Following in the footsteps of his parents who were both physicians in Vietnam, Dr. Raymond Duong is a doctor with an old-school work ethic who values his relationships with his patients, who range in age from young adults to geriatric. As an internal medicine specialist, he is trained to handle any medical complaint that comes his way and enjoys the diversity of his clientele and the conditions he treats.
“My parents owned a hospital in Vietnam,” Dr. Duong said proudly. “My mother was an obstetrician/gynecologist who later became a physiatrist’s nurse and worked until she was 82. My father was a psychiatrist and worked until he was 85. Growing up in that environment, I acquired the dedication to the profession that has sustained my practice here in Vero Beach for the past 20 years. I enjoy helping my patients through every stage of their lives, for as long as they let me.”
A good percentage of Dr. Duong’s clientele are older than 65, in keeping with the demographics of Vero Beach. These older patients often complain about low energy, weight gain and insufficient sleep. In many cases this is due to a natural loss of hormones that comes with age.
“Hormone levels decrease as we age, and if you are hitting 65 or older the odds are you are low on estrogen, testosterone or progesterone. [At the same time], younger people also can have insufficient hormones, too. My youngest male patient is 29 and my youngest female patient is 44. People who correct their hormone deficiency with supplements look and feel better than they ever thought imaginable.”
Dr. Duong is one of only a few practitioners in the county who administer bioidentical hormone supplements to help reverse the aging process.
“I am part of the BIOTE medical group which works with the chemistry of the body to replicate the molecular structure of the hormones that normally occur within the body,” he said. “The BIOTE method of hormone optimization uses bioidentical hormone pellets which contain testosterone or estrogen. These pellets are placed subcutaneously in the body and they release a continuous stream of hormones. Since these pellets are molecularly identical to the molecular structure of your body, they are easily dissolved and absorbed into the body. These pellets are very different that the common testosterone shots and gels that are synthetic.
“Every patient’s symptoms are unique, so each journey is customized,” according to Dr. Duong’s website. “We measure individual hormone levels using a comprehensive bloodwork test. The results are then processed with BIOTE’s propriety dosing platform to deliver precise and preventative patient care plans.”
Symptoms of hormone deficiency are different in men and women.
Men generally present with mood swings, loss of energy and libido issues, but also have joint aches and pain, sleep problems, irritability, exhaustion, decrease in strength, weight gain and attention deficit. They may also experience hair loss and migraine headaches.
“People think that testosterone is used primarily to treat erectile dysfunction, but in reality, it is a mind hormone,” Dr. Duong said. “When testosterone is low, the memory is not good and it’s harder to focus. It can also result in anxiety and depression. I tell men that we are built like Ferraris but we still need gas. Without gas we aren’t going anywhere.
Testosterone is our gas.”
Women have testosterone too, and when it’s deficient it can cause depression, confusion, fatigue, mood swings, headaches, night sweats, hair loss, weight gain, vaginal dryness and problems climaxing. Estrogen pellets can help relieve emotional and reproductive symptoms that affect aging women. Aside from feeling better, women who have had hormone replacement therapy have fewer occurrences of breast cancer, according to a study published in the European Journal of Breast Health.
“Women generally need to have a pellet inserted three times a year,” Dr. Duong explained.
“Men only need it two times per year. During the first visit we review the blood tests, address risk factors and calculate the dosage. On the second visit, we review the symptom check list and adjust the dosage if necessary. Our goal is to get the hormones to their optimal levels and have you feeling your best.”
While bioidentical hormone treatments are not covered by most insurances, the BIOTE Medical Group has negotiated special rates with Quest Diagnostics for the necessary blood work and Dr. Duong has affordable rates for the pellets.
“We can get a complete blood panel workup for $110 which would normally be around $1,000, and my rate for women is $400 per pellet given three times per year and $750 for men given just two times per year. When you break it down it equates to about $100-$125 a month or about the cost of a nice dinner out. It’s an investment in your health.”
According to the BIOTE medical group, optimized hormones can help relieve some age-related health issues, including decreased bone density, poor heart health, abnormal breast and prostate health, diminished cognition and memory, reduced energy and sex drive. Testosterone pellets can also build up bone mass according to their proponents.
Bioidentical hormones have been controversial, so it’s important to research the treatment and discuss the risks and benefits with your healthcare provider.
According to Cleveland Clinic: “Some prescription forms of bioidentical hormones are premade by drug companies … [and] the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved certain types of bioidentical hormones. Other forms of bioidentical hormones are custom-made by a pharmacist based on a healthcare provider’s prescription. These are compounded (or mixed) bioidentical hormones and they have not been tested and approved by the FDA.
Dr. Raymond Duong received his medical degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine and is board-certified in Internal Medicine. He is accepting new patients at his office located at 370 17th Street in Vero Beach. Call 772-770-3859 to schedule an appointment.