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The Lowdown on Low Blood Pressure

 
 Most people know that having high blood pressure, or hypertension, is bad for you. High blood pressure is a serious condition that can cause damage to your heart and blood vessels. High blood pressure can lead to heart attack or stroke, kidney damage and dementia, and may even impact your vision. Women are often at risk for high blood pressure, leaving them susceptible to heart attacks and strokes. Many women also experience blood pressure that is too low, leaving them at risk for other health complications. Dr. Alqulali monitors the blood pressure in her patients to ensure they are healthy- and to treat them if blood pressure is too high or too low. 

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Is There a Right Time for Mammograms?

 If you’re heading towards the big 4-0, you probably are wondering if it’s the right time to get a mammogram, but new recommendations say otherwise. For many years, 40 was the standard age suggested by the American Cancer Society to start preventative scanning. However, recently the ACS and the American College of Physicians have said that 40 is not a hard and fast rule for all women. In fact, they say that age 50 is the new 40 when it comes to screening mammograms. It is important to remember that these recommendations do not apply to all women, and Dr. Alqulali encourages patients to talk to their doctors about both their family health and personal health history to determine if they need earlier screenings.

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Effects of Episiotomy: Beyond Physical


A recent study by the University of Michigan has found that women who have an episiotomy during childbirth experience feelings of poor body image and a less satisfying sex life than women who have not had the procedure.

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Labiaplasty and Other Female Genital Plastic Surgery Procedures Increasing in Popularity


The American Society of Plastic Surgery reports that labiaplasty procedures have increased by 400 percent between 2011 and 2015. According to the ASPS, other female genital surgery procedures have also gained popularity, too, as more women are learning about and talking about these genital plastic surgery procedures.

Labiaplasty procedures alone jumped 39 percent in 2016, as over 12,000 women seeking this surgery last year. Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure that reduces the size or reshapes the labia. In most cases, the surgery is performed on the labia minora, or the inner labia, to its length. Some women are born with labia minora that protrude beyond the labia majora, or outer labia, but some women experience labia minora stretching during childbirth.

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The Most Popular Cosmetic Surgery Procedures for 2016

The American Society of Plastic Surgeon’s annual recently published their 2016 statistics, which showing new trends in cosmetic surgical procedures. One particular procedure that increased in popularity is labiaplasty, or the surgical alternation of the labia. In fact, labiaplasty increased 39 percent over 2015, with over 12,000 procedures performed in 2016.

The procedure has gained popularity as more and more women are opting for bikini area grooming such as waxing or shaving. As a byproduct of these new grooming habits, they are becoming more aware of the appearance or shape of their labia- which leaves some women feeling self-conscious.

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Learn about Microdermabrasion

Many people suffer from the damaging effects of the sun’s ray on their skin. Regular and prolonged exposure to the sun leads to a host of skin problems like discoloration such as freckles or sunspots, wrinkles, creases and in serious cases, skin cancer. Sun exposure leaves skin looking tired and dull, which may translate to looking older. Some patients are turning back the clock and undoing the damage of the sun through a skin revitalizing procedure known as microdermabrasion.

Microdermabraision helps to repair sun damaged skin by using small aluminum oxide crystals delivered via a hand held wand to abrade the first few layers of the skin, which become clogged with dirt and makeup, or environmental pollutants. This clogging of the pores makes the skin appear dull.  After the skin is abraded, the dead, sloughed off cells are suctioned away. The exfoliation of the microdermabrasion procedure stimulates the body to produce new skin cells and increase collagen production. This leaves the patient with tightened skin and a fresh, youthful appearance.

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Senior Demographic Seeks Cosmetic Surgery

Women over the age of 55 are now the fastest-growing demographic seeking cosmetic procedures, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. In fact, the number of cosmetic procedures for senior patients has increased over 63 percent in the last five years. These patients are looking for every kind of cosmetic procedure ranging from minimally invasive options like dermal fillers to even Brazilian butt lifts. Cosmetic surgeons do not expect to see a slowdown in this demographic’s demand for procedures anytime soon, either.

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It's Not Gravity That Ages You

 

Too often, gravity gets a bad rap for its aging effects on the face and skin. It is frequently blamed as the cause for wrinkles, creases and sagging and everything sliding south. Gravity actually has little or nothing to do with aging. The real culprit behind those creases and line is fat. More so, the lack of fat in the face.


It’s true. Facial fat volume is the key to keeping a youthful visage. Facial fat volume is at its greatest peak between the ages of 18 to 22. After that, the fat volume begins to decrease, and areas may sink and slide a little, and creases and wrinkles develop more easily.


For years, many individuals opted to have facelift surgery in order to fight against gravity and aging. While the facelift procedure does work to tighten the skin by lifting everything up, it does not fill in lost fat volume. Without fat volume replacement, patients were left looking skeletal and sunken in some areas as skin tightened and smoothed out against bone.

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What's the Low Down on Laser Hair Removal?

Waxing, shaving, plucking, chemical depilatories, sugaring and threading. Just a few methods women use to remove unwanted body hair. All of these methods yield fairly short-lived results, wreak havoc on the skin, can be painful and in some cases, downright torturous. There is a more permanent and more comfortable alternative to these options. The alternative is laser hair removal, also known as intense pulsed light therapy.

Laser hair removal is one of the most of the most commonly performed cosmetic procedures in the United States, as reported by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. In their annual report, Plastic Surgery Statistics, they report that 1.1 million laser hair removal procedures were performed in 2015 and that laser hair removal is up 52 percent since 2000.

The laser hair removal procedure uses an intense laser light beam that is passed over the skin. This laser targets melanin, the dark pigment that gives color to hair and skin. Melanin absorbs light, which allows the laser to destroy the hair follicle instantly.

Most women choosing laser hair removal opt to have the procedure performed on their legs, face or bikini line, but it is used in any area where the patient has unwanted hair. Some patients use the treatment on the chin or upper lip to remove facial hair, and others choose the treatment for their arms if their hair is dark or excessive. The treatment is popular because it is quick, with each pulse of the laser light taking only fraction of a second. The procedure also treats multiple hairs at the same time, allowing technicians to cover large areas quickly, and small areas almost instantly. Technicians usually cover most areas in less than an hour.

"Laser hair removal is a popular procedure for many women," says Dr. Mona Alquali, M.D., FACOG. "Hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, perimenopause and menopause cause fluctuations in hair growth, which may cause frustration and feelings of self-consciousness," she explains. Alquali treats patients at her Clinton, Iowa, practice for their obstetric and gynecological needs, but also provides a wide variety of convenient cosmetic procedures, like laser hair removal.

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Many Women Are Looking to Reduce the Signs of Previous Pregnancy

For many women, pregnancy can leave the body a little different from it was before baby. Stretch marks, changing shape and increased (and sometimes decreased) breast size are just some of the changes women go through during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Many women are looking to reduce the signs of pregnancy and give themselves a beauty boost post-partum by undergoing cosmetic and aesthetic procedures.

Members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons report an increase in the number of women seeking post-partum procedures since 2005. On average, the increase has been roughly 10 percent per year, and popular procedures range from laser skin rejuvenation to breast augmentation and liposuction. Many women choose to combine these individual procedures in a package, commonly termed as the "mom job" or "mom makeover," in order to address their desired changes in one surgical swoop.

Breast surgery is one of the most popular procedures among post-partum moms. Breast surgery options for patients include augmentation implant or fat transfer surgery, breast reductions and breast lift procedures to achieve the patient’s desired look. Pregnancy can impact the breasts in many different ways, and patients may experience sagging, swelling, disproportionate breasts and in some cases, may even experience loss of breast tissue and their breasts shrinking. "The body and the breasts change significantly during and after pregnancy. Many women find after pregnancy that the clothes they wore pre-pregnancy do not fit quite the same as they did before – even after losing the weight they gained during pregnancy," says Mona Alquali, M.D., FACOG, a Clinton, Iowa, obstetrician and gynecologist trained in cosmetic surgery.

Alquali frequently performs cosmetic surgery and other aesthetic procedures on patients she has treated for their obstetric and gynecological needs. "Most patients looking for cosmetic surgery procedures after having a baby are simply looking to regain their shape after having children," says Alquali. Some patients may be able to rebound to their pre-baby shape after delivery, but that is often determined by genetics and age. Multiple pregnancies or pregnancies with multiples, like twins, can also impact the body. "Many women who have had multiple pregnancies may find it is harder to recover her original shape after each pregnancy," says Alquali.

Another area that is a popular area of cosmetic treatment is the abdomen. Naturally, the abdomen stretches and grows during pregnancy. Along with it, so does the skin – which can result in stretch marks. Stretch marks cannot be totally erased but can be treated post-pregnancy through laser skin resurfacing to reduce their appearance.

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Breast Reduction Surgery Can Help Confidence and Health

When it comes to the topic of breast augmentation, the first thing that comes to mind for many people is usually breast implant surgery or other cosmetic procedures to increase breast size. There is another common, but less popular, type of breast surgery, called the mammoplasty reduction, which is chosen by many women each year to reduce the size of their breasts and change their appearance. There were only 40,000 aesthetic breast reduction surgeries performed in the United States in 2015, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ 2015 Report, Plastic Surgery Statistics. This is compared to over 279,000 breast implant or other aesthetic augmentation surgeries that same year.

Mammaplasty reduction, also known simply as breast reduction, is a procedure that reduces that size of the breasts by removing excess tissue, fat and skin in order to give the patient a more proportioned look that is balanced with their frame. Patients with very large breasts and seek out the reduction procedure may do so because they feel self-conscious or are embarrassed about their appearance. They may also shy away from participating in some activities or avoid relationships because of their feelings about their breast size.

Aside from aesthetics, many patients seek out breast reduction surgery to relieve pain or discomfort caused by large or pendulous breasts. Large breasts can cause pain in the neck, shoulders or back. Breasts that are too large are often very heavy and can pull the body forward. This causes the shoulders to slump and gives the patient posture problems. Some patients also report contracting hard to treat rashes, as well as bacterial and yeast infections underneath their breasts.

Patients with very large breasts can even have difficulty sleeping, according to Dr. Mona Alquali, M.D., FACOG, of Clinton, Iowa. "Breasts that are too large can make everything uncomfortable – from buying clothes to exercising and even finding a position that is comfortable for sleep," she says. "Most patients have dealt with the pain and being uncomfortable for a long time. As a result, many women end up frustrated and seek out reductions to feel better – both physically and mentally."

Alquali frequently consults and counsels patients seeking breast reductions to answer questions about the procedure, and ensure interested patients are good candidates for surgery. "Breast reduction is a major surgery," says Alquali. "It is important to provide the patient as much information as possible about the procedure, and discuss their expectations for after surgery."

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Why Are More Women Learning Toward Labiaplasty?

The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, upon compiling statistics for their 2013 annual report, made a note of a surprising trend in a particular cosmetic procedure. The ASAPS pointed out that the number of labiaplasty surgeries performed across the country that year had significantly increased – to the tune of 44 percent over the previous year. The number of procedures increased again in 2014 by 49 percent, and once again in 2015. The popularity of this procedure is increasing for a number of reasons with patients citing motivations based on aesthetics, function, and health.

Labiaplasty, also known as labia minora reduction, is a cosmetic procedure that surgically alters or contours the skin folds that surrounds the vulva. The procedure can also be done with a laser. This alteration can be performed on the labia minora, or inner fold or the labia majora, or outer fold.

Many women who choose labiaplasty do so in order to repair the damage that happens as a result of natural childbirth. During a vaginal birth, the labia can stretch, elongate or tear. While many women heal normally after delivery and report no issues, some patients report labial pain or discomfort, even after their wounds are healed. This pain or discomfort can cause sexual dysfunction in some individuals and may make certain activities like exercising or running uncomfortable. Other patients report that their condition makes wearing certain types of clothing painful or difficult, because of irritation. Irritation can cause recurring health issues like yeast or bacterial infections. Patients also complain that their damaged labia may be visible through clothing, like bathing suits or workout gear, which may result in the patient feeling embarrassed or self-conscious.

Doctor Mona Alquali, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.O.G, is an ob-gyn who sees women in her Clinton, Iowa, practice who have questions about their labia and labiaplasty options post-partum. "Many women come in after they’ve healed from childbirth, a little frustrated and disappointed because they thought everything would ‘go back to normal,'" she explains. "They might not have had an issue after their first child, or their friends or sisters didn’t have any labial issues after their deliveries so that they may feel frustrated, isolated or a bit embarrassed."

While many women have labial issues after childbirth, some women just have issues with the natural construction of their labia. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 30 percent of the female population who underwent a gynecological exam had signs of labial hypertrophy. Labial hypertrophy is the medical term for a naturally occurring condition in which the labia is enlarged. Labial hypertrophy can impact the labia majora but typically occurs in the labia minora. The cause of naturally occurring of labial hypertrophy is unknown.

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Beyond Beauty: The Many Benefits of Botox

Most people know Botox as a treatment used to reduce wrinkles. This popular, minimally invasive injection hit the modern market in 2002 as a way to regain a youthful appearance and reduce the signs of aging. In addition to its cosmetic use, Botox has been found to have some unexpected additional medical benefits. The treatment has been approved for several applications currently in use, with over 90 other application requests pending with the Food and Drug Administration.

Botox is formulated with a toxin found in the bacterium botulism. This bacterium is known as onabotulinum toxin a. Botox, originally called Onabotulinum, was utilized the 1960s by an ophthalmologist as a way to treat patients with crossed eyes. Botox worked for this common eye condition because it paralyzed the muscles that caused the eyes to cross and allowed eyes face forward.

Botox works similarly for wrinkles. "Like its effect on the eye muscles, Botox paralyzes facial muscles -causing wrinkles to relax and even out. This gives the patient a more youthful appearance," says Dr. Mona Alquali, M.D., Ph.D., FACOG. Alquali is an ob-gyn in Clinton, Iowa, and, in addition to practicing obstetrics and gynecology, also offers her patients popular MED-spa treatments like Microdermabrasion, chemical peels and Botox for a total care approach. "Botox is a great treatment for patients looking for a minimally invasive, nonsurgical way to reduce signs of aging." The treatment is performed in the office, requires a topical anesthetic and results typically last three to four months, says Alquali.

Additionally, Botox has also been proven successful in treating individuals that struggle with excessive sweating, also known as hyperhidrosis. The Botox toxin blocks the chemical messengers that trigger sweat production sent by the brain to the sweat glands. Because this messenger never reaches the gland, the body will not produce sweat. Injections are localized to the afflicted area. Botox for excessive sweating has been found to be most successful for the armpit but is also successful for excessively sweaty hands and feet.

Adults who experience chronic migraines also find relief with Botox injections. Injections are given in the head and neck, and like its use with hyperhidrosis, blocks the chemical message being sent to nerve endings, but instead of the sweat signal, it prevents the pain signal. Results last for several months and treatments are reversible.

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