Tuesday, April 29, 2014

New Hair And Wellness Website!

We just launched out new website today! We're so proud of how it turned out and hope that you will find it full of good information about post-mastectomy products and services, hair loss and lymphedema solutions. The photos are of our real clients! We're so blessed that they agreed to pose as our models!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Read What a Recent Client Said About Our Services!

"THE BEST!!!!! Words can not describe the experience we had with Ricky and Kristen. Hearing the words cancer and chemo are devastating. The first thing my mother thought about was loosing her hair. As her daughter I did the research and Ricky Knowles Hair & Wellness kept on coming up. So we traveled to Houston, me from New York and my mother from Miami. WOW, what a great decision!!

In 2 days Ricky ordered, colored, and cut a beautiful new wig. He spent so much time talking and listening. And Kristen, well what can I say, the patience of a Saint; always talking about the health side, what to look out for, how to manage expectations......so much that the Doctor never covered!!!

I am filled with Gratitude that we have Ricky and Kristen in our lives they are truly ANGELS!!!" 

- Debra L, Manhattan, NY

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Top Six Free Health Services for Women

Did you know the Affordable Care Act mandates that new insurance plans provide 19 free, preventive health services for women?

In the past, many health plans covered some or all of these services, but they often required cost-sharing (e.g., copays). Now -- as long as these services are administered by a provider in your network -- they are free of charge. They do not incur copays or coinsurance, and are free whether or not you've met your annual deductible.

The following is a list of the top 6 services that all women should have.

1. Breast cancer genetic test counseling (BRCA)
If you're a woman with a family history (e.g., two or more first-degree relatives) of breast cancer or ovarian cancer, you should ask a trained medical professional about whether to get genetic testing. If your provider recommends it, you will be tested for mutations in the BRCA gene and can be counseled on whether taking certain medications to lower your risk is right for you.

2. Breast cancer mammography screening
Women over 40 should start getting annual mammograms, and women over 50 should get mammograms every two years. Talk to your doctor to determine how often you, personally, should get a mammogram.

3. Breast cancer chemoprevention
Your provider can counsel you about medications to lower your breast cancer risk. Your plan will also cover you if you choose to go ahead with these cancer-prevention medications. There are currently two FDA-approved drugs -- tamoxifen and raloxifene -- that may lower your risk of breast cancer, if you have a significant family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer.

4. Cervical cancer screening
Sexually active women should have regular cervical cancer screening tests every three to five years depending on your age and how often you get HPV tests. Cervical cancer deaths are preventable if women get regular Pap tests and abnormal cells are found before they turn into cancer. Pap tests should be administered every three years and can be provided during your well-woman visits.

5. Human papillomavirus DNA test
This can be done in concert with the cervical cancer screening during your Pap test, which in turn can be done during your well-woman visit. If you're not at high risk, you should be tested every three years once you turn 30. Speak your provider to determine how often you should be tested.

6. Well-woman visit
All women under 65 should have a well-woman visit every year. These visits provide age- and developmentally appropriate care, and often provide other preventive services as well.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What's Your Mammogram Risk?


A review of 50 years of studies of mammograms released Tuesday finds that the benefits have often been overstated and the harms minimized — adding to the confusion about what remains an annual ritual for many American women.

But do the benefits of a mammogram outweigh the risks for you or your family members? That's a very personal question, and not one with an easy answer.

Each patient has different risks that should be discussed with a doctor, but here are answers to some of the questions raised by the latest research.

We're seeing a lot in the news about this. What should I know about this particular study?

The study published Tuesday looks at 50 years' worth of international studies. It reminds us that mammograms are not perfect tests and that the benefits of the screening are often overestimated, while harms are underestimated.

According to the review, mammography screening is associated with a 19 percent overall reduction in deaths from breast cancer. This rate was not the same for all women, however. It reduced deaths by only 15 percent for women in their 40s and about 32 percent for women in their 60s. All of this underscores what we already know: This is not a perfect test and there is no hard and fast rule for mammograms that fits every woman.

What are the risks of mammograms? Isn't it better safe than sorry?

This study finds that for a 40- or 50-year-old woman who gets an annual mammogram, the risk of getting a false positive over 10 years is 61 percent. That means that 61 out of 100 women will have a false positive test. False positives don't just cause emotional distress — they often require repeat imaging and can also mean more invasive procedures like a biopsy.

I'm 40 and healthy. Should I get a mammogram?

What this study shows is that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to breast cancer screening. What is appropriate for one woman is not always appropriate for her mother or her best friend. Decisions about whether to have a mammogram should be made with your doctor and based on your individual risk for cancer.

Women with a higher risk of breast cancer based on family history or individual risk factors will benefit more from mammography than women of lower risk. Factors to consider include age, a history of cancer, genetic risk factors like the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, use of certain medications like some hormone replacement, increased alcohol use, obesity and not having a child before age 30.

We're seeing studies talking about the risk of mammograms. Why are doctors still using them?

Breast cancer kills 40,000 American women per year. At this point, mammograms are the best screening tool that we have. They aren't perfect, but used correctly, they can be lifesaving. However, doctors and researchers are working to develop better tools and one day these might replace mammograms.

Should I do breast self-exams?

While an awareness of your body is always a good idea, the evidence does not show that self-exam does a good job of detecting breast cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends against teaching breast self-examination.

What age should women stop getting mammograms?

There is not enough evidence to recommend for or against mammograms after age 75, according to the task force. Another study published Tuesday suggests that this decision should be based on your life expectancy. For example, if your life expectancy is less than 10 years due to an illness, mammograms might not be the best choice. Again, it's an individual decision and should involve a thoughtful conversation and consideration of your unique medical profile.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

5 Habits That Are Making You Lose Hair

Suddenly seeing clumps of hair on your pillow in the morning or clogging up the shower drain can be scary. But hair loss isn’t just from aging—there are some bad habits that could the cause. An average person loses between 50 and 100 hairs each day, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). If you’re seeing bald patches or thinning, however, read below to see if it’s your behavior that’s the culprit.

Habit #1: You're stressed out
If you experienced a traumatic event, like a divorce, your stress could be causing your hair loss. Extreme stress from “the three B’s – bereavement, bankruptcy, and break-up or divorce can knock emotions out and change the cycle of the hair,” says Jerry Shapiro, M.D., an adjunct professor in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center. In fact, hair loss can occur six weeks to three months after a stressful event. This kind of hair loss is called telogen effluvium, which can also be caused by infections, major surgery, or having a baby. Think back over the last few months and see if there were any extreme stress events. (And keep in mind that regular everyday worries and stress probably will not lead to thinning hair.) The good news: for most, your hair will grow back normally once stress is reduced.

Habit #2: Your ponytail is too tight
Do you find yourself constantly pulling your hair back in a tight bun or ponytail? Do you wear tight braids or extensions? Over time, these styles damage the hair follicles, a condition known as traction alopecia. One tight hairstyle isn’t going to harm your hair, Dr. Shapiro says. But after many years, traction alopecia could cause permanent hair loss. Try changing it up with a new hairstyle, never use rubber bands to tie hair (they cause breakage, try fabric ones instead), and wear ponytails or buns in different areas of the scalp. For example, alternate between wearing a low and high ponytail.

Habit #3: Too much blowdrying
Too much of anything can be bad—and that certainly applies to hair products and stylers. Try your best to limit your use of blow dryers, straighteners, and curling irons. Very high heat from blow dryers and the like can lead to breakage, making the hair more prone to falling out. While Dr. Shapiro says that blow drying and using products like relaxers normally won’t cause thinning problems unless the heat is excessive, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, “some of the products you use on your hair can cause hair loss.” The ADD recommends air-drying hair as much as possible, and never use straighteners or curling irons on wet hair.

Habit #4: Brushing hair when wet
Many of us hop out of the shower and run a brush through our damp strands to untangle. But brushing wet hair can cause breakage since wet hair is more delicate. Try to let hair dry before brushing. If you can’t, use a comb on wet hair instead of a brush, and be gentle. And even once it’s dry, avoid brushing too much. Remember the old advice to brush your hair 100 times every day? Bad idea, says the AAD. All that tugging will cause your hair to break.

Habit #5: Eating the wrong foods
A healthy, balanced diet is the key to everything, including healthy hair. A diet that is not high enough in iron or protein can lead to hair loss, says Dr. Shapiro. Those with eating disorders and those who crash diet often experience hair loss. If poor diet is your issue, you can usually reverse hair loss by balancing your food intake. Good sources of protein include meat, eggs, fish, nuts, beans, and seeds; add iron to your diet with foods like lentils, green foods like spinach and other veggies, cereals fortified with iron, clams, and oysters.

The body uses vitamin A to help with vision and hair growth, however, high levels of vitamin A can have a converse effect and contribute to hair loss. Avoid taking excessive vitamin supplements that could cause a spike in your vitamin A. Certain medications can also be responsible for elevated vitamin A levels, particularly retinoids commonly used to treat acne and psoriasis. While you are taking retinoids there is not much you can do about hair loss, says Dr. Shapiro. However, once you stop medication or excessive supplements, your hair should resume its normal growth.

One other vitamin to pay attention to: vitamin D. Though studies are not conclusive, some research suggests that low levels of vitamin D and iron can cause thinning hair in women. Ask your doctor to test your vitamin D and iron levels, and discuss whether or not you should take a vitamin supplement.

What if your habits aren't the cause?

There are many other reasons your hair may be thinning:
Some prescription medications, like those used to treat arthritis, depression, and high blood pressure can cause hair to fall out.

Auto-immune diseases like lupus cause the body to attack it's own healthy cells, including skin and scalp, which can lead to hair loss.

Thyroid problems. Talk to your doctor and ask her to test your thyroid to make sure it's functioning properly—hair loss can be a sign of hypothyroidism.

Hormone imbalance. As women age and hormones change there can be a surge of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which can cause hair on the head to thin, while hair to sprout on the chin and face.

Hereditary hair loss. According to the ADD, 80 million men and women experience alopecia, or common hereditary hair loss.

If your habits aren't causing your hair to thin, talk to your doctor.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Certain surgeries may lead to limbs swelling

Stephanie Turner, Aiken Standard

For some people, they will never be fully healed. An illness has crept inside them, swelling their limbs to abnormal sizes.

This swelling can be a sign of lymphedema, according to Holly Shurtleff, Hitchcock Healthcare occupational therapist.  "You can eat perfectly healthy and be the ideal weight, and, yet, you can still get lymphedema," she said.

March is deemed Lymphedema Awareness Month.

"This illness can be really scary," Shurtleff said.
Lymphedema stems from your body's lymphatic system, which helps protect our bodies from germs and bacteria, as well as help us release waste, Shurtleff said.

"It is part of the circulatory system of veins and arteries," says the National Lymphedema Network.

Shurleff explained that the "controlling center" of the lymphatic system are called the lymph nodes, which are located in the lymph vessels.

When lymph fluid passes through these nodes, they rid the fluid of harmful bacteria and viruses.

"Networks of the lymphatic system comprising these vessels ... and nodes are situated in several areas of the body," the National Lymphedema Network stated.

These networks reach places like the neck, the armpits, the pelvic area and the groin.

Surgery that results in the lymph nodes being removed are one way a person can get lymphedema. These surgeries are often used as treatment methods for cancer patients, Shurtleff said.

"Surgical removal of a tumor and adjacent lymph nodes and vessels may block lymph fluid from flowing naturally through its system," the National Lymphedema Network says.

Having radiation therapy can also leave its effects by causing scar tissue to form. This will also disturb the flow of lymph fluid.

Some are born with lymphedema, Shurtleff said.  "The whole baby's body can swell," she said.

If the swelling goes untreated, your skin can harden and/or you can get infections, the National Lymphedema Network stated.

Treatment methods include exercising, using compression garments and bandages and taking antibiotics. Methods are determined based on the cause and severity of the illness, the National Lymphedema Network stated.

Your affected limb can return to its normal size but only if it swelled up to less than 5 percent of its normal size, Shurtleff said.

"The further it is, the greater the possibility it won't get back to your normal size," she said.

One treatment method she uses is massaging. That and exercise can "get the fluid moving throughout the whole area," she said.  Lymphedema cannot be cured, she added.

The swelling can reoccur; therefore, those with this ailment must take precautions.

Besides keeping your weight to a healthy level, avoid wearing tight jewelry and doing stressful movements with the affected limb. Avoid injuries by wearing protection as you work around the house or at your job. Keep the limb away from heat, and keep it elevated as much as possible.

Those with affected limbs should not to get blood drawn or shots put into them.

Those who need to have their lymph nodes removed can work to prevent themselves from catching lymphedema, Shurtleff said.

After surgery, be sure to drink plenty of fluids, protect the limb and exercise.

If you are experiencing unusual swelling and discomfort, tell an oncologist or your regular physician.

For more information on lymphedema, visit www.lymphnet.org.