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Can lotions and creams reduce cellulite? What about liposuction? We asked skin-care experts to tell us what really works. By Melissa Romero
Are lasers the magic bullet? Photograph By Ruslan Olinchuk/Alamy.


Laser Therapy

How it works: A plastic surgeon makes small incisions to the cellulite-laden area. A probe placed through the incisions and under the skin emits a laser, melting fat bulges and cutting through the fibrous bands that pull on and cause dimples in the skin. New lasers, such as FDA-approved Cellulaze and CelluSmooth, require one-time treatments.

Cost: $4,000 to $7,500, depending on the size of the treated area. (Rondi Kathleen Walker, a plastic surgeon on Washingtonian’s most recent Top Doctors list, offers Cellulaze, while George Bitar, another top plastic surgeon, offers CelluSmooth.)

The verdict: Experts say that the new minimally invasive lasers are revolutionary because they require only one session and show immediate results. However, the treatments do cause bruising and swelling and sometimes require patients to wear compression clothing during the recovery period, which can be up to two weeks. Patients may need touchups once a year. Maral Kibarian Skelsey, director of dermatologic surgery at Georgetown University Medical Center, says Cellulaze is the best thing on the market but cautions that because the laser treatments are relatively new, there’s no data on long-term effects.


Anti-Cellulite Creams

How they work: Areas affected by cellulite aren’t only dimpled but also dehydrated, says Dr. Howard Murad, author of The Cellulite Solution. Applying creams or lotions that contain such active ingredients as retinol or caffeine increases blood flow to the area, temporarily reducing the appearance of cellulite.

Cost: $5 to $50 and up.

The verdict: “Don’t waste your money” on expensive lotions that advertise cellulite reduction, says Skelsey, who serves on the FDA’s general-and-plastic-surgery-devices panel. Using them is usually harmless, she adds, but “although there may be a short-term improvement [in appearance], it’s not scientifically possible that it will make an impact.”


Endermologie

How it works: A dermatologist or plastic surgeon uses a hand-held machine that suctions and kneads the patient’s skin, increasing circulation and loosening connective tissue. The treatment lasts approximately 30 minutes. It’s recommended that a patient undergo multiple sessions.

Cost: $100 and up per session.

The verdict: This type of deep-tissue massage may improve lymphatic drainage (which rids the area of waste and excess fluids) and reduce the appearance of cellulite, but only for a short time, says Dr. Melda Isaac of MI-Skin Dermatology Center: “It’s basically equivalent to fluffing up a pillow. It’ll look good in the meantime but won’t have long-lasting results.”


Radiofrequency Therapy

How it works: Radiofrequency devices apply heat to the surface of the skin, causing temporary swelling and thickening of the area, thereby smoothing the skin and minimizing the appearance of cellulite. For best results, patients are encouraged to undergo one or two sessions a week for a month or longer.

Cost: About $400 a session.

The verdict: A 2012 study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology found that 89 percent of women who underwent radiofrequency therapy reduced their cellulite. Isaac, who offers radiofrequency in her office, says the treatment works well for mild cases. For severe cases, she says, “where you can see the shadows, peaks, and valleys,” radiofrequency alone won’t work.


Liposuction

How it works: A thin, hollow tube is inserted through small incisions and moved back and forth to loosen fat. The fat is then suctioned out using a vacuum or syringe.

Cost: An average of $2,852.

The verdict: Although patients used to think liposuction could get rid of cellulite, today the American Society of Plastic Surgeons says it’s not effective for that use. In some cases, liposuction can make the appearance of cellulite worse by creating more dimples in the skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.


This article appears in the December 2013 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 11:00 AM/ET, 01/16/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
From thicker running shoes to the new Sriracha sauce, there's plenty to look forward to in health and fitness in the new year. By Melissa Romero
A recent survey found that gochujang, a fermented Korean condiment, is likely to be a popular flavor in 2014. Other health, nutrition, and fitness trends expected for the new year are high-intensity interval training, non-minimalist shoes, and more kombucha. Photograph by Flickr user KayOne73.

In 2012 we looked into our crystal ball and checked out what was in store for health and fitness in 2013. Our predictions were right on the mark, from the explosion of more themed races to the growth of Paleo dieters. Here, we anticipate seven trends to expect next year, from new exotic flavors in healthy dishes, to even more stylish workout clothes, to a new crop of running shoes that could change the face of the minimalist movement. 

More exotic flavors
Step aside, Sriracha, there's a new spicy sauce in town. A recent survey conducted by Sensient Flavors says gochujang, a fermented Korean condiment, is going to be popular in 2014. Other flavors expected to rise in the ranks: rhubarb, green coconut, and burnt calamansi. 

High-intensity interval training
The workout that involves short, high-intensity bursts of exercise is going to be the top workout of 2014, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. However, health professionals surveyed cautioned that with the rise of this type of training comes high injury rates. 

A boutique gym for every neighborhood
Goodbye gym chains, hello boutique studios. We love that almost every neighborhood in Washington has become home to small gyms that offer group fitness classes in intimate settings. And there are plenty more studios on the way for 2014

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Posted at 10:30 AM/ET, 12/23/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
A 2013 ranking of the healthiest states finds Virginia has an STD problem. By Melissa Romero
Washington may be known for its fitness, but the 2013 State Health Rankings show that Maryland and Virginia are not as healthy as they were one year ago. Photograph via Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com.

Bad news, Washingtonians: Maryland and Virginia are less healthy than they were one year ago, according to a new survey. 

The United Health Foundation released its 2013 annual report of America's Health Rankings today and while it touted the country in general for an improvement in overall health, our neighbors to the north and south slipped in the rankings. Maryland is the 24th healthiest state, followed by Virginia as the 26th healthiest. 

In fact, Maryland and Virginia were two of four states that experienced the largest decline in rank. Both fell four spots from their 2012 rankings. 

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Posted at 09:30 AM/ET, 12/11/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Ongoing research shows energy drinks alter the way our hearts beat. By Melissa Romero
A study has found that energy drinks results in increased heart contractions one hour after consumption. Photograph via Shutterstock.

The controversy over energy drinks rages on with a statement recently released by a group of radiologists who determined that consumption of energy drinks leads to increased heart contraction rates.

“We’ve shown that energy drink consumption has a short-term impact on cardiac contractility,” said Dr. Jonas Dörner in a statement released by the Radiological Society of North America on Monday.

The results come on the heels of an ongoing national debate over the potential dangers of energy drinks. A 2013 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that the number of ER visits related to energy drink consumption has nearly doubled since 2007, with 20,783 patients admitted in 2011.

Researchers tested the effects of energy drinks on individuals’ hearts in a small study involving 18 men and women. Each participant underwent a cardiac MRI one hour before consuming an energy drink. Then they underwent a second MRI one hour after consuming an energy drink that contained 400 milligrams of taurine and 32 milligrams of caffeine, two main ingredients of energy drinks.

Results showed that one hour after drinking, the participants experienced significant increased heart contraction rates in the left ventricle. The left ventricle pumps blood to the aorta, which then distributes it to the rest of the body.

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Posted at 03:00 PM/ET, 12/04/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
These hard-to-avoid spots are breeding grounds for illness-causing bacteria. By Saba Naseem
Research shows that public places like the gym are teeming with bacteria. Photograph via Shutterstock.

With changing weather and the end of daylight savings time comes another hallmark of fall and winter: cold and flu season. And if you find yourself succumbing to illness year after year, some surprising culprits could be to blame. Here are five of the top germ-infested public places to be extra wary of this flu season.

1) The Gym

Fitness centers are well-known breeding grounds for germs that might lead to infections or athlete’s foot. A study found high levels of body contamination on door handles, shower floors, free-weight benches and bars, and dumbbells. And don’t forget to give your yoga mat a wipe-down before you roll it up to prevent bacteria from growing.

2) Public Transportation

DC’s Wheaton Metro station boasts the Western Hemisphere’s longest set of single-span escalators. But you may want to avoid holding onto the rails, despite what the safety rules tell you. A study that looked at mall escalator handrails detected traces of blood, sweat, and urine. It also found blood, mucus, saliva, sweat, and urine on bus handles and armrests. Another study on a public transportation system in a US city found various strains of the infection-causing bacteria staphylococcus on bus and train floors, seats, armrests, and windows.

3) Restaurants

A recent study found that on laminated menus, salmonella survived up to 72 hours and E. coli up to 48 hours. And do you ever request a slice of lemon with your water or soda? A study that examined 76 lemons from 21 restaurants found that more than 60 percent of the lemon slices produced microbial growth.

4) Playgrounds

Everyone knows a kid’s favorite time of the school day is recess. But what you might not know is that playgrounds are also hotbeds of germs. The same study that found bacteria on escalator handrails found that playgrounds were the site most likely to test positive for biochemical markers including blood, saliva, mucus, sweat, and urine.

5) Makeup Counters/Handbags

A two-year study by Elizabeth Brooks, a biological sciences professor at New Jersey’s Rowan University, found that testers and makeup counters were contaminated with staph bacteria and E. coli among other germs. So before you try on that lipstick, think of the hundreds who could have tried it on before you.

Posted at 11:00 AM/ET, 11/07/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
New research says the vaccine does more than just prevent the flu virus. By Melissa Romero
A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that those with a history of heart disease reduced their risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke by 37 percent when they received a flu shot. Photograph via Shutterstock.

If you haven’t yet received the flu shot, surprising new research may finally convince you to get one.

Results from the study, the first of its kind, suggest that the influenza vaccine prevents more than just the flu. It can also protect against heart disease and stroke.

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Posted at 02:30 PM/ET, 10/24/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
You’re invited to a weight-loss expo at Virginia Hospital Center. By Melissa Romero
Virginia Hospital Center and Well+Being will host a free weight-loss event this Saturday from 9 to noon. Experts will be on hand to discuss a variety of weight-loss options, from nutrition to exercise to surgery. Photograph via Shutterstock.

We've got some exciting news here at Well+Being: This Saturday we'll be joining Virginia Hospital Center at its first-ever weight-loss event that will feature top experts in the field of weight loss, exercise, weight loss surgery, and overall wellness. 

Best of all? It's free. 

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Posted at 10:15 AM/ET, 10/14/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
A new study suggests the fizzy drink can save the day after a night of drinking. By Melissa Romero
Researchers in China have found that drinking Sprite may prevent a hangover. Photograph via Shutterstock.

This dreary weather is just asking for you to do some serious damage to that bottle of wine waiting at home. But if you’re worried about the aftermath, researchers have a new suggestion: Drink some Sprite.

Chinese researchers conducted a study that tested 57 different types of beverages and their effects on preventing a hangover. Xue bi, or Sprite, was the clear winner.

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Posted at 02:30 PM/ET, 10/11/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
They’ve been replaced with burgers that contain 26 ingredients. By Melissa Romero
Fairfax County Public Schools pulled the all-beef burgers from the lunch menus after students complained of the unappealing look and taste. They've been replaced with additive-laden burgers that contain 26 ingredients. Photograph via Shutterstock.

In Fairfax County Public Schools’ cafeterias, the students are the customers. And their palates are not pleased.

As first reported by the Washington Post, this past September students in Fairfax County schools complained so much about the new all-beef burgers served at lunch that the county opted to switch back to burgers containing additives—25 of them, to be exact. 

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Posted at 12:00 PM/ET, 10/08/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Results from a new study show that it doesn’t take much to cut your chances of getting cancer. By Melissa Romero
A new study conducted by the American Cancer Society found that walking for seven hours a week can cut your chances of getting breast cancer. Photograph via Shutterstock.

If you needed one more study to prove that exercise—even something as simple as walking—is good for you, here it is: Walking can reduce one’s breast cancer risk by as much as 14 percent.

The research comes just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness month and adds to increasing evidence that physical activity can help prevent breast cancer in women.

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Posted at 03:00 PM/ET, 10/07/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()