Can a Caffeine Cream Banish Cellulite?

Researchers in Brazil say a cream containing caffeine may make women’s thighs smaller. It makes for a nice headline, except:

It was not clear from a news release on the study if the work was a true experiment, with a control group and subjects randomly getting the treatment or a placebo.

Whether caffeine banishes cellulite is less clear. The researchers assessed cellulite changes with a handheld imaging instrument that reveals microcirculation in fat tissue. Imaging showed little change in cellulite, even in the hips and thighs that slimmed down.

Sound too good to be true? I’m sure it is. However, if you apply the caffeine cream immediately before doing 30 minutes on the elliptical five times a week for 10 weeks, then you’ll see those thick thighs melt away.

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Dermatology Chair Warns of Unproven Cosmetic Devices

At a recent dermatology meeting Dr. Christopher Zachary, a well know cosmetic and laser dermatologist and department chair, warned that the dermatology profession risks losing its credibility by promoting devices that just don’t work. Zachary cautioned doctors to be wary about purchasing devices that are popular but unproven.

In buying a new laser, doctors “can spend $200,000 to make patients look better. Some of them work; most of them don’t,” he told the panel, held at UCI. Zachary told the panel that, although many lasers and similar devices produce little, if any, actual change in patients, doctors still make presentations at medical conferences about the new technology…. “There’s a problem here. I go to lecture after lecture, and I think that if someone went to the podium with a carousel and the slides slipped out, they wouldn’t know which was the ‘pre’ picture and which was ‘post,” he said.

For both physicians and patients, buyer beware.

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Skin Care Myths: It’s Normal for Moles to Change During Pregnancy

It is a widely held belief that moles or nevi change during pregnancy. However, there is no convincing evidence to support this. There are many changes that happen to a woman’s skin when she is pregnant. She may develop melasma, brown splotches on her face, or linea nigra, brown pigmentation on her belly. She may also develop benign growths such as skin tags or angiomas.

It might be that some of these skin changes are misinterpreted as changes in the size or color of already existing moles. Also, since women’s skin stretches during pregnancy, moles might appear to be growing or spreading. This is not the same as a mole actually changing. According to an new review published in the December 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology:

The best data available … suggest that nevi do not typically change over the course of pregnancy; therefore a changing nevus during pregnancy should undergo biopsy, just as in a nonpregnant patient.

If you are pregnant, or are a physician who has a pregnant patient with a changing mole or nevus, then it should be evaluated by a dermatologist. Though uncommon, a new or changing nevus, can be a melanoma skin cancer.

MRSA, the Staph Superbug

What is MRSA?

MRSA is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to methicillin, an anti-staph antibiotic. MRSA is a particularly virulent strain that can cause a life threatening infection, especially in frail or immunocompromised patients. It is more common than we thought; data from the CDC showed that there were about 94,000 cases of MRSA in the US in 2005 with over 18,000 deaths, more than from AIDS. Continue reading “MRSA, the Staph Superbug”

Indoor Tanning Increases Your Risk of Cancer

Would You Like 10,000 or 20,000 Watts?

‘Tis the season for indoor tanning. Even some of my most educated, sophisticated patients think that a “little” sun tan is better than having “pasty white” skin. It isn’t.

One 2002 study by researchers at Dartmouth Medical School found indoor tanners were 2.5 times as likely to get squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times as likely to develop basal cell carcinoma as people who didn’t tan; the study didn’t analyze melanoma rates. Another report from Norway and Sweden followed women who regularly used tanning beds for eight years and found they had a 55 percent greater chance of developing melanoma than those who didn’t.

“Well, it must be better than actual suntanning,” you say.

… New high-pressure sunlamps emit doses that can be as much as 15 times that of the sun, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Your natural skin color, even if “pasty,” is beautiful.

Cosmetic Surgery Procedures Down

The rush to cosmetics by physicians ranging from ER doctors to Pediatricians has been amazing. But, is there a cosmetics bubble?

Some plastic surgeons … are seeing a drop-off in patient consultations, which is ‘usually a little bit of a precursor to lighter surgical calendars maybe 45 to 60 days out.’ … [B]reast-implant maker Mentor Corp. in Santa Barbara, Calif., says the surgeons … have noticed a drop in patient interest.

As long as the economy continues to slow, discretionary spending for cosmetic procedures will likely tighten. A potential benefit? You might be able to get in to see your physician sooner for that rash.