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Say 'Aaah' | Booster Shots

Sleep Head Up to Keep All Your Marbles

October 09, 2000

Here is some "important" information from the world of health, nutrition and medicine.

We are all sleeping too flat for too long and should sleep with our heads held up if we want to avoid migraines, Alzheimer's and stroke, two Hawaiian authors write in a new book titled "Get It Up!" (Their earlier book, "Dressed to Kill," blames breast cancer on the wearing of bras.)

Got an injury? Rub on some emu oil! Australian aborigines have been using the stuff for centuries to help heal wounds and reduce pain and inflammation: Scientists in Adelaide are now looking for the active ingredients in the oil. (Please, no letters requesting info about local emu oil purveyors.)

A chemist at UC Davis has come up with an invention that many will welcome: an odorless sports sock. It's made of a textile impregnated with chlorine-containing molecules that kill bacteria.

Finally, beware the frozen vegetable ice pack to ease pain, warns the British Journal of Sports Medicine in an article titled "Frozen Chips: An Unusual Cause of Severe Frostbite." Limit frozen veggie-bag application to 30 minutes or less--and wrap the bag in a towel.

What's the Flap About Reconstructive Surgery?

Years ago, while wandering the corridors of the UCLA Medical Center, I spotted a sign with a big arrow on it that said "Cutaneous Flap Workshop." What, I wondered, was a cutaneous flap, and what did one do in a workshop of such flaps?

Quelle coincidence! Eight years later, I opened a copy of the journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery--and saw cutaneous flaps all over the place. "Cutaneous" means "skin," and flap means--well, flap. Plastic surgery relies heavily on moving a skin flap from y to some place else that needs it.

That mystery solved, I settled down for a nice morning read.

One article showed how you can implant a piece of leg muscle into the face of a kid who was born without the ability to smile--and now the kid can smile, using the leg muscle in her face.

Another article by a plastic surgeon defended the practice of inserting breast implants through the belly button, saying it shouldn't be criticized by surgeons who hadn't tried the procedure themselves.

Another article argued that patients who smoke should be made to abstain before aesthetic plastic surgery: There was something ironic, the author noted, about wanting to look more beautiful and healthy while persisting in a dangerous and wrinkle-making habit. (He'll be wanting rationality from his patients next.)

And there were some interesting articles on noses. One, complete with diagrams, showed how to make a nose out of different chunks of cartilage and bone taken from skulls and so forth. (Don't attempt this at home.)

Another divided the nose into so-called aesthetic sub-units, drawn all over someone's nose with a magic marker. (More than once, in my youth, I divided my younger brother's nose into aesthetic sub-units in this fashion.)

Finally, I was glad to see that Madison Avenue does not neglect the plastic surgeon. My fave ads were the ones for leeches ("Leeches! On Call 24 Hours: Just Like You"), and one for a scary-sounding instrument called the "Spacemaker surgical balloon dissector" that read "The future of your breast augmentation business is ballooning." (Get it?)

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If you have an idea for a topic, write or e-mail Rosie Mestel at L.A. Times, 202 W. 1st St., LA, CA 90012, rosie.mestel@latimes.com.

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