Mayo Clinic Health Letter, November 2012 Highlights: Cosmetic Surgeries Increasing; Treating a Meniscus Tear -- a Common Knee Injury; Caring for Dentures

ROCHESTER, Minn.--()--Here are highlights from the November issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter. You may cite this publication as often as you wish. Reprinting is allowed for a fee. Mayo Clinic Health Letter attribution is required. Include the following subscription information as your editorial policies permit: Visit www.HealthLetter.MayoClinic.com or call toll-free for subscription information, 800-333-9037, extension 9771.

Nip and Tuck: Older Adults Opt for Cosmetic Surgery

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- While cosmetic surgery can’t turn back time, a growing number of older adults are opting for surgery to help eliminate wrinkles, reshape breasts or suction out pockets of fat. The November issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter covers this trend and the most popular surgeries.

In 2011, about 350,000 adults older than 55 had some type of cosmetic surgery. That number is expected to increase as the baby boomer population ages.

Cosmetic surgery presents the risks that are normally associated with surgery. But overall good health is a more important consideration than age. Healthy older adults who have a facelift have no greater risk of complications than younger people. However, chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes may make cosmetic surgery riskier.

Attitude and expectations are important, too. Cosmetic surgery doesn’t cure dissatisfaction with a person’s body or life. Patients who are happy with their overall life and seek surgery to improve one aspect of their body are more likely to be satisfied with the results. It may take six months before final results are apparent, and scars may take longer to improve in appearance.

Facelifts, breast surgery and liposuction:

  • A facelift can remove deep wrinkles and saggy fat deposits that create tired-looking eyes and jowls under the jawline. After surgery, the face will be bruised for four to six weeks. Returning to a normal appearance will take longer. Results are long lasting, especially when patients maintain a healthy weight.
  • One of the most common breast surgeries in older adults is revising previous breast implants, which can deflate or require replacement or removal. Some women opt for a breast lift, which moves the nipple and areola higher and removes excess skin tissue. Results are generally long lasting but can be affected by aging and fluctuations in weight.
  • Liposuction removes fat from the specific areas where it won’t go away even with weight loss and maintenance of healthy weight. After surgery, the skin appears smooth when patients have good skin tone and elasticity. But in older adults, skin can be thin and lose its elasticity. In that case, skin may appear loose after liposuction.

Meniscus Tear -- Common Cause of Knee Pain

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- A meniscus tear -- due to injury or wear and tear -- is one of the most common knee injuries. The November issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter provides an overview of this condition and treatment decisions, which can be more complex when osteoarthritis also is present in the affected knee.

Meniscus is the cartilage in the knee that is a cushion between the shinbone (tibia) and thighbone (femur). A meniscus tear can occur suddenly, for example, when an athlete abruptly stops running and changes directions. A tear may develop over time with joint wear that occurs naturally, or it can be related to degenerative arthritis.

Symptoms of a meniscus tear may include:

  • Popping sensation when moving the knee
  • Swelling or stiffness
  • Difficulty straightening the knee
  • Pain, especially when twisting or rotating the knee. (Tears due to regular joint wear may not cause pain.)

Knee pain or other symptoms should prompt a visit to the doctor. A history and physical exam may be enough to diagnose a tear. When osteoarthritis is suspected, X-rays or other imaging may be recommended. Patients and their doctors should be cautious about magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results. These images are so sensitive that they detect abnormalities in the knees that don’t cause pain and don’t need treatment.

Nonoperative treatments -- rest, ice and nonprescription pain relievers -- are usually considered first. After the pain diminishes, physical therapy and exercise at home can help strengthen the muscles supporting the knee.

If the condition does not improve after several months, surgery may be an option to remove or repair torn menisci. However, if osteoarthritis also is present in the knee and the menisci tears are due to wear and tear related to aging, surgery may not provide the hoped-for pain relief. Several studies have shown that this surgery offers no advantages for people with advanced osteoarthritis. A large multicenter study is under way to compare the effectiveness of surgery to nonoperative treatment in patients with mild and moderate osteoarthritis and menisci tears.

Dentures Require Careful Handling

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Dentures deserve careful handling and, in many ways, taking care of them is more work than caring for natural teeth. The November issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter covers tips to care for these precisely crafted and relatively delicate items.

Prevent breaks: Dentures can break if dropped only a few inches. Cleaning should be done over a folded towel in case they are accidentally dropped.

Clean gently: Dentures should be gently scrubbed every day with a soft-bristled toothbrush using a denture cleaner, mild soap or dishwashing liquid. Aggressive scrubbing can damage or bend metal clasps or other components.

Soak overnight: Most dentures need to remain moist to keep their shape. Soaking them in water or mild denture solution is usually fine. A dentist may offer specific recommendations for soaking.

Choose products wisely: Abrasive cleaners and harsh toothpastes such as whitening pastes are abrasive enough to damage dentures. Soaking dentures in bleach can cause the pink part of the denture to whiten. Placing dentures in hot or boiling water can cause the plastic to warp.

Avoid do-it-yourself repairs: All dentures need periodic adjustment by a dentist to ensure a comfortable fit and avoid problems. Repairs should not be undertaken at home because they will likely cause damage. Repairing a cracked denture with glue from the hardware store is a particularly bad idea, as glues contain harsh chemicals not suitable for the mouth.

Brush the mouth, too: Good oral hygiene helps avoid problems such as soreness, irritation and infection. Brushing the gums, tongue, palate and any remaining teeth helps remove bacteria and stimulate blood flow to these soft tissues.

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Contacts

Mayo Clinic
Ginger Plumbo
507-284-5005 (days)
507-284-2511 (evenings)
newsbureau@mayo.edu

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Contacts

Mayo Clinic
Ginger Plumbo
507-284-5005 (days)
507-284-2511 (evenings)
newsbureau@mayo.edu