Friday, 02 December 2016 15:18

Star Light, Star Bright

By Katherine Michalak

Mysterious street signs show arrows and cryptic abbreviations; odd traffic detours randomly pop up with no correlation to construction. A parking lot, empty last week, transforms into a small village of trailers. Social media flickers with photos of superstar sightings—action heroes enjoying top restaurants, marquis heartthrobs biking the BeltLine, SNL comic geniuses at the grocery store. You've heard the buzz. It's happening. Really happening. LaLaLand-types are sipping sweet tea and leaving behind the Sunset Strip to cruise roads labeled Peachtree. Atlanta's moved right into the spotlight and the cameras keep rolling.

Economic incentives and tax breaks might have lured Hollywood here, but Atlanta's charm keeps the industry heavy hitters clamoring for more time in the Big Peach. Large studios, such as Tyler Perry's and Pinewood's, have staked their claim—Perry breathing new life into the old Fort MacPherson and Pinewood taking it one step further, recently announcing plans for the Pinewood Forrest live-work development adjacent to the studio complex. The increase in production activity also boosts the attention and resources for the already-booming Atlanta music scene, as well as our incredible theater and dance talent.

So, what do the local pros make of the increasingly luminous twinkle of what some refer to as "Yallywood"?

Jan Smith Studios

"Atlanta has been pregnant with this for a long time," proclaims Jan Smith, aka Mama Jan. She should know. She's practically been a midwife during this labor. Known throughout the world as a premier vocal coach—cultivating talents such as Rob Thomas, Usher, Justin Bieber, The Band Perry and many more—Smith holds a true reverence for the artistry of music. "Historically, there's always been a very rich culture of music here. Artists have come up from this soil or traveled here to hone their craft."

Smith started out herself as one of those homegrown talents, raised in suburbs south of Atlanta. Born with a musical gift, Smith cut her first record at age 15, embracing the influence of singer/songwriters like Joni Mitchell and the soulful sounds of gospel and blues. She sang her brand of Southern rock in various bands, the most regionally well known being the Jan Smith Band, and always knew that music was her lifeline. She graduated college with a degree in psychology and practiced as a therapist for years while also playing in bands and recording at home. In fact, it was shopping for gear for some of that recording that moved her career in a completely different direction.

SB2She purchased some used equipment from a rock guitar instructor and he asked if she could help a client of his that was losing his voice. "I took that one client for once a week," Smith explains. "This artist got stronger, sang better, and was able to move his band forward. Then there were other singers—the rock singers, the urban singers, the rappers. The classical singers and the Broadway people had always been catered to, but not these salt-of-the-earth artists. I understood their needs." Soon, Smith went part-time as a psychologist to serve all the new vocal clients and then it became her primary business. "Now, 30 years later, I have the largest roster of charting artists of any vocal facility. It's been a process of continuing to help other artists. I perform now when I want to and I am always an artist first, even in production."

Jan Smith and her team see about 200 people a week in the studio and have a list of over 400 waiting to get an appointment. Her legacy is one of truth and excellence at all levels. "I live in an industry of smoke and mirrors. Because of that, I think the truth is paramount," Smith proclaims. "I don't make people stars, I work with a lot of them and I keep some of them there. But that's not my intention. I would treat anyone the same way that I treat Justin Bieber or Jill Scott or India Arie. I'm going to honestly assess and evaluate what they want to achieve and their skill set. When I am sitting with someone who wants to sing better in their church choir or a kid trying out for a part, that's just as important to me as someone standing on the stage at Madison Square Garden. It's brokering people's dreams. That's a holy thing and I don't take that lightly."

Smith applauds the way her beloved hometown of Atlanta has become a place where more artists have an opportunity to make performance dreams come true. Just as with so many other facets of the entertainment industry, she views Atlanta's "big break" as a matter of timing. "There's a season for all things and there's been a concerted effort by people that have worked in this community for a long time," says Smith. "Our politics and arts have never held hands and walked together the way we are attempting to do now. That changes the landscape of what can happen. I think the South is rich in that culture and has never stood up to claim that. I think that's what's beginning to happen now."

Catapult Acting Studios

A California native, Erik Lingvall moved to L.A. by age 21 to start working as an actor. "At first, I made every mistake in the book," Lingvall confesses. "But, luckily, I started to surround myself with a good team. I got a reputable agent, was auditioning every single day and working. Then I transitioned to the other side of the camera and dabbled in everything from casting to production. Eventually, I started producing workshops and showcases, discovering that I really loved working with people who were just starting to get into the business."

When Lingvall first relocated to Atlanta, he wasn't sure about the opportunities available in the entertainment business. "Once I got settled in here, I realized that things are happening in Atlanta, but I also saw that there are major voids," Lingvall notes. He saw the local industry growing faster than the existing infrastructure could handle—much like Atlanta traffic. "The difference in my industry, versus traffic, is that in traffic you just get a traffic jam," Lingvall clarifies. "In [entertainment], they hire everyone from elsewhere. We need to train people. There is so much work in so many facets of the industry."

SB3Catapult Acting Studios grew from Lingvall's goal to serve that industry growth through education. Lingvall says he got out of acting when he stopped enjoying the overall process. "I was getting too much in my head," he confesses. I think that's one of the biggest problems actors have when they go into the audition. It's something few acting coaches teach. It's good to prepare the script, but it's really about expressing a part of yourself through a character. Our program centers around embracing authenticity. I don't teach people to be actors, I teach people how to be better at who they are. We try to get students to understand that fear is a choice and you can remove that fear, instead focusing on faith. When you start to make that shift, other things happen because you have a new perspective."

Lingvall goes on to say, "Our goal with Catapult is to be a creative hub with nonstop programming, to find as many amazing coaches and programs as possible. What makes things great is collaboration. Atlanta's such a melting pot of all these different types of people. Creatives are pouring into the city with progressive ideas. We have the busiest and most convenient airport in the world, the climate is very good for this industry and it's not as expensive as NYC or L.A."

But beyond the logistics and statistics about Atlanta, Lingvall taps into the local spirit that he feels elevates the city. "The biggest thing is that there's a sense of community in Atlanta. I've never felt that before," Lingvall praises. "In Atlanta, we are all rooting for each other. Community creates movement!"

Tara Simon Studios

Raised in South Florida, Tara Simon graduated high school from the prestigious Dreyfoos School of Arts and then headed to Broadway. Landing a lead in the musical "Fame," Simon toured Europe with the production and returned to the States feeling as though she wanted to use her talent differently. "All those years of training—and I was missing the mark somehow," Simon explains.

She returned to Florida, completed her bachelor's degree in music performance, married and moved to South Carolina, where she gave vocal lessons out of her home. "Throughout my entire career, I'd get the question, 'Do you teach? Can you coach my kid?'" Simon explains. "Since the life of a performer is at night, during the day I'd teach and that's how it got started. For a long time, I didn't take it seriously, but then [in South Carolina] Peter came along."

Peter, a young boy with Down Syndrome, was a musical prodigy and his parents had not been able to find the right teacher to work with him. Simon decided to accept the challenge, marveling at the complex piano pieces he picked up at warp speed and vowing to push him to achieve. "He changed my heart. There was purpose and a high calling," she reveals. "I realized that if I could make that kind of difference in someone's life I could really do something meaningful. That's what was missing [from performing]."

SB4When Simon and her husband relocated to Atlanta in 2011, she focused on her coaching program. She went from teaching out of her home to using space in a local church to, finally, two years ago, converting an old house in Smyrna into a beautiful studio facility. Now, she and her professional staff are able to accommodate all their students and offer a full range of performance coaching.

Simon and her team impart a pragmatic perspective: "It's called the music business and the entertainment industry," points out Simon. "You are a small business person before anything else. You are not a starving artist, you are an entrepreneur." She encourages learning all aspects of the business and considering all avenues. Simon gives the example of a student heading to college planning to major in vocal performance but also considering a companion study in business or entertainment law. "I don't buy into the idea that you need an outside skill that is totally unrelated," Simon affirms. "I believe that if you do what you love that you never work a day in your life."

Catapult Acting Studios:
Georgia Film and TV Production:
Jan Smith Studios:
Mayor's Office of Film & Entertainment:
Pinewood Forrest:
Tara Simon Studios:
Tyler Perry Studios:



Friday, 02 December 2016 15:06

All About Injectables

What do you recommend for someone wanting fuller lips?

A fuller lip has always been desirable, but is particularly popular right now. Lips can be contoured, given more volume and perioral lines softened with injectable fillers. A natural look can be maintained with conservative injection, preserving the natural contours of the lip. The most commonly used fillers in the lip are composed of synthetic hyaluronic acid (such as Restylane® and Juvederm®), a naturally occurring substance in the skin. Volbella® is a new hyaluronic acid product designed specifically for a soft, natural feel in the lips (with less swelling after treatment) and that lasts 12 months. It costs approximately $400 per tube. It is my new favorite product for the lips!

How do you best address facial lines and folds?

If lines are produced by muscle action, so-called dynamic lines (such as frown lines or crow's feet), they are best addressed with neurotoxin injections like Botox® or Dysport®. Deeper folds, such as nasolabial folds or marionette lines, can be softened with filler injections like Restylane®, Juvederm® or Radiesse®. My current favorite approach is a combination of an injectable in the cheek, such as Voluma®, to restore volume, followed by Juvederm® to soften the nasolabial folds or marionette lines. More than in any other area of the face, in my opinion, there is a definite art to cheek injections. I constantly hear patients express fear of big cheeks that look unnatural with smiling. However, when they see a natural look that is more lifted and sculpted, they are thrilled to have their cheekbones back!

shutterstock 158948495Are injectables just for the face?

An area often overlooked is the hands, which also reflect our aging. Skin becomes thinner and we lose volume in the hands as well as the face. Injectables such as Radiesse® (which is FDA approved for use in the hands), are a great way to replace that volume and soften the look of aging hands. This combines beautifully with laser treatments to reduce pigment and spots on the back of the hands—improving the appearance of the skin.

So, with the holidays around the corner, is there enough recovery time with injectables?

Absolutely. There is no significant downtime with any injectables. That being said, there can be occasional swelling and bruising, depending on the area being injected, so don't wait until the last minute before your events!


Dr. Elizabeth Whitaker
Atlanta Face & Body Center

Dr. Elizabeth Whitaker brings to her patients the benefits of a world-class education combined with unparalleled experience.  After receiving her Doctorate of Medicine from Duke University, she was the first woman to complete her specialty residency training program at Emory University.  Dr. Elizabeth Whitaker elected an additional year of advanced fellowship training focused exclusively on cosmetic surgery of the face at Tulane University. These exclusive and competitive fellowships are offered to only 38 candidates internationally each year, and only a handful of surgeons in Atlanta have this specialized training. Dr. Elizabeth Whitaker is Double Board Certified and a Fellow of both the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Having performed thousands of facial procedures, including 4000 facelifts alone, she is one of the most experienced Facial Plastic Surgeons, not just in Atlanta, but the entire country.

Sponsored by: Atlanta Face & Body Center  |  3200 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Suite 205  |  Atlanta, GA 30339
Phone: (678) 888-FACE (3223) |

Thursday, 01 December 2016 17:07

December 2016/January 2017 Digital Issuu

Thursday, 27 October 2016 20:52

Preventing Diabetes: Know the Risks

Twenty nine million—that is the number of Americans living with diabetes, and more than 8 million of them don't even know it, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Chances are you have a family member who is diabetic, and those chances are multiplied if you are a minority.

So, what exactly is this disease diagnosed in nearly two million adults each year?

Diabetes develops when there are abnormally high glucose or sugar levels in the blood, and it can lead to heart disease, blindness, amputations, and even death when not managed properly. But research has produced promising findings—a healthy lifestyle can cut your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for an estimated 90 percent of diabetes cases.

Educate yourself about diabetes, its risk factors and the preventive measures you can take today to avoid a troubling diagnosis later in life.

How does diabetes affect the body?

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the most common forms of the disease. Your body naturally produces insulin to regulate the blood glucose level. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin. The condition, which is treated with insulin supplements, is prevalent among children and teens. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body cannot respond normally to the insulin it produces.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Contact your doctor if you are experiencing one or more of the following symptoms:

  • frequent urination
  • excessive thirst
  • extreme hunger
  • unexplained weight loss
  • extreme fatigue
  • irritability
  • blurry vision

What are the risk factors for diabetes, and how can I lower my risk of developing the disease?

A family history of diabetes increases your risk of developing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. While it is unclear how to prevent type 1 diabetes, research shows that obesity is a leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Lower your risk by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet.

If I have diabetes, what steps can I take to manage it properly?

  • Keep your blood sugar (glucose) levels well controlled. Test your blood sugar to be sure it is in the target range set by you and your doctor. Take blood sugar medication as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Ask your doctor if you should take low-dose aspirin along with cholesterol or blood pressure medicine to help prevent heart attack and stroke.
  • Eat a healthy diet. The right nutrition is key to preventing and managing diabetes.
  • Stay or become more physically active. Try walking for 30 minutes at least 5 days a week. If you're overweight, losing as little as 7 to 15 pounds can make a big difference in your health.


  • Sponsored by:  Dr. Reginald Mason  |  Kaiser Permanente of Georgia  |



  • Reginald Mason, MD
  • Dr. Reginald Mason is the Total Health Lead for Kaiser Permanente of Georgia. He is board-certified in internal medicine, and specializes in critical care medicine and pulmonology.  A graduate of Stanford University, he completed medical school and fellowship training at University of California—San Francisco. Read more about Dr. Mason at



Thursday, 27 October 2016 20:47

Non-Surgical Treatment for Back Pain

What is IDD (Intervertebral Differential Dynamics Therapy)?

IDD Therapy® is an innovative approach to the relief of lower back syndromes including herniated or bulging discs, degenerative disc disease, posterior facet syndrome, sciatica and acute or chronic back pain. It consists of simply lying on a traction device that is unlike anything used in most physical therapy programs.

How does the treatment work?

IDD Therapy® can isolate each lumbar vertebrae (L1, L2, L3, L4 or L5) and distract the vertebrae surrounding an injured disc five to seven millimeters. The 25 minute treatment provides static, intermittent and cycling forces on structures that may be causing lower back pain. The result is retraction of the herniated discs. Facet disease is successfully treated this way as well.

Who is a good candidate for IDD?

Ideal candidates for IDD Therapy® are those with acute or chronic lower back pain, those with herniated discs causing radiating pain or numbness in one or both legs and those who may be considering surgery but want to look at other options before making that decision. Even those who have had surgery before can potentially qualify for treatment. A thorough evaluation by our neurologists including imaging and nerve testing will occur before the decision is made for IDD Therapy® to ensure the best results.

image-1Are there any drugs used in this treatment?

Not usually. Patients are encouraged to take anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxers if needed during the treatment. The procedure may contribute to some inflammation, but this is usually mild and easily treated. A polarized magnetic ice pack is usually applied at the completion of each treatment to reduce inflammation.

Is IDD painful, and what is the recovery time?

Most patients tolerate the procedure without any discomfort. On a few occasions, muscle spasm in the lower back can occur depending on the underlying cause of back pain, but these are minimal.

How does the cost of this treatment compare to the cost of surgery?

The cost of treatment is minimal compared to the cost of surgery. In most cases, financing is available for those without insurance or with less comprehensive insurance plans. Several payment options are available and a monthly payment plan can be a much better financial decision than a 10 or 20 percent insurance co-payment on back surgery.

What is the success rate of IDD?

Thousands of patients have been successfully treated with IDD Therapy®. At Midtown Neurology, approximately 85 percent of our patients enjoy markedly reduced pain and even pain free states.


Sponsored by: Midtown Neurology P.C.  |  Atlanta’s Premier IDD Therapy Center
Phone: (404) 653-0039 |


Husham Mishu, MD
Midtown Neurology

Husham Mishu, M.D. is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He attended college at The Johns Hopkins University where he obtained a B.A. in Behavioral Biology. He received his M.D. at Emory University School of Medicine where he also completed his internship and residency.

Dr. Mishu founded Midtown Neurology, P.C. in 2000 with only 3 employees and now runs a multi-specialty clinic which includes Physicians, Physician Assistants, a Nurse Practitioner, a Physical Therapist, a Clinical Research Physician and a staff of over 30 employees.

Dr. Mishu is a member of the American Academy of Neurology and American Medical Association. He is also a Board Member of AIDS Research Consortium of Atlanta.


Thursday, 27 October 2016 19:30


Often, we don't thoroughly appreciate the role our joints play in our body until they hurt. Suddenly, it's harder to climb stairs or a shoulder aches too much to blow-dry hair. Joint pain can not only take some of the fun out of life, but it can also make it harder just to get through the day. From running races to running errands, joint function impacts the daily quality of life. When is the pain a problem?

Basically Bent

A joint is a meeting place of bone and muscle, tendons and ligaments. Cartilage is also present and, depending on the joint, there may also be synovial fluid for lubrication. There are six different types of synovial joints in the body that move in different ways. One type can hinge, for example, like the elbow, while another fits together like a ball and socket, like in the shoulder.

The knee is your largest joint and the most complex, with three bones, two types of cartilage and ligaments, and tendons. According to Spero G. Karas, MD, director of Emory's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Fellowship Program, the joints that are most problematic are the weight-bearing joints such as the knee, hip and ankle. When walking up and down stairs, for example, the knee bears three times one's body weight—so, a 150-pound person exerts 450 pounds of weight on the patella. A squat, like a lunge on the tennis court, can exert five to seven times your body weight on the same joint. The hip joint withstands similar forces, according to Stanley H. Dysart, MD, of Pinnacle Orthopaedics. Rising from a seated position to standing burdens the hip with three to five times your body's weight.

Joints are work horses, made for wear and tear and constant usage. But they weren't made to last forever, to endure severe or recurring trauma or to withstand certain diseases.


All musculoskeletal pain is inflammatory in nature; joint pain falls into this category. When the body "diagnoses" itself as damaged or ill, it activates blood vessels, blood cells and hormones to initiate its own "treatment." That's what causes swelling and subsequent pain. This inflammation can be short-term, related to, say, a sprained ankle, or it could be chronic, as in conditions like osteoarthritis or lupus. For you to choose a correct course of treatment, the exact cause of the inflammation must be assessed.

Julia Kao, MD, a hip- and knee-replacement surgeon with Resurgens Orthopaedics, emphasizes the importance of getting a correct diagnosis and when to intervene. "If joint pain is affecting your life, figure out what it is. Don't self-treat for too long." She often sees patients who have waited until their problems are quite serious—a man who came in after his knee buckled to find out that he had severe arthritis, an older woman who had been seeing a chiropractor who actually had a broken hip. Pain that doesn't resolve itself is a clear indicator that it's time to make an appointment with a physician.

SB-1Some general practitioners are willing to take the first steps to diagnosis, while others prefer to direct a patient to an orthopaedist immediately. A provider will take a family history, inquire about your health habits and do a hands-on physical exam. They will usually schedule an X-ray and sometimes do lab tests as well.

Painful Truth

So when something goes wrong, what's the culprit?

Conditions like "tennis elbow," which is a type of tendinitis, muscle strains and bursitis are easily treated. Many autoimmune diseases that are tougher to treat cause joint pain, from lupus to fibromyalgia to rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Very often, the cause of joint pain is osteoarthritis (OA), a degenerative disease of the joints that breaks down the cartilage that keeps them moving smoothly and pain-free. When people talk about arthritis, they are usually talking about OA.

"Arthritis is caused by a mix of factors. If everyone in your family has terrible knees, you'll probably have terrible knees," says Dr. Kao. "If you were a college athlete and had terrible injuries, the effects will show up when you're older. If it's a factor we can't change, like genetics, we'll just deal with it. But if it's a modifiable risk factor, like weight or smoking or drinking or steroid use, let's change it." Nearly one in two people have knee arthritis by the time they're 85, and one in four have hip arthritis.
Obesity can make arthritis worse, much earlier. "The weight conversation is a tough one," says Dr. Kao. "Sometimes I see a patient in their thirties with terrible arthritis. The good news is that one pound lost [equals] four pounds of stress taken off your knee, for example. Losing even a little bit of weight helps with all joint pain." She recommends putting together a plan with your general practitioner or investigating medical weight-loss programs.

An important thing to remember about OA is that it's "persistent and progressive," says Dr. Dysart. It can, and will, get worse if you don't protect your joints.

The RICE Way

The first step of joint-pain treatment is always RICE: rest, ice, compression, elevation.

"Rest means relative rest, not the complete cessation of activities," says Dr. Karas. "The body needs movement. If you're completely sedentary, you're doing yourself more harm than good. An injured joint needs a gentle range of motion. Synovial fluid, the fluid that lubricates a joint, needs to bathe the joint, and the muscles need to activate or they atrophy. Keep moving or get stiff—and then you have two problems instead of one."

Anti-inflammatories, like ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen, are also key. They're not like pain pills, which just mask the problem, although they do help with pain; they treat the cause of your pain as well. But anti-inflammatories are meant to be a short-term therapy. For chronic conditions, there are other options: steroid injections in the joint, or viscosupplementation, an injection of lubricating fluid in the knee. Physical therapy may be needed to strengthen the muscles around a joint. "The biggest misconception people have is thinking that because they do aerobic activity, they're strengthening all of their muscles," says Dr. Dysart. "Aerobic activities are good for the heart, but they don't necessarily strengthen the shock absorbers around the hip, for example." The exercises you learn in physical therapy can help with both strength and balance, warding against falls and instability.

Drs. Karas, Kao and Dysart, along with other experienced orthopaedists, recommend exhausting conservative therapies before moving on to surgical ones. "When the patient has failed non-operative treatments, they are functionally disabled, and the pain is unacceptable to them, then it's time to consider joint-replacement surgery," says Dr. Dysart. "Joint replacement is very much elective. It's always the patient's choice."

New surgical techniques, such as the anterior approach to hip replacement that spares the tendons, have vastly improved the patient experience. "It's quite remarkable," says Dr. Dysart. "Today, we can do outpatient, same-day joint-replacement surgeries with minimal pain afterward."

Mix the Risk

Often, changing activities offers a respite to the impacted joints while working a different set of muscles. Doctors recommend thinking of it as adding variety, not limiting your activity.

SB-2"A singles tennis player who's feeling stiff and finding it strenuous to cover the entire court can switch to doubles tennis," says Dr. Karas. "It's about finding reasonable modification. If running five miles a day has become uncomfortable, switch to doing it three times a week and take a good long walk, bike or go to the pool. One of the best exercises for cardiovascular health that's low impact on joints is a good long walk. The difference between calories burned running and walking a mile is only about 20 percent."

Dr. Kao finds that her older patients understand that the body gets creakier as they age, but her patients who are 40 to 60 are often in denial about their bodies getting older. "They're shocked when they see their X-ray and it shows arthritis. They want to get back to what they were doing when they were 20, but the body is saying to take it easy."

"Not everybody is born an opera singer, not everybody is born a comedian and not everybody is born a long-distance runner or a tennis player," says Dr. Karas. The trick to living a long and healthy life that doesn't hurt? Treating your joints with care, keeping an eye on the scale, seeing a doctor when you're in pain and trading in a few tough workouts for ones with gentle



American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
Emory Healthcare,
Pinnacle Orthopaedics,
Resurgens Orthopaedics,

Thursday, 27 October 2016 19:05

The Pet Life

A wagging tail. The happy little flip of an ear. Soft purring and warm nuzzling. A reassuring chirp, twitch or shake. Maybe even a zen-like calming splash or slither. Pets add a special level of meaning to the lives of their owners.

The deep connection between humans and their pets has been evident for centuries, with domesticated creatures offering protection, companionship and comfort. Contact with animals can have hugely positive effects on those facing significant health issues, whether physical, emotional or psychological. Animal companions can help just about anyone—from homeless youth to house-bound seniors, from adult stress to childhood insecurities. The unconditional love of a pet boosts the physical and mental health of humans.

image-1Leader of the Pack

Studies by the American Psychological Association (APA) show that pet ownership not only improves the quality of life for those who are ill, but also for the average healthy individual. According to the APA, many pet owners feel as attached to their creatures as they do to the significant humans in their lives. Survey respondents said that during periods of emotional difficulty for them, conjuring up the image of their pet instantly eased some of their anxiety.

Can the key to happiness be as simple as developing a relationship with an animal? Emory University researchers, among others, report that interacting with animals, specifically cats and dogs, increases levels of endorphins—the brain chemicals released by the body that create a sense of happiness, pleasure and euphoria.

"I see it all the time—a former depressed couch potato is reformed by the dog they adopt," says Kathy Swank, former owner of an Atlanta area pet-sitting business. "When they have a cute dog looking at them and hoping to get out for a walk, it's hard to say no. I've seen people undergo huge lifestyle changes just because they adopted a dog or cat." And, by adopting animals through rescue groups, people can also gain the satisfaction of knowing that they may actually be saving the life of an otherwise wayward stray. "People who adopt from the Atlanta Humane Society can be assured that we will use our best efforts and resources to facilitate a lifelong relationship between people and animals," says Dr. Gloria J. Dorsey, DVM, MPH, vice president of community education and advocacy for the Atlanta Humane Society.

image-2Pick of the Litter

The reality is that those more traditional pet choices of adorable kittens and puppies may not always be the best choice. Perhaps there are significant animal-dander allergies in the household or limitations on the amount of time available to spend with your pet. Before selecting any type of pet, evaluate living arrangements, schedule commitments and the costs involved.

Choosing the perfect pet takes some thought and planning. It's not wise to make an impulsive decision, no matter how much those sweet eyes plead. In the movie "What About Bob," Richard Dreyfus's character, a psychiatrist, explains to his patient, played by Bill Murray, "A journey begins with baby steps. ... Baby step out the door, baby step down the hall, baby step into the elevator." If you aren't sure that you can handle the responsibility as a pet parent, follow Dreyfus's advice and take a baby step—maybe bring home a goldfish.

SB-1Fish are great for first-time pet owners or kids because they are inexpensive, fit in a confined space and won't chew your favorite pair of Manolo Blahniks. Skip the small fishbowl to house your new pet and splurge on a five- or ten-gallon tank to ensure they have room to grow and good water-to-air surface ratio to thrive. The bonus for the investment? You will likely find that watching goldfish go about their business is a tranquil, soothing experience. As members of groups like the Atlanta Area Aquarium Association (AAAA) can attest, a new pet might also connect you with like-minded pet owners in your area, sharing your interests. Chuck Grisp of Marietta's Splendor Koi & Pond says his shop even offers a "Kids' Guppy Club" to reach out to budding aquarium enthusiasts. "Fish are fascinating pets," he asserts. "They are really responsive to humans and it's fun to watch them interact with each other."

SB-2If you hope to find a pet that provides more touchy-feely, one-on-one interaction, but that is still relatively budget-friendly and low-maintenance, baby step your way to a hamster, mouse, gerbil or guinea pig. They are easy on the checkbook, fun to play with and don't require constant attention if you provide them amusement in their cage. For the most part, rodents can live their life without costly visits to the vet—you will mainly shell out for food and bedding supplies. Domestic rodents are a good first pet to teach kids some responsibility.

SB-3Cats are naturally tidy, requiring only that you clean their litter box and give them a good brushing to keep hairballs from developing as well as to reduce the amount of fluff coating everything in the house. Generally speaking, cats can be left home alone for extended periods of time and entertain themselves without getting into too much mischief. They're fairly quiet and don't need much in the way of discipline, training or exercise space. However, they can also be somewhat selective with their affection and attention.

Dogs, by contrast, practically invented the words "unconditional love." Most want to spend every second they can by your side or underfoot, which can get a little tiresome when you simply want to go to the bathroom by yourself. Before bringing home a pooch, take a minute to think about your outdoor space, the size of the dog, the thickness/shedding of its coat and the average life expectancy of the breed.

When you decide on the type of animal you wish to bring home, remember that adopting a cat or dog from an animal shelter is not only cheaper than purchasing one from a breeder, but your pet will also be spayed or neutered with no cost to you. Neutering males can keep them from "spraying," or marking their territory; spaying females, of course, is a crucial step in controlling the overpopulation of unwanted animals. "Spend lots of time with the animal before you commit to take him home; returning a pet to a shelter can place a black mark on his record, which will count against him in the future," Traci DeWan of the Atlanta Humane Society warns.

Sniff Out the Pedigree

For all animals, finding a good veterinarian will be crucial for the pet's health and a necessary resource for the owner. Trust friends and neighbors for recommendations or approach humane societies and adoption centers for their input. A vet can assist you with locating boarding facilities and daycare options, grooming and training professionals, or even reputable breeders for specific animals.

If you do decide to buy from a breeder, thoroughly research every detail of their business. Check national organizations, such as the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Continental Kennel Club (CKC) to see if they're registered. The deplorable conditions in puppy mills and the sketchy practices of some hobby breeders make it imperative to keep a watchful eye on the origin of your pet. Look at their kennels and the conditions for both dams and sires. Ask questions: "How often are the animals bred per year? How many dogs are housed together? Are they exercised frequently? Do they receive regular health evaluations? Are records available for the parents and littermates?"

SB-4Need More Snuggle Time? Volunteer!

Fostering an animal for a pet-rescue group or volunteering at an animal shelter is a great way to learn more about a variety of animals and research different breeds. Becky Banner of the Greater Atlanta Veterinary Medical Group explains that the Angels Among Us Pet Rescue in north metro Atlanta "provides a network of volunteers that help find abandoned dogs and cats a 'forever home.' The rescue works with Atlanta residents to foster animals ... before they find their new adoptive family." Megan Bowman, a representative of Angels Among Us, describes the group's mission: "We take unwanted animals from a cage to a couch, not a cage to a cage." Fostering a needy animal can be a way to connect you with your perfect pet.

Sharing the joy of your pets with others might also be a rewarding way to spend quality time with animals while supporting the community. For many years, nonprofit organizations such as the Happy Tails Pet Therapy group in Roswell have brought therapy animals to nursing homes, VA clinics, schools and hospitals in the hopes of encouraging healing. The group matches volunteers and their pets with patients in need of a dose of TLC. Arlene Sinanian, president of Happy Tails Pet Therapy in Atlanta, says, "We find that most people who are visited by a volunteer with a pet don't focus on the therapeutic benefits of the visit—they just end up having fun!"

image-3Talk to the Animals

Maybe it's the simple act of caring for an innocent, vulnerable creature or perhaps there's a true symbiosis between man and beast — whatever the reason, developing some kind of relationship with an animal enriches life for both of you. Some pets require much more of a commitment than others, but most reward "their humans" with unconditional love and a heaping dose of low-tech TLC, much-needed in our high-tech lives.



American Psychological Association,
Angels Among Us Pet Rescue,
Arlene Sinanian, president of Happy Tails Pet Therapy,
Atlanta Area Aquarium Association (AAAA),
Becky Banner, DVM, Greater Atlanta Veterinary Medical Group,
BluePearl GVS,
Chuck Grisp, Splendor Koi and Pond,
Dr. Gloria J. Dorsey, DVM, MPH, vice president of community education and advocacy for the Atlanta Humane Society,
Emory University,
For Pet's Sake (avian, reptile, small animal vet),
Greater Atlanta Veterinary Medical Group,
Veterinary Center of Buckhead,

Thursday, 27 October 2016 18:57

The fab’rik of a Full Life

Whether it's her customers, franchise owners, women in need or her own children, Dana Spinola is all about inspiring others to live in ways they don't think are possible—to go far beyond the limitations they may perceive.

Spinola's own life is her greatest inspirational tool. After all, she formed her incredibly successful, one-of-a-kind company, fab'rik, the same day she began her family: August 1, 2001.

"The night I got incorporated, I went out to celebrate and saw this man and was sure he was my husband," she remembers. "I walked across the room and told him, 'I know this is going to sound crazy, but I'm going to marry you.' Pretty productive day: Started my dream career and met my husband!"

image-1"Productive" is a bit of an understatement when describing Spinola's no-holds-barred lifestyle.

Since that fateful day one of both her courtship of her future husband and founding of her company, the wildly popular fab'rik series of affordable upscale clothing boutiques, her business empire has grown exponentially and her family has expanded to include four children, ranging in age from two to nine. For good measure, she's even added to the mix a nonprofit that comes to the aid of victimized women and girls. She attributes her success to the focus, drive and organization she says is essential to getting it all done.

"As a mom of four kids, I can get more done in an hour than I used to get done in a day—my to-do list is what some call a work of art," Spinola says. "But it really just means I like to be prepared. There is no way I could run a company, a nonprofit and have four kids if I wasn't always thinking ahead and anticipating what needs may come up. I get up early and prepare for my kids' day before they are up and I stay up late preparing for my fab'rik meetings."

Spinola never questioned that she could one day create the life of her dreams. Growing up, Spinola's parents taught her to reach beyond their means to achieve everything she wanted. Her mother made custom outfits for her, introducing her to fashion as a way to elevate everyday life.

SB-1"My mom made my clothes, so we would spend weekends at fabric stores picking out patterns and fabrics," she remembers. "While it was because we didn't have a lot of money, I felt like I had a personal stylist and loved every minute of it. I remember my mom with a pin in her mouth pinning together the fabric on me and feeling like I was a celebrity. I was in love from the first dress."

That first love quickly grew into a full-blown passion that continued throughout Spinola's youth and into adulthood. "Fashion has always been second nature to me. While I have never been a girly girl, I have always had this deep-rooted love for high fashion," she says. "My entire room was wallpapered head to toe with fashion magazines growing up."

Right out of college, Spinola entered the corporate world as a business consultant who helped companies streamline for maximum productivity and efficiency. But after a couple of years, she realized it was time to adjust her focus and redirect her path. She wanted a partner and a family, and something was going to have to give for her to get there.

"I wanted a husband, lots of kids, to stop traveling every week and, somehow, an incredible career doing what I loved—which was the fashion world. I wasn't sure how I was going to have it all, but I was going to try," she says.

Spinola's dreams were big, but at that time she had no idea just how big they would get. She opened the first fab'rik boutique on August 1, 2002, in Midtown Atlanta on West Peachtree (that store has since moved to Atlantic Station). That was monumental to her at the time, but since then she has watched many other women realize big dreams with their own fab'rik stores. The 45th fab'rik boutique just opened in Chicago.

"I never set out to franchise, but as women asked me to open fab'rik in their cities, it became clear that owning a boutique was not only my dream, but [was shared by] many others. Now that we have figured out the model, I can equip other women to do their own and follow their own dreams."
That central vision of making the seemingly out-of-reach attainable flows into and defines the customer experience at fab'rik as well.

"I believe fab'rik delivers an amazing combination of high-end customer service with affordable clothing," Spinola explains. "I think many would expect to have someone drive a dress to their house, serve them champagne or call their husband to remind them of their birthday at a high-end department store when spending $2,000, but we do this for a $60 dress. Our team has heart and cares more about the person than the sale. Wowing the customer is what inspires us!"

That heart and caring goes beyond fab'rik's customers to women who need a helping hand and a new start in life. Her nonprofit, free fab'rik, facilitates weekly visits to safe houses and spends time with girls and women who have been the victims of sex trafficking, homelessness and abuse. The team shops with them, organizes fashion shows for them and shares stories with them.

image-2"Giving and our business strategy are so closely woven together at this point they go hand and hand," Spinola says. "fab'rik really is the vehicle that God has given me to serve, whether it's our customers, my team and the girls in need. God always shows up in the sweetest way, reminding us all how similar we are. We truly all just want to feel beautiful about who we are. My vision is that each city that has a fab'rik boutique will also have the free fab'rik program. It's an awesome thing when you watch a community come around a group of girls and lift them up like free fab'rik does."

Spinola adds that the program also makes it possible for women who want to give back, but don't think they have the time or the means to do it in a meaningful way. "It's a beautiful way to serve and free fab'rik makes it very easy—the magic to it for me is that it's really easy to do. It's a beautiful, safe way to be there for these women."

At the center of Spinola's extremely full life is focusing on helping others do what she considers herself fortunate to be able to do each day: live her passion and her purpose.

"I hope I inspire women to dig deep to figure out what makes your heart beat, because that is your passion and what breaks your heart, because that is your purpose—then follow it relentlessly."


Photography by Catrina Maxwell of CatMax Photography, Hair and Makeup by The Green Room Agency


Wednesday, 26 October 2016 20:45

November 2016 Digital Issuu

Saturday, 24 September 2016 05:06

VEINAtlanta: Total Vein Care

Experience the Best Treatments for Unsightly Veins
At VEINatlanta's two locations, full-time surgeons redefine excellence when it comes to modern treatment of a variety of vein disorders.


Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted, blue veins that are close to the surface of the skin. Because valves in them are damaged, they hold more blood at higher pressure than normal.

Varicose veins can be treated using:

VEINAtlanta: Total Vein CareRadiofrequency (RF) Ablation
RF Ablation involves delivering radiofrequency (RF) energy to close the vein wall without any incisions. As the RF energy is delivered the vein wall is heated, causing the collagen in the wall to shrink, the vein to close and circulation to improve. Patients should be able to walk after the procedure and recovery time is quick.

Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA)
EVLA is a minimally invasive procedure used to correct venous reflux disease—the underlying cause of varicose veins and other venous disorders. Using ultrasound guidance, laser energy is delivered to close the vein permanently. The procedure takes just 30 minutes, and patients can drive afterwards.

VEINAtlanta: Total Vein CareAmbulatory Micro-Phlebectomy (AP)
AP is used to treat bulging and visible varicose veins. It is usually performed as part of a comprehensive vein treatment plan. The procedure is performed in the office with local anesthesia. Using specialized instruments, the vein is carefully removed in small sections.

VenaSeal™ is the first FDA approved "superglue" treatment to permanently treat venous insufficiency (reflux), which causes bulging varicose veins. Patients can return to their normal daily activities immediately with no pain or bruising after the procedure.

Spider Veins

VEINAtlanta: Total Vein CareSpider veins are caused when blood backs up into smaller veins, enlarging them as they fill with stagnant blood and become visible to the eye. Spider veins can be an isolated cosmetic issue, or they can be the "tip of the iceberg," indicating deeper, more significant venous disorders such as chronic venous insufficiency.

Screen Shot 2016-09-23 at 5.54.28 PMSclerotherapy is a method for treating spider veins and small varicose veins. An FDA-approved medicine called Asclera™ (polidocanol) is injected into the vein using a fine needle. This causes chemical irritation to the inside lining of the vein and the vein closes down.

Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy
Ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy involves using an ultrasound machine to help deliver polidoconol foam in the deeper larger "feeder" veins, causing the vein to
close down.

VEINAtlanta: Total Vein CareSurface Laser Therapy
At VEINatlanta, we use the most state of the art Cutera laser with both 532nm and 1064nm for surface laser therapy. The laser energy is absorbed by the blood in the vein causing the vein to close. This treatment is often combined with sclerotherapy.

Facial Veins

VEINAtlanta: Total Vein CareFacial veins are dilated blood vessels found on the nose, cheeks, and chin and around the eyes. They can be thin, red spider veins or blue reticular veins. These tiny, painless and harmless veins can occur in both men and women.

Surface laser therapy can be used to treat facial veins. The laser energy causes the vessels to close down. Over the next several weeks, the body absorbs the unwanted veins and they disappear. Surface laser treatment can also be an option for small spider veins.

Periorbital Veins
These are the blue veins under the eye, side of the eye and sometimes on the forehead.

VEINAtlanta: Total Vein CareSpider Veins
Spider veins can appear on your face typically around your nose, cheeks and chin. They can occur in both men and women.

VEINAtlanta: Total Vein CareRosacea
Rosacea is redness of on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead.

Hand Veins

VEINAtlanta: Total Vein CareBulging veins on the back of the hands can develop over time as we age. The elastic fibers in vein walls lose their elasticity, causing the veins to dilate. Most dilated hand veins do not signify any serious vascular condition; the concern is primarily cosmetic. Hand veins can be treated with Sclerotherapy and Ambulatory micro-phlebectomy (AP), which involves using specialized instruments to remove the vein in small sections via small nicks made along the skin.


Just as in hand veins, unsightly veins can result in the feet. As the skin becomes thinner, veins show more prominently. Foot veins can also be treated with sclerotherapy and Ambulatory micro-phlebectomy, both done in the office.


Vulvar veins occur in approximately 10% of pregnant women. They can become uncomfortable with prolonged standing and can grow larger and more painful during premenstrual and menstrual cycles. Vulvar veins can be treated in the office with foam sclerotherapy.

Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

Symptoms of pelvic congestion syndrome include a dull, aching pain and discomfort in the lower pelvis, vulva, lower back and abdomen. This condition is caused by venous insufficiency of veins located in the pelvis. VEINatlanta helps diagnose this condition and manage its treatment.



1100 Johnson Ferry Road NE, Suite 165 | Atlanta, GA 30342
601-A Professional Drive, Suite 170 | Lawrenceville, GA 30046

Phone: (404) 662-3407 |

VEINAtlanta: Total Vein Care




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