Health Report

By Hannah Wallace June 1, 2011


This summer, state-of-the-art da Vinci robotic heart surgeries will be performed in Venice for the first time. The da Vinci Robot System, already used by surgeons at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, arrived at Venice Regional Medical Center earlier this year, and the area’s best surgeons (as well as visiting physicians from around the world) are thrilled. To surgeons, getting a chance to use the machine is “like fighting for keys to the Ferrari,” says cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Matteo Dayo of the Venice Ocala Heart Institute.

Originally designed as a military application for performing remote surgery, the da Vinci system came later to heart surgery than other disciplines, in part because it alters related procedures like how the patient is put on the heart/lung machine, Dayo explains. But it’s been worth the wait. The robotic “hands” allow for miniscule incisions and precision surgical work, while the equally important binocular, 3D visual system “is like sticking your head inside the chest,” Dayo explains. Surgeons concerned about losing their tactile perception during robotic surgery swear that the da Vinci imaging system actually lets them “feel” what they’re doing.

The da Vinci technology isn’t for everyone, however. “Sternotomy [open chest surgery] is still the gold standard,” says Dayo. But for the right patients, the da Vinci can allow for less pain, faster recovery, less blood loss, less need for transfusions and less chance of infection. “We don’t want to use it just because we have a new toy,” Dayo says. “The over-arching goal for our program is safe and responsible use of technology.”


On Pins and Needles

The ancient “bed of nails” is far from a circus stunt—the full-body pinpoints have long benefited yogis and other meditation masters through the principles of acupressure. For a modern experience without the hardware, check out the Halsa Wellness Mat, with 8,820 “spikes” that stimulate circulation and encourage endorphins, lowering blood pressure and reducing muscle tension and other aches and pains. (Some people even claim it reduces the appearance of cellulite.) Just 10 minutes at a time should make a difference. $49.95 at


Chill-kill the Fat

Last fall, the FDA approved the first completely non-invasive fat-removal procedure: Cool Sculpting, or cryolipolysis, focuses on specific problem areas—like love handles—and pulls fat closer to the skin before cooling the area “to a level well above freezing,” explains Dr. Jeff Scott of the Plastic Surgery Center of Florida. “The cooling causes selective death of a large portion of the fat cells in the area—yet spares the skin.” Patients begin seeing results in three weeks, as the body flushes out the dead fat cells. In two months, you’ll have lost as much as 25 percent of the subcutaneous fat in the area. “It’s not going to replace liposuction,” says Scott. “This is for the person who works out and is frustrated with a part of their body. Or for the person who’s intimidated by invasive surgery.”

As always, Scott encourages people considering any kind of aesthetic procedure to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon, as designated by the American Board of Medical Specialties.


Why Row?

Sarasota Masters rowing coach Joe Dobson explains the benefits.

Do you have to be young and strong to row? The average age of a member of our club is around 60. Say somebody has a knee replacement, which I have, or hip replacement. In rowing you’re sitting on a sliding seat, almost no stress on your hips or knees, and you get a full-body workout.

What are the health benefits? First of all, it’s a full-body exercise. And in Younger Next Year, authors Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, both one-time rowers, point out that if you do 50 minutes or so of a good cardio workout, where your heart rate’s above 70 percent of your max, five or six times a week, you will delay the onset of aging-related disabilities for 20 to 30 years.

Added selling points? Sarasota has the most beautiful, protected, convenient rowing training sites anywhere in the U.S. This is absolute heaven for rowers.



June is Men’s Health Month, and it’s a good thing, too. Women are twice as likely to have annual health exams as men, according to the Center for Disease Control, so take your fathers (and brothers, husbands and sons) with you to the doctor’s office, and wear blue in honor of the guys.


Lose Yourself

Nuviva Medical Weight Loss, which recently opened two Sarasota clinics, shares 10 tips for shedding those unwanted pounds.

1. Make water your primary beverage. The average American consumes an extra 245 calories a day from soft drinks. That’s almost 90,000 additional calories over a year, which could equate to about 25 pounds gained.

2. Lose weight slowly. The quicker the weight loss, the more likely you’re losing muscle and water, not fat. And losing muscle means you can’t burn as many calories. 

3. Try to eat five to six small meals a day. Dividing your usual number of total daily calories over five to six meals, the body releases less insulin, which keeps a steady blood sugar and helps control hunger.

4. Eat slowly. From the time you begin eating, it takes the brain 20 minutes to start signaling feelings of fullness.

5. Consume most of your calories before noon. You have more opportunities to burn off the calories you consumed early in the day vs. the calories consumed at dinner.

6. Try to eat 90 percent of your meals at home. You’re more likely to eat more high-fat, high-calorie foods when you eat out. 

7. Use vegetables to bulk up meals. Vegetables fill you up with fewer calories.

8. Walk for 30 to 45 minutes a day. If you eat enough calories to maintain your weight, then the 300 calories burned in 45 minutes of walking could help you lose 30 pounds a year. 

9. Buy a pedometer and aim for an extra 1,000 steps a day. Most people take only 2,000 to 3,000 steps per day. Adding 2,000 steps will help with weight management; more than that will help you lose weight.

10. Keep a food diary.  Record what you’ve eaten and how much, your hunger level prior to eating, and any feelings present at the time. Pay attention to portion sizes, and study patterns to identify where you can make healthful changes. 

Filed under
Show Comments