Men’s Mid- Abdominal Fat- The Beer Belly Syndrome

Darshan Shah, MD is CEO Medical Director of Beautologie Medical Group and a Bakersfield and Fresno Plastic Surgeon specializing in breast and body surgery.

Milan Shah, MD is the director of Beautologie Medspa and Aesthetic Medicine Specialist in Bakersfield, CA.

Beer BellyThe beer belly, it’s a man’s curse.   It starts in our thirties, and then grows like a uncontrollable tumor for the next 30 years with every frosty cool one.  But the beer belly is more than just an unsightly problem that forces us to go up in belt sizes.  It can be a sign of hidden killers lurking inside.

Recent studies have shown that men are much more likely to gain weight around the waist more than women.  Weight gain in this specific area (called visceral fat) is correlated with severe health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, high triglycerides, sleep apnea and even cancer.  A recently published Harvard article showed that men with increased abdominal girth are at an increased risk for osteoporosis.

Why does the beer belly phenomenon occur?  There are two main reasons: 1) as men age, our mid abdominal muscles weaken and lose mass.   This causes intra-abdominal contents (your intestines and organs) to push outwards and 2) men have a large omentum (the fat that is wrapped around your intestines to protect them), which tends to gain mass more rapidly than the fat else where in our bodies.  The combination of weak muscles and increased intra-abdominal mass pushing outwards gives the abdomen the appearance of a round, bulging beer keg.

The best way to test if you have too much belly fat is something you can easily do at home- measure your waist just above your hipbone.  If your waist diameter is over 40, you are at higher risk for any of the above health concerns.

The key to understanding what to do about this problem is having a good knowledge of what causes it in the first place.  Although genetics has a minor role, the rapid gain in intra-abdominal fat in our 40’s is due to slowing metabolism, increased alcohol intake, and high caloric diets.  Combine this with a lack of exercise and core strengthening, and you have the perfect recipe for a new size 42 belt!

Here is a simple three-step program to reduce your risk of serious health concerns, and get into shape before the summer swimming pool season:

Step 1:  Reduce Calories.  The best way for men to do this is portion control.  Take half your dinner order home for lunch the next day, use a smaller plate, share your food, and replace calorie dense foods with healthier veggies and proteins.  And, yes, drink less beer.

Step 2: Increase your physical activity.  Most days we don’t realize how sedentary we are.  The Nike Fuel Band is something I use to keep my activity level on track!  I set a goal for 3000 Fuel points a day, and If I am not there by the end of the day, I go for a walk with the dog before dinner.

Step 3: Sit-ups.  No way around it.    You need to tighten those mid abdominal muscles by working your way up to 100 sit ups a day.

It takes hard work, discipline and deduction, but the benefits are doubled:  you get to wear slim fit jeans and reduce your chances of serious health disease in the future!

Five Reasons Not To Have Plastic Surgery

Dr ShahPlastic surgery can be an amazing life changer.  I have personally done thousands of procedures on people who come back after they have recovered to tell me that I have “changed their lives” forever.  They have a tremendous boost of self-confidence and a spring in their step that their loved ones have not seen in years…or ever!

However, every plastic surgeon becomes acutely aware of the fact that many people are seeking plastic surgery for the wrong reasons.  Plastic surgery is a medical specialty where your doctor functions not only as a surgeon, but also a  psychologist who can help you determine if this is the right time in your life for a major change.  I say “no” to over 30% of the people that see us for consultation, not to be mean, but to protect my patients from themselves.  Although it is may be a disappointment to hear that plastic surgery may not be right for you, you should take this advice with great heed to prevent a going through a major disappointment or major complications.

  1. You are not healthy.  Plastic surgery works great, and the chance of having complications are usually minimal… unless you have uncontrolled health issues. The typical “silent killers” your family doctor talks to you about (diabetes, high blood pressure) can also cause healing issues and recovery problems.  Although having these problems doesn’t preclude you from having plastic surgery, you should definitely pay a visit to your primary care physician and make sure your health condition is optimized before you go under the knife.
  2. You are obese.   Many people have the misconception that being overweight is the reason that you go to a plastic surgeon!  This could not be farther from the truth.  Obesity not only makes it nearly impossible to get a good result from the procedure, it exposes you to additional risks such as wound healing problems, blood clots, and pneumonia.   If you are considering plastic surgery, you must lose the extra pounds first.  Although you do not need to be at your “ideal weight”, a good rule of thumb is that your Body Mass Index (BMI) should be less than 30. Check out our BMI Calculator to figure out what your Body Mass Index is.
  3. You are a smoker.  This one is pretty much a deal breaker.  If you smoke, you should not have most plastic surgery procedures that require a “flap” (tummy tucks, breast lifts, facelifts).  Smoking not only replaces the nourishing oxygen on your blood cells with carbon monoxide, the nicotine in cigarettes also constricts the tiny blood vessels that go to your skin.  No blood flow and less oxygen is the formula for infections, open wounds, and bad scars.  You should quit smoking for at least 4 weeks before surgery, and forever after.
  4. You don’t have the finances to do it right.  Unfortunately, many unscrupulous “doctors” advertise plastic surgery as “easy” and “cheap”.  Nothing is farther from the truth.   If you see a price that is too good to be true, it is.  Cheap plastic surgery almost always leads to disappointing results and more money spent dealing with complications.  Be skeptical about going to a “cosmetic surgeon” versus a plastic surgeon, doing surgery under local anesthesia (highly unsafe and only done when the doctor is not allowed to do the procedures under proper anesthesia), or extremely low prices (indicative of cutting corners).
  5. You are doing the surgery for the wrong reasons.   Many people think that plastic surgery can turn their life from bad to amazing with one quick visit to the operating room.  The reality is that if you are trying to prevent a relationship from ending, getting forced into doing it by someone else, or have any personal “drama” going on that is leading you to the plastic surgeons office, you should get back in your car and visit the psychologist first and work through these issues.  Don’t think about plastic surgery until you are in a good point in your life, have support from your significant other and are doing this for “you”!

Plastic surgery is now considered the “norm” in the United States, with over 65% of our population approving of plastic surgery.  The keys to success are being healthy, losing weight, quitting smoking, doing it for the right reasons, and doing it right by going to a real plastic surgeon.  Following this advice will not only save you a lot of disappointment, it may even save your life!

New Study Takes Closer Look at Combining Rhinoplasty with Chin Augmentation

A new study published in JAMA’s Facial Plastic Surgery journal takes a closer look at procedures that combine rhinoplasty and chin augmentation to enhance facial profile.

Surgeons at the University of Verona recently evaluated 90 surgical cases performed over a span of 2 years. They assessed the long term stability and aesthetic outcome of simultaneous chin surgery and rhinoplasty. The results they found varied, depending on the chin surgery technique that was performed.

A Lesson in Facial Proportion

If you visit a cosmetic surgeon and request a rhinoplasty, you may be surprised to hear them recommend chin surgery as well. Remember, their goal is to give you the best possible cosmetic outcome, and that may be impossible with rhinoplasty by itself.

This is largely due to the relationship between your nose and chin. To create a pleasing facial profile, the projections of each element should be balanced. A small chin can make a moderately-sized nose look large, while a large nose might overshadow a normal sized chin.

Relative size, not actual size, is what surgeons measure when it comes to nasal surgery or chin surgery. Each patient needs to be assessed individually, and the surgeon must look at the big picture – not simply the nose or chin alone. For the right patient, a combined chin surgery and rhinoplasty is the best approach.

As Dr. Dario Bertossi and colleagues conclude in their study: “The combined approach in correcting the facial profile is an effective procedure to achieve a more harmonic and consistent clinical outcome,”

Rhinoplasty and Genioplasty: What’s the Difference?

Rhinoplasty can enhance your appearance or improve your nasal function. Because the nose is such a critical focal point in your face, any change will have a powerful effect on your appearance.

Usually an outpatient procedure, rhinoplasty can be done with a general or local anesthetic combined with sedation. Precise incisions are made at the base of the nose and the skin is separated from the soft cartilage and bone. This allows the doctor to reshape the underlying nasal structure.

Genioplasty can augment or reduce your chin size, balancing it with your other facial features. The surgery may involve chin implants (augmentation) or a surgical advancement of the bone (sliding genioplasty). In most cases, a special biocompatible implant is placed in front of the chin bone. In others, the chin bone is separated, advanced and then and reattached.

Photo by Vincent Boiteau

New App Targets Appearance-Conscious Drinkers

A new smart phone application released by the Scottish government shows how alcohol abuse can change your appearance.

While the “Drinking Mirror” may not address the more severe long-term health concerns of alcohol abuse, it does reveal a consequence that heavy drinkers might overlook.

The app is very simple to use. You download it on your Android or iPhone device, upload a photo (or choose one from your gallery) and then position the face and eyes in a template. Choose the number of drinks you consume per week and then sit back and watch the transformation.

The results are startling. On a recent episode of TODAY, women at a Houston area tavern tested the Drinking Mirror app on camera. While they weren’t happy with their “after” photos, the group was skeptical of the app’s methodology, arguing that too many other variables, like genetics, fitness, and diet, were left out.

Nonetheless, the app could be valuable for spreading awareness about some of the subtle yet undesirable effects of drinking. “Binge drinking leads to problems with your body and your brain and self harming behaviors that can lead to addictive behavior,” said intervention specialist Brad Lamm on TODAY.

Although the Drinking Mirror app comes from Scotland, the problem is not unique to that locale. 1 in 8 American women are binge drinkers who consuming at least 6 drinks at a time, according to the CDC.

Original photo by Jennifer Lord Photography on Flickr.

Facelift or Fillers? How to Choose

More and more patients are considering facial fillers before they decide to get cosmetic surgery. Products like Juvederm™, Radiesse™ and Restylane™ have emerged as relatively inexpensive alternatives to face lift surgery. These treatments are ideal for people with busy lifestyles.

If you’ve already had treatment with injectable fillers, you may be considering a more long-term solution to the signs of aging. During a consultation, we can help you decide between facelift surgery or a minimally invasive alternative such as Juvederm™ or Radiesse™.

To help you choose, we’ll evaluate factors like:

  • Your appearance and how you have aged
  • How you feel about cosmetic surgery
  • Time you have for post surgical recovery
  • What you can afford

In some cases, if a patient has early signs of aging in the jowl area, a facial filler can be used to postpone surgery for several years. With a low treatment cost, this option can be very convenient. With each treatment, you’ll have the opportunity to build a rapport and trusting partnership with the doctor.

Part of the consultation process also helps you set realistic expectations. It’s important to know the limitations of both face lift surgery and injectable fillers, which vary. With fillers, you can usually expect a quick but subtle improvement that lasts 6-12 months. With a face lift, you can look 10 years younger, and the results typically endure for several years.