Monthly Archives: March 2011

Taxpayers Paid for Boob Jobs, Health Spas, and Viagra!

The European Parliament

Recently, documents have come to light that expose 763 members of the European Parliament and their families as benefitting unduly from their health plan, which apparently reimburses them for procedures like massage, face lifts, breast enhancements, and other “luxury” treatments. In some cases,  taxpayers have foot the entire bill for a Spa Day or Massage! Men whose wives or mothers are part of the European Parliament receive free Viagra for impotence, reportedly as long as the impotence is a direct result of serious injury. The cost of this generous healthcare plan for politicians is almost £3 million, up 36% over last year, at a time when the average European citizen has suffered from cuts in health care due to the financial problems plaguing Europe.

The Practical Guide to the Reimbursement of Medical Expenses is responsible for leaking the information.

In a similar vein, here in the United States, servicemen and women were once able to undergo certain cosmetic procedures in order for military plastic surgeons to build skills necessary to treat patients with more serious problems. That disappeared after CNN did a story that criticized the practice, arguing that taxpayers should not pay for procedures that are purely cosmetic. Military men and women now pay a lower price for cosmetic surgery at military hospitals as a result of CNN’s expose, but no longer receive free treatment for elective procedures.  Military plastic surgeons, however, state that this has greatly diminished the number of procedures performed and as such, has left younger military surgeons with too little experience with healthy patients, making it more difficult for them to learn procedures that would be benefit them when reconstructing faces and bodies that are casualties of war.

What about this? Do you think people in the military should get free cosmetic surgery because (A) they put themselves at risk for us and/or (B) because the military surgeons need to “practice” on healthy patients to enable them to do better work on badly injured veterans? Or do you believe there’s no reason to give away cosmetic work by the military to its own and their reasons are a bit contrived?  Please share your thoughts!

To your health & beauty,

Dr. Vip Dev

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Study says: Piercings can cause nasty infections!

Most of us assume that piercing our bodies is a safe beauty option. However, ear piercing has recently been studied to show that ear-piercing is linked to bacterial infection. I’m not talking about old-time high school piercing by your best friend with a sterilized needle and some thread, which is an obvious risk. I’m talking about piercing performed in malls using hand-powered piercing guns or in tattoo parlors using sterile needles and a forceps.

The study was carried out at the Department of Emergency Medicine at UCLA-Harbor and involved surveys of 14 businesses that pierce ears on a regular basis. Included in the study were the types of instrument and earrings used (ie, platinum, gold or silver posts), the amount of employee training, the location on the body of the piercings and the preparation and aftercare instructions. Both tattoo parlors and mall stores and kiosks were part of the 14 businesses studied.

The tattoo parlors generally used sterile needles and forceps to pierce ears, while the retail stores and kiosks used piercing guns. All of the 14 businesses offered earrings made of 14 or 24K gold, stainless steel or other metals, and none offered earrings made with nickel. Many people are allergic to nickel, leading to nasty infections just from the material.

The training at the stores and kiosks tended to involve videos and demos of piercing but the tattoo parlors generally had an apprentice program of varying lengths. Both the mall stores/kiosks and tattoo parlors performed lobe and cartilage piercings.

The big difference was in the preparation solution used when the piercings were done. All the cosmetic stores and kiosks used benzalkonium chloride or isopropyl alcohol to prep the area, while the tattoo parlors used iodine-based solutions. At each one of the businesses, aftercare instructions were given, which focused on maintaining piercing hole patency but did not discuss infections, ie, how to identify or avoid them.

The study also showed that the cosmetic shops and earring kiosks patients were more likely to have infections, especially in cartilage piercings. The takeaway is that the increased infections were due to poor training and the use of benzalkonium chloride as a preparation agent instead of iodine. Some of these infections studied were  severe, even to the point of requiring surgery and IV antibiotics to treat a particularly nasty bacterium called Pseudomonas.

I know people love piercings. However, I urge you to think about taking a bit more precautions when piercing your body. Ask the store, kiosk or tattoo parlor what kind of preparation they plan use prior to piercing you, and ask about the training. There’s no harm in knowing what’s going to be used on you and the skill of the person doing it. You might avoid a bad infection later.

To your health and beauty,

Dr. Vip Dev

Study Says: Exercise Helps Even More as you Age

Everyone knows that regular exercise is essential for a healthy body. Here’s something new: researchers have been busy researching ways to delay the muscle shrinkage that comes with aging and sedentary lifestyle.

Dafna Benayahu, with the Tel Aviv University in Israel, and his colleagues studied lab rats to see whether endurance exercise would increase the number of muscle stem cells, which are the cells that decrease as humans age, leading to muscle weakness in the elderly.

They compared rats of different ages and sexes. What they found was pretty amazing: the number of muscle stem cells grew after the rats ran on a treadmill for 20 minutes a day for a 13-week period.

Although the younger rats showed a 20% to 35% increase in the average number of stem cells per muscle fiber retained, the older rats benefited even more, with a 33% to 47% increase in stem cells!

The researchers are hoping that this study will help them identify new ways to increase muscle stem cells in humans, so we could help maintain muscle strength as we age.

To your health & beauty,

Vip Dev, MD