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Ask the experts

Local professionals share popular treatments, identify trending technologies and offer good advice for the year ahead.

When it comes to feeling and looking your best, diet and exercise might not be enough. Let your New Year’s resolution know you are in it for the long haul by improving your physical and mental health with advice from local experts. We reached out to industry leaders to learn more about how the pandemic has impacted their practices, what treatments are the most popular and what technologies are trending in 2021. Discover a new healthy you in the new year.


Hearing Loss
Answers from expert Randy Rose

Randy Rose is a hearing instrument specialist with Rose Hearing Healthcare Centers. Learn more at rosehearinghealthcarecenters.com.

[Q] Are hearing aids still the best option in 2021?
[A] Ninety-five percent of Americans with hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids. Only five percent of hearing loss can be treated with surgery. Success rates with hearing aids today show that nine out of 10 people with hearing aids report improvements in quality of life.

[Q] What technologies are trending? [A] 2020 was packed with new technology that has changed hearing for 2021 and beyond. Some of the biggest news was the introduction to Widex Moment, lithium ion rechargeable hearing aids. Not because of the rechargeable feature or the use of battery cells, but because of the sound. It provides a more pure and natural sound for a superior listening experience.

Expert tip
Unmask with caution.
Our biggest challenge this year has been lost hearing aids due to the wearing of masks, with a record 40-plus hearing aids lost. Our biggest recommendation is to use caution when removing your mask. Take it slow and easy.


Psychiatric treatment
Answers from expert Patrick Wiita

Dr. Patrick Wiita is a child, adolescent, adult and forensic psychiatrist based on Hilton Head Island. Learn more at wiitamd.com.

[Q] What was the most common psychiatric treatment in 2020?
[A] For children and adolescents, without question, medication treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. With so many kids in “virtual school” from home, the attention demands of online classes combined with less structure than a typical school day often brought to parents’ attention the struggles their children had with sustained attention and distractibility. In the 65 years that stimulant medications, such as methylphenidate, have been available for the treatment of ADHD, no other treatment, medication or behavioral has even come close to demonstrating the same level of effectiveness. The track record for safety with these medications is very well established.

[Q] What do you see coming in 2021? [A] I think if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that, for better or worse, telemedicine is here to stay. I’ve had a mostly positive experience with telepsychiatry and providing virtual appointments to patients over the last year, and it has helped me provide safe and effective high-quality services to people with very significant barriers to care, COVID-related or not. I see 2021 bringing increased comfort with virtual care and further improvements in technology. I’m also really excited to see how the new landscape can increase access to psychotherapy, or talk therapy, to a larger population of young people.

Expert tip
Help yourself first. Don’t put off looking for or asking for the support that you want or need. If you’re like most people, you’ve been shouldering a lot of new responsibilities, and more people are depending on you than ever before. You need to be healthy and functional to give yourself the care that you need and still have something left over for those who depend on you. In the medical field as a whole, and definitely psychiatry, we’ve gotten really good at offering high-quality, evidence-based, and safe treatments with a flexibility that wasn’t really available just a few years ago.


Plastic surgery
Answers from expert Frederick Weniger

Frederick Weniger is a plastic surgeon at Weniger Plastic Surgery. Learn more at wenigerplasticsurgery.com.

[Q] What was the most popular procedure in 2020? [A] Although the official statistics won’t be released until spring, my own experience and conversations I have had with other plastic surgeons can give us a clue. Breast augmentation (implants) and liposuction are Nos. 1 and 2, just like the last several years. What is way up, though, is lower-facial surgeries. More people are asking about lip lifts, neck lifts, laser treatments, and lower facelifts because they are wearing masks and staying home anyway! I never saw it coming, but starting this summer, patients have been telling us that they decided to have their procedures done now for exactly that reason.

[Q] What trends do you see coming in 2021? [A] I believe that there will be a trend toward more breast lifts and reductions. These procedures may never catch up to breast augmentation, but more people will continue to improve their breast aesthetics by making them perkier and tighter (and sometimes smaller, not just larger). Also, older patients will be getting lifts to deal with the loose skin that occurs if they choose to remove their breast implants or downsize. Breast implant removals are increasing, so lifts should follow. Buttock augmentations and lifts continue to grow, but it has to stop sometime! Similarly, lower body lifts will become more popular as tighter, firmer, more athletic bodies continue to hold the spotlight.

Expert tip
Beauty is in the skin. Don’t smoke, and protect yourself from the sun. If you avoid these causes of destruction of your skin, every part of your appearance will benefit. You will have less crepey skin, fewer age spots, fewer wrinkles and even less drooping. From your face to your breasts to the rest of your body, it makes a big difference. Remember that what looks best on your face in your 40s is sunscreen in your 20s.


Cosmetic dermatology
Answers from expert Carmen Traywick

Dr. Carmen Traywick is a cosmetic dermatologist at LUX ~ A Medical Spa and owns May River Dermatology. Learn more at luxhhi.com.

[Q] What were the most popular services in 2020? [A] Injectables remain our post popular medical spa procedure in 2020. Botox is an always popular option for relaxing frown lines, especially on the forehead, on the glabella (between the eyebrows) and the crow’s feet (sides of the eyes). Fillers are a great way to replace lost volume that happens with aging. Most patients want a rested, younger look. In well-trained hands, fillers can provide this by lifting the cheeks and softening folds around the mouth and nose. Fillers give instant satisfaction with immediate results, none to minimal downtime and much more robust improvements than products or less-invasive procedures give you.

[Q] What trends do you see coming in 2021? [A] One trend for 2021 will be more focus on the neck and chest. The same treatments done on the face can be done on the neck and chest. Laser treatments are great in this area, but Botox and even judicious use of fillers can help with creases in the neck and that crepey appearance on the neck. Now that more people work from home, they have the time to recover indoors and can tolerate a little more downtime after procedures in this area. One trend for 2021 will be face anti-aging treatments and more aggressive laser treatments with more downtime, but huge results.

Expert tip
Don’t forget about the basics. A good foundation of healthy skin is crucial when you embark on any anti-aging treatments. Healthy skin needs two main things: moisture and prevention. Moisture comes in a variety of ways that include diet, water intake, oil production and products to hold in water and maintain the skin barrier. Products with hyaluronic acid, and ceramides augment the skin’s natural moisture and barrier production. Prevention includes a cocktail of sunscreen, antioxidants and retinoids. Starting with the basics of skin care is always a great first step in skin health.


Cosmetic dentistry
Answers from expert Matthew Mastrorocco

Dr. Matthew Mastrorocco is a dentistry practitioner at ROC Dental Group. Learn more at rocdentalgroup.com.

[Q] What was the most popular procedure in 2020? [A] Basic procedures like crowns and fillings to repair broken teeth have been our mainstay, but we saw an increase in dental implants to replace missing teeth. Implants are such an efficient option when a tooth cannot be saved. We also saw an increase in night guards to protect the teeth and bite during sleep. People usually have no idea about the amount of pressure they are putting on their teeth over time, including when they are under stress related to the pandemic. Forces on the teeth range from typical, functional movements of the jaw to clenching and grinding throughout the day but especially at night.

[Q] What trends do you see coming in 2021? [A] Invisalign treatment has become really popular. Patients are seeing that it is easier than conventional braces, and they can get great results. Patients also are seeing the benefits of comprehensive dentistry, which means planning for the health of the entire mouth. So rather than treating one tooth that is in the most dire situation, they restore a quadrant of teeth to prevent an urgent dental visit in the future.

Expert tip
Take care of issues as they arise. The biggest piece of advice I give my patients is to not let problems go untreated. If you have a fractured filing that isn’t causing pain or an untreated abscess, you are very likely to require an urgent visit to the dentist due to sudden pain. When people take care of issues as they arise, they reap the reward of better overall health and peace of mind. I also find that I spend a lot of time educating patients on the amount of force that we place on our teeth, jaw bone and gums. This pressure leads to deterioration like gum recession, bone loss, and chipped and fractured teeth. We recommend Invisalign or orthodontics to help control this deterioration and correct the bite by balancing the biting force. Another option is rebuilding the bite through crown work and ceramic veneers.


Ophthalmology
Answers from expert Trey Bishop

Dr. Trey Bishop is an ophthalmologist at Bishop Eye Center. Learn more at bishopeye.com.

[Q] What was the most popular procedure in 2020? [A] Refractive cataract surgery was the most popular procedure in our practice for 2020. Cataract surgery is by far the most common procedure performed by physicians in the United States annually. Fortunately, it is also one of the safest and most successful. Cataracts occur when the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy commonly due to aging. The result is blurred vision. Traditional cataract surgery involves removal of the cloudy lens and insertion of a new lens implant to restore vision. Refractive cataract surgery elevates the goal of safely restoring vision to include enhancing visual performance and freedom from glasses and contacts. It truly epitomizes the “art of medicine.”

[Q] What trends do you see coming in 2021? [A] The new year will “see” the continued evolution and adoption of refractive cataract surgery techniques and technologies by many surgeons and patients in the unwavering pursuit of “perfect” vision. Obviously, that’s a lofty goal with ever-increasing expectations. For our practice, we will continue to push the performance of our chosen technologies. For example, last year we at Bishop Eye joined colleagues at Baylor University in collecting imaging data using the Cassini Ambient corneal topographer to link with Johnson & Johnson’s CATALYS Precision Laser System in an attempt to set new standards worldwide for treating astigmatism. This led to FDA approval and development of the new CATALYS cOS6.0 in early 2020. We were the first in the United States to install and use the new cOS6.0 this fall, resulting in a whole new level of accuracy and precision in our refractive results. In laymen’s terms, that means “better vision.”

Expert tip
Be informed and discerning. When it comes to healthcare, be informed and discerning. For example, before committing to cataract surgery, know your particular risks and benefits, potential limiting preexisting conditions, various options, and expectations. Regarding refractive cataract surgery, understand your choices and whether you’re truly a good candidate. Because refractive cataract surgery involves numerous advanced techniques and technologies, there are often extra costs to cover the expenses. But understand that just because something is “advanced” and costs more doesn’t mean it’s a better choice for you personally. In our practice, we are quick to counsel that all of our options are state-of-the-art independent of costs; costs vary depending on the expense of the technologies chosen; and the chosen technology is totally dependent on your ocular health, visual goals, and lifestyle. Only through extensive informed discussion with your physician and his or her support staff can you make a wise decision.


Optometry
Answers from expert Billy Simmons

Billy Simmons is an optician at Eyeland Optique. Learn more at eyelandoptique.com.

[Q] What lenses were most popular in 2020?
[A] Through our expertise in optics, we are seeing more demand for computer and occupational lenses. Zoom technology has caused much more eye strain with digital devices, which created a need for specialized lens designs. 2020 has taken our customer experience to another level. We have been able to take additional time with our clients to keep safety at the forefront.

[Q] What trends do you see coming in 2021?
[A] Our curated frame collections have taken color to a new level through color design and patterns. We also are seeing frame trends with a combination of materials including acetates and titaniums. Each of our frame lines is handmade with unique shapes, colors and styles you won’t find elsewhere.

Expert tip
Practice the “20-20-20” rule. Living on the island requires premium sun protection for the prevention of cataracts and macular degeneration. And now with excessive device use, practicing the “20-20-20 rule” will help prevent eye strain. Every 20 minutes, gaze 20 feet away for 20 seconds.


Pain management
Answers from expert John Batson

Dr. John Batson is a pain management physician for Lowcountry Spine & Sport. Learn more at spineandsportmd.com.

[Q] What were the most popular treatments in 2020? [A] We have been performing PRP (platelet rich plasma) treatments for various pain-related conditions for almost 10 years. What has changed for this treatment is science is catching up with what we see in clinical practice. For knee arthritis, especially early stage when knee replacement is not considered, there is more evidence in favor of PRP injections than any other injection (i.e. steroids or Hyaluronic Acid). Patients are seeking alternative options, and the great thing with PRP is there are virtually no side effects. Repeated steroid injections, on the other hand, may actually worsen the arthritis. Other settings where we are using PRP injections include early stage hip and shoulder arthritis, partial rotator cuff tears and chronic tennis or golfers elbow.

[Q] What trends do you see for 2021? [A] 2020 in some ways was a reality check that we humans need to take care of ourselves and invest in our health. As with many illnesses, Covid has shown us the healthier you are, the better you will be fighting off an infection. Looking past simply improved hygiene, I have seen a trend this year more than any other with patients wanting to lose weight, eat healthier, get active and avoid pharmaceutical medications. I foresee this continuing into 2021 and I am really excited to help patients reach their health goals. Treating illness is no fun for anyone, but health promotion can and should be fun for physicians and patients. Related to conditions like arthritis and chronic pain, which I treat every day, there are some basics patients may consider. More and more evidence is showing a plant-based, non-processed nutrition plan (not diet) can help treat pain and arthritis. Daily fitness and weekly strength training is important to help maintain muscle mass, bone density and weight control. For some patients certain supplements like turmeric, tart cherry concentrate and CBD products may be appropriate to try. Another trend I am seeing is many individuals are choosing outdoor fitness activities like biking, paddleboarding and hiking. Fresh air and a little sunshine are great for all of us.

Expert tip
Listen to your body. The most common condition I see in practice is lower back pain. It can be incredibly debilitating and negatively affects a patient’s physical health, mental health, relationships and work abilities. It is important to remember we all will get back pain, but it does not have to ruin your life, and in many ways you can prevent the back pain severity and frequency. How? Stay fit and healthy! Maintain a healthy weight, use good posture (head high, shoulders back), keep your core strong and hamstrings flexible. Eat more plant-based foods that are not processed. If you experience lower back pain, listen to your body and make modifications where appropriate. If the pain continues, get in to see a physician with expertise in pain medicine and/or sports medicine. Often, early on some simple modifications can make a big difference. Lastly, if you are smoking cigarettes, STOP!


Veneers
Answers from expert Bonnie J. Rothwell

Bonnie J. Rothwell

[Q] What are the benefits of no-drill porcelain veneers? [A] Your smile can be completely transformed. It is a very durable and long-lasting material that is actually stronger than your natural enamel. It’s about the same thickness as your fingernails.

[Q] Who should consider them? [A] They can improve the appearance of many cosmetic imperfections including discoloration, chipped teeth, minor spacing issues, misshaped teeth as well as irregular sizing issues. The exact color, shape and size can be customized into a smile you will absolutely love. You will have multiple opportunities to see exactly what your new smile will look like before it is permanently bonded into place.

[Q] How long will they last? [A] It is difficult to put a number of years for a lifespan. They won’t really wear out during a human lifespan. If they aren’t well cared for, the bonding material can deteriorate. Or they can be damaged and need to be replaced.


Restorative health
Answers from expert Brad Fraum

Brad Fraum

[Q] What were the most popular services in 2020?
[A] Regenerative medicine, specifically associated with our surgery-free alternative to knee replacement utilizing advanced technology beyond stem cells as part of our regenerative medicine treatment.

[Q] What trends do you see coming in 2021? [A] We already have seen a huge influx of patients wanting to take their health into their own hands Leveraging our “Global Health Advocate” program, we build a customized proactive approach to our clients’ health. They can enhance their life by working with Dr. Heather Hinshelwood, MD, to come up with a well thought-out, sustainable health plan.

[Q] How has the pandemic impacted your industry? [A] As mentioned earlier, the pandemic has caused many people in all walks of life to review their health and seek professional help to enhance it. Overall, our patients have been seeking answers to the future of health care.

Expert tip
Come up with a plan. Most people driving their cars have regular scheduled appointments to get the oil changed, rotate the tires and give it a general checkup. You don’t drive your car until it breaks to get a service. This same principle applies to our bodies. In 2021, it is our time to really review our health, be realistic and come up with a plan to enhance our lives for the long term.