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Featured in Grand Junction Lifestyle

Grow old gracefully? "Not so," say the plastic surgeons! After age 35, visible changes begin to take hold on the face, neck, and chest in ways that are often unwanted. Many seek for ways to slow, stop, or reverse those changes. Some want renewed self-assurance and they hope for a renewed youthful appearance.

Actually, for over 45 years, Dr. William Merkel has helped many thousands of patients achieve such results using the most advanced techniques available. Of course, today’s techniques are far more sophisticated and technologically advanced than the methods of more than 40 years ago. Today, many of the techniques and devices to reverse the effects of aging are non-surgical. His perspective was obtained from decades of advanced training and constant study of both surgical and non-surgical treatments. An enormous variety of therapies exist to treat equally diverse and numerous conditions found at all degrees of severity. Staying abreast of therapies and the conditions to which those treatments are best suited has been a career-long pursuit for Dr. Merkel.

Dr. Merkel first became interested in becoming a doctor as it was a dream of his mother's. Her continued encouragement to have a doctor in the family blossomed when they sent him to study with her brother who was a General Surgeon. Bill was privileged to shadow his uncle on rounds in the hospital where he worked and much later, Bill "scrubbed in" on surgeries with his uncle too!. What started as a genuine interest grew yearly into a deep desire to help people through medicine.

Dr. Merkel began his formal education with pre-med studies at Georgetown University followed by med-school at the St. Louis University School of Medicine. His internship was served at St. Joseph’s in Denver followed by a three-year General Surgery residency. Upon completion of his General Surgery training, Dr. Merkel completed a Plastic and Reconstructive residency at Brown University and then served two years with the US Navy in Portsmouth, VA where he had an abundance of military-service patients waiting to be treated.

Having visited Grand Junction during his tour of possible practice sites in 1975, he discovered that there was not a Plastic Surgeon in all of western Colorado. As a result of that discovery, he decided to set up his own practice here. Plans quickly grew to serve patients in Grand Junction, as well as several satellite offices (Craig, Basalt, Aspen, Montrose) throughout western Colorado. Several years earlier, after working in an outpatient surgical operating room in Rhode Island, where he performed plastic surgery, the vision was born to build a clinic and in-suite surgical center. The surgical suite was built in 1980, the first in the state, JCAHO Certified (healthcare standards accreditation) operating suite, which is still home to the practice at 2525 N. 8th St. in Grand Junction, CO. It allows patients the best and safest care, convenience, and complete anonymity and privacy.

Throughout his decades of serving patients, two core principles of practice emerged. They are embodied in these phrases: First - EXCELLENT CARE, LEADS TO EXCEPTIONAL RESULTS, which follows the pledge all doctors take to, "FIRST, DO NO HARM". This commitment allows Dr. Merkel to focus on truly hearing each patient’s real expectations. Secondly - PERFORM THE SURGERY, COMPLICATION FREE; knowing that complications - although rare - are always a possibility. Knowing how, and always minimizing those risks is paramount in Dr. Merkel's treatment of the whole patient.

The beginning of the non-surgical era: For Dr. Merkel, the non-surgical era fully blossomed when one of his patients said to him, “you can do anything you want to my face [to make me look younger], just don’t cut me.” Embodied in that statement, is what propelled the plastic surgeons at large, their inventors, and their manufactures, to create devices that do similar things, but not exactly the same work as a surgeon, by reversing the signs of aging and what has led the industry to where it stands today. As outpatient and non-surgical treatments have become more available, some medical offices have added these instruments and techniques without the background and experience held by trained Plastic Surgeons. In some instances, some offices even adopt the “non-surgical” techniques through super-simplified internet certifications which produce “overnight-experts”. Dr. Merkel's advanced education, years of surgery and his commitment to state-of-the-art technology give his patients a considerable advantage in outcomes.

Among his advice to patients considering having a “youthful appearance” procedure, is to check your surgeon's training and credentials. Otherwise one does not know what is on the other side of their surgical mask.

Other advice when it comes to fighting off the aging process includes these specific dos and don’ts: First of all, Think About It and use your common sense. Don’t rush into something that seems to be popular just because others are talking about it.

Second, Skin Damage Prevention? Oh Yes! If you can, cover up when outdoors and/or use 50+ sunscreen and avoid prolonged direct sun exposure. Sebum (made in the sebaceous glands of your skin's dermis) is the final coating of protection your skin needs to resist the sun damaging effect. Because the sebum washes away by bathing and diminishes when we age, a quality topical sunscreen needs to take the place of the missing sebum.

Third, Diet? Yes, Overeating is ultimately the cause of obesity, coupled with low thyroid hormone. Listen to your body, don’t overeat, and balance hormones thru hormone replenishment; critical elements in keeping a healthy weight, and looking and feeling your best.

Fourth, Smoking? Just don’t get started (or stop). At a cellular level, microcirculation is restricted because nicotine from smoking causes capillaries to constrict and deprives cells of the oxygen they need, to remain firm, smooth, and viable. Smoking also causes fat to deplete leading to a collapse of the youthful fullness of the face.

Fifth, Exercise? Do it, in Moderation. Some who are trying to fight off aging will exercise to the extreme and actually damage their youthful appearance by burning off skin-level fat (especially in the face) long before thighs, belly or other trouble spots will yield to exercise-efforts at a reduction of fat. Micro-fat plus PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injections are used in combination to graft fatty tissue plus stem cells back into the face to restore the loss of youthful appearance which is the wave of the future.

Sixth, Alcohol? Cut Back. A damaged liver from excessive alcohol consumption produces intra-abdominal fat which is almost impossible to get rid of.

The Bottom Line - Along with advances in hormone replenishment, and anti-aging non-surgical treatments, remarkable outcomes are possible with stem cell injections and infiltrations. Whether you are considering ways to slow the appearance of aging, trying to relieve the aches and pains of aging joints, or hoping to prevent a major surgery such as a joint replacement, stem cell therapies are truly at the cutting edge of treatments. Stem cells derived from your own fat are also the best natural filler to reverse and stabilize your aging face. With so many options and unsurpassed experience, Dr. Merkel has successfully treated a variety of patients for all sorts of maladies and continues to invest in new technology that will bring together non-surgical treatments, stem cells, fat, and hormone replenishment to produce remarkable anti-aging results never seen previously.


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