Decreasing Your Risk of Lymphedema Before Breast Cancer Treatment or Surgery

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What is lymphedema? It’s a buildup of lymph fluid in the fatty tissues just under your skin most commonly caused by the removal of or damage to your lymph nodes as part of cancer treatment. It results in a blockage in your lymphatic system which causes swelling, most often in the arms and legs but it can affect the face, neck, abdomen and genitals, depending upon what area of the body was treated.

Early detection of the onset of lymphedema increases the likelihood of successful treatment. Changes are usually subtle and progress slowly. Swelling may not be the first noticeable symptom. Sometimes, it is a sensory change such as a tingling feeling that will come and go, a feeling of heaviness or tightness in the limbs, or other subtle signs like jewelry feeling a little snug or a Continue reading.

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Helping You Prepare for Breast Cancer Surgery

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Preparing for breast cancer surgery can bring a lot of stress and anxiety. You may be experiencing many different emotions and have a list of unanswered questions. The breast cancer team at MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland is available to offer information and support to help you prepare for your surgical experience.

A monthly “Healing After Breast Surgery” class is held at the Center for Women’s Health on the campus of MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland. This free class is offered the third Friday of every month and is hosted by a certified lymphedema physical therapist and a certified breast cancer nurse navigator. Both individuals are also certified in the rehabilitation of cancer patients.

Common topics reviewed and explained at the class include lymphedema, normal post-operative changes, how to care for your drain tubes and incisions, signs and symptoms of infection to watch for, nutrition for breast cancer and when therapy may be needed.

Patients are taught effective stretching exercises to perform after breast surgery that can preserve arm function and mobility and reduce the chance of lymphedema.

By educating you on these topics either prior to or shortly after your surgery, the goal is to provide you with the tools and knowledge necessary for a positive recovery experience. Small group sessions are held monthly to foster an inviting, laid-back atmosphere where patients feel comfortable discussing their fears or concerns.

Family members and caregivers are welcome to attend to support their loved one preparing for surgery. Educational booklets and references are provided free of charge.


MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland’s Breast Health Program is certified through the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers and has been recognized as the region’s only Certified Quality Breast Center of Excellence from the National Quality Measures for Breast Centers Program. Those who would like more information or to register for an upcoming Healing After Breast Surgery class may call (989) 837-9045.

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What is a Vaginal Rejuvenation Procedure?

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Jada Pinkett Smith made headlines recently when she spoke about undergoing a vaginal rejuvenation treatment to resolve bladder issues on an episode of her Facebook series, Red Table Talk. It led to many people questioning what, exactly, vaginal rejuvenation treatment is, whether or not it’s safe, how it works and which treatment is best for them.

The simple answer is: it depends. There are several different treatment options available to fit a wide variety of symptoms, ranging from non-invasive to surgical, radiofrequency to laser and more. Continue reading.

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New Breast Imaging Guidelines

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The American College of Radiology (ACR) and Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) have released a new set of guidelines, recommending that every woman take a risk assessment starting at the age of 30 to see if screening earlier than the age of 40 is needed. This is particularly true for the African-American population as they recognize that these women are at an increased risk for breast cancer. The ACR and SBI instituted these recommendations in order to help save more African-American women and others (which also include the Ashkenazi Jewish population) who are at high risk.

Below are a few facts on which the ACR and SBI based their recommendations:

  • African-American women are 42 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than non-Hispanic white women despite roughly equal incidence rates.
  • African-American women have a two-fold higher risk of aggressive – “triple negative” – breast tumors.
  • African-American women are less likely to be diagnosed with stage I breast cancer, but twice as likely to die of early breast cancers.
  • African-American women have a higher risk of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations than those of Western European ancestry. Carriers of either mutation are at a much higher risk for breast cancer.
  • Since 1990, breast cancer death rates have decreased by 23 percent in African-American women, compared to 43 percent in Caucasian women.

Continue reading.

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Benefits of Single Site Surgical Approach

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Many benign gynecologic conditions can have a significant impact on a woman’s quality of life and interfere with work, school and even her relationship with her partner. Conditions such as uterine fibroids, endometriosis, chronic pelvic pain, heavy and painful periods and pelvic floor prolapse can often be treated with non-surgical interventions. However, if surgery becomes necessary, a minimally invasive surgical approach may be an effective option.

The da Vinci single site surgical approach offers the patient many benefits. This type of minimally invasive surgery only requires a single one and a half inch incision at the belly button. A small camera and instruments placed through a special port are then used to perform the surgery. Because this approach requires only a single small incision, and uses small delicate instruments for tissue handling and dissection, patients experience minimal blood loss, greatly decreased post-operative pain, less risk of infection and a much shorter post-operative recovery. For most patients, these procedures can be done as an outpatient surgery requiring no overnight hospital stay. Because the incision is incorporated into the natural irregularities of the belly button, this is a virtually scarless approach to surgery.

Types of gynecologic surgery that can be performed with the single site approach include hysterectomy, treatment of pelvic floor relaxation, sterilization procedures, diagnosis and treatment of pelvic pain and endometriosis and treatment of ovarian and Fallopian tube cysts and masses.


If you have been struggling with pelvic pain, heavy bleeding or other gynecologic problems, contact Gynecologist John Lieberman, D.O., for an appointment. Dr. Lieberman will review your treatment options and discuss whether da Vinci single site surgery is possible for you.

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Breast Reduction Surgery

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Skin rashes, shoulder and back pain, ill-fitting clothing and constantly trying to minimize your breasts shouldn’t be a lifestyle – and there is a solution.

Doctor and patient consulting on a table

Women with large breasts and musculoskeletal symptoms of the neck and back may see improvement with a breast reduction procedure. Chronic rashes beneath your breasts and grooving in your shoulders from your bra strap may make you a candidate for the surgery. Most insurers provide coverage at age 18 but make exceptions on a case by case situation.

Each insurer has a set of requirements that need to be met to be considered for surgery, including a recent mammogram. These will be discussed at the time of your consultation. Your physician and their staff will guide you through the process from the first visit to obtaining the authorization. Surgery can be scheduled within two weeks of receiving the authorization.

The surgery is designed to reduce the size of the breast and then reposition the breast on the chest wall so the remaining weight is better distributed. This procedure is performed in an operating room under general anesthesia and takes approximately three hours. Patients go home the same day and are seen for follow up and drain removal four days later. Wearing a sports bra 24/7 is recommended, except for showering, which is allowed once the drains are removed.

Upper extremity exercise is not recommended for one month, as well as being fitted for a new bra. Patients are amazed at how little pain they experience, and often remark that they wonder why they waited so long.


Komorowski_Mark_MD_126Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon Mark Komorowski, M.D., sees patients at his office in Bay City and performs procedures at MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland. To learn more or to inquire about becoming a patient, contact Dr. Komorowski’s office at (989) 893-9393.

 

 

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Taking Care of Yourself During Menopause

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During a woman’s reproductive years, the estrogen that is produced helps control body weight, among other things. When a woman approaches menopause and estrogen begins to decline, symptoms and side effects can include:

  • Increased appetite
  • Decreased activity
  • Decreased muscle mass, metabolic rates and use of starches and blood sugars
  • Decline in the rate at which you can use up energy during exercise

ThinkstockPhotos-472504192No matter what your past activity levels were, you’ll need to increase the time and intensity of exercise if possible to avoid weight gain.

Some exercise options include strength or weight resistance training, yoga or even something as simple as gardening. These will help build muscle mass, improve metabolism and maintain bone mass.

In addition, regular exercise can help decrease your risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, keep your joints and muscles strong, relieve depression and anxiety and improve your overall health.  Continue reading.

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Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle with a Well-Woman Visit

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and most likely you’ll see a sea of pink throughout the month, from pizza boxes to athletes’ jerseys, to raise awareness and join in support of the fight against breast cancer. While this support is extremely important to help find a cure, it’s also important that women understand the benefits of screening mammography and when to begin it.

Female patient listening to doctor with concentration in medical officeFor women over 40 at average risk of breast cancer, getting a mammogram at least once a year is the best way to detect breast cancer in its early stages. It’s important that you share with your physician any family history of breast cancer, as those with a first-degree relative who’s had breast cancer may need to begin screening mammography earlier than age 40.

As an OB-GYN, I encourage all of my female patients to come in once a year for a well-woman visit, during which we can discuss all of the factors that go into maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including breast health. These visits can include screenings, immunizations, evaluations and more.

Well-woman visits are a great way to meet with your physician, discuss any concerns you may have and get feedback regarding any follow-up care that you may need in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Early detection of breast cancer is crucial, and waiting until you have symptoms to go to your doctor can increase the chance of cancer spreading and becoming harder to cure. Talk to your physician about any questions you may have.

During the month of October, MidMichigan Health is offering free mammograms to qualified woman over 40 who do not have insurance. To learn more, visit www.midmichigan.org/freemamm.


Ruple-Shawna-126Obstetrician/Gynecologist Shawna Ruple, M.D., sees patients at MidMichigan Obstetrics & Gynecology in Midland. Dr. Ruple specializes in routine and problem gynecology care, gynecologic surgery, prevention of female reproductive cancers, birth control options, caring for women while pregnant and more. To make an appointment, contact her office at (989) 631-6730.

 

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Myths about Menopause

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Menopause is a natural process that signals the end of a woman’s fertility cycle. Knowing what to expect, and understanding the truth behind some common menopause myths, can make the transition easier.

ThinkstockPhotos-532109298Myth: Menopause happens immediately after a woman has had her last menstrual period.

Menopause, for most women, is a gradual process, and only fully happens a year after the last menstrual period. Symptoms may occur slowly, peak and then go away gradually as a woman goes through menopause.

Myth: Not all women experience perimenopause or menopause symptoms. Continue reading.

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Moms, It’s Okay to Ask for Help

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According to Governor Snyder’s declaration of the month of May as Postpartum Depression Month, as well as Mental Health Month, roughly 20 percent of families with newborns, or 23,000 Michigan women and their families, are affected by postpartum depression each year. Many more cases go unreported or undetected.

Tired Mother Suffering From Post Natal DepressionPostpartum or perinatal mood changes can be difficult to detect. Becoming a mom is a big change, and some emotional changes are expected to go along with the transition. Some indicators of a more serious problem can include:

  • Sleep changes unrelated to your baby’s sleep pattern
  • Feelings of guilt or inadequacy
  • Obsessive, morbid or self-harmful thoughts
  • Crying, or feelings of anxiety without something to be sad or anxious over
  • Changes in appetite

Perinatal mood changes are common, but your health care provider can’t help if they don’t know you need help. It’s important to speak up if you need help. New mothers have a lot of work to do, and it can be hard to pause and take care of yourself – but “it’s impossible to pour from an empty cup.” Taking care of yourself will help you take better care of your family.

We’re committed to breaking down some of the stigma surrounding mental health concerns. It is possible to feel joy that your baby is here, but simultaneously be struggling with your mood. One does not exclude the other. If you feel like you’re struggling, please reach out for help.


Rausch_Jessica-FNP-126Family Nurse Practitioner Jessica Rausch, F.N.P., sees patients at MidMichigan Obstetrics & Gynecology in Midland. To make an appointment, contact her office at (989) 631-6730.

 

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