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    BH’s Cutting-Edge Medical Practice Without the Cutting

    By John L. Seitz – Courier Managing Editor

          “We practice cutting-edge medicine without the cutting. Some techniques are ‘so new’, they only go back 5,000 years.” Words from Andre M. Berger, M.D., only partially describe what his Beverly Hills anti-aging, wellness and aesthetic medical practice, Rejuvalife Vitality Institute, 450 N. Bedford Dr., is all about.
          Established in October 2003, this unique, non-surgical health practice is dedicated to treating the “whole” patient by teaching the secret of enhancing their mental and physical outlook.
          “In practicing medicine for 31 years, I have yet to see two individuals exactly alike,” said Dr. Berger. “Everybody has their own fingerprints and DNA totally different from anyone else.”
          In this youth conscious society, studies show graceful aging as  more than just outer appearance but also to involve inner workings and vitality. Preaching health, beauty and wellness as inseparable elements, the institute’s team addresses every known factor such as hormonal, fitness, nutritional, metabolic, psychological, lifestyle and non-surgical cosmetic rejuvenation.
          “We take a proactive, holistic approach by delving into one’s psyche to see what he or she is all about, where they’ve been, and what goals they hope to achieve in order to live a healthy life out of the hospital. That’s why they come to me in the first place so I’m a good listener,” explains Dr. Berger.
          What follows is an in-depth physical, medical and diagnostic evaluation with comprehensive testing to determine a person’s biological internal aging, what disease risk factors may exist, and to ascertain their crucial hormone levels.
          Once tests are reviewed, he spends one-on-one time with each patient discussing the results, educating them about the aging process or possible lifestyle strategies which could be adopted, and prescribing preventative, rejuvenating treatments as needed. These sessions may take up to two hours.
          The Montreal native graduated with a degree in genetics from McGill University and received his MD at the University of Ottawa. He returned to McGill for his internship and residency in internal medicine, and directed the intensive care and emergency department at its Reddy Memorial Hospital.
          Once Dr. Berger came to California, he became partner in California Primary Physicians Medical Group and served as director of emergency services at California Medical Center before launching a career in independent urgent care services for various hospitals.
          As owner of Bayport Medical Group, he purchased an almost bankrupt multi-specialty clinic in Carson, completely revamped the operation, and sold it for a healthy profit. His healthcare business evolved as president/CEO of Managed Provider Networks, CEO of Managed Eye Care Centers of America; medical director of ProCare and Great America Health Plan; and as founder/medical advisor to Productive Living.
          He moved to Beverly Hills in 2000, 11 years after marrying BHHS graduate Tracy Oswald, daughter of popular realtor Margie Oswald of Coldwell Banker’s BH South Office. With their sports-loving children, Adam, Josh and Gabrielle, they enjoy tennis and family outings.
          Dr. Berger created Rejuvalife because he was “totally committed to a combination of prevention and wellness without surgery, and taking the best available therapies and remedies to achieve these needed results. One technique is use of a clinical hypnotherapist to harness an individual’s sub-conscious mind for multiple health problems and reach a deep form of relaxation.
          With patients ranging from 18 to 93, the clinic’s aesthetic and therapeutic services focus on prevention rather than just the cure. Dr. Berger says personal self-esteem is a major part of a person’s mental outlook. His is one of the first to perform the non-surgical Thread Lift or ‘lunchtime face lift’ and ever since a TV segment on Oprah, his phone started ringing off the hook and hasn’t stopped yet. 
          As he explains, this simple 60-minute procedure is far less invasive and expensive than the traditional lift. Realizing that human skin by age 40 starts to sag from the eyes to the neck as tissue becomes weak, while facial fat and the underlying support structure get lax, it fights gravity by using suture threads inserted beneath the skin for support. These act as pulleys for the facial tissue and, with no anesthesia, this results in a natural look by filling out the contours of the face, restoring much of its youthful fullness.
          “Though we suggest taking some time off, many go back to work a couple of days later with no scars and minimal side effects,” he said. “The results continue to improve the first six months as new collagen is formed, encapsulating and bunching around the threads. It should last two to five years and can be touched up or repeated as needed.”
          Another anti-aging, painless procedure used newly popular in the US is Mesotherapy, a breakthrough, body-sculpting alternative to liposuction. In various forms, it is designed to shrink localized fat cells, thereby is extremely effective for weight loss as well as rejuvenating skin of the neck and face by ousting scars and wrinkles and spot weight reduction in hips, thighs, waist, stomach and back.
          Regardless of age or weight, nine out of 10 women carry on a constant battle with cellulite, known as “cottage cheese thighs”.Through MesoCellulite, vitamins, other medications and amino acids are injected under the skin’s surface  which reduce fat in desired areas, breaking the cell walls, and causing them to be released into the body. If the patients maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen, localized elimination of cellulite is often permanent.
          MesoGlow is for facial rejuvenation as sun exposure and age take their toll on collagen levels and skin loses elasticity, resilience and fullness. This treatment infuses a dermis layer of skin with hyaluronic acid, collagen-stimulating anti-oxidants and minerals, causing a return to a firm, radiant and youthful glow.
          “We do Botox, chemical peels, skin fillers, facial acupuncture and other proven anti-aging methods, but most patients come for more unique treatments,” stated Dr. Berger.
          He pointed out the new, non-laser Intense Pulsed Light or “foto facial” using specific light parameters to treat and reduce sun damage, flushing, redness, broken capillaries, brown and age spots, dark circles, wrinkles and large pores. This achieves “smooth, glowing, youthful skin” with no down time from work or school.
          Just as important is the internal spectrum in anti-aging. “Stress has to be managed because it may lead to depression and all sorts of eating disorders,” explained Dr. Berger. Other alarming signs like lethargy, weight-gain, lessening of sex drive, memory loss and osteoporosis are associated with the body’s hormonal changes which begin by age 35.
          Bio-identical and human growth hormones are elements in a person’s ability to take control of the aging process and promote youthful vitality, fitness and overall well being. Hormone restoration is used for increasing memory and energy levels, libido, cardiac output, lean body mass, bone density, and the ability to exercise.  Rejuvalife is conducting a seminar on the subject Wednesday (April 6) from 7 to 9 p.m.
          Eating and drinking sensibly, and regular exercising are the most obvious keys to maintaining health in a busy life, but watching a person’s weight is every bit as important. Rejuvalife conducts a medical screening exam and lab tests, followed by a nutritional and fitness evaluation, suggestions on how to shop or eat out, personalized diet and meal planning, and finally, medication prescriptions, nutraceuticals, supplements, vitamins and minerals. They constantly monitor the individual’s progress and give on-going support. It is all part of an overall package of the clinic’s individual attention to detail.
          “In our mind, we don’t treat a ‘wrinkle’ but a person with a ‘wrinkle’.” But whether Andre M. Berger ever becomes known as a Beverly Hills “Ponce de Leon” in his desire for his patients to find that elusive fountain of youth, it won’t be for lack of trying.
          “I can’t claim Rejuvalife makes anybody’s life even one day longer but it will definitely make it healthier and happier.

    Acupuncture Finally Wins Approval From US Medics

    By Norma Zager – Editor

    According to recent studies an ancient Chinese medical treatment that has been used by millions of Americans finally has a stamp of approval from western medicine. In what investigators are calling a "landmark" study, acupuncture was found to reduce pain and improve movement among patients with osteoarthritis of the knee when used with other treatments.
    Findings from the study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, are published in the Dec. 21 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
    The director of the NIH's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine called the investigation the "largest, longest, and most rigorous study of acupuncture" ever conducted. He said the 2,000-year-old practice can now be considered a "new" addition to therapies for degenerative osteoarthritis.
    Principal investigator Brian M. Berman, MD, of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland, stated osteoarthritis of the knee was a logical choice for the large, government-funded acupuncture study because so many people with the condition have already turned to alternative medicines.
    "Osteoarthritis is a big public health problem affecting many millions of people in the US," he said. "It is associated with a significant reduction in quality of life and is an area where traditional medicine does not have all the answers. Adequate pain relief is often not achieved, and many drugs have undesirable side effects, especially in the elderly."
    The safety of the most widely prescribed of the traditional medicines—the pain relievers known as Cox-2 inhibitors—has been much in the news lately. The arthritis drug Vioxx was voluntarily pulled from the market earlier this fall after a large trial linked its use to an increase in heart attacks and strokes. In another trial, reported last week, Pfizer's popular Cox-2 inhibitor Celebrex was also found to increase heart attack risk. The company says it has no plans to pull Celebrex from the market until it studies the data.
    Just under a third of the patients in the acupuncture trial were also taking a Cox-2 inhibitor. But study co-investigator Marc Hochberg, MD, PhD, said the Cox-2 inhibitors have not been shown to be superior to other pain relievers for the treatment of osteoarthritis.
    He added recent studies suggest the side effects such as ulcers and bleeding that result from the prolonged use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen can be minimized by also taking ulcer drugs, known as proton-pump inhibitors or H2 blockers.
    "There is actually very little indication for the use of Cox-2 selective inhibitors in managing patients with symptomatic osteoarthritis," Hochberg said.
    The newly reported study included 570 patients with knee osteoarthritis who were already taking anti-inflammatory drugs or other pain relievers. The patients continued on their pain relievers during the 26-week trial, but a third of them also got aggressive acupuncture treatments consisting of 23 total sessions. Another group of patients unknowingly got sham acupuncture, which involved the use of fake needles to mimic the real needles used for true acupuncture. A third group underwent an intensive 12-week education course on the management of osteoarthritis.
    All patients were assessed at weeks four, eight, 12, and 26 for pain and knee function. By week eight, those who got the true acupuncture were showing significant increases in knee function, and by week 14 experienced significant decreases in pain compared with the sham acupuncture and the education groups.
    The acupuncture group had a 40% decrease in pain compared with their initial pain scores. They also experienced a 40% improvement in function at the end of the trial, and there were no major treatment-related side effects.
    Research in animals suggests acupuncture works by affecting genes involved in the production of chemicals within the body that regulate pain. But it is not yet clear if the ancient practice can actually slow progression of the degenerative joint condition, says Stephen I. Katz, MD, PhD, director of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, which co-sponsored the study.
    "More than 20 million Americans have osteoarthritis," Katz said. "This disease is one of the most frequent causes of physical disability among adults. Seeking an effective means of decreasing osteoarthritis pain and increasing function is of critical importance."

    Lyme Disease, Spread by Insects, Is Growing Threat

    Medical Journal Offers Tipsfor Prevention of Exposure
    By Norma Zager – Editor

          Lyme disease is becoming more widespread throughout the United States, with the cases increasing each year, and it is now the most prevalent disease spread by insects in the United States.
          In the Los Angeles area many people spend a great deal of time outdoors, hiking and picnicking, which may put them at greater risk to tick exposure.
          Recent reports in the New England Journal of Medicine said that there are precautionary steps that will greatly decrease a person’s risk of being infected.
          The report lists simple prevention tips such as education, reducing the risk of tick bites, checking for attached ticks and prompt antibiotic treatment for existing bites. Of course avoiding bites is the best way to prevent the disease, since it is transmitted through contact with a tick.
          Lyme disease is spread through ticks that carry the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. People are affected when an infected tick bites a human and remains attached to the skin for more than 36 hours.
          There are obvious symptoms such as a skin rash, body aches, or a mild fever and these usually develop within one to four weeks after a person is infected. Treatment with antibiotics within 72 hours will also lower the risk of dangerous side effects.
          Lyme disease is not usually fatal, but the earlier the treatment with antibiotics the less likely there will be any long-term complications.
          Some of the more serious side effects are loss of movement, memory loss, joint pain and skin problems.
          It is important to note that not all ticks carry lyme disease. Deer ticks are the most common type in North America, but the western black-legged tick is the type found on the west coast.
          There are certain steps to be taken to avoid bites. These simple strategies include:
          •      Use bug repellents on skin and clothing.
          •      Wear clothing to cover any exposed skin and tuck pants into socks when walking or hiking in a wooded area.
          •      Avoid tick-infested areas when possible and take precautions when you are exposed.
          •      Check for ticks after being outdoors and quickly remove any ticks you find on your skin.
          •      Try to make your yard less tick-friendly by removing leaf litter.
          •      Form a dry barrier from wood chips between lawns and forests or dense vegetation.
          •      Apply insecticides to suspicious areas around your home once or twice a year.

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