Beautiful Skin Forever

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Dr. Eric Berger has unique insight into the essential elements of proper Anti-Aging Skincare. He believes that the secret of ageless beauty is simplicity (less is more!), and that the best skincare products and treatments are affordable on any budget. You don’t have to be a millionaire to have million dollar skin!

Dr. Berger completed specialty training in ENT/Head & Neck Surgery at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center, and at Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia for his Facial Cosmetic Surgery Fellowship.

His passion is what he calls “The Total Beauty Paradigm” – Laser and cosmetic skincare coupled with Dietary Supplementation, Hormone Balancing, carefully planned BOTOX and Dermal Fillers and discrete cosmetic surgical procedures.

Old Coppertone Ad… and they DEFINITELY knew better!!!

I’d love to examine this model’s skin today. The ad’s from 1970… if she was 25 then, she’s about 66 years old now. Wanna bet she looks like leather? Maybe a shar pei.

I have studies going as far back as 1928 (yes, sun-worshipers… 1928) clearly linking UV radiation to carcinogenesis.

( Findlay, G.M. (1928) Ultra-violet light and skin cancer. Lancet; Findlay, G.M. (1930) Cutaneous papilomata in the rat following exposure to ultra-violet light. Lancet; Putschar, W & Holtz, F. (1930) Production of skin tumours in rats by long duration UV irradiation (Ger.). Z. Krebsforsch., 33, 219-260; Roffo, A.H. (1934) Cancer and the sun: carcinomas and sarcomas caused by the action of the sun in toto (FL). Bull. Assoc. fr Étude Cancer, 23, 590-616; Roffo, A.H. (1939) Physico-chemical etiology of cancer (with special emphasis on the association with solar radiation) (GeL). Strahlentherapie, 66,328-350 Rusch, H.P., Kline, B.E. & Baumann, C.A (1941) Carcinogenesis by ultraviolet rays with reference to wavelength and energy. Arch. Pathol., 31, 135-146)

Do you really believe Schering-Plough didn’t have access to these essential articles from major medical journals?

 

 

9 Nasty Ingredients

Cosmetic companies LOVE to tout their latest “scientifically formulated” advances, however the FDA is often left in the dust when it comes to protecting you, the consumer. What follows is a brief list of things to try to avoid. I specifically said “try, because they’re just about everywhere! Caveat Emptor.

1. PARABENS: They’re in adult and baby shampoo and many other products, and they are estrogen mimickers that can potentially cause cancer.
2. “FRAGRANCE”: The FDA requires that food, drug, and body care companies list all ingredients on their product labels—however, chemicals used to scent products can be clumped under the vague term “fragrance.” Found in everything from shampoo to deodorant, a single product’s secret fragrance mixture may contain literally hundreds of toxic volatile organic compounds.
3. NANOPARTICLES: This is a newer entry to the marketplace… that “special penetrating ingredient” these folks love to tout. Found in lotions, moisturizers, make-up, and sunscreen, these untested ingredients are so small, many scientists are very concerned about their potential health effects, as they can penetrate cell walls and are highly reactive. Products with nanoparticles aren’t often labeled as such, so check your conventional body care products at CosmeticDatabase.org or NanotechProject.org/inventories/consumer/.
4. FORMALDEHYDE: A common hardener in nail polish and an ingredient in bath products, this chemical is a known carcinogen. Nail polish also often contains the developmental toxicant TOLUENE. (Our cadavers in Med School reeked of this stuff!)
5. PHTHALATES: These hormone disruptors have been linked to male genital abnormalities, liver and kidney lesions, and higher rates of childhood asthma and allergies. They’re often hidden in the “fragrances” of an array of products for men, women, and children, and listed as DIBUTYL PHTHALATE in nail polish.
6. PETROLEUM BY-PRODUCTS: Listed as mineral oil, petrolatum, liquid paraffin, toluene, or xylene, these chemicals are found in a dizzying number of products, including many shampoos and soaps. Of most concern is the fact that they are often contaminated by cancer-causing impurities like 1,4 DIOXANE, which is a probable carcinogen. Industry has done very little to prevent such contamination.
7. TRICLOSAN: A primary ingredient in anti-bacterial soaps and products, triclosan has been linked to hormone disruption and the emergence of bacteriaresistant “superbugs.”
8. LEAD: Lead’s a potent neurotoxin and, none-the-less, it’s found in several popular brands of lipstick and men’s hair coloring kits.
9. MERCURY: A neurotoxin that can severely damage human health, mercury – often listed as “thimerosol” – is still used in some cosmetics like mascara.

The EYES Have it!

Someday soon, Facial Cosmetic Surgery will be a thing of the past… like the Model T.

Improved diet and routine exercise will obviate the need for Liposuction (which I see as a horrid procedure fraught with dangers), Lasers, sunscreen and advanced cosmeceuticals will keep skin TIGHT, HEALTHY & WRINKLE-FREE, and long-lasting fillers such as Radiesse will augment whatever tissue loss comes with age and re-contour facial bones.

That leaves two procedures for which cosmetic surgeons will vie: breasts and eyelids.

Cosmetic eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) is am amazing thing. It can take years off your face in a few hours, under local anesthesia, in the office! The results, in the right hands, are dramatic. In much older patients it can actually restore blocked fields of vision on the sides.

If there’s one procedure which will never become obsolete, it’s blepharoplasty. It’s the only cosmetic procedure I still perform.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Exfoliation, Plain & Simple

Microderm Soap BlogI recently spent about 15 minutes of a 45 minute presentation discussing the importance of exfoliation… it was time well spent. Skin grows from the inside, out. Basal cells at the core of the epidermis eventually dry out, fill with tough, armor-like keratin, and rise to the surface… dead.

When we were teenagers, we replaced and revitalized our epidermis every 10 days.  At age 40, it’s about every 40 days and after menopause (when estrogen no longer has its wonderful effect on your skin) it can rise to 60 days… two months of dead skin waiting to be replaced!

Every day we shed over a billion surface cell. Prior to shedding, they give the skin a dull, flaky appearance, block pores full of sebum and bacteria which cannot be properly cleansed, and prevent moisturizers and anti-oxidant creams from penetrating, and thus protecting, the skin.

In the absence of acute infections or irritation, I always recommend frequent exfoliation to my patients. But this is important:  it’s not only your face that needs to be frequently exfoliated. It’s important to exfoliate the rest of your body, as well.

As we age, our skin all over loses its luster and turns over more slowly.

I was recently introduced to, and began to use, The MicroDermabrasion Bar.

What I like about this patented exfoliation bar is that; a) it makes the skin feel soft, smooth and fresh, even in hard water AND; b) there are no unrealistic claims in the ads. That’s amazing!

It truly does stimulate and revitalize, polishes away dead skin, stimulates blood flow (which sometimes can, indeed, improve cellulite), and clears some of the surface discoloration ands pigment accumulated in the dead cells.

We’re going to start distributing The MicroDermabrasion Bar at Berger Medical Aesthetics. It’s a wonderful addition to the Dermalogica and ProCyte products we already carry, and serves a distinct purpose in revitalizing your body and rekindling that youthful glow.

“Beauty’s Only Skin Deep.” (…and your point was?)

Men and women have occasionally accused me of being superficial… of practicing a field of medicine where saving lives and replacing vital organs is just not part of my daily routine.

Patients have said, “I can’t possibly tell my husband I do BOTOX [or whatever treatment applies]. He’d think that this is silly and wasteful.”

Friends (OK, acquaintances) have even asked, “You can’t possibly believe beauty and physical appearance are that important!”

To these slings and arrows I answer, 1. “I have little or no doubt that your husband’s eyes wander towards an extremely attractive woman in a room. Why shouldn’t that woman be you?” and 2. “I absolutely, positively believe that physical beauty is extremely important, dedicate my life to preserving and enhancing it, and view that opinion as enlightened and (more importantly) HONEST.”

To that end, I recently searched for… and obviously found… a wonderful article from Dec 19th, 2007, printed in The Economist. What follows is a brief quote:

“IMAGINE you have two candidates for a job. They are both of the … sex [that] is the one your own proclivities incline you to find attractive. Their CVs are equally good, and they both give good interview. You cannot help noticing, though, that one is pug-ugly and the other is handsome [lovely]. Are you swayed by their appearance?

2-candidates

Perhaps not. But lesser, less-moral mortals might be. If appearance did not count, why would people dress up for such interviews—even if the job they are hoping to get is dressed down? And job interviews are turning points in life. If beauty sways interviewers, the beautiful will, by and large, have more successful careers than the ugly—even in careers for which beauty is not a necessary qualification.…”

My mother frequently said (too often, in fact), “It NEVER hurts to put your best foot forward” (or, better stated for my purposes, best face forward) in interviews and in life.

We would all like to believe that the world judges us by our character, accomplishments and tenacity, but we all know that belief to be somewhat hollow. We do, in fact and almost to a man, secretly judge others that way ourselves.

Oh, come on… drop the sanctimony for just a tiny moment, look deep inside the recesses of your “social self”… and question whether you do or don’t gravitate towards… aren’t attracted to… the attractive people at a social gathering.

Of course you are. We all are. That’s precisely why they are called “attractive”… because they do, indeed, attract.

Beauty may only be skin deep, as the saying goes, but it seems to penetrate to every level of our social and professional lives.

I can practically assure you that everyone else is watching your skin, your weight and your manners… so you should, too.

Welcome back, Berger!

I’m sorry I’ve been away from my blog for such a long time. In the interum I lost my father and have, therefore, had other things on my mind.
My father was a very special and interesting man. He always had a ‘better way’ to do almost everything… he was a fine chemist and a very creative and inventive man, and I believe (hope, really) that I inherited that innovative gene.
dad-in-lab-150dpi1I think about him daily, but sometimes I remember things that just amaze me… like his adolescent acne cure.
I never had a pimple. Go ahead, hate me if you will, but I never had a blemish. My sister, on the other hand, fought acne throughout her adolescent years. No matter what expensive soaps and creams she used, a zit would erupt the night before the big game (she was drum majorette) or the big dance… or for no reason at all.
My dad thought long and hard about the problem. He wasn’t the most demonstrative guy (generational, I suppose), but he loved us a lot and his way of showing us that was to think long and hard about the problems we had and how to make them better.
He decided that excess oil and dirt/bacteria beyond the reach of available cleansers were to blame, and set out to solve the problem. He arrived home one day bearing an enormous jar of slightly greenish liquid which smelled faintly like a cross between my sisters perfume and a vodka still.
He’d mixed 80% alcohol, 18% acetone and 2% perfume.
Every morning and evening, after cleansing her face, she used the concoction and low (‘lo’ in biblical texts) and behold, no more zits.
This was before we had firmly established the roots of acne treatment, and the five basic steps of skin care [Remember? exfoliate, cleanse, protect, moisturize and treat...] so the steps beyond cleanse and treat were not part of his master plan. None-the-less, the acne disappeared. Disappeared.
So that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
I’ll be a better blogger now that I’m back in the saddle, and a better doctor for remembering what I learned from my dad… there’s always a better way to approach a problem. Stay with the basics and think of your treatment plan as if you were treating a loved one… because you are… or should be if you want to keep believing you’re a physician.

Of Braveheart and Varicose Veins

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve caught up. Got a wicked flu (don’t put off your flu shot like I did mine!) and then started to investigate Endovenous Laser varicose vein treatments. (“endo-venous” means “inside the vein”) I really do love lasers!

A bit of painful personal history: Back in 1985 I had to have the varicose veins in my left leg stripped. They were causing substantial pain on prolonged standing and, as a surgeon, I needed to stand a lot.

I’d already spent years on my feet next to operating tables, making rounds and covering clinic and running from hospital to hospital during residency, so I opted for surgery after compression stockings and conservative treatments failed to give relief.

The surgery was… awful; no, worse than awful. Barbaric. There’s just no other way to put it.

old-vein-strippingFirst, they made incisions at the groin, knee and ankle.

Then they isolated the enlarged, bulging veins with hooks and cut one end.

Then, they put a metal loop on a long handle, around the vein and forced it up the leg literally stripping the vein from the flesh.

This reminds me of the last scene in Braveheart where the torturer… but I digress.

Needless to say, deep general anesthesia was required and the recovery was long and painful.

Endovenous Laser Ablation is, on the other hand, elegant.

new-vein-technique-blog1. The vein is isolated from the surrounding tissue with dilute injections of local anesthetic.

2. A small incision is made near the knee and a laser probe is inserted inside the vein.

3. As the probe is withdrawn, the laser pulses and destroys the vein from the inside! Very cool stuff.

Afterwards, a compression stocking is placed and the patient is actually encouraged to walk immediately.

What amazes me is that, despite this amazing technological advance, anyone would undergo the old procedure.

I think I’ll have to try to change that…

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