The Hidden Dangers Behind Hemangiomas

Considered a type of birthmark, hemangiomas are a cluster of small blood vessels on the surface of the skin and most commonly form on the face or neck at birth or shortly after. In most cases, these red to reddish-purple, raised areas are not harmful and go away after a few years, but Edwin Wortham, V, M.D. of Virginia Pediatric Ophthalmology Specialists, was recently reminded of when hemangiomas can be hiding a more serious problem.

“When hemangiomas are located close to the eye, they can often press on the cornea causing blurriness or other vision issues,” Wortham said. “When this happens, the affected eye will often try to overcompensate and the result can be a lazy eye or other serious sight issues.”

When a hemangioma begins pressing on the cornea, surgical removal can sometimes be required, according to Dr. Wortham, who performs these types of surgeries at Medarva at Stony Point Surgery Center. However, in most cases, early evaluation, monitoring of growth, and a treatment plan using topical, systemic prescription drugs, can often prevent the hemangioma from growing to the point that surgery is needed.

A patient Dr. Wortham recently saw was a 4-month-old with a hemangioma right beside the corner of the left eye and was the size of a pencil eraser. According to the parents, the hemangioma formed about a month after birth. The child’s dermatologist prescribed a topical ointment that is applied twice a day and should slow the growth. Dr. Wortham asked the child’s parents to monitor the area and make a follow-up appointment for three months, unless the size of hemangioma started to become excessively large in which case they should bring the child back in sooner.

Today, systemic or topical propranolol steroid injections and laser treatments may be helpful procedures used to remove or reduce hemangiomas that can affect the eyelid and block vision,” Dr. Wortham noted. “Each patient is different and the best solution is to start monitoring the hemangioma early and utilize the expertise of both a dermatologist and ophthalmologist to ensure all the right steps are being taken to prevent long-term damage.”

More information on hemangiomas and birthmarks can be found on WebMD by clicking here.

Weight Loss 101: VBLOC Therapy

For those who have struggled with severe obesity throughout their life, weight loss surgery may be a lifesaving option. Today, there are a variety of options for patients to consider, and the first step to choosing the right procedure is scheduling a consultation with a surgeon who specializes in weight loss procedures.

One option that patients may want to discuss during their consultation is VBLOC® Therapy. This innovative weight loss option is delivered through the Maestro System, a medical device similar to a pacemaker, typically implanted during an outpatient procedure and helps block signals along the vagus nerve, which connects the brain and stomach. These blocked signals help patients feel full following smaller meals and reduce feelings of hunger, which helps lead to effective and safe long-term weight loss.

During the procedure, electrodes are placed on the vagus nerve between the esophagus and the stomach. The Maestro® System, the implanted device that delivers the signals that block the nerve, is a rechargeable device that can be non-invasively programed. After implantation, your surgeon will activate the device and it will begin blocking nerve signals throughout the day.

VBLOC Therapy does not surgically alter digestive anatomy in any way and is completely reversible, if desired. According to Dr. James Bittner, this weight loss option also does not affect how calories are absorbed by the body, and may help patients effectively lose weight while simultaneously making minimal lifestyle changes.

“There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for patients struggling with severe obesity, and each individual patient’s needs and goals are different,” Bittner says. “VBLOC Therapy is a wonderful option for patients to consider because the scheduled delivery for blocking the vagus nerve is customized for each patient.”

Having an honest conversation with your surgeon about goals and lifestyle changes necessary following a weight loss procedure will help determine if this procedure may be the right choice for you. For additional information about weight loss procedures, please click here to access information from our website.

Prehab To Reduce Your Rehab

Everyone is familiar with rehabilitation after surgery, but what about the term prehabilitation?

Prehab is defined as what a patient might do to prepare for his or her surgery weeks before it takes place. A recent study shows that there are benefits to this practice including faster recovery and the ability to function better after surgery.

The benefits of prehab were revealed during a study done by McGill University in Montreal earlier this year. The survey involved the monitoring of 77 patients that received colorectal cancer surgery. To prehab, or prepare for their surgery, half of the patients were given a plan for 50 minutes of exercise three days a week by a kinesiologist. The group also received counseling and protein supplements from a dietician, as well as anxiety-reducing exercises from a psychologist to follow pre-surgery. The majority of the patients began their prehab program 25 days before their surgeries.

Both groups were tested at the start of the program and measured for how far they could walk in six minutes. All patients walked about the same distance, but when the test was repeated before surgery, the survey uncovered that patients in the prehab group walked significantly further than those in the rehab only group.

Two months after their surgeries, the rehab-only patients walked an average of 60 feet less than when they first started the study, while prehab patients walked an average of 60 feet further.

The stress of surgery, anesthesiology, medications and other factors are hard on the body,” said Dr. Kevin Silver. “There’s definitely a focus on rehab, but the idea of prehab is smart. Anyone who prepares beforehand by exercising or practicing some of the techniques revealed in this study should fare better than someone who doesn’t do anything at all.”

For more information on this study’s findings, click here to read NPR’s coverage.



Weight Loss Surgery 101: Sleeve Gastrectomy

If you are more than 100 pounds overweight and have obesity-related health concerns, you may be a candidate for bariatric surgery, more commonly known as weight loss surgery. Obesity is a chronic condition and for many who suffer from severe obesity, bariatric surgery can be a lifesaving option.

Severe obesity is a chronic condition that requires lifelong treatment, and many have difficulties treating it with diet and exercise alone. There are a number of health conditions linked to obesity, including Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and stroke.

There are several different types of weight loss surgeries currently available. Sleeve gastrectomy is one weight loss procedure that may help patients manage obesity-related health concerns. This surgery, also known as gastric sleeve surgery, is generally performed laparoscopically, which may reduce pain and recovery time.

According to Dr. Guilherme M. Campos, Professor of Surgery and Chairman of the Division of Bariatric and Gastrointestinal Surgery at MCV, this surgery helps patients lose excess weight by permanently reducing the size of the stomach. “During this procedure, a portion of the stomach is removed, leaving a narrowed sleeve,” Campos says. “The reduced stomach size limits the amount of food that can be consumed, and patients begin to feel full after eating much smaller meals.”

As with any surgery, weight loss procedures have post-operative risks. Patients who are candidates for weight loss surgery, such as the sleeve gastrectomy, must commit to lifestyle changes, including healthy eating and increasing physical activity. These changes help patients make the most of the procedure and ensure that their health conditions continue to improve.

If you’ve been considering weight loss surgery, making an appointment for a consultation with a specialist is a great place to start. For more information about weight loss procedures, please click here to access information from our website.

Weight Loss Surgery 101: Gastric Bypass

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 80 percent of adults in the United States are overweight, and half of these people are considered obese. Obesity can pose a risk for serious conditions including Type 2 Diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Obesity has a long list of possible causes and can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or race. For those who cannot control their weight through diet and exercise alone and are morbidly obese, bariatric (weight loss) surgery may be a good option.

There are several different types of weight loss surgery currently available. The wide range of surgery options may seem overwhelming at first, but your surgeon can help you determine what option will be best based on a one-on-one conversation and evaluation.

One procedure available to patients is called a gastric bypass. Gastric bypass surgery was the first successful weight loss surgery, first performed more than 30 years ago, and is one of the most commonly performed weight loss surgeries today.

According to Dr. James Bittner IV, gastric bypass surgery helps patients lose weight by altering how the stomach and small intestine handle food. “Following gastric bypass surgery, food consumed by the patient only goes through a portion of the stomach and small intestine,” Bittner says. “This means that patients feel full with far less food and the amount of calories absorbed by your body is reduced.”

During a gastric bypass procedure, the surgeon divides the stomach into two sections: a small upper section, and a larger bottom section. The smaller stomach section of the stomach, which is where food will now pass through, is then connected to the small intestine, which helps the body absorb fewer calories.

If you are considering weight loss surgery, the first step is starting the conversation with a doctor who specializes in weight loss surgery. The benefits to gastric bypass surgery can be substantial for those who are morbidly obese, but just as with any surgery, there can be risks as well. Your doctor can help determine eligibility, discuss lifestyles changes that must be made along with the surgery and discuss which surgery will be the right fit.

For more information about weight loss procedures, please click here to access information from our website.

Richmond: Sneeziest and Wheeziest City in America

Do you suffer from allergies? If you live in the Richmond area, you’re certainly not alone! The Natural Resources Defense Council recently named Richmond the “sneeziest and wheeziest” city in the United States, based on its combination of ragweed pollen and ozone smog. Also named in the top 5 were Memphis, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia and Chattanooga. The report highlights an observation that global warming and carbon pollution increase ragweed and tree pollen production as well as ozone.

This spells double trouble for our patients with asthma, according to Dr. Michael Armstrong of Richmond ENT. “Children and adults who are sensitized to pollen or mold in the air are especially vulnerable to asthma attacks when they are exposed to air pollution. This is particularly serious for our children in the inner city, who are exposed to the highest concentrations of ozone smog and may have limited resources for health care.”

But why do allergies occur? Armstrong explains that people are not born with allergies, but susceptible individuals develop them after repeated exposure. The immune system is designed to protect our bodies from infections such as influenza, chickenpox, and measles. After a natural exposure or vaccination, the body produces antibodies to eliminate the virus or bacteria and prevent future illness.

“Allergic patients develop unnecessary antibodies against harmless particles in the air we breathe or food we eat,” explains Dr. Armstrong. “With repeated exposure, the allergic patient produces inflammation when exposed to pollen, dust, or pet dander. This inflammation causes symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes, nasal and sinus congestion, sneezing, scratchy throat, hives and even shortness of breath. These symptoms are most commonly noticed during the spring tree pollen season and the fall ragweed season.”

Excellent allergy medicines are now available without a prescription, including nonsedating antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays. “Decongestants should be avoided” warns Dr. Armstrong, “as these do not fix the underlying allergic inflammation and they often cause a rebound of symptoms that needs to addiction.”

Anyone suffering from uncontrolled allergies or asthma should make an appointment to see a specialist. During the appointment, a physician will take a comprehensive health history, including your family’s health history and information about your work, hobbies and living environment. A careful history can often suggest the types of allergy exposures that might be causing symptoms. Your doctor will examine your skin, eyes, ears, nose, throat and lungs and may suggest further allergy testing, if appropriate.

If you’ve been suffering from allergies, don’t delay in making an appointment with a specialist. Relief is just around the corner!

A MEDARVAlous Week!

Here at MEDARVA, we’re passionate about giving back to our community and participating in a variety of philanthropic events. Each year, our staff looks forward to what we affectionately refer to as “MEDARVA Week,” a span of five days where we sponsor and support four community events.

Participating in four events over five days is certainly no easy feat, but our staff is up to the challenge because they know that involvement makes a difference in lives as well as the dollars these organizations need. When you combine four events, including the 2015 Annual Awards Breakfast at the Children’s Museum of Richmond, Special Olympics Summer Games, the Boxer Brief 5K, and the Conexus for Health Vision Golf Classic, from Thursday, June 4 through Monday, June 8, you have a “MEDARVAlous” week!

Children’s Museum of Richmond Book Bank Champion Awards Breakfast

The first event to kick off our week will be the Book Bank Champion Annual Awards Breakfast, held at the Children’s Museum of Richmond on Thursday, June 4. Each year, this event highlights an individual who has positively impacted early childhood literacy in Virginia, as well as to recognize the region’s most outstanding preschool and kindergarten teachers. It’s sure to be a wonderful event and we can’t wait to be a part of it!

The Special Olympics Virginia and Healthy Athletes Program

We truly look forward to being a part of the Special Olympics Virginia games again this year. MEDARVA has been a proud sponsor of this event for nine years, providing not only funds to the group, but onsite access to healthcare through The Healthy Athletes Program. The program provides access to healthcare for Special Olympic athletes by offering free health screenings in the areas of vision, hearing, dental, as well as fitness assessments. Because of support from groups like MEDARVA, the Healthy Athletes Program was able to provide free care to every athlete attending the summer games. 

The Boxer Brief 5k

Hitting Cancer Below The Belt’s Boxer Brief 5K is coming up on Saturday, June 6, at Stony Point Fashion Park, and we are thrilled that we’ve had the opportunity to support this wonderful event since its inception three years ago. This fun, annual event raises awareness and much-needed funds for colorectal cancer awareness and prevention. Event proceeds will benefit local efforts in prevention education, early detection and research. MEDARVA volunteers look forward to helping out along the race course, handing out bananas to runners, cheering on the participants and of course, supporting the Richmond community from the front lines.

This year’s event has a new location and will be held at Stony Point Fashion Park, beginning at 8 a.m. It’s a terrific event each year and we can’t wait to see you there!

Conexus For Healthy Vision Golf Classic

MEDARVA is looking forward to sponsoring the 24th Annual Conexus for Healthy Vision’s Golf Classic on Monday, June 8. This event is a Richmond tradition that raises money for Conexus, formerly known as Prevent Blindness Mid-Atlantic. Over 200 golfers are expected to attend this year’s event, hosted at the Hermitage Country Club. The day will begin with a light breakfast reception, before players head out to enjoy a full 18 holes on the golf course. The day will conclude with a delicious dinner and awards banquet.

We are so grateful for our volunteers who take time from work and family schedules to dedicate their time and skills to each wonderful cause. Our favorite yearly tradition, “A MEDARVAlous Weekend” is an absolute gem for the causes it supports, and we hope to see you out and about this weekend!

Raising Awareness of Cancers That Strike Below The Belt

Melinda Conklin is the founder of Hitting Cancer Below the Belt, a Richmond nonprofit dedicated to below the belt cancer prevention, education and awareness.

Each year, Hitting Cancer Below the Belt hosts its signature event, the Boxer Brief 5k, to raise funds that support local efforts for colon cancer early detection and prevention, as well as GI health research.

Colon cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States, and is the second leading cause of cancer death in the US. The disease is not gender specific and affects men and women equally.

Melinda is no stranger to colon cancer, unfortunately. Her husband, Rich Conklin, passed away after being diagnosed with colon cancer in 2011, at the age of 43. There is a 95 percent survival rate if you can catch colon cancer early enough, which inspired Melinda to focus on spreading colon cancer awareness in her community. Melinda formed Hitting Cancer Below The Belt to educate others about colon cancer, spread awareness and to share information about the importance of early detection and prevention.

This year’s Boxer Brief 5k will be held on Saturday, June 6 at 8 a.m. at Stony Point Fashion Park. This fun, annual event raises much-needed funds to support local efforts for early detection and prevention in the Richmond community. MEDARVA Healthcare is proud to sponsor the Boxer Brief 5K and we hope you will join us for this year’s event. You can learn more and register online here.

Online registration for the Boxer Brief 5k ends on Wednesday, June 3, 2015. If you’d like to register in person, you can pick up a registration packet at Lucky Foot Midlothian on Thursday, June 4 from 3 to 7 p.m. or at Lucky Foot Willow Lawn on Friday, June 5 from 3 to 6 p.m.

We’re gearing up for this year’s race and can’t wait to see you there!

Appreciating Our Nurses

National Nurses Week is May 6-12 and provides the perfect time to raise awareness of the value of nurses while also inform the public of how crucial nurses are in their role as healthcare professionals and caretakers. Here at MEDARVA Healthcare, we are all so grateful to our nurses on staff that make sure each patient’s needs are met.

Here at MEDARVA Healthcare, we are so grateful to our nurses on staff that make sure each patient receives unmatched care and has a terrific experience. Our surgery center, MEDARVA Stony Point Surgery Center, is the largest outpatient surgery center in Virginia and the third largest in the country, and we couldn’t do what we do every day without the commitment and expertise of our nursing staff.

Nurses are often the first individuals patients will meet when they enter our surgery center and the last they’ll see when they leave. They are generous and passionate, all while providing exceptional care for patients.

In 1953, Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare asked President Eisenhower to instate a national “Nurse Day” in October of the succeeding year. In 1954, National Nurse week began and was observed October 11-16, but was later moved to the month of May.

This year’s National Nurses Week is themed “Ethical Practice. Quality Care,” which pays tribute to the importance of ethics in the field of nursing and admires the compassion and dedication nurses display in their profession. These are traits that we strive for at MEDARVA Stony Point Surgery Center.

Please join us in recognizing nurses in Richmond and throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, not just during National Nurses Week, but throughout the year.

Cosmetic Surgery – Special Options For Each Patient

Whether it’s spider veins, scars, sun damage, or another more-detailed or in-depth cosmetic surgery procedure, spring is a popular time to have it done, giving you ample time to recover before summer arrives.

From skin rejuvenation to body enhancement techniques and everything in between, there are many options that will have you well on your way to healing areas of concern. There is a wide range of procedures that offer a short recovery time and will have you out and about to enjoy the warm weather in no time.

Today, surgical options are as unique as each patient. Some of the more popular procedures include breast augmentation, liposuction, an abdominoplasty (known as a tummy tuck), and spider vein treatment. The first steps to determining which option is right for you include having a discussion with your family, followed by a consultation with a plastic surgeon.

Choosing the right plastic surgeon can seem overwhelming. There are many talented surgeons in Richmond that will be happy to meet with you to have in-depth conversations about your individual goals and the best path for achieving them. In addition to helping you meet those goals, you can feel assured that each surgeon’s expertise, experience and patient care initiatives will help you get to where you want to be with terrific results.

If you are considering rejuvenating your appearance, we work with a number of talented, board-certified physicians. Click here to access list.

Why wait to make an appointment for a consultation? Advances in surgical procedures have made it faster, easier and safer than ever to make the changes you’ve been thinking about.