Fighting Obesity

Leech and Maggot Therapy

Leeches and maggots usually elicit uncomfortable squirms, wrinkled noses and unanimous cries of, “Ewwww!” But don’t let appearances deceive you! These little creepy crawlies are actually FDA approved medicinal devices. Maggots can remove dead or necrotic tissue in a wound and leeches are sometimes used in plastic and reconstructive surgery to suck out excess fluid (often referred to as congestion), which promotes healing. Contrary to popular belief, leeches do not remove toxins from the body, so don’t be too quick to attach a batch to your skin!



Anorexia is an eating disorder commonly associated with women, but studies show that approximately one million men are struggling with the disorder as well. “Men are in search of the perfect male physique that they see in the media,” Dr. Ordon explains. The psychological ailment is more common in men who were overweight as teens and most treatments involve cognitive therapy to overcome their distorted body image.


“The truth is, being anorexic or bulimic is not going to get you the healthy physique that you’re looking for, and that’s the tragedy here. There’s nothing healthy about being anorexic.” Dr. Travis warns. “The best and only way to stay and keep healthy is to adopt a lifelong healthy lifestyle,” Dr. Lisa adds.  


Teen Lap-Band Surgery on the Rise

Teen obesity has tripled in the last 20 years and teens as young as 12 are going under the knife to combat it. Although it is unlawful to perform liposuction, lap-band surgery and gastric bypass surgery on minors, many parents are taking their children abroad to have the surgery performed. Are these drastic measures an unnecessary risk?  


How Lap-Band Surgery Works

Lap-Band surgery is a type of gastric surgery that is performed via a laparoscopic incision in the abdomen. A band is tied around the junction of the esophagus and the top of the stomach, which serves to constrict and restrict the stomach area. This forces the patient to eat less food, which eventually causes weight loss. Though the procedure has been deemed effective and is reversible, The Doctors question whether it is safe for teens. See an animation of a lap-band surgery here.


Dr. Jim and Dr. Ordon share a favorable opinion about lap-band surgery for morbidly obese adolescents: “I think it’s much safer than some of the alternatives, which is not doing it.” Dr. Jim explains, “Because then you’re guaranteed to get diabetes, heart disease and that sort of thing.”


Conversely, Dr. Lisa states that teens tend to gain weight as their bodies change and grow and is concerned that people might abuse this procedure. She points out that if left to its own devices, the body will naturally shed the weight as adolescence evens out.


Dr. Lisa adds that an individual who undergoes a lap-band procedure will need to change their lifestyle regardless of their age - you have to eat less, practice portion control and make better food choices – so an individual should try this method first before resorting to gastric surgery.  



The Family that Loses Together, Stays Together

Mike, Dante and their 13-year-old son, Joey, went across the border to Mexico to have lap band surgery done as a family. In just a few months, they have lost a combined 150 pounds. Dante notes that the biggest changes they have experienced are that they have to pay more attention to what they eat, cut their food into smaller portions and chew more thoroughly. They recognize that they are embarking on a profound lifestyle change as a family and that the band is just a tool to do so. “We’re doing great. It’s great having a support system here at home,” Mike affirms.



Does Mother Know Best?

Stephanie is 13-years-old and weighs nearly 240 pounds. Her mother, Tania, drove Stephanie across the border to Mexico to have the surgery performed by Dr. Ariel Ortiz. See Stephanie’s surgery here.


“We’ve tried many diets and a lot of exercise, and she still won’t lose an ounce.  We don’t have any junk food in the house.” Stephanie’s mother explains. She felt the surgery was the best option for her daughter. “I don’t want her to go through high school handicapped,” Tania adds. “My greatest fear is that if we do not do the lap-band procedure, then she will have great problems with obesity.”



Stephanie’s Surgery Explained

Dr. Ortiz, Director of Bariatric Surgery at The Obesity Control Center in Tijuana, Mexico, was trained by the doctor who pioneered the lap-band implant and has performed the procedure on over 150 teenaged patients.


Dr. Ortiz explains that half of Stephanie’s body weight is fat; she already has severe pulmonary restriction due to the extremely high fat levels. “As she gains more weight, that’s going to create even more problems for her to exercise and do the conventional treatments.”


He demonstrates the procedure on an anatomical model of a stomach and explains that it is essentially a “satiety inducing device,” which allows the patient to feel full more quickly. The lap band can be adjusted and removed and is far preferable to gastric bypass surgery, which permanently alters the body’s anatomy.


In gastric bypass surgery, the stomach is stapled and the remaining stomach area is then attached directly to the middle portion of the small intestine, bypassing the rest of the stomach as well as the upper portion of the small intestine.


Dr. Travis counters, “You know, at 13 years of age - I just have a lot of problems with this! I have seen a lot of people lose the weight just as easily when they stick to doing the right things. And they don’t have to make the drastic lifestyle changes the surgery requires that I think are harder to make.”


Stephanie chimes in, “I’m looking forward to losing weight, being able to wear the clothes I want to and having an easier time playing sports!”


To see the Pros and Cons of Gastric Banding Surgery, click here. 



Childhood Alopecia

Monica sent a question about her four-year-old daughter Rebecca, who lost her patches of her hair, as well as her eyebrows and eyelashes - not once, but twice! Dr. Jim explains that this type of hair loss, called alopecia areata, is caused when the child’s immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles. It is more common in kids with allergies and is more prevalent in girls. Though the condition often repairs itself, a dermatologist can perform steroid injections to alleviate the overactive immune system. 


Med Smarts

Got Milk?

Ladies, this one’s for you: Studies have shown that a high intake of calcium and vitamin D can help reduce the symptoms of PMS. 

Reaching the Peak
While experts agree that most males reach their sexual peak before they’re old enough to vote, females reach their sexual peak in their early 30s.


Earlobe Reconstruction

Women who have worn heavy earrings or large dowels that have stretched their earlobes for years often lament the damage. Ambria, 21, had her ears pierced with large wooden dowels when she was 17 years old. Dr. Ordon, Dr. Chopra and Rob Lucas, P.A., perform an earlobe reconstruction in record time using 40 tiny stitches on Ambria’s ear to restore the tissue.  “Wow, it’s amazing!” Ambria exclaims. See the procedure here.

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