Whether it’s parasite infestations, piercings gone wrong or freaky feet, no one is immune to gross anatomy. Witness how modern medicine treats painful and unsightly problems on a special edition of The Doctors. Relief is possible – change your life today.
Tarra, 28, is a mother of two who suffers from painful and unsightly abscesses under her arms, on her breasts and in her groin area.
“It’s so painful. Sometimes I can’t play with my kids,” Tara says. “It breaks my heart, because I feel like I can’t do the things with my kids that other moms can do.”
While Tara has sought medical attention for her condition, doctors have not yet provided an effective treatment.
Tracie, 27, says since her second pregnancy, she’s developed large, painful varicose veins on her legs, which have become more severe since giving birth to her fourth child.
Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins that appear close to the surface of the skin and are most prevalent in the foot and ankle area. Approximately 50 percent of women over the age of 50 will develop them in their foot, ankle or legs.
“I’m very uncomfortable with myself,” Tracie says. “I won’t wear shorts. I won’t wear a bathing suit.”
Plastic surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon says that varicose veins occur when the valves in the veins, which are supposed to push blood back up to the heart from the legs, fail. The condition is genetic and Tracie says her grandmother on her father’s side suffered from the same malady.
Tracie says she’s tried everything to ease the pain, including elevating and icing her legs, sitting in a hot bath, wearing sport stockings and exercising, but nothing has worked.
Dr. Ordon examines Tracie’s legs and determines that, while her veins are large and protruding, her blood circulation is generally in tact.
Dr. Ordon refers Tracie to vascular surgeon Dr. Rajeev Rao for endovenous laser ablation, a new technique for treating varicose veins without a major operation. The laser’s energy works from the inside, sealing the vein closed for a permanent fix.
Gladys says the fourth toe on each of her feet stopped growing when she was 10 years old. Now, as an adult, both toes are much shorter than the others, leaving Gladys feeling self-conscious and uncomfortable wearing open-toed shoes.
“I love to be in the ocean, I love to body surf,” Gladys says. “It’s been really hard for me because everyone walks around barefooted or in flip-flops, and I can’t.”
Gladys says one doctor recommended amputating the toes, an option she was uncomfortable with. She visits foot surgeon Dr. Ali Sadrieh for a second opinion.
Dr. Sadrieh says Gladys has brachymetatarsia, a condition where the growth plates in the metatarsal stop growing. To fix Gladys’ problem, Dr. Sadrieh offers an alternative to amputation: an implant.
Until recently, toe-lengthening was not an option for people born with short metatarsals, or those suffering from poor hammertoe surgery results, causing fibrotic tissue to break down and shrink the toe. Now, a new implant provides a solution for those struggling with those podiatric ailments.
The implant is inserted between the two bones to lengthen the toe, and results are instantaneous, with minimal recovery time.
• Some people suffer from abnormally long toes. Watch Dr. Sadrieh perform a controversial toe-shortening procedure.
Psoriasis is a skin disease where overactive T-Cells attack healthy skin cells causing skin to rejuvenate too quickly, resulting in painful and unsightly skin patches. While psoriasis is not a contagious condition, those suffering from it must seek medical attention, as it can develop into a debilitating state of chronic itching and bleeding. There are a number of treatments, including prescription creams and laser procedures, depending on severity.
For the past 10 years, Carrie, 36, has been suffering with painful psoriasis on her face, hairline, back and legs. “The worst thing about psoriasis for me is how it makes me feel emotionally,” Carrie says. "My self esteem has plummeted immensely.”
When Tracey was 18 years old, he had his left ear pierced. After removing it two years later, a small bump formed in the back of his ear, which he had removed and treated with radiation therapy. The bump eventually reappeared, and he had it removed a second time, causing an abnormally large development of scar tissue.
“Keloids are scar tissue gone wild,” Dr. Ordon says. “Normally, scar is tissue meant to just stay in the spot where the piercing was, but Tracey’s has grown way beyond that point.”
Keloids are believed to be caused by the body’s failure to turn off the healing process while repairing skin. Effective treatments of keloids can be difficult, and the initial phase of treatment involves gradual inflammation via several spaced injections. The next option is to excise the scar surgically or treat it with radiation, which still has a 50 percent recurrence rate.
For the past year, Shelley, 35, says she’s experienced painful constipation, bloating and bleeding during bowel movements. She’s visited doctors, who diagnosed her with hemorrhoids and changed her diet to include more fiber, which led to her shed 100 pounds. But, the pain is persistent.
“The pain it causes is severe,” Shelley says. “All I could do was just sit on my living room floor and cry because I didn’t know what to do.”
Gastroenterologist Dr. Jorge Rodriguez says Shelley’s symptoms may indicate anal fissures.
“Imagine you have a paper cut on your hand. [Anal fissures] are the same thing on the anus,” Dr. Rodriguez says.
While anal fissures may be the culprit, Dr. Rodriguez recommends an anal examination and a colonoscopy for Shelley to thoroughly examine the inside of her colon.
• Web Exclusive: Dr. Rodriguez explains acid reflux
Shannon, 23, says she feels she’s “deformed down there,” due to her large labia minora, which make having sexual intercourse painful and causes her discomfort when sitting for extended periods of time. She also suffers from frequent urinary tract infections and says her condition played a role in a previous breakup.
Urologist Dr. Jennifer Berman examines Shannon’s vulva, and confirms that she has significant labial redundancy and a clitoral adhesion, an overgrowth of scar tissue in the clitoral region, and recommends a labiaplasty.
Trachoma is an infection of the eye caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis, and is one of the leading causes of blindness. It is characterized by swollen eyelids, turned in eyelashes, discharge from the eye and the swelling of lymph nodes. The condition can be spread by secretions of the eyes, nose and throat and is highly contagious. If you come down with any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
• Treat common eye problems.
Worms aren’t only a problem for pets – they affect humans, too! Dr. Rodriguez explains how to tell if you have roundworm, and the safest and quickest ways to exterminate it.
While Dr. Rodriguez says roundworm is treatable and not fatal, it’s important to see your doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms.
Roundworm symptoms include:
• Abdominal pain
• Blood in the stool
• Seeing a worm in your stool