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Optimizing Wellness

Innovations in hormone balancing and regenerative medicine mean no longer accepting what's "normal" for your age

Article by Becca Abramson

Photography by Courtesy of the Age Management Center

Originally published in Portland City Lifestyle

Low energy, endurance, loss of muscle mass, weight gain, aches, pains and brain fog are just some of the changes we accept as part of the natural aging process. Dr. Michael Bedecs, owner and medical director of the Age Management Center of New England, argues that many of these symptoms come from hormonal imbalances in the body—and innovations in the field of longevity wellness mean we can optimize our health so that we no longer have to feel older as we age.

What led you to health optimization, hormone balancing, and regenerative medicine in the first place?

Traditional medicine tends to treat immediate illnesses, and oftentimes ones that are chronic in nature. With health optimization, we’re looking at enhancing the quality of life you have left. Our providers at the Age Management Center are looking to help people achieve that proactively and early on. Beyond just hormone levels, we look at everything—lifestyle, exercise, stress levels, diet, medical history and even genetics—or else we’re not helping our patients maximally to reach that goal quality of life.

How does the Age Management Center approach hormonal imbalances differently from traditional medicine?

I practiced conventional medicine for many years. It’s a hard profession, and it generally does a good job of identifying and treating acute and chronic illnesses. But hormonal imbalances usually require extra time and a next level of sensitivity for symptoms that aren’t immediately recognized as being hormonally related. One of the most important differences is having time to listen. We spend an hour and a half on our first patient consultation, so we’re actually able to focus on the patient’s concerns and complaints. There are specific hormones tied to the aging process—estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, cortisol—and as we get older, they get lower. Traditional medicine too often calls this “graceful aging,” but we refuse to accept that. To me, graceful aging is an oxymoron, because I know how easily we can identify and treat conditions that are normally associated with drops in those hormones.

How does hormone replacement therapy work?

We treat people—not labs—but getting the appropriate lab work, medical history, and exams is necessary to get a diagnosis and start someone on a treatment program. Traditional medicine might run routine health screening tests that may give some insight into certain hormones, but we get a multi-page lab report that specifically targets and measures all the major hormones, as well as a complete metabolic analysis, review of cardiac risk factors and vitamin levels, and we walk through the entire report with our patients. Our philosophy is to empower patients to make decisions based on understanding their data and the choices available to them.

Once we’ve identified some of the issues, we help people realize that it’s not their fault, and there’s no shame in being overweight or losing muscle mass. It’s the fault of normal physiology. When it comes to the actual treatment program, there is no standardized protocol—the program is individualized to each patient. Once we see you have a hormonal imbalance, there are a variety of ways to fix that. Depending on your need, there are injections, ointments, pellets, creams, and other ways to treat the imbalance(s). 

What is regenerative medicine?

Regenerative medicine uses platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and human tissue products to address joint conditions, pains, and decreased mobility, which is another way we work to improve a patient’s quality of life. It’s really focused on developing and applying therapies to tissue and organ restoration. It’s a new field of medicine that’s going to change the world, and we’re just at the tip of it. For those of us who are pioneers in the use of various medical treatments for regenerative conditions, it’s a miraculous way to change lives.

The hormones are like a beautiful symphony. If the drums are too loud or there are no horns, it’s still music, but it’s not balanced. Our aim is to keep everything balanced.