Advice from Area Health & Wellness Professionals
Q. Wearing a mask regularly throughout the pandemic has really done a number on my skin. Are there ways to prevent further breakouts and reduce the scarring that’s resulted from this?
A. What you may think are scars from acne could actually be post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). These dark spots that follow acne may fade over time, but there are ways to help speed up the process. Whether from wearing a mask or makeup, occlusion can lead to continued acne breakouts. To undo previous damage, you first need to stop new blemishes. That starts with a good cleanser. Next, try a skin brightener. These are topical products, prescription or over-the-counter, that help fade the PIH that acne left behind. It’s often amazing how much clearer the skin will look after PIH is gone. Finally, consider adding microdermabrasion or a “below-the-mask facial” to your routine. Microdermabrasion is a non-invasive spa treatment that helps further cleanse the skin and reduce both acne and scars. Facials can be targeted to treat just the area below the mask and calm the inflammation caused by acne breakouts.
Q. I lost a lot of weight last year, but my skin isn’t bouncing back. How can I remedy this?
A. Following significant weight loss, the body may be left with excessive loose, sagging skin in typical areas such as the face and neck, breasts, abdomen, arms, and thighs. Sometimes the body will recover and tone up, at least to some extent. However, oftentimes the loose skin persists in spite of diet and exercise. While there are a few non-surgical and less invasive options that may provide some degree of improvement, plastic surgery is usually the best option for a predictable, precise, cost-effective result that will hold up over time. A few of the most common plastic surgery procedures after weight loss are tummy tuck (abdominoplasty), breast lifts (mastopexies) with or without augmentation, and arm lifts (brachioplasty). Be sure to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon experienced in these types of procedures.
Q. My toddler is incredibly shy in most situations. How do we know if she’s just shy or if there’s something more serious at play here?
A. For a parent asking me this question, I would recommend that they speak with their pediatrician to obtain the appropriate referrals, including a referral to a developmental behavioral pediatrician. The specific concerns I would have would be considering selective mutism or autism spectrum disorder. The American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) identifies selective mutism as a complex anxiety-based disorder that impacts communication in social settings. Appropriate resources for selective mutism would include being evaluated by a speech-language pathologist as well as a behavioral health professional such as a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist. In the event of selective mutism, treatment would include collaboration between these disciplines and the family to appropriately support the child for his or her communication needs. If the concern is for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), I would recommend asking the pediatrician about referrals for speech therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral therapies, depending on the areas of concern.
Q. I’ve been recommended by my doctor to have my gallbladder removed. Will there be a lot of scarring, and is the recovery process difficult?
A. For most gallbladder removals, there are four small incisions. These incisions do leave a small mark, but for most people, it is not noticeable. If you are very concerned about scarring, some surgeons can hide your incisions in your belly button and below your panty line while performing your procedure robotically. Recovery does involve some discomfort at the incision site, but this is usually fairly minimal. The biggest restriction involves lifting or straining your abdominal wall after surgery to avoid hernias at the incision sites. Most surgeons have you on some restrictions for a minimum of two weeks.
Q. My husband and I have agreed that we’d like to try couples counseling to strengthen our marriage. What should we expect from the first session?
A. Every therapist handles an initial intake differently. I like to begin with an informed consent process where the couple can get to know me a bit, as the personality of the therapist has a direct impact on a couple’s experience. If I can inject fun into the first session, I like to try to include that as well, to help ease any anxieties. We talk about their goals for our time together and what they are hoping to accomplish as a result of this investment into their relationship. Whether or not they choose to hire me long-term, I encourage them to be picky about who they hire. Over 70% of therapists claim to do couples work, but only about 11% have actual training with couples.
I think couples therapy is a fantastic and proactive investment into one of the most important relationships in a person’s life. You don’t have to be in crisis to come to couples therapy. Sometimes, it’s just a healthy way to keep things vibrant and thriving. Cheers to healthy coupledom!