Wellness: Get Your Head Examined!

Medical subspecialties are not only growing in numbers these days but are becoming more and more “specialised”. Where we would go to our GP for every ailment in the past, today there is a specialist waiting to treat a specific part of your body. Soon there may even be a medical subspecialty that can take care of your little finger!

Poking fun aside, medical subspecialties are an integral part of the gigantic network of healthcare that is growing in ever finer detail to cater to a public clamouring for attention as people take better care of their wellness needs.

Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery is one of these sub/sub specialities that makes a lot of sense. If you are an Ear, Nose & Throat, Head and Neck surgeon (ENT) like Dr Tan Keng Lu, Consultant ENT at KPJ Ipoh Specialist Hospital, then you don’t only fix a hearing problem when a patient comes with a congenital ear defect but you are able to reconstruct the ear at the same time.

And when doing reconstructive work, she knows exactly what needs to occur inside for maximum results. Whether it’s reconstructing or augmenting a nose (rhinoplasty), creating a new ear (auricular reconstruction) or performing a facelift, Dr Tan’s subspecialty training on Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in addition to her ENT qualifications, makes her the ‘go-to’ doctor for nips and tucks (on the face only) or more serious medical issues concerning the inner workings of the head and throat.

And she has good advice on the serious medical issues like Nasopharyngeal Cancer (NPC), one of the major afflictions occurring, particularly amongst the Chinese population here. NPC is usually first detected by an ENT specialist who then refers the patient to an oncologist for treatment which responds very well to radiotherapy.

“Often a patient who has recurrent nose bleeds, neck swelling and hearing loss should go and see an ENT specialist who can look at the back of the nose for tumours,” said Dr Tan.

“If there are no tumours then we begin the process of looking at other causes and eventually treat all the symptoms, one by one” she added. “Those who have total hearing loss suddenly for more than three days must go to an ENT specialist immediately.”

As for patients seeking cosmetic surgery, Dr Tan believes in giving a long consultation to determine whether their expectations can be met and also to ascertain their psychological well-being. A patient who expects to have all their self-esteem issues taken away with a cosmetic procedure is quite unrealistic and often he/she may be refused or discouraged from doing it.

For people with mild hearing loss, Dr Tan advises them to go first to an audiologist to have their hearing tested. “Hearing loss is one of those inevitable consequences of the ageing process. Usually, we lose the ability to detect the higher notes or frequencies so that a visit to the audiologist is a good move to determine the degree of loss and your current range of hearing. The prevailing medical wisdom of today advises people who have age-related hearing loss to start wearing hearing aids earlier rather than later. This is to ease the way and acclimatise the patient to wearing and using one and before the loss is so far gone that the transition becomes traumatic,” Dr Tan stressed.

So do go for an audio check-up if you’re past 60!

Dr Tan Keng Lu
Fellowship in Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery (Korea/UK)
Consultant Ear, Nose & Throat, Head and Neck Surgeon (ENT)
KPJ Ipoh Specialist Hospital
26 Jalan Raja Dihilir, 30350 Ipoh.
Tel: 05 240 8777 Ext. 8602/3 HP: 018 575 5766
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