Virginia Beach, Va. -- James Carraway, M.D., board-certified plastic surgeon in Virginia Beach, Va., tells his new patients that he has two things to offer them. One is plastic surgery. The other is anti-aging.
"I tell them: 'The first one costs you; the second is free. But if you are only going to pick one, pick the free one because it will last you longer.' I really do tell people that because I want them to understand how important what we are offering is."
Dr. Carraway, professor and chairman of plastic surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, Va., added the anti-aging aspect to his practice and his life nine years ago, after reading the book by Barry Sears, Enter the Zone. Realizing the importance of nutrition on health, Dr. Carraway searched further into the literature and expanded his journey to include anti-aging information.The comprehensive approach to making patients more beautiful and healthier has been successful.
"I never have advertised, and I'm booked for cosmetic cases six months in advance -- even in a small city like Virginia Beach. Every patient has been referred by another," he says. "It has changed my whole practice because I get healthy people in now, and patients always want to bring their friends to share the information about better aging and plastic surgery."
Long-term benefits Many cosmetic surgeons will cringe with the time and effort Dr. Carraway puts into the anti-aging side of his practice. But the physician insists there is no other way to approach the plastic surgery patient. The practice philosophy is not just about cosmetic surgery. It also is about how to keep patients aging better — not just so that they look better with a quick operation but how to teach them to age so that they will look and feel better 10, 15, and 20 years in the future, he says.
Patients who book consultations are sent information and educational packets. In each is an extensive questionnaire, wellness information, tips and resources.
Dr. Carraway's questionnaire is more than a medical history. The eight-page piece asks intricate details about a person's lifestyle, including: How many meals do you eat in a day? What kinds of snacks do you eat? What is your body weight now and what was it five years ago? How much exercise are you doing? It also quizzes people about their exercise ability, anxiety, appearance of aging, sexual drive, sexual function and more.
Potential patients send these in before they come in for the consultation, so that Dr. Carraway can review them and discuss, at length, where these people can adopt healthier lifestyles.
Tips for a healthy future The new patient folder features steps that patients can take for anti-aging and wellness. Dr. Carraway and his staff recommend regular medical checkups or executive physicals and suggest patients look into extensive cardiovascular testing, total body scans, growth hormone and other hormone level checkups.
The packet makes recommendations about ideal balances of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and nutrients. Patients learn about the numbers of fruits and vegetables they should eat, as well as what kinds of fats and amounts of carbohydrates they should consume.
"We also give them an appointment with our nutritional counselor. We have a Zone-trained, master's level nutritional counselor and trainer. We pay her salary so that she can be available for people," Dr. Carraway says.
There is a sheet of information on white carbohydrates, including myths and truths. In addition to learning the negative sides of eating flour and sugar, Dr. Carraway's packet features a list of foods to eat and avoid. Examples of low-glycemic carbohydrates to eat are: green vegetables, high- fiber whole-grain cereals, whole-grain breads, small potatoes with the skins on, semolina pasta, brown rice, high-protein pasta, fresh fruits, nuts, dried beans, small amounts of sweet potatoes and plain yogurt. Foods to avoid would be mashed potatoes, white bread, regular pasta, quick oatmeal, bagels, muffins, doughnuts, cakes, candies, breakfast cereals, white or polished rice, cooked carrots and bananas.