Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Plastic Surgery...Let's Talk About Boobs.

Hey yall.

So while I typically blog about motherhood, feminism, and spirituality, occasionally I find a way for my day-job ((plastic surgery nurse)) to sneak in.

((For example, here is a post from a few years ago, on the Merge Between Feminism and Beauty))

I get asked A LOT of questions from people about my job.

"Is Botox dangerous?" 
"Do people actually transfer fat to their boobs?"
"What should I have done to get rid of this?"
"Is saline or silicone better?"

I have a big idea in the works for addressing all the questions, but until then, I thought this post might peak some interest.

So, let's talk about boobs.

I see them all day long. I photograph them, measure them, assess them, palpate them, and then help surgically modify them.

*For a while, I felt really strange about the latter.

But, over time, I've realized most of our patients have wanted this particular body modification for years, and after their surgery, they feel confident, empowered, and have a stronger connection to their identity.

It's a bit of a stretch, but many of our patients can relate to Caitlyn Jenner when she said she identified as being a woman, and her whole life felt like she was in the wrong body. Many large-breasted women are dancers, gymnasts, cheerleaders, athletes, or just free-spirited hippies who want to go braless in a sundress but felt like their body type has held them back. Most of society is pretty accepting of the woman who chooses to have a breast reduction. But the other side of that coin is the woman who feels like her chest makes her "look like a little boy" and while she wears feminine clothes and enjoys embracing her femininity in all other aspects, feels as though her lack of breast tissue doesn't fit with how she sees herself. 

Of course, I find the psychological + sociological aspects of surgery fascinating. But I'm going to try to keep it simple with this post and just explain what the procedures are.

  • A breast reduction is essentially the same surgery as a breast lift. The incisions are around the areola, vertically down the breast, and horizontally in the crease. Many people refer to this as an "anchor" incision. 
  • If the intention is to decrease the size, it's called "reduction mammaplasty." If the intention is to lift the nipple position, it's called a "mastopexy." 
  • Either way, when the nipple position comes up, some breast tissue is lost. While every person is different, most people go down a few cup sizes with this surgery. Some people only want to lift the nipple, not lose breast tissue. When that's the case, a small implant can be placed at the same time.
  • Many people who do a mastopexy with a breast augmentation ((breast lift with an implant)) wear the same bra size after surgery as they did pre-operatively. They just fill out their bras differently; they have more upper pole fullness.
  • By far, the most common way to increase breast size is with an implant. 
  • Regardless of saline//silicone, we almost ALWAYS put the implants under the muscle. Implants above//over the muscle can make interpreting mammograms more difficult. It's easier to interpret a mammogram on a patient with implants under//below the muscle because it pushes breast tissue up and makes it more visible. And as an added bonus, it looks a lot better, too. There's a natural slope from the upper chest as opposed to looking "stuck on."
  • The most common incision is in the inframammary crease (("IMC")). If a woman has a breast augmentation, she will likely have a future implant exchange, and the IMC is required for these surgeries, so it makes sense to start there. The armpit (("axillary")) incision is commonly requested, but most women don't realize that these scars show more often than the IMC incisions ((tank tops, bathing suits, sleeveless dresses, etc...)). They also have a slightly higher risk of infection.
    • Saline Implants
      • Are essentially an FDA-approved, expensive water balloon
      • Come with a 10 year warranty
      • Less expensive
    • Silicone Implants
      • Also FDA-approved, feel like breast tissue
      • Come with a lifetime warranty
      • Shows less "rippling" than saline implants, typically a better choice for thinner patients for this reason
        Rippling can still occur with silicone implants, but is far more common with saline. Going under the muscle for implant-placement also helps decrease rippling.
  • Fat Transfer
    • If a patient is opposed to implants, but still wants to make her breasts larger, she can have fat transferred from one area of her body to the breasts ((another common request is to the booty)).
    • Fat transfer is a very safe procedure, but not as reliable as an implant. A lot of times, patients are happy immediately after, but after the swelling subsides, and some of the fat dissipates, the results aren't as impressive. If a subtle change is all that the patient wants, it's a great option. 
This is all just the tip of the iceberg! It's kind of fun to blog about something different, and share some of my expertise with yall.

If you have specific questions, feel free to click on the "contact" link at the top of this page.


Friday, August 7, 2015

My C-Section ((How I Felt Then + Now))

When I was pregnant with Lilah Grace ((to be fair, years before I was even pregnant)), I envisioned for a natural birth. In nursing school, my group was selected to present at the statewide research symposium, on our findings on water immersion during natural labor. My mother-in-law birthed her 3rd son at home. I watched the natural birth documentary, The Business of Being Born several times, and all subsequent episodes. I read all the Ina May Gaskin ((legendary midwife + author )) I could get my hands on.

If I'm being honest,  "C-Section mama" was a title that meant one of two things to me:
  • A woman who was taken advantage of by her doctor's schedule and/or the medical system
  • A woman who didn't care about the experience of childbirth; somebody who wanted to skip labor and just hold their baby
During the childbirth class at the hospital, I didn't even attend the c-section segment. There was just no way that was going to happen to me. I did my research, I found a midwife who had privileges at a hospital that took our insurance, and if nothing else, I've had "child bearing hips" on my otherwise petite frame since middle school.

I shared my opinions on this blog while pregnant ((with Lilah Grace)). Some of my words:
  • "I also have been reflecting on some powerful words by Ina May Gaskin, before I embark on this journey of BIRTHING our baby! I am not afraid to go into labor. Sure, her size is intimidating...and I know it's going to be painful...but I am excited to be the vessel that allows a spiritual being to become her own physical lifeform. What an honor."
  • "I'm not fearful of labor. I can endure anything for a day. And women have been having babies for all of time. I'm actually excited (feel free to roll your eyes). The concept of being a vessel that brings a spiritual being into a physical being is an honor, and I think it will be a transformative and spiritual moment."
  • "After seeing "The Business of Being Born," I thought birthing at "The Farm" in Tennessee would be an amazing experience. I even called shortly after discovering I was expecting, but was disappointed to hear that we could DEFINITELY not afford it."

I visited "The Farm" ((arguably the natural birth hub of the world with the lowest c-section rate, at 2%)), meditated + visualized + prayed, and ultimately knew on a deep level where I belonged; I would be a naturally birthing mama. I already identified with that group of mothers. I already judged the others.

At an estimated 42 weeks, I tried to sleep, but the intermittent discomfort + anticipation kept me awake. After a few hours of contractions in the bathtub at home, I woke up my husband and told him it was time to go. The natural birth was indeed going to happen!

I had ALL OF THE FEELINGS on my 12 hours natural labor-turned 10 hours epidural labor-turned emergency c-section where my epidural had worn off, and I felt horrible + traumatic pain//pulling//ripping//electric shocks from the cauterization. 

But beyond the physical pain, I felt like a complete failure as a woman. I felt like I failed at the one thing my body was made to do...that all women's bodies were made to do...that every woman in my family and George's HAD DONE. Then, I felt like a spoiled, first-world brat. Everybody telling me that Lilah and I would've died 50 years ago made me feel really weird. Of course, I was grateful for modern medicine, and I thought about women in countries right now, in this decade, who die because the lack of adequate healthcare. I was grateful for the medical team. But I wondered...was my body made to reproduce? If I wasn't even capable of bringing a baby into the world without a major operation and the help of a medical team?


I think the spiritual reason I had a c-section with Lilah Grace was to teach me humility. I pretty much already had my natural birth story written out, in detail, in my head and in my heart. It looked nothing like the real story.

Before she was even born, I was prepared to soak up compliments from family + friends on my courage, bravery, and badassery. I was desperately craving external validation that I was a powerful woman.

Now, 2 years later, and 20 weeks into my second pregnancy, I realize I needed less judgment on moms who have c-sections. On moms who say "yes, please!" to drugs during labor. Because the labor//birth story doesn't prove you're powerful, though it can make for an inspiring story. I still cheer on the sidelines for the natural birthers, and I'm still impressed + inspired when I hear about those beautiful birth stories. Honestly, I'm still a little jealous. But my perspective has evolved quite a bit.

Overcoming obstacles showcases power. Being grateful and happy are more important to me than being sad about the birth story I wanted to have, but didn't. At last...internal validation.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Musings From Another Mother: Sherri.

Once a month, I've been making an effort to share musings from other mothers who inspire me.

January: Janelle 
February: Ashton 
March: Andrea
April: Allison + Annie 
May: Jen
June: Mallory 
July: Becky

For the month of August, I'm proud to showcase Sherri.  


Sherri is the daughter of our family-friend, Al. Al is my biggest cheerleader and confidence-booster, and also my go-to car mechanic. We call him Lilah Grace's "Fantasy GrandDad" because he plays the role of grandfather, and spoils her rotten. He lives near us ((in Texas)), but his daughter lives in New York. Anytime Al talks about Sherri, he lights up and goes on ((and on, and on, and on...just kidding, Al!)) about what an incredible woman she is. As soon as I met her, I knew exactly what he was talking about. She has so much radiance, grace, poise, intelligence, compassion, and love for humanity ((and animals)) pulsing through her veins. 
Sherri became a mama one year ago, and her son, Dash, is one of the most adorable babies I've ever seen. I was beyond ecstatic when Sherri agreed to share her heart while participating in this monthly series. In reading her responses to these questions,
 I discovered way more about this amazing mama, and fell even more in love. Enjoy the inspiration! 


What’s your definition of a feminist?
Someone who believes strongly in and fights for equality for women.

Do you consider yourself a feminist?

I actually consider myself a "people-ist". I know that's not a word but it best describes my feeling about it. I am always on the side of people in general not being treated equally. I get very upset and feel strongly when someone is being treated unfairly. Whether they are a minority, gay, a woman, the elderly, poor, misunderstood, etc., I feel the same for all.

Do you feel closer to whatever you call the Higher Power since having a “feminist awakening”?  Further from it?  Ambivalent? 
I have not had a feminist awakening exactly. I have always felt women should be treated equally. I grew up in a house with 3 brothers and I was the only girl. My dad would sometimes make references that seemed sexist and I would call him on it. Even as a young girl, I didn't really know that's what I was doing, but I was. He now laughs at things he says that are sexist and realizes he is being ridiculous when I point it out.  He's grown a lot!

Do you think feminism and spirituality are related, or have nothing to do with one another? 

I feel that spirituality is something that is so deep in your soul that you feel passionate about and makes you a better person. If feminism is that for you, then yes, I believe it's related for that person.

What do you do and what encouraged you to get into your line of work?

I am a makeup artist in film and television. I grew up doing makeup from the time I was 4 years old. I always loved it even though I don't currently wear a lot of makeup! My mother was also a hairdresser when I was growing up. This also influenced me.

What spiritual habits//practices//routines do you incorporate into your life?  How do you bring spirituality to your family life?

I would have to say that the most spiritual things we incorporate in our lives is church for my husband and sometimes me, music, love, and love of animals. Everyday when I'm feeding my child, I sing to him. The way we look at each other during this time feels very spiritual to me.

Do you want your children to have the same religious experience that you did as a child?

I am actually not a religious person. I did not grow up in a religious household, although as a young girl, I went to church with my best friend's family and became very involved. The church that I went to was very fanatical, in my opinion, and was very strict in its beliefs. It believed that this religion was the only religion that would go to "heaven" and any other person that was not "saved" by us would burn in hell and the blood of all of these people would be on my hands. It was so scary that I went to my father hysterically, who was Jewish, and told him I had to save him and I didn't want him to burn in hell as I cried. He told me that one day I would realize that I was being brainwashed and that he was going to be fine. This, in fact, is what happened.  I witnessed some very hypocritical things during my time in this particular church and it scarred me to the point that I was anti-religion for many years. My husband is a member of the episcopal church and has had many conversations with me to help me better understand what religion, when not fanatical, is really about. I have a new view on it now and have opened my eyes to the incredibly accepting episcopal church he belongs to in NYC. They are what I wanted to believe religion was really about. This church has women reverends, many gay members, transgender people as part of the procession, and is just, in general, a very open minded place of worship for many other reasons as well.

For these reasons, I have been attending this church and I am learning to trust religion again. This is how I want my son to be raised. He has been going here with my husband or both of us since he was born. I want him to be raised in the episcopal church and make his own decision about it when he is old enough to understand his decision.

What is the difference between religion and spirituality?
Well, to me, spirituality is anything that makes you feel centered, whole, and basically a better person. It can come from anything, ie: meditation, being at the ocean, going to church, music, or doing something that you feel passionate about. In addition to being a makeup artist, I also have a cat rescue in NYC. Saving these precious animals from the streets and getting them into their forever homes is a spiritual experience for me. Especially when it involves helping an injured or extremely frightened cat. Figuring out how to help the animal trust you and communicating with them to help figure out what they need and want is extremely spiritual to me.

Religion is a basic principle and set of ethics that you live by and how you worship. Religion and spirituality can be the same thing for some people and totally different others.

What do you think happens when we die?

I am not 100% sure. In my experience, I have definitely felt the presence of people who are close to me that have passed.

How do you talk to your kids about the big questions?

My son is only 1 years old so I haven't had to answer the big ones yet. I look forward to the challenge though!