Voted "Best OB-GYN" in Towne Lake, Woodstock and Canton Voted "Mom-Approved OBs" by Atlanta Parent magazine readers
June 19, 2018

Recently, one of our patients made the decision to have the liposuction procedure here at our office. She has chronicled her journey, and we had the pleasure of sitting down with her and learning more about why she made the decision, what reservations she may have had, and what life is like 3 weeks post-op.

Why did you want to seek out Liposuction? 

“I should preface my entire story by saying that I’m not overweight, I’ve never been overweight, but I have always had fat in very unwelcome places. A common misconception is that liposuction is for weight loss—it isn’t! It’s more for when you’re at your ideal weight, but you need to sculpt out the shape you want to be.

My trouble area has always been the “love handle” region. To add insult to injury, I have really high hip bones, so I’ve always felt like next to my long skinny legs and my long slender arms, my stomach had always looked like a tire.

When I heard that my trusted providers of Cherokee Women’s Health were going to start offering this procedure, I was very excited. I haven’t seen Dr. Litrel as my physician in all my years of annuals and during my pregnancy, he is very particular about who he surrounds himself with and the employees he hires, so I knew I could put my full trust in him in regard to my body sculpting goals.”

Were you scared about going through the procedure? What were your reservations?

“Truth be told, the pre-op appointment was, for me, slightly embarrassing. I planned for this though. I haven’t worn a bikini since the birth of my son, who is now two years old. Even before pregnancy, I was never fully confident wearing one, so having my stomach visible for someone to see, judge, and doodle on had me a little uneasy.

All of that aside, Dr. Litrel and his medical assistant Kami put me to ease quickly, even though to me, it looked like he was looking at my stomach as though he was solving the world’s most difficult puzzle. I watched him as he drew out a map and game plan on my stomach as though he could see clearly what my issues were and exactly how to solve them.

During the same appointment, Dr Litrel explained everything that would happen step by step during the procedure and what to expect for recovery. He also carefully laid out that, due to some of the more difficult to reach pockets of fat that I have on my body, I will likely need a follow-up procedure in about 12 weeks. When you have a physician that is completely honest like that, there’s truly nothing like it. I wasn’t expecting perfection from this procedure, more just improvement. I was even more impressed that Dr. Litrel seemed confident that after a second procedure, we could create the silhouette and curves that I both desired and deserved.”

Can you describe the procedure for us? What was it like?

“Since my procedure, the most common question that I get asked by family and friends is, “Did it hurt?”

There are plenty of liposuction resources online, and I believe that many resources can be overwhelming for people to think about in terms of pain and how the procedure is done. For me, the step was to inject a numbing solution into my stomach so that I wouldn’t feel any pain. The doctors waited about thirty minutes for the solution to fully kick in, and while I felt a little pressure, I didn’t feel pain. I was awake for the procedure, but the medicine that was moving through my IV made me loopy, and I was in and out for most of it. One moment that I do recall quite vividly, is having an itch on my nose and not being able to scratch it. I also remember trying to see what was going on throughout the procedure, and each time, the staff in the room would say, “Close your eyes and go back to sleep” in perfect unison.

After my nap, the next thing I knew, the nurses were assisting me in getting my new accessories for the first time. These girdles are necessary for me to wear during my recovery for the next few weeks, and they were explaining the steps of taking them on and off. One full body girdle sits just under my breasts down to just above my knee. It has a convenient hole in the bottom to make bathroom breaks easier. The other girdle is a binder similar to the one you receive after getting a c-section.”

Before and after shots of patient. After shots are 3 weeks post-op.

What does the recovery process look like?

“From the procedure room, the staff escorted me into a separate room to help me “Wake up” from the anesthesia. I was able to have my first few sips of water (something I’d been looking forward to since 7:00am!), and shortly after, my fiancé and son came back to check on me and then take me home.

Dr. Litrel came in to talk to me while I was waiting for my anesthesia to wear off, but I was told I kept giggling at him and then falling asleep, so he updated my fiancé on my after care and medication. The waiting for recovery felt like less than 10 minutes, but I was told it was closer to 45 minutes to an hour. The light anesthesia administered during the procedure makes the procedure an outpatient procedure, however I was having a little bit of difficulty staying awake in the recovery room.

Knowing that I am very sensitive to medication and anesthesia, I was given Phenergan in my IV during the procedure to settle my stomach (and also knock me out for the rest of the day so I could get some sleep afterwards).

On the way home, we stopped at the pharmacy and picked up my antibiotics and extra nausea medications, and I was homeward bound!”

What can someone expect from post-op?

“I slept the rest of the afternoon after the procedure and didn’t wake up from my Phenergan-induced nap until around midnight. I was amazed at how little pain I was in. Most of my discomfort was caused by the girdle and being unsure about moving around in it successfully. Standing up and sitting down in the girdle for the first few days gave he third trimester pregnancy flashbacks! 😊 I assumed that maybe the numbing solution hadn’t completely worn off yet, so I kept my guard up waiting for the pain to hit. I took extra strength Tylenol every six hours or so for the next 48 hours, not necessarily because I needed them for pain management, but more as a “just-in-case.”

I can thankfully say that I never got the pain I was expecting to feel afterward. I was sore, but unless my toddler crawled around on me, I never really hurt.

“By Sunday morning, my tiny incisions were done draining and had pretty much healed. I had minimal bruising, something I’m very thankful for. I didn’t have many post-op restrictions, so by the end of the weekend I was feeling well enough to clean my house.”

What have the first three weeks of post-op been like?

“I spent the first week with a little soreness. I was slightly uncomfortable, but mostly annoyed with the full body girdle. The opening at the bottom that I first found so funny suddenly was more frustrating than funny. Trying to find clothes that fit over the girdle was a little difficult, as it’s hard to hide a knee-length girdle under pants. (And I had the weirdest panty lines all the time!)”

What about the second and third weeks?

“By the second and third week, I had all but forgotten I’d even had the procedure done. Dr. Litrel approved for me to remove the body girdle but recommended that I continue wearing the other girdle for a while. By the end of the second week, I was starting to notice subtle changes in my stomach. It was visibly smoother, although I was still swollen. Dr. Litrel assured me that the swelling would go down but reminded me that the full results of the Lipo take up to twelve weeks.

Currently, I’m in my third week post-op and it feels like my procedure was performed months before. I am so excited to watch my body continue to change, and I am already feeling more confident thanks to Dr. Litrel and his amazing surgical team.”

This interview was completed three weeks post-op. We invite you to stay tuned as we continue to chronicle her journey after having the liposuction procedure done. If you’re interested in scheduling an appointment for liposuction, please contact our office to speak with our cosmetic services scheduling division at 770-720-7733.


June 6, 2018

Today, June 6th, 2018, marks one year since we launched our Medical Weight Loss Program here at Cherokee Women’s Health. We have been privileged to help women reach their goals by providing the motivation and resources needed with an understanding of how weight loss is approached specifically for women.

Our Medical Weight Loss Program Has Over 350 Participants

Our providers saw a need for a female-only Medical Weight Loss Program. It became obvious to them as obstetricians and gynecologists that a woman’s body gains and loses weight differently than a man’s. We, as women, have specific challenges—from hormones and child birth to elevated stress levels. We created a program that incorporates:
  • Weekly Fat Fighting Injections
  • Natural appetite suppressants or FDA approved appetite suppressant
  • Pharmaceutical Grade Dietary Supplements
  • HCG therapy
  • Body Fat Analysis
  • Dietary and Exercise Support and Counseling

Thanks to these methods, many women have been able to meet their weight loss goals and keep it off too!

Here are a few of our Medical Weight Loss Program success stories:

Cherokee Women's Health, weight loss, before after, medical weight loss, weight loss program, Canton weight loss, Atlanta weight loss, obgyn

Erica D.
“I have lost 27 pounds since April 24, 2017 on the Medical Weight Loss Program!! I have s
o much more energy and have started working out again. I’ve learned that tracking calories is very important and that when you do, you will make healthier food choices. This has been one of the easiest programs I have ever done!”
Medical Weight Loss, program weight loss, Atlanta weight loss, Canton weight loss, before and after photos, lose weight, nutrition, diet program, Cherokee Women's Health
Christy W.
“I’ve lost 41 pounds and only have 9 pounds to go before I reach my goal weight! My energy has soared, I sleep better and have less inflammation. I’m better able to care for my kids and my self-confidence has increased. On the Cherokee Women’s Health Weight Loss Program, I’ve learned portion control, how to believe in myself again, that sugar is not my friend and to not be afraid to use doctor-approved medication to help achieve my goals. This program gives you the tools you need to succeed through an amazing, medically-trained staff that supports you 100% of the way. To anyone who’s struggled to lose the weight, I would say to them, ‘One Day or Day One? You decide!’”

Wendy has lost 38 pounds!
“The program gave me a huge boost in my weight loss journey.”

“When I started the program at Cherokee Women’s Health I had already lost 16 pounds but it had taken me over 5 months to lose it and then I plateaued in my weight loss journey.  In the last 4 ½ months I have lost an additional 38 pounds with Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists.  

When I began the program, I was shopping for and being fitted for a dress for my sister’s wedding and initially I was going to be in a size 18-20 dress.  By the time the wedding came around I had a size 14-16 and still had to have the dress taken in some before the wedding.  The program gave me a huge boost in my weight loss journey.  I now have more confidence, I’m happier, I feel better, and best of all I have more energy to run around and play with my kids without feeling so tired.    

One big thing that I learned from the program is the relation of calories in food to how many calories my body actually burns and that every calorie counts. I used to let food control me but now I control the food.  It really puts calories into perspective and this program has given me the tools I need to not only lose the weight but to keep it off!”

Angie Has Lost 27 Pounds!
“I have been able to go buy a smaller size!”

“I have been able to go buy a smaller size than I was wearing and have a ton more energy! The Medical weight loss program at Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists has helped me to learn to make better choices in the foods I eat.  The beginning of my weight loss journey was not easy to start but it has been so worth it and has gotten so much easier as I have learned the relation to foods and how my body uses food for fuel.  I would recommend this program to anyone wanting to make a lifestyle change and learning how to lose weight for good!”

Call Today to Schedule Your Free Medical Weight Loss Consultation! 770-720-7733

May 21, 2018

An interview with Air Force veteran Dianna Hornes, third-time mom and our OB “Cover model” for this spring’s AroundAbout magazines.


“I joined the Air Force after high school to get as far away from home as possible,” Dianna opens her story. “And they sent me from Phoenix to Las Vegas!” She laughs. “My friend and I joined at the same time. She wanted to be as close to home as possible – and they sent her to Guam! Go figure.”

Dianna’s new baby Matthew is the first child of her second marriage to Dennis, a Woodstock policeman. As she already had two daughters from her first, we suspect that her journey from military through family life may not have been smooth.

Q: So, first off – you’re married to a Woodstock policeman and fellow veteran, you have two little girls from your first marriage and now a newborn, Matthew. Would you mind just telling us a little bit about your story?

I was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ. I am the oldest and have 4 sisters and 2 brothers. As I said, I joined the Air Force after high school to get as far away from home as possible…

But the military experience was wonderful, in fact, one of the best experiences ever! I got to travel the world and see everything. I experienced life on a different level, and it made me more appreciative. From my first marriage I have Madison and Kayla … and now with Dennis I have little Matthew, as you know.

Q: How did you meet Dennis?

We are one of those Match.com success stories. It’s funny too, because I reached out to him first. After I divorced, I waited a year before I considered dating again. I had two daughters, Kayla and Madison, from my first marriage. At around a year, I created a Match.com profile. One day I was scrolling through all the profiles, specifically looking for matches who were interested in someone with kids. I came to Dennis’ profile, and his just happened to say “no”. 

But I was looking at pictures and I thought, “He’s a good-looking dude, you know what, screw it. I’m just going to send the message.” I’m very straightforward, and I believe you don’t need to sugar coat things or hide things from folks.

If you change your mind, message me. If not, have a nice life.”

So, I sent him a message saying, “Hey, you seem like a good-looking, nice guy. I have two daughters, I know you said you’re not interested in someone with kids, but if you change your mind, message me. If not, have a nice life.” And it took a couple of weeks, but he responded, and we went on our first date to Starbucks. Starbucks seemed like a safe bet in case things didn’t work out. Surprisingly, our first date was nine hours long. We met for coffee and stayed there for a few hours. Then we went to a restaurant, and we closed the restaurant down. After that, we drove home and continued to talk on the phone for like, 2 hours. We had a lot in common—he was in the Army, I was in the Air Force, and we connected and teased each other about which branch was better. The Air Force, of course! 

Q: What made you decide to marry Dennis?

He makes me want to be a better person for me and for everybody else. I couldn’t believe people when they said they met their true love or that they were in love with their best friend. It just didn’t seem real to me. I suppose I was a bit jaded from my divorce. Then I met Dennis. He makes me laugh, he’s someone who appreciates me, loves me and makes me feel good, and I realized, this is how it’s supposed to feel. I’m very much in love with him. He’s my best friend.

“I couldn’t believe people when they said they met their true love… It just didn’t seem real to me.”

Q: Did you have any concerns about starting over or creating a blended family?

Yes, I was very much against starting over and starting another family. My husband was also married before, but he didn’t have children with his ex.  It took me dating him for 4 months before I introduced him to the girls. I didn’t want them to meet this random person, and I didn’t know how dating would be for me. 

When we first started dating, and the first few months after being married, I wasn’t sure if I wanted more children. He was okay with that. He loves them very much, and he is very much their parent. People find it hard to believe that they aren’t his biological girls. He’s a natural with them.

Though, I could see how happy he was with being a father to the girls I knew he wanted to have a baby of his own. And that’s when I realized that when you love someone, their wants and needs become your wants and needs. I wrapped my head around that and am very much in love with him. I realized I wanted to have that connection with him forever, so that’s when we started trying to have a baby.

“When you love someone, their wants and needs become your wants and needs.”

I had a Mirena and decided, “it’s time we took this bad boy out.” When I told him that I was ready to start a family with him, the look on his face was just love and excitement and joy. And then when we were pregnant the first time it was, oh my gosh, it was the most amazing feeling in the world to have created a life with him. But the last two pregnancies (and miscarriages) were just horrible to go through.

But they made us stronger as a couple, and we also appreciate every moment that we have with Matthew. 

I want my husband to experience every little moment with his son and have all the input he wants on what we do day-to-day. I have already experienced caring for the girls, making a big deal about decorating their rooms, etc. So, every chance I get, I’ve put my husband’s wants and input into things. My husband is a huge Star Wars fan. To the point that we even had a Star Wars themed wedding. So, Matthew’s room is a Star Wars theme. We even had infant pictures taken with a little Yoda hat.  

Q: How are things with a newborn?

Things are great. Exhausting, but great. We’re supposed to take it easy for the first six week, but after Matthew’s birth, I just couldn’t. I’m a real estate agent and the market is insane right now. I was out going on appointments and showing houses with Matthew in tow. I think by the third week I had shown around 75 houses. Since we couldn’t take him to daycare because he was still so young, it has been quite the struggle. 

But my husband is very supportive and helps out any way he can. He works nights with the City of Woodstock Police, so our schedule has been challenging to say the least. Juggling a newborn, a 10y/o & 6y/o with both of our careers and life has its stresses, but it’s very rewarding at the same time. I am just thankful I have a really good support group surrounding me. 

Q: How was your pregnancy this go around?

This pregnancy was very good. I have practically been pregnant for two years. We had two previous miscarriages, so Matthew is our rainbow baby. During this pregnancy I took a lot of things very slow and very easy because the two times before were very hard, gut-wrenching and emotional. I didn’t want to go through that again. Each time we made it to the end of the first trimester then lost our babies. It was just a very, very sad experience. So, for this pregnancy it was tough in the beginning. You want to fall in love once you see that you’re pregnant with the positive pregnancy test, but you’re scared to let your emotions go. It’s hard to believe that it’s actually happening; that the baby is gonna stay. 

We had two previous miscarriages…you’re scared to let your emotions go.”

After the first trimester it was starting to feel real. I was able to wrap my head around the fact that this pregnancy was going to be successful. I was very fortunate to only have mild aches and mild nausea. The third trimester was great. I felt huge and as you can tell I had a big’ole moon belly! 

Q: How are the girls reacting to the new baby?

They love him. They absolutely adore him, and even fight over him. They want to hold him constantly. Since he is being breastfed I started pumping to give them an opportunity to help feed him with a bottle. They’re so wonderful with him. Kayla, the youngest, she calls him Moo-Moo. He eats a lot of milk and the “M” is for Matthew, so, yeah—Moo-Moo.

Yeah, the girls love to play with him and show him off. They love being big sisters. 

Q: What are you most looking forward to in your new relationship and family?

I’m looking forward to creating memories and just taking it all in. It’s weird, when I had the girls I was in a different place mentally and emotionally, and I don’t think I quite took in as much as I should have. I would say just being more in the moment and appreciating the moment.

Q: If you could give advice to other women based on your experiences, what would you tell them?

I would tell them that life is too short to not be happy. If your gut tells you you’re not happy, if something inside of you says, “There might be something else for me,” then there is something else for you. Life is too short to be unhappy. There will always be someone to love you. There will always be someone who will have their heart open, and if you have kids from a previous marriage, there will always be somebody out there for you who will welcome you and your family in and love them just like their own. Don’t settle; never settle. You are stronger than you realize.

“If your gut tells you you’re not happy…never settle!”

Q: What life lessons would you hope to instill in your children?

Always respect yourself and respect the person that you’re with. Also, never settle. Know your self-worth and know that you’re capable of… and this is going to sound so cliché… so much, and I know that if they were to apply themselves, they can do anything that they set their minds to. It’s a mental game, and they’re really strong. They can do whatever they want to do.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add to the interview?

I also want to say that Dr Gandhi and Jordan and both offices and all the women at Cherokee Women’s: I freaking love them. They’re awesome. You know, I can’t say enough about how pleased I am with everything. The emotional part; just being there for us and being silly with us, meant so much. Even when we were delivering via c-section, Dr. Gandhi was amazing and funny! I wasn’t excited about having to have a c-section, I really wanted a VBAC, but Dr. Gandhi is a doctor for a reason… She knows best!

My husband and I always feel comfortable enough to be able to joke around with her and with Jordan – they made our experience better. I’d would jokingly say, “I’m going to have a VBAC.” And Dr. Gandhi would reply, “Sooo, when we’re having the c- section…”. 

We did asked for a “gentle c-section”. It’s where we were able to have the blue tarp removed and replaced with a clear one to see pretty much everything. I’m weird like that. When we were taking pictures at the end, Dr. Gandhi was being silly and fun, and it made the entire experience very lighthearted and not so stressful or scary.

Dr. Gandhi is so funny and so amazing. I love that I can joke with her, then turn around and ask serious questions. Jordan is also hilarious, and easy to talk to.

So definitely, yes, it’s been a blessing to be with this practice and I’m just so thankful that I was able to use my VA benefits here.

Lots of medical practices do not like working with the VA as their payments can take a while to be sent. After researching doctors and practices, Cherokee Women’s was up on the list. I talked to the billing department and they were able to accept the VA’s payment. I was able to get great care and fell in love with Dr. Gandhi and nurse Jordan. They’re both great women, and I couldn’t have been happier with all of this.

“Everything happens for a reason!”

– We’re so happy that you ended up here and that you had an amazing experience with Dr. Gandhi.

I’m so blessed. I am beyond blessed. I must have done something right in another life because I don’t know what I did to deserve a wonderful husband and healthy daughters, a healthy son and great doctors to look after me. I truly am, and I believe it from inside my soul that I am very blessed with everyone that in my life right now.

March 29, 2018

The following is a true account from one of our patients who recently received the O-Shot. Please note, names and details have been changed for confidentiality. 

It’s a gorgeous spring day in early March, and I am en route to Cherokee Women’s Woodstock office to get an O-Shot, a procedure that offers women treatment for urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction. I am excited and a little nervous at the idea of this new procedure. However, I am hopeful after hearing other women’s success stories, and hope to have my own story add to the increasing number of women who have had remarkable results after getting the O-Shot.

When I heard that Cherokee Women’s was offering this procedure, I wanted to try it. I trust Dr. Litrel and his team, so much so that I’ve been a patient for over eight years. The practice has delivered both of my children, and I refer them to anyone looking for a patient, kind team of physicians.

Why am I particularly interested in the O-Shot? I have suffered from sexual dysfunction for a number of years.

While I know I am not alone in this (nearly half of women report suffering from some sort of sexual dysfunction in their life), this isn’t something most women are comfortable discussing with each other, their doctors, much less their husbands or anyone else.

As a woman in my early 30’s, the daily life of being a full-time working mother has pulled my libido to nearly nonexistent levels and has caused complications in my marriage. I’m happily married, but I feel guilt and shame surrounding my low libido and am curious to see if the O-Shot (in addition to careful communication with my husband) helps me at all.

When I get to the office, the girl at the front desk smiles at me as I sign in. She has a very memorable face and kind eyes that I remember from previous visits. It puts me at ease while I try not to think about what I’ve signed myself up for.

Cherokee Women's Health, sexual dysfunction, urinary incontinence, O-Shot

Getting Ready for the Procedure

I’m called back to the exam room and told to undress from the waist down and wrap myself with the crinkly white cover. A few minutes later, Dr. Litrel comes in and explains that he’s going to apply a very thick layer of Lidocaine gel. It will need to sit for at least 20 minutes, and a nurse would be coming in shortly to take my blood so they can run it through the centrifuge.

The Lidocaine is cold, but welcome when I consider the alternative. A nurse comes in and gathers the tools she needs to take my blood. We make small talk and she says she’s heard lots of wonderful things about the procedure. She gets my blood ready for the centrifuge, and Dr. Litrel comes back in and places the blood in the centrifuge for 10 minutes.

I continue to lay back on the exam table and wait for the Lidocaine to do its thing, scrolling through email and social media channels mindlessly. As a full-time working mom of two rowdy boys, I enjoy the quiet and stillness of the next few minutes.

Once the centrifuge was done separating the blood, I was amazed when it I saw the tube pulled out and it was in three separate layers.

I watched Dr. Litrel add calcium carbonate to the blood in two different syringes, one for my clitoris and the other for my vagina. It was time to start the procedure. I try to calm my nerves by making jokes, something I always do as a defense mechanism. “Well, I guess if you’re going to have a needle in your vagina, you want a female pelvic reconstructive surgeon in charge of it.” Dr. Litrel chuckles softly at my joke, reassuring me that the procedure will take just a few minutes and I’ll be out the door in no time.

First, I needed two Lidocaine injections to make sure I didn’t feel the larger needles. This is the part that is different for every patient, Dr. Litrel tells me. “Some women feel absolutely nothing at all, and others feel the tiniest prick.” I was in the second category, but it was slight discomfort. (I mean, I’ve had two children—this was nothing I couldn’t handle.)

After the Lidocaine injections, I felt nothing. I can feel pressure, but absolutely no pain. Wondering what was happening, I ask, “What are you doing now, exactly? And he responds, “We’re doing the first PLP (platelet-rich plasma) injection as we speak.”

Dr. Litrel and his team were very warm, and so conscientious. Throughout the procedure, they asked, “Are you comfortable? Feeling okay? You’re doing a great job, we’re almost done.”

In just a couple more minutes, the procedure was done. Dr. Litrel explained that I should wait 48 hours before any sexual activity, and that I may want to wear a panty liner for a day or two just in case I experienced any breakthrough bleeding.

They gave me a few minutes to get cleaned up and dressed, and I walked out feeling a rush of excitement that I had done this for myself, and I couldn’t wait to test it out. All in all, the procedure only took about 45 minutes, and the longest part was waiting for the Lidocaine gel to take full effect.

As I walked out of the office and down to my car, my satisfaction grew. I was glad I went through with it, and I couldn’t imagine doing this procedure with another physician’s group.

That evening, I felt the tiniest bit of discomfort while sitting in a hard chair. I took some ibuprofen and didn’t have any more discomfort after that. The next morning, I had very mild swelling, but no pain.

Giving the O-Shot a Try

I’d kept the procedure a secret from my husband, wanting the first experience to be authentic and free from expectations. After “giving it a go,” I can say that I’m impressed. Frankly, I’m more than impressed. I haven’t felt a distinct change in my sexual desire like this, ever. Two weeks after receiving the O-Shot, my desire has increased considerably. And not just when the timing is right and the candles are lit and my mind is empty—even during the middle of the day—something many women don’t have the pleasure of thinking about with small children.

And it is a pleasure. Women often come second when it comes to the importance of a healthy sex life (pun intended). But the truth is, physical enjoyment of sex matters greatly to most women, and we want to be sexually intimate with our partners. Women are challenged by a myriad of burdens every day, and so often trying to balance work and life can take a huge toll on a woman’s libido.

Would I recommend the O-Shot? Absolutely. So far, I know a couple of women who have gotten the procedure, and we’ve all had positive results. One has had her urinary incontinence issue treated completely. One has stronger, longer-lasting orgasms as a result. And me? I’m just an overtired, overworked mom who can now get excited about sexual intercourse with her husband. And that is worth a thousand O-Shots.

For more information about the O-Shot (including details and special pricing), please email oshot@cherokeewomenshealth.com or call 770-720-7733. 

As people become more sleep-deprived in our fast-paced world, scientists are learning that this deprivation is also a huge contributor to their difficulty in losing weight. It’s hard to imagine that the number of hours you sleep can have so much impact on your ability to shed pounds, but, thanks to two hormones and their role in weight control, those extra forty plus winks can mean the difference between slender and – well- not so slender.

Just when women have had their fill of hormones like estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone raging inside and causing mood swings and feminine issues, along come two more that dictate whether or not they can successfully lose weight. These culprits are named ghrelin and leptin, and they have been at constant war with each other since Adam allegedly bit into that first apple and probably couldn’t sleep afterward.

What are Leptin and Ghrelin, and What is Their Function?

Both leptin and ghrelin regulate hunger. Leptin, which, under a microscope, looks like that pretty ribbon you’ve curled with scissors to add a special touch to your Christmas gift, decreases hunger. In ‘non-science’ talk, your fat (adipose tissue) creates leptin and, like a homing pigeon sends it on its way into your circulatory system. From there, it is set free to travel to the hypothalamus which controls such things as thirst, hunger, temperature, and your wake-sleep cycle (circadian cycle). It carries the message that your body has enough food and can stop eating.

Ghrelin, on the other hand, is the dieter’s nemesis and saboteur. It works in a similar manner to leptin, but this ‘carrier pigeon’ brings the opposite news. It tells the hypothalamus you’re hungry, thus increasing your appetite.

Unfortunately, insufficient sleep causes the body to make more ghrelin and lessens leptin production. So, the less you sleep, the more you want to eat. It follows that, unless you have the willpower of robot, you will eat. Of course, the more you eat, the more weight you’ll gain.

Even if you adhere to the same dietary restrictions as your clone, exercise as much, and live the same lifestyle, one of you that is not getting enough sleep will have trouble losing weight. In fact, it may not be a coincidence that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports over 30% of the American population is sleep deprived. Roughly the same statistics are ascribed to obesity.

A recent study found that participants who slept poorly or less than 7 hours a night lost 55% less fat than their counterparts who rested enough. Furthermore, they were hungrier, suffered from low energy, and didn’t feel satisfied with the amount they ate.

How Much Sleep is Enough Sleep? healthy weight loss and sleep

It is recommended that you get at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Your body begins to rebel after a mere 4 days of getting less than 6 hours, not only by stimulating ghrelin production but also by causing:

  • Interference with insulin production: Insulin, yet another hormone, is vital. It helps the body to transform starches, sugar, and other nutrients into energy.
  • Mood swings
  • Inattention, confusion, disorientation, and difficulty focusing
  • Exhaustion and lack of will-power, leading to resistance to exercise and other physical exertion
  • A rise in cortisol levels: Cortisol is a stress hormone that activates the brain’s reward center (amygdala), triggering food cravings. High levels of cortisol, when combined with ghrelin activate hunger by blocking brain messages telling you you’re full. Ghrelin and cortisol join forces like two little starving demons, demanding you feed them with anything that isn’t nailed down.
  • Diminishment of mental clarity: Just like having too many shots of tequila, you begin to make poor choices, eating larger portions and selecting fatty, sweet, or otherwise high-caloric food.
  • Onset of muscle loss (atrophy): Your body’s muscle building ability (protein synthesis) begins to fail, resulting in possible of physical injury.
  • Slow wave or deep sleep depletion: Sleep deficit can rob your brain of the recuperation it needs after a busy day. Slow wave sleep is vital to physical growth and the body’s ability to repair and heal itself.

What Can I do to get a Better Night’s Sleep?

There are several things you can do to create better bedtime habits that enable you to get the proper rest you need. Some of these include:

  • Turning your bedroom into your fortress of solitude: Treat it like hallowed grounds for the purposes of intimacy, relaxation, and sleep only. Avoid making it a bouncy house for the kids, a workstation, or an entertainment section complete with 70’ flat screen and enough woofers and tweeters to raise the dead.
  • Adhering to a schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every night and morning. No matter how tempting it might be to get those extra weekend zzzz’s, disrupting your routine can lead to even more sleep irregularities.
  • Keeping it fresh: Grungy sheets and lingering human odors can be distracting. Change the linen as often as possible and air out the room regularly. You’ll rest better feeling clean sheets against your body and inhaling sweet-scented fabric softener.
  • Establishing a routine: Wind down before bedtime by reading, soaking in a warm bath, taking a soothing shower or meditating. Leave budget worries or to-do lists for daytime.
  • Turning off all electronics at least an hour before retiring. Studies show that these devices emit a short-wavelength bluish light that confuses your internal clock (circadian rhythm) and interfere with your body’s ability to produce melatonin, the hormone that helps encourage sleep.
  • Watching your food and liquid intake: Avoid heavy food before bedtime, along with caffeine-laced beverages, alcohol, soft drinks, sugary snacks, and
  • Sleeping in complete darkness: Even the glow from the alarm clock or a night light prevents melatonin output. If your job requires you to work at night, invest in blackout and/or soundproof
  • Empty your bladder: Void before bedtime so that Mother Nature does not call during a delicious dream.

Everyone goes through periods of insomnia. However, if you experience it on a regular basis and it has become detrimental to your health, weight, and a happy lifestyle, you should consult your doctor.

How Can Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists Help Me?

Lepton, ghrelin, and lack of proper sleep are not the only factors that can lead to dietary failure. Your medical history, current health, lifestyle, genetics, unique metabolism, prescription medications, supplements, vitamins, and even your psychological profile all contribute towards your ability to lose weight successfully.

Your tailored program will be monitored regularly to ensure that your weight loss experience with us not only leads to a slender, fit, and attractive body, but that exercise, good nutrition, and even proper sleep become a welcome and healthy way of life.

To book a free consultation for our weight loss program, call (770)-721-6060

March 13, 2018

Although our physicians at Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists are experienced in treating all pelvic issues unique to women, we do not concentrate solely on the physical aspects of your genitalia. We recognize that health issues can be comprised of overall physical, mental and social factors and take all that into account, offering holistic approaches to the many problems that have plagued women since the beginning of time. One of these holistic solutions is the O-Shot, also known as the Orgasm Shot.

Women have always suffered from a plethora of physical ailments unique to their gender-so much so that an entire branch of medicine, Gynecology, has been devoted to their exclusive issues. Painful intercourse, urinary incontinence, vaginal dryness, and sexual disinterest are only a few of the problems we see on a daily basis. Though medicinal and surgical intervention is always available, many women today prefer a gentler and more natural approach. The O-Shot has been known to alleviate or entirely correct many of these problems in a less invasive, natural and extremely effective way.

Below, Dr. Litrel offers more insight on the holistic approach to treatment urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction with the O-Shot:

What is the O-Shot?

The O-Shot is a non-surgical injectable procedure administered in-office, using your own processed growth factor cells harvested from your blood. It is then re-injected into an area of the upper vagina and near the clitoris, resulting in healing regeneration of the orgasmic zone, triggering the power of your own body’s natural healing properties.

How is This Done? 

After a vial of blood is taken from you, it is centrifuged, separating concentrated plasma and platelets from the rest of the blood. This process produces platelet-rich plasma (PRP), to which your physician applies an additive to boost the activation of your growth factors. Then, the platelet-rich serum is reintroduced into your body after swabbing the area with a numbing anesthetic.

Platelets normally swim around in your blood vessels, always on guard for any disruption or damage. When they sense one, they rush to the injury site, join together in a chain to ‘hold down the fort’, by forming a clot or plug. Then, they send out a type of S.O.S.to healing stem cells to hurry over and start repairs in the form of collagen production.

The O-Shot mimics this sequence by introducing a multitude of platelets into the body. The additive mixed in earlier sends that signal a false alarm of sorts- to lure the stem cells over. Stem cells, recognizing so many of your own platelets in one place are fooled into thinking there’s an injury and immediately respond, doing what they’re designed to do, which is to begin producing collagen and new tissue, replenishing vital elasticity, skin cells, moisture, plumpness, sensitivity, and strength to the area. 

PRP is not a not a novelty or fad. This technique has been used for many years to heal wounds, to treat sports and other injuries— has even proven effective in dentistry.

What Can the O-Shot do for Me?

The O-Shot can benefit women a great deal. By spurring the area of the body where it has been injected into healing itself, the O-Shot immediately begins to work. It starts correcting different feminine issues that have developed over time due to aging, childbirth trauma, depleted collagen, tissue damage, skin cell death, etc., physical changes which can evolve into such problems as:

  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Sexual disinterest or low libido
  • Vaginal Dryness
  • Urinary Incontinence
  • Failure to achieve orgasm
  • Desensitization
  • Painful intercourse
  • Stress incontinence
  • Urge incontinence

The O-shot, in tandem with your own biological healing factors, can then ease or altogether eliminate these troubles, resulting in:

  • Accelerated desire for sex
  • More powerful orgasms
  • Corrected or minimized urinary incontinence leakage
  • More youthful and supple vaginal lip appearance
  • Increased tautness to the vaginal opening
  • Less or no need for artificial vaginal lubricant
  • More frequent and regular orgasms
  • Less or no pain during intercourse
  • More sensitivity and arousal during clitoral stimulation
  • More ease in attaining orgasm
  • Possibility of reducing or stopping previous drug intervention
  • Possibility of less frequent or complete cessation of pelvic-related infections

How Long do the Effects of the O-Shot Last?

Individual results vary, but often noticeable change begins immediately and can last up to 18 months. Depending on how severe your issue is, we may recommend a booster procedure in about 4 to 8 weeks, and a maintenance shot in about a year so that there is no diminishment of ongoing benefit. There is also no recovery period necessary. You can resume all normal activities immediately after leaving our office. Furthermore, the whole process will cause you little or no discomfort.

Who is a Good Candidate for the O-Shot?

Almost every woman between the ages of 25 to 65 is a good candidate. There are virtually no exceptions, but we can only recommend this procedure 100% after you disclose your full medical history so we can be sure there are no foreseeable problems exempting you. Usually, however, most women prove to be excellent candidates.

Why Should I Choose Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists for my O-Shot Treatment?

At our establishment, we pride ourselves on our holistic approach to female wellness. We treat you as a whole, taking into account any metabolic or hormonal problems you may have. Even diet and lifestyle can compromise or your body’s ability to heal or regenerate tissue. We address any psychological or emotional issues as well so that we can help restore your overall health, head to toe and inside and out. We do not just focus on your pelvic area. We examine all your alternatives and only recommend the best one for your unique situation.

Drs. Litrel and Haley have spent their entire medical careers striving to learn all there is to know about a woman’s anatomy and the myriad of factors that can affect its performance and functions. They are board certified, double accredited urologists with certification in OB-GYN and Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS), the latter requiring years of study, training, hands-on experience, and meeting rigid proficiency demands specified by the American Board of Medicine (ABMS). Dr. Haley has been trained and licensed in Aesthetic Injectables for over a decade. Together and separately, these professionals are knowledgeable in every aspect of the problems exclusive to women throughout their lifetimes.

Administration of the O-Shot requires focused expertise, strict adherence to FDA guidelines, and astute knowledge of anatomy for optimum results. Our accomplished practitioners offer this skill on a daily basis. For more information on the O-Shot procedure, we invite you to email Oshot@cherokeewomenshealth.com or call our office at 770-720-7733.

February 28, 2018

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been used for decades to correct age-related hormonal imbalances in women. HRT treatments are comprised of both estrogen and progesterone. Depending on your individual needs, hormone replacement therapy can be administered in many ways including; oral, patch, topical, or vaginal treatments.

Hormone replacement therapy is commonly used to treat side effects associated with menopause such as hot flashes, irritability, and even vaginal dryness. Although more research needs to be done, HRT has been shown to be safe and effective when used for short periods of time.

The long-term benefits of hormone replacement therapy are not yet fully known but can include the prevention of bone loss leading to osteoporosis and lower cholesterol levels. However, the risks may outweigh the benefits for many women. There is still much to learn about the different variations of hormone replacement.

HRT Risks Heart health is important for women

It was previously thought that HRT could actually reduce the risk of heart disease but, it may not be as good for our heart health as was once thought. Long-term use of HRT can cause potentially deadly blood clots which can lead to stroke or heart attacks.

After mixed clinical trials, the American Heart Association has recommended that cardiovascular hormone replacement therapy not be given to women solely with the intent to prevent heart disease. Women who have previously had a stroke or a heart attack should not begin taking hormone replacement therapy.

Other Risks associated with hormone replacement therapy may include (but not limited to);

  • Certain Types of Cancers
  • Gallbladder Issues
  • Negative Effects on Mood

Continued research is necessary to fully understand the relationship between hormone replacement therapy and the possible benefits and risks.

Who Should Not Take HRT

Even when used short-term HRT can have an adverse effect on some women. Women with any of the following conditions should seek medical advice before starting hormone replacement therapy to ensure their overall well-being:

  • A history of breast cancer
  • A history of cancer of the uterus
  • Liver disease
  • Blood clots in the veins or legs, or in the lungs (Including blood clots during pregnancy or when taking birth control pills)
  • Cardiovascular disease

Alternative Treatments

Nobody should have to live with painful menopause symptoms. If you’re having bothersome menopausal symptoms but are worried about hormone replacement therapy, talk to your healthcare provider about your options.

Hormone replacement therapy is a widely available option for women seeking to get relief from menopausal-related symptoms but there are alternatives. Here are some of our favorites.

Bioidentical Hormone Replacement

Bioidentical hormones are chemically identical to those found within the human body. They are often used as an alternative to traditional hormone replacement therapy to correct hormonal imbalances. Bioidentical hormone therapy is said to treat such menopausal symptoms as fatigue, bloating, and low sex drive.

Natural Alternatives

Fruits and vegetables with high levels of phytoestrogen (yep, that’s plant-based estrogen), such as soy, red clover, and flaxseed can be used to treat mild to moderate menopausal symptoms.

Additionally, there are many herbal remedies that can help treat side effects associated with hormone deficiencies. One herb, in particular, black cohosh, has shown promising results when it comes to treating hot flashes, insomnia, and vaginal dryness.

Healthy Lifestyle

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle through proper diet and exercise is one of the best ways to manage many menopausal symptoms. Energy levels, mood, mild pain can all be managed through exercise. And, it’s good for your bone and heart health too!

Of course, diet and exercise may not be enough for everyone. You’re encouraged to talk to your doctor about additional treatment options are right for you.

Schedule an appointment with one of our physicians to determine what may be right for you. A friendly member of our staff will be more than happy to answer any questions or address any concerns you have about hormone replacement therapy and your heart.

February 26, 2018

You’ve done everything right! You dieted, exercised and finally lost all that extra weight you’ve been carting around. Or maybe you religiously followed all your doctor’s instructions to remain safely trim and as healthy as possible while pregnant. Yet, no matter how hard you worked at it, you’re stuck with that loose dewlap-looking fold of skin hanging around your tummy. It just won’t go away! You’ve researched and considered many available options, but realize your only remedy is probably a tummy tuck. You’re almost ready to commit to having one, but you still have questions.

At Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists, we understand and are more than qualified and happy to answer all your concerns, both in this forum and during your free consultation.

What is a Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is a procedure that surgically removes superfluous skin and fat around the abdominal area distended by pregnancy, former surgery, obesity, accelerated weight loss, age, or heredity. It also repairs the slackened or separated muscles (diastasis recti) caused by these factors. In some cases, depending on their location, some abdominal marring such as cesarean section scars and stretch mark can even be eliminated. The result of an abdominoplasty is a firm, flat stomach and a more appealing profile without those unwanted bulges or bumps.

Are all Tummy Tucks the Same?

No, there are several different types of tummy tucks. The one is best for you depends entirely on your individual needs and desired results. Our experts will advise you accordingly, but the following are the three most common abdominoplasty methods:

  • Standard or Full Tummy Tuck: This procedure addresses the area both below and directly above the navel (umbilicus). Under sedation, a predetermined incision, based on the amount of excess skin to be removed, is made horizontally between the hips. Another is made around the umbilicus, which is carefully excised for repositioning afterward. The abdominal skin is then pulled back. Damaged muscles are tightened and tissue is removed. Liposuction, if required, is performed, Remaining skin is tightly pulled together and closed. The belly button is then replaced in a centered position. The standard tummy tuck is usually the method used when there is a large amount of surplus skin and/or muscle weakness.
  • Mini Tummy Tuck: This method is less invasive and only concentrates on the area of the lower abdomen beneath the belly button. It is ideal for slimmer patients with a slight bulge. Muscles are tightened and extra skin is removed, but there is no need for navel extraction and consequent readjustment.
  • Circumferential Lower Body Lift: This is the most invasive tummy tuck procedure and the one that yields the most dramatic results. It not only encompasses the entire abdomen but also targets the lower back and hips, resulting in a total upper body reshaping. It requires both vertical and horizontal incisions, allowing the surgeon better access to more compromised muscle and excess tissue. Then liposuction is used to draw out fat located around the hips and lower back for a more defined silhouette. The belly button is replaced as in a standard tummy tuck before closing.

Because this is a more intense surgery requiring a longer period of recuperation, patients must be in extremely good physical health.

Am I a Good Candidate for a Tummy Tuck? 

You are a good candidate if you:

  • Are in good health
  • Are a non-smoker
  • Are between 25 and 60 years of age
  • Have good skin elasticity and muscle tone
  • Have a great deal of loose, flabby skin: There must be enough skin to perform a standard tummy tuck so that the resulting scar does not become stretched and unsightly after healing. If you only have a small pocket of skin, the preferred choice is usually a mini tummy tuck.
  • Realize that abdominoplasty is not a weight loss procedure or miraculous overnight makeover.
  • Are committed to weight and good nutrition maintenance, a healthy lifestyle, and regular exercise
  • No longer plan to become pregnant: Unexpected pregnancy after a tummy tuck is not harmful to a baby, but additional surgery to correct subsequent loose skin may be needed.
  • Are within 15 to 20 pounds of your ideal weight with no plans to lose more.

Who Should Not Have a Tummy Tuck? 

An abdominoplasty is a low-risk elective plastic surgery, but surgery nonetheless. Full medical history disclosure is needed, including a list of all prescribed, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, herbs and supplements you use. Additional preoperative tests must be performed. Information from all sources is used to ensure that all precautions are taken to determine that you can safely tolerate the procedure. Possible reasons that make you a poor candidate are:

  • An intolerance to the anesthesia
  • Lung, heart, kidney, liver, or connective tissue issues
  • A tendency to develop keloids or other thick scarring problems (hypertrophic scarring)
  • Healing difficulties caused by certain medical conditions such as diabetes, coronary artery disease etc.
  • A compromised immune system
  • Obesity
  • Poor circulation
  • A tendency to form blood clots.

What is the Recovery Time After a Tummy Tuck?

Your surgeon is usually the best person to answer this question, based on individual factors and type of surgery, but typically the recovery time is 2 to 6 weeks. This is usually the time allotted before the patient can return to work unless the job involves heavy or rigorous activity. Otherwise, the recuperation may be longer.

Will I need to Stay Overnight After a Tummy Tuck?

Most tummy tucks do not necessarily require an overnight hospital stay, but some physicians–and patients–prefer it. You are usually physically able to leave within two hours.

I’m a Busy Mom. Can I Resume Care of Children After a Tummy Tuck?

It is crucial that the repaired muscles heal after an abdominoplasty. Any undue stretching of can cause tearing and stitch separation. Not only can this cause complications, but the desired abdomen flattening will not occur, rendering the whole process ineffective. You are usually cautioned not to lift anything over 10-15 pounds, and then, carefully. A wiggling toddler or baby can seriously jeopardize your healing process. Alternative, temporary accommodations, such as daycare or in-home help should be arranged.

What Precautions Should I Take After a Tummy Tuck?

Just as your doctor will explain exactly what preoperative preparations you will have to make, your aftercare needs will be explained. Some instructions you can expect are as follow:

  • You will be prescribed pain medication and antibiotics with detailed instructions, and must not drive while taking it. Someone must drive you home.
  • You will have bandages and drainage tubes that will require scrupulous care and attention. You may be asked to document drainage output to establish that you are healing properly. (Drainage from the incision site is normal, beginning with blood and some clotting. Discharge will slowly clear in color.)
  • You will be told to avoid baths and hot tubs and be advised to take showers facing away from the stream.
  • You will be restricted from heavy lifting and strenuous activity.
  • You may be given compression garments to wear for about 6 weeks.
  • You will have to refrain from sexual activity until your surgeon gives you the okay. (Some oral contraceptives taken with antibiotics may be less effective, so alternative birth control is recommended.)

You will also be told to watch for signs that may indicate a problem. Call your doctor immediately if you experience:

  • Redness or swelling at the incision site (numbness is normal)
  • Any fever over 101 degrees
  • Foul smelling drainage or discharge
  • Severe postoperative depression
  • Blackening of the skin
  • Excessive pain not alleviated with medication.

Why Should I Choose Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists for My Tummy Tuck?

You naturally want the most experienced and accredited surgeon to perform something as important as a successful tummy tuck. Our Drs. Haley and Litrel are board certified urologists who are doubly accredited in OB-GYN and Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS). The latter certification was earned by meeting highly stringent criteria set forth the by the American Board of Medicine. Acquisition requires years of training and experience and enables them to perform all cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries dealing with women’s health, wellness, and self-image.

Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists is also affiliated with the new Northside Hospital Cherokee where your procedure will take place. This state-of-the-art institution provides our surgeons with impeccable surroundings and the most up-to-date technology known to modern science, ensuring that you will receive the highest quality care available.

The decision to have a tummy tuck is a serious one requiring much consideration and personal reflection. With proper professional intervention, investing in an abdominoplasty can be a permanent solution to an otherwise unyielding cosmetic problem, providing self-confidence and a sense of pride in your outer appearance for decades to come.

For a free consultation with one of our double-board certified physicians, call (770) 721-6060 to make an appointment.

February 20, 2018

As National Heart Health Month comes to a close, we’d like to touch on a disease that affects an estimated 44-million of women every year. Cardiovascular disease is the number-one killer for women across America. You may be surprised to learn 1-in-3 deaths of women is caused by this deadly disease.

Heart disease differs from woman to woman. Warning signs can be hard to spot and even non-existent. That’s why it’s important to take every possible measure to live a heart-healthy lifestyle especially if you have one or more risk factors.

Cardiovascular disease can include diseased blood vessels, structural problems, or blood clots. Over time, heart disease can cause strokes, heart attacks, arrhythmia, and more.

Who’s at Risk? 

The truth is cardiovascular disease can adversely affect anyone. However, there are several factors that can put you at a higher risk. A whopping 90% of women have at least one or more risk factors for heart disease.

Today, we’ll go over several key risk factors women should be on the lookout for. While some factors cannot be controlled such as age, race, or genetics, there are steps you can take to lower your chances of getting heart disease.

Women from all walks of life should get an annual well-woman exam and maintain an open dialog with their physician. If you have a family history of heart disease or any of the following risk factors, your doctor should be aware.


Most women don’t start to think about heart disease until they’re older. And, while it’s true that age can play a major role in your heart health, it doesn’t always have to. Did you know, the combination of birth control and smoking increases young women’s risk for getting cardiovascular disease by 20%?

Family History

Family history plays a key role in your heart health. High blood pressure and cholesterol levels can pass from one generation to the next and can increase your risk.

You may be at a higher risk for getting heart disease if:

  • Your father had a heart attack before the age of 55.
  • Your mother had a heart attack before the age of 65.
  • Your mother, father, sister, brother or grandparent had a stroke.


Yes, heart disease affects all women but your ethnicity can put you at a significantly higher risk. For example, Hispanic women are more likely to develop heart disease 10-years earlier than Caucasian women. Forty-eight percent of African-American women 20-years and older have cardiovascular disease.

High Blood Pressure/Cholesterol

Having high blood pressure for long periods of time puts added strain on your heart. After a while, it scars and damages the arteries leaving you vulnerable to heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, and more.

High cholesterol levels can potentially harden and line the artery walls over time causing unwanted blockages. These blockages can lead to blood clots, heart attacks, and stroke.


We all know just how bad smoking is for us. It causes cancer, makes us gain weight, and increases irritability but did you know it affects your heart too? Take a look at how smoking puts you at greater risk for cardiovascular disease.

  • Nicotine makes your heart rate and blood pressure levels skyrocket.
  • Carbon monoxide in tobacco rob your heart, brain, and arteries of oxygen.
  • It damages your blood vessels and makes your blood sticky, making blood clots more likely.
  • It lowers your tolerance for physical activity and decreases HDL (good) cholesterol.

Women who smoke are 25% more likely to get heart disease than men who smoke.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Physical inactivity can lead to blood clots, high blood pressure, heart attack, and strokes. People who don’t have regular to moderate physical activity are 30-40% more likely to be at risk for heart disease.


Even if you have no other health conditions, being 20% overweight can put you at a greater risk for cardiovascular problems. Carrying extra weight (especially in the waist area) puts extra strain on your heart. It can also increase your risk for other heart disease causing factors such as increased cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and induced diabetes.


Adults who have diabetes are 2-4 times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke. Over time, high glucose levels can damage blood vessels and the nerves that control the heart. The good news is, diabetes can be controlled through medication, as well as diet and exercise.

Signs You’re Having a Heart Attack

When it comes to actual warning signs, men and women differ a good deal. While men typically have very specific symptoms such as tightness or extreme pain in the chest, women have more subtle symptoms.

Some signs you may be having a heart attack include (but are not limited to);

  • Indigestion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Dizziness/ lightheaded
  • Discomfort in the jaw, upper back, or arms
  • Prolonged excessive fatigue

Listen to your body. If you think you may be having a heart attack, stay calm and seek immediate medical attention.

Steps to Take Towards a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

Okay, you may not be able to go back in a time machine and lower your age, but there are several steps you can take towards a healthier life.

  • Be more active. For every hour of regular exercise you get, you keep heart disease at bay and gain approximately two hours of additional life.
  • Lose Weight. Losing as few as 10-pounds can decrease your risk for getting heart disease.
  • Avoid Smoking. After only one year of non-smoking, your risk for cardiovascular disease is cut in half.
  • Lower Cholesterol Levels. Lowering your cholesterol by 1 point decreases your risk for heart disease by 2%.
  • Reduce Blood Pressure. About 7 of every 10 people having their first heart attack have high blood pressure.

Implementing a healthier lifestyle through diet and exercise can add years to your life. Consider making small changes to your daily routine and keep heart disease at bay.

Schedule an annual well-woman visit today to learn more about your risk factors for getting heart disease. Together, you and your doctor can create an action plan for preventing and maintaining healthy heart health.

February 19, 2018

Lately, you’ve noticed that the rosy glow to your face is slowly disappearing, and a grayish tinge is replacing it. Your skin seems droopy. People regularly ask if you’re more tired than usual, even though you feel fine.

Upon closer scrutiny in the mirror, under bright, unkind lighting, you are shocked to realize that signs of aging are beginning to make an appearance around your eyes, mouth and a few other places.

Well, you’ll have none of that! You’re still too young, and you’re not about to look older than you feel, so you do some research, ask around and hear about something called Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy –otherwise known as a Vampire Facelift. Though it sounds intimidating and, let’s face it, a little creepy, it’s a surprisingly simple, unique procedure with some amazing benefits.

What is a Vampire Facelift?

A vampire facelift is a process where your own blood is drawn, treated, combined with a filler and then reintroduced to targeted areas via injection. This procedure is called Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy, and it can, indeed, revert your skin back to its previous, youthful, glowing appearance.

How Does PRP Work?

Collagen, which is the body’s most plentiful protein, replenishes dead skin cells and provides skin elasticity and strength. As you age, you lose collagen, which is why your skin tends to become loose, stretched, and less supple, just like an overused rubber band that needs an extra twirl around your Saturday morning ponytail to keep it from falling into your eyes while you clean.

Blood contains growth factors called platelets. In Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP), a vial of blood is drawn from your arm and put through a centrifuge for several minutes. This isolates the plasma and platelets together from the rest of the blood so that they are concentrated and no longer diluted by the rest of the blood.

A special additive spurs the plasma to release their growth factors. It is then thickened with a hyaluronic acid filler. (Hyaluronic acid is a natural gel-like molecule found naturally in the body which provides moisture, hydration, and lubrication) Upon injection to the area that will be treated, increased collagen growth is stimulated, replenishing what was lost over time.

What are the Benefits of PRP in a Vampire Facelift?

Platelets play a key role in the body’s healing and clotting process. When a wound occurs, they’re the first to arrive on the scene. They develop a stickiness and latch on the hurt cells, which in this case is the injection site. They then band together, in essence, ‘joining hands’ with each other to fashion a protective web of sorts, both in and over the wound. This forms a weak wedge or plug to stem the flow of blood.  They then emit chemicals to ‘call’ or attract stem cells over help begin stronger clotting—like radioing someone for backup. The body then begins to develop extra collagen to heal the wound.

In PRP therapy, injecting the site with so many plasma rich platelets that the body already recognizes as its own, dupes it into thinking that, since there are so many platelets at the ‘accident site’ the damage must be excessive. It assumes extra collagen is needed and produces it. That additional collagen, along with added filler used in the Vampire Facelift procedure, pushes out the hollows and wrinkles, smooths out the skin, and continues to produce healthy skin for months to come. For women between the ages of 25 to 70, this results in:

  • Almost immediate younger looking, firm skin with renewed elasticity
  • Continuing improvement in appearance over time as growth cells and blood supply continue to be stimulated
  • Diminishment of crow’s feet and other fine lines around the eyes, mouth lips and forehead
  • Healthier looking color and texture
  • Hydrating replenishment of papery looking, sun-damaged and loose skin
  • Fuller, more taut skin around the neck
  • Less visible scarring
  • Improvements to hollowed or darkly circled eyes
  • Overall improvement lasting for up to a year-even more
  • A more radiant, healthy-looking

What’s the Difference Between a Vampire Facelift and a Vampire Facial?

You may not need a full Vampire Facelift if you only have moderately visible lines that you want to correct. In that case, a Vampire Facial, which only uses the platelet-rich plasma without any added soft tissue dermal filler may adequately take care of the problem.

How Can Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists Help?

Any injections into the body require skill, knowledge, focus, concentration, and expertise. Only an accredited professional should be consulted to perform such procedures. At our clinic, Dr. Haley and Litrel are doubly accredited urogynecologists. They hold degrees in OB-GYN and Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS). Dr. Haley has over a decade of experience in injectables, having obtained his certification in the field in 2007. Our physicians’ intense combined training makes them a superb choice for all your women’s health and cosmetic needs. They are committed to doing their utmost to ensure the health, confidence, well-being, and beauty of their patients, one woman at a time.

For a free consultation or to schedule an appointment for a Vampire Facelift, contact our office.

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“Dr. Litrel was a fantastic doctor. I had my first exam with him, although at first I was skeptical about a male doctor for my GYN. But after I met him I’m glad I kept an open mind, and I couldn’t have dreamed up a better doctor. He cares about you as a person and not just a patient. The front desk ladies and nurses were very friendly and it’s a great office, very clean and not intimidating. I highly recommend Cherokee Women’s Health.”
– Vicki