Feature Archive

Health in 2005: What May Come

What's in store for us in 2005? Health experts peer into crystal ball for the new year and beyond.

By Denise Mann
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario

From the declining popularity of plastic surgery reality TV and the dawn of implantable contact lenses to a scaling back of the low-carb craze, a beefing up of basic physical fitness, and an influx of new drugs to treat such vexing conditions as diabetes and the blinding eye disease macular degeneration, 2005 may just prove to be a happy and a healthy new year.

That's why WebMD asked leaders in many fields to get out their crystal balls and tell us what's in store for 2005.

Here's what they had to say:

The Skinny on Obesity Research

Obesity will continue to be a big topic in 2005, experts tell WebMD. "There will be no one, big, blow-out, breakthrough coming, just more information that will support the idea of treating obesity," says Louis J. Aronne MD, a clinical professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York and president of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity. Though he is not sure there will be any new drugs approved to treat obesity in 2005, there will be some activity for Acomplia, a weight loss drug that also helps people quit smoking.

"This drug will be submitted to the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval in 2005," he says. "I don't know if the company will submit it for smoking [cessation], diabetes, or another condition, but it will be submitted within next few months." Looking further down the road, he says, "Acomplia is way ahead of everything else, but there will be more studies and trials of other drugs including AOD 9614, an experimental drug which seems to cause weight loss without affecting appetite." Aronne says the trend toward weight loss surgery will continue to increase. "It's the most effective treatment available, and I really think another trend is that people will want to go to specialty obesity surgery centers to undergo it."

Nips 'n' Tucks in the New Year

In 2005, several deeper and longer-lasting wrinkle fillers will join the growing list of already approved injectables, predicts plastic surgeon Mark L. Jewell, MD, the president-elect of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. This may include Restylane SubQ to bulk up the cheeks and chin. It requires a larger needle and deeper injections that go below the skin layers and may last longer than currently available fillers. "Botox will remain front and center, although the FDA may crack down on imported substances given the Florida situation." In late November 2004, a Florida doctor allegedly injected himself, along with his girlfriend and two patients, with an unapproved botulism toxin marketed as a less expensive version of Botox. All four people were paralyzed as a result.

2005 may also bring about a new option in breast implants: cohesive gel implants. These are made of cohesive silicone gel, are leak-resistant, and have the consistency of a gummy bear. "By the end of next year, we may have one or two available, which is good news," he says. These implants are made to last longer and maintain a more realistic shape.

There may also be some progress in the development of noninvasive alternatives to liposuction, he says. Two such alternatives are being studied: Ultrashape and LipoSonix, both of which use ultrasound to "melt" localized fat deposits.

But don't start booking your appointments just yet. "I don't think either will be out in a packaged version in 2005," he adds.

In addition, plastic surgeons will make strides in refining the optimal technique for body lifts after weight loss surgery. Many people opt to undergo a series of procedures after weight loss surgery to do away with excess skin. Jewell also thinks that the American public may be moving away from the dramatic alterations they have witnessed on plastic surgery reality television shows as they embrace subtler changes over extreme makeovers, both personally and as viewers.

Envisioning 20/20 Vision

"There's no question about it: The first sign of mortality is diminished vision," says ophthalmologist Cary Silverman, MD. And baby boomers will not take this lightly -- the good news is they won't have to because of new implants for your eyes. "These focusing implants are one of the hottest topics today," he says. The FDA has already approved one such implantable lens, the Verisyse lens, and others are in the pipeline.