Aesthetic Concerns Could Be Signs Of Underlying Medical Conditions?
Our body concerns, that we often perceive as an aesthetic problem seeking aesthetic procedures can signify a much deeper health issue that needs medical assessment. Similarly, our skin reflects what’s going on with our health beneath the surface, and skin problems often signal that something is off in our bodies.
Our body gently ‘talks’ to us, signalling that it could be anything internally that needs our attention. Functional medicine physician never oversees this body’s “wisdom” and clues. We understand that the body functions as a whole, a matrix that everything is connected to everything. That is why aesthetic concerns will be looked at from a functional and integrative medicine point of view.
What our thighs are telling us about toxic burden?
Saddlebags are usual aesthetic concerns alongside with cellulite that often surprise patients when we clarify the actual cause of it. The body fat that sits under the buttocks and on the hamstrings cannot get removed with dieting and exercise. Saddlebags are simply a hormone-mediated condition. A woman’s body is designed to store gynoid body fat, which is estrogen-dependent. Unfortunately, in modern society, gynoid fat metabolism is disrupted by very dangerous xenoestrogens (endocrine disruptors ), which act similarly to our body estrogen and on the same receptors. They fully mimic our estrogen.
These foreign “estrogens” pass into our environment through pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, plastics, fuels, car exhausts, dry cleaning chemicals, industrial waste, meat from animals that have been fattened with estrogenic drugs, and countless other household and personal products that many of us use every day are responsible for our saddlebags. They literary grow our saddlebags. In fact, they are also responsible for the increasing number of young women who suffer from severe symptoms of estrogen dominance such as PMS, fibrocystic breast disease, bloating, infertility, troublesome menstrual cycles, depression, endometriosis, mood swings, and yes, excessive weight gain! An increasing number of sporadic breast cancer is speculated to be due to toxic levels of xenoestrogens in our everyday life. This clearly explains that treating saddlebags with the only aesthetic device will not remove the dangerous effect of xenoestrogens.
Eyes are window to our health
The eyes area is often the patients’ concern. While crow’s feet wrinkles and hollow eyes can be easily treated with aesthetic procedures, periorbital swelling, undereye bags, and dark circles often manifest underlying medical conditions. An underactive thyroid may cause swelling around the eyes accompanied by a loss of hairs in the outer part of the eyebrows. The most apparent abnormality under the microscope in this condition is an accumulation of hyaluronic acid in interstitial tissues. These hydrophilic substances cause edema, which is especially prominent in the skin often presents as eye puffiness. Adding fillers (pure hyaluronic acid) in this surrounding area can worsen this condition. Bags under the eyes are caused when the tissue structures and muscles supporting your eyelids weaken. The skin may start to sag, and fat usually around the eye can move into the area below your eyes. Aging and genetics — (under-eye bags can run in families) are common factors, but we must always exclude underlying medical conditions such as dermatomyositis, kidney disease, allergies, detoxification impairment. Sometimes controlling allergies and applying personal medical detoxification can completely cure this condition.
Stubborn belly fat- an iceberg effect
For many years, abdominal obesity was seen merely as an aesthetic condition, an unsightly bulk that could easily be addressed with either a low caloric diet, regular exercise, or various aesthetic devices such as cryolipolysis (far freezing) laser- lipo, ultrasound lipolysis, and cavitation. Alarmingly, it’s no longer considered just an aesthetic concern – but rather a seriously harmful medical condition. The reason for this is simple. Abdominal obesity can actually cause a wide assortment of medical problems as the presence of dangerous visceral fat accompanies it. Since it involves insulin resistance, it can progress into type 2 diabetes and it can present with high cholesterol and cardiovascular problems, PCOS, Alzheimer’s, depression, cancers, and various skin problems (discussed later). This is a disease that knows no boundaries and can affect anyone, must not be taken lately at all as it is not a self- limiting disorder. In fact, treating this condition only with an aesthetic device as an isolated aesthetic issue can potentially contribute to losing the valuable time important for reversing this condition.
Showing pretty arms- hormonally stable body
Patents often seek aesthetic procedures to improve the appearance of arms, perceiving them as too saggy, fat, or with some unexpected cellulite. And although we have many fantastic devices to improve the aesthetic appearance of this area we will always first have to check is there any underlying condition that contributes to this aesthetic problem.
Low growth hormone can cause severe muscle sagging, and high insulin & high androgens can cause excessive fat and cellulite on the arms. This look usually goes with an androgen shape on the women’s body with a high waist-to-hip ratio, broad shoulders, double shin, wide neck, etc. It is so rewarding seeing complete patients body shape transformation after we diagnosed and applied all functional medicine intervention, for the patient who came to correct arms only with aesthetic procedures. They usually walk out with hormonal correction too!
Skin is the mirror of our metabolism
Skin manifestations are well-known representations of many medical conditions. Autoimmune and inflammatory diseases present with varied and broad-ranging cutaneous manifestations. Acne rosacea is an inflammatory condition that affects about 10% of adults. While conventional medicine typically treats rosacea by prescribing localized treatment, functional medicine doctors always search for the root cause. Rosacea triggers include various gut issues such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), leaky gut, low stomach acid etc.
Premature skin aging that usually presents with dull skin prone to wrinkles and sagging, can be a sign of compromised and diminished detoxification of xenoestrogen, nutritional depletion, high oxidative stress, stress and high AGEs (advanced glycation end products -that comes with overindulging in sugar and grilled fatty meat. Even perioral (smokers lines) can signify overload of xenoestrogens and not only estrogen depletion, that we see in menopause.
Skin manifestations of insulin resistance offer functional medicine physicians a reliable and easy way to detect insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can present in a broad spectrum of skin clinical manifestations: acanthosis nigricans (pigmentation usually seen on the neck, armpits, even hands), skin tags, excessive facial hair not responding to laser treatments, and hair loss in women in a pattern (male pattern baldness). Clearly, no amount of chemical peels can remove these pigmented lesions, or no amount of PRPs and hair growth lotions can remove these types of hair loss as these “aesthetic “concerns are caused by insulin resistance. And only by treating insulin resistance these conditions can improve.
Acne appears clinically as inflammatory lesions on the mandibular area, neck, chest, and upper back. Acne is another clinical feature of insulin resistance- PCOS and co-exists in 15–25% of women with PCOS. Patients with acne often exhibit increased levels of serum glucose and insulin and insulin resistance, and its association has been long recognized . In these patients, high androgen hormones promoted comedone production by increasing the size of the sebaceous glands and therefore increased sebum production that contribute to acne formation, even in adults. Again using only topical treatments (or even worse- contraceptive pill!)- will not give sustainable results, as we always need to treat the cause.
Main References: 8thsense.co.za