabetic condition.
Diane is a 66-year-old woman who recognized that some of her medical problems, including diabetes, were possibly amenable to nutrition and lifestyle changes, and so she embarked on a new pathway. She lost weight, exercised, and stuck to her new vegan diet. Those changes plus some incidental rejuvenating surgery gave her newfound health, a sense of well being, and a companion whose company she enjoys.
These are examples which have been repeated in many forms over the years in my practice, and I always have a sense of admiration and respect for the women and men who have made these changes. The really nice thing about this is that you can “do it yourself.” If you need help, let us know, and it will be forthcoming.
Dr. Carraway is the director of the Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery Center of EVMS. For more information, please call 757-557-0300.