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What's Ahead for Health in 2008

Experts predict medical trends in the new year.

Diabetes: Is the Epidemic Finally Over? continued...

"We are starting to see early hints that the extremely rapid increase in the numbers of people with diabetes may have turned the corner," he says. "I do think that things are improving relatively rapidly."

As for "diabesity," the converging epidemic of obesity and diabetes, "people are individually and personally trying to make efforts, at least in segments of the population, so there is reason to hope things will be better in 2008 than in 2007."

There probably won't be any new diabetes drugs in 2008, Buse says, and fewer patients will be using a class of drugs known as glitazones. In 2007, one such drug, Avandia, was linked to an increased risk for heart attack in people with diabetes.

Inhaled insulin hit a snafu in 2007 when Pfizer announced that it would stop selling Exubera for financial reasons. But "inhaled insulin is not dead as a concept," Buse says. "Perhaps a smaller device that is easier for patients to use and is associated with reasonable expectations will have a place in the future."

Plastic Surgery: Less Is More

Less will be more in 2008, predicts Foad Nahai, MD, the president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and a plastic surgeon in private practice in Atlanta.

"I think what we are going to see more of in 2008 is a continuing interest in injectables, fillers, toxins, and other noninvasive procedures [to reduce some of the visible signs of aging]," he predicts. "What we are going to see less of are the very complicated and sophisticated face-lift procedures that provide probably the best results, but also require the longest recovery."

Overall, "men and women will be opting for less in terms of the result and going with injectables because there is no downtime and no recovery time," he says.

"The other thing that we will see is growth in products to use at home," he says.  "Eventually there may be an effective cream or treatment that would match the injectables and fillers."

Still, plastic surgeons won't be going out of business anytime soon. "There are still lots of things that the knife can do that needles and creams can't," he says. For example, plastic surgeons will use 2008 as time to work on refining the proper sequencing for body-contouring following weight loss surgery. When people experience such dramatic weight loss, they are often left with loose, hanging skin and opt to undergo multiple body-contouring surgeries such as tummy tucks, arm lifts, and/or breast lifts to tighten and tone. Plastic surgeons are now trying to determine the best order to perform such surgeries.

And one more thing, he adds. Just because pop star Britney Spears reportedly underwent lipodissolve, don't expect this fat-dissolving technology to become all the rage in 2008.

"We just don't have large studies looking at how effective it is and how safe it is," Nahai says. "We should wait until we have studies that prove its safety and then it will rapidly become very popular." There may be some short-term results on lipodissolve published in 2008.

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