Wednesday, November 21, 2012


No one could like cats as much as Denis Avner, who was known as "Cat Man" for the rather obvious reason that he had numerous plastic surgeries to make himself look, well, like a cat. Specifically, a tiger. In fact, his tattoos, piercings, and cosmetic surgeries were so plentiful that he earned a world record for body modifications. But if reports are true, no amount of changing his exterior could save his interior -- he reportedly may have committed suicide. Avner also went by his Native American name, "Stalking Cat." If you look at pictures of him, you will be truly startled. In his face is little left of a human being as we recognize it. His eyes are slanted like a cat's and he wears colored contacts. His cheeks bulge out. His teeth are sawed and carved to feline perfection. He had piercings put in for whiskers. He's tattooed with the stripes of a tiger. I can only imagine that wherever he went, he was greeted with stares, gasps, and finger pointing. Which must be what he wanted, considering his physical appearance took a lot of effort.According to Wikipedia, Avner's "totem" was a tiger and he began his face modifications in an effort to "follow the ways of the tiger." He also reportedly dedicated himself to "exploring the species line as much as possible," said a friend. And apparently in Native American tradition, it's not that unusual to try to look like your spiritual inspiration. But I'd guess that even Native Americans would say that Avner went pretty damn far in his spiritual quest. In fact, if becoming one with your totem is any guarantee of emotional fulfillment, then Avner should have been the happiest man on the planet -- clearly not the case if he took his own life. There may be a story here that I'm not aware of. Perhaps Avner was sick. Perhaps taking his life was just another way of showing devotion to his "cat ways." (Don't they have nine lives?) I don't know. But I tend to believe that anyone who alters their outside to a huge extent is really trying to alter their inside -- and it doesn't work. It must be a sad shock for people who get a physical "ideal" in their minds and work very hard to achieve it -- only to find that they still feel like the same person. Rest in peace, Cat Man.

What do you think of this man's surgeries? Here he talks about them in this video.


If going through child birth wasn't enough, for many women, the big challenge starts after the baby arrives. We're talking about getting your body back to its original shape. Now, some moms are choosing to go under the knife to get that pre-baby body back. The gym has become a second home for 28-year-old Shellie Schoellkoph."I jumped into diet and exercise and lost 75 pounds," she said. Schoellkoph weighed 262 pounds at her peak. Now she's 187 pounds and still wanting to lose more. But she has plateaued, her strict diet and exercise wasn't working like it once was. "I was seeing a lot of changes just in my silhouette and change in my shape in general. But I wasn't seeing the smooth lines, no matter what I did in the gym and how hard I exercised," Schoellkoph said. Houston plastic surgeon Dr. Franklin Rose says he sees it all the time. "They are very common, not just in my practice but in most plastic surgeons practices. There are so-called mommy makeover, which is really it might encompass 40, 50 percent of the patients we do," Dr. Rose said. A typical "mommy makeover" usually focuses on three main procedures.
First, there's the breast lift or implants. "First, the breast will enlarge, shrink, enlarge, shrink through the process which is called postpartum involution and patients end up with no filler or many cases with quite a bit of decent," Dr. Rose said. Second, liposuction. "It's not talked about enough in liposuction is the reduction in body mass index, her fat content," Dr. Rose said.And finally, a tummy tuck to get rid of that unwanted skin. Schoellkoph will have all three. "This absolutely metamorphosis the patient," Dr Rose said. "The improvement in body image that we are able to provide gives them long-lasting boost in self-esteem for many years to come." That improvement in body image and self esteem won't come over night.
Four hours of surgery is followed by several weeks of recovery, something Schoellkoph weighed heavily before making her decision."I wanted to know that he could match the image that I had in my head of my pre-baby body. And he seems confident that he can," Schoellkoph said. Clinical psychologist Nanine Ewing says that every woman is different and getting that your figure back might not happen, even with plastic surgery.  "When that's the case and it's really that impeding of one's life, I think it's a natural progression, it's a natural thing if you can afford it. But the expectations need to be realistic," Ewing said.Schoellkoph now is 15 pounds liter and 2 sizes smaller. "I think they were right on par with what I was expecting," she said. "I was able to put on a bikini the last week or two of the summer so that was nice and I have been really, really pleased with it." And all that extra skin is gone. "There is scaring along the hip. It's a little longer than I expected, but I would trade the scar for the before any day," Schoellkoph said. Now she has the best of both worlds: a healthy boy and her pre-baby body back. The mommy makeover isn't cheap. Dr. Rose days it can set you back between $15,000-$20,000.


Allyn Rose is more than just another pretty face. The Miss America contestant, who will represent Washington, D.C., in the Jan. 12 pageant live on ABC, lost her mom to breast cancer at age 16. Now, at only 24 years old, Rose has decided she will undergo a double mastectomy as a preventative measure after learning she is a carrier of the same rare chromosomal disease that her mother had.
"The idea that I could wake up one day and not have the same body that I did the day before is very scary," Rose, a self-proclaimed former tomboy, tells PEOPLE. "But I also realize my mom was diagnosed at 27. That's three years away from me. I'm not going to let my fear of losing this part of my femininity stop me from living." Of the disease, Rose explains, "It manifests in male children, but there have been studies that women who are the carriers of it have almost a 75 percent likely chance of contracting breast cancer. It's a very strange change in our genetic code. Almost all of the women in my family have passed away from it."
Thinking back to completing teenage milestones that she couldn't share with her mom, Rose wants to take all the necessary precautions to ensure that these experiences are ones her own children will be able to share with her."My mom had her right breast removed at 27, but at 47 or 48, it came back in her left breast," she says. "It was already stage three. She could have had that other breast removed, but I'm sure there was a part of her that thought she didn't want to give up this other part of herself."
She adds, "My dad said he begged her for years and years to get it removed, but she said no. It's ultimately the thing that killed her. I had to become my own mentor. I had to go pick out my prom dress by myself. I had to go to my high school graduation without my mom. She didn't see me go off to college or go on my first date or drive a car for the first time." But after the "very difficult" experience of losing someone she calls "incredible," Rose will make a huge sacrifice to ensure her own life will last."It's a very scary proposition," the model, who also works as a paralegal, says of undergoing the surgery. "But my father and I have met with a surgeon and countless doctors. Some of them are wary because I don't have breast cancer and I am so young, but others have said it's a very smart move, especially for someone who is genetically predisposed."
Choosing Life over Beauty
Rose describes the breast reconstructive plan as "very risky" and "not exactly seamless," but one that is worth it."Your skin may be damaged in a way that you will lose your nipple, or sometimes women lose all of their breast tissue," she says, [but], "Breasts don't define your life. I'm choosing life over beauty. I'm choosing to remove something that's so iconic to my womanhood." Rose – who looks up to Robin Roberts and Giuliana Rancic, who both have battled breast cancer – is using her pageant opportunity as a platform to teach people how to be proactive in their healthcare. "Title holders across the country get an opportunity to speak to their generation and have something they can advocate," she says. "Being in the industry and competing in the most iconic swimsuit competition in the world, I thought to myself, 'If I were to win and have this surgery a year from now, would I be a different Miss America because I lost my breast?' No."
Should she win the competition, Rose plans to undergo surgery after her duties are complete in January 2014. If she does not win, she will have the procedure done after her local duties are complete next June.
"To win the pageant would truly have my mother's dreams for me come to fruition," says Rose, who will show off her unique roller skating talents during the competition. "Never once in my life did I doubt my mom's love for me or that she wouldn't do anything to have me succeed in life. Some people will never experience that kind of relationship with a parent."


A nevus is a birthmark, a mole. The treatment for a mole is relatively straightforward: Just do a simple procedure to cut it out and close it up,” said Dr. Albert Oh, director of fellowship for craniofacial and pediatric plastic surgery at Children’s National Medical Center. “But in this patient's case, because it involved a good one-third to half of her face, you couldn’t just cut it out. It was too big.” Agusta was born with a dinner-plate-size mole that swept across her scalp and the right side of her face. Others stippled her body. Besides being unsightly, these large moles have an elevated risk of turning into melanoma. They also can enter the brain and spine, causing seizures. Doctors in Iceland knew it would take a series of operations to remove the facial birthmark. They told Agusta’s parents the last procedure would be when she was 15. Meanwhile, her parents had gotten in touch with Dr. Oh, who at the time was at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, R.I. He said he could finish by the time Agusta started school at age 6. “When I had to choose between the age of 15 and the age of 6, I would always choose the age of 6,” said Agusta’s mom, Sigrún Thorsteinsdóttir. The first few operations were done in Rhode Island, the final ones at Children’s Hospital, to which Dr. Oh moved in 2009. He used a technique called tissue expansion to enable Agusta to grow herself extra, blemish-free skin.

A sterile plastic balloon was inserted under Agusta’s normal skin. Every week over the course of a month or two, saltwater was injected into the balloon, swelling it. Over time, a hillock of pristine skin — from the size of a lemon to the size of a banana — grew over the balloon.Once enough new skin had grown, Dr. Oh cut into the birthmark right down to the fat layer, removing it and covering it up with the graft. In all, Agusta had eight surgeries: four to insert tissue expanders, four to remove parts of the nevus. Agusta’s family lives in Gardabaer, near Reykjavik. Agusta is now 6, the middle of three children, with an older brother and a younger sister. Sigrún is a flight attendant with Icelandair and so is very familiar with Washington. Agusta is now, too. Last time they were here, mother and daughter stayed in Columbia Heights. “It was such a good time, though it was always a hard time,” Sigrún said. “She always looked forward to going here. She thought it a little like a vacation, though she knew she was going for an operation. She has never complained when she comes here.”Agusta had her last procedure in October 2011. Then she started school. “I was so scared,” said Sigrún. But it went well. Other students asked about Agusta’s scars. “She just tells everyone, ‘I’m born like this,’ and it’s over and they don’t ask anymore,” Sigrún said. “Hopefully it will stay like that. She’s very strong. She’s very joyful. She’s always smiling.”


Every day, America’s medical technology community gets up and goes to work, focused on improving the lives of patients throughout the world. Whether manufacturing pacemakers, CT scanners or catheters, our passion for innovation and ingenuity is why this proud American industry continues to lead the world in these challenging times.Unfortunately, in fewer than 60 days, a new medical device tax will hit this innovative industry, and it threatens patient care and U.S. jobs. This onerous policy — which is expected to cost more than $30 billion — is already having a real-world, everyday impact on our health care system and our economy. Even though it doesn’t take effect until Jan. 1, medical technology companies are already announcing job cuts and canceling plans to build plants to pay for the tax. Others are trimming budgets in important areas like research and development. Put simply, this is a tax on innovation, and it is going to hurt American workers and patients most. Congress can and should repeal it immediately. Medical innovation is key to providing cutting-edge, lifesaving technologies to patients. Between 1980 and 2000, new diagnostic and treatment tools helped increase life expectancy by more than three years. But the new tax will take money from our research and development pipelines, reducing our ability to discover and develop lifesaving medical devices such as heart valves, molecular diagnostic tests and MRI machines. The effect this will have on patients is real. Today, a patient can walk into an emergency room with chest pain, receive a noninvasive CT angiography that discovers heart blockage and receive a stent in two hours. Compared with yesteryear’s technology, this example of an advanced diagnostic and treatment protocol demonstrates profound clinical- and cost-effectiveness, saving lives and doing so more quickly and efficiently. If the device tax goes into effect, the march of medical innovation will be inhibited and patient access to the next generation of medical technology won’t be realized. Many of the novel, cutting-edge medical technology innovations come from small companies with very few employees. Unfortunately, the medical device tax will hit these small companies and startups hardest, because it will be applied on sales, regardless of whether a company is making any profit. Small businesses often suffer losses in the early years of operation when they are investing in research and development on new products. Paying a sizable new tax while incurring traditional startup-driven losses will be more than many small businesses can bear.


Arlington Heights, Ill. - The busiest travel season of the year is approaching, with many people headed to tropical locales, but plastic surgery patients need to know who is performing their surgery before traveling abroad. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) cautions that while inexpensive vacation packages that include cosmetic surgery may sound appealing, it may be difficult to assess the training and credentials of surgeons outside the United States.

"It is a significant patient safety concern when consumers are having major surgical procedures performed by unqualified practitioners," said Dr. Gregory Evans, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. "There are no U.S. laws that protect patients or mandate the training and qualifications of physicians who perform plastic surgery outside of the U.S. There may be no legal recourse if surgical negligence by the physician or institution occurs."
This warning comes on the heels of a new survey from global market research company Ipsos on behalf of Reuters News. The survey shows one in five people "definitely would consider traveling to another country to receive medical or dental care if the cost were significantly lower than in their country."
"All too often we see patients who think they will enjoy a vacation following plastic surgery abroad only to end up paying dearly for the surgeon's lack of training and expertise," Evans said. "These patients end up paying more in revision surgeries and time off work than if they had paid a bit more to see someone who was qualified to perform the procedure. The ASPS Find-a-Surgeon tool is an invaluable resource to patient's looking to have plastic surgery."
The ASPS Find-a-Surgeon tool allows consumers to search for qualified plastic surgeons in the U.S. and around the world. All plastic surgeons in the Find-a-Surgeon database have completed extensive surgical training, including plastic surgery, and adhere to a strict code of ethics, among other requirements.
Consider the following when evaluating whether medical tourism is for you:
• Vacation-related activities may compromise patients' health. Although enticing, vacation activities should be avoided after surgery. Rest is required to properly heal and to reduce the possibility of complications.
• Cosmetic surgery is real surgery. At the highest level of care, every surgery, including cosmetic surgery, has some risks. Infections are the most common complication seen in patients that go abroad for cosmetic surgery.
• Travel combined with surgery significantly increases risk of complications. Individually, long flights or surgery can increase the potential risk of developing pulmonary embolism and blood clots. Traveling combined with surgery further increase the risk of developing these potentially fatal complications, in addition to, swelling and infection.
• Quality critical care facilities are not always available. In the event that an unanticipated complication should occur, a critical care facility equivalent to U.S. standards should be accessible. Such facilities are costly to operate and are frequently unavailable in locations that offer heavily discounted plastic surgery.
• Follow-up care and monitoring may be limited. Follow-up care and monitoring is an important part of any surgery. Cosmetic surgery vacation packages provide limited follow-up care, if any, once the patient returns to the United States. Patients who travel outside the U.S. for cosmetic surgery and experience a complication may find it hard to locate a qualified plastic surgeon to treat the problem or to provide revision surgeries. Local doctors may not know what surgical techniques the physician used in the initial operation, making treatment difficult or nearly impossible. Revision surgeries can be more complicated than the initial operation and patients rarely get the desired results.
• Bargain surgery can be costly. Patients can incur additional costs for revision surgeries and complications that may total more than the cost of the initial operation if originally performed in the U.S.
• Surgeon and facility qualifications may not be verifiable. In order for cosmetic surgery to be performed safely, it requires the proper administration of anesthesia, sterile technique, modern instrumentation and equipment, as well as properly trained surgeons. Vacation destinations may not have formal medical accreditation boards to certify physicians or medical facilities. Many facilities are privately owned and operated, making it difficult to check the credentials of surgeons, anesthesiologists and other medical personnel.
• Devices and products used may not meet U.S. standards. Cosmetic surgery products or devices used in other countries may not have been tested, proven safe and effective, or been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For example, an implant used in the United States must meet standards of safety and effectiveness, a process regulated by the FDA. Other countries may not have similar regulations.