Let Love Nourish Your Spirit

Did all of you have a loving Valentine’s Day? I sure hope so. Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday because it makes us reflect on that four-letter word—“LOVE.” I know most of us equate the day with flowers, chocolate and romantic love. But how about the concept of universal love switching the focus from self to how we are all connected in one way or another?
I spent some of my Valentine’s weekend attending the annual San Francisco Writer’s University conference. One of the keynote speakers was the lovely Ann Perry who speaks as graciously as she writes. She so enthralled me with her comments and philosophy about her writing. One comment she made, responding to the question of why she gives her subordinate characters importance, struck such a chord with me. She simply stated, “Every human being is important. Whether they are a primary or secondary character is not important because every human life is important.” I’m always amazed the number of drafts that go into the final writing product. When, I read an engaging book by great writers like Ann Perry, with steady pace, character development and sensual description, I think that it just happens when pen hits paper. She, as well, as many others admitted to the hard work and number of drafts that go into the final product that, we as the reader, so enjoy. I thought to myself, as I was listening, that maybe we, as human beings, should view life as drafts. Most spiritual literature discusses the many deaths and rebirths or should I say phases that occur in a person’s life. As we progress through life analyzing our thought process as it relates to our reality and sense of happiness and accomplishment, meditating on those concepts that become more lucid should be our goal. Each phase should build upon and improve the next for what we present to our Spirit (God, Christ, etc……whatever your faith may be) our last and final draft. For those who do not reflect or simply care not to examine their life, well, let me just put it this way……it’s not for me to judge, and I pray for you. An outlook as such may not be so depressing for those who view aging as a horrific event. After all, with age, does come wisdom to those who pursue finding their Spirit. And I can only see Spirit as a loving, caring Spirit who loves all of us whether we are primary or secondary characters. Happy Valentine’s Day.


My Resolution of Self-Acceptance

My Resolution of Self-Acceptance


Thanks to all of you who expressed missing my blog and where did I go? Some of you know that I’m working on a major writing project that takes up much of my precious writing time. But, I am appreciative to those of you asking me to resume my blog, so here we go. Well, it’s another new year and time for resolutions.  I have a suggestion: how about a resolution of self-acceptance and, here we go, self-love.

Resolutions come from a place within us that awakens our inner critic. We’re too fat because we don’t eat right or exercise. We are morons who can’t spend our money correctly. We can’t succeed at x because we are not y. Get my point? Especially, the more “Type A” we are the more geared we are to critique those around us, and, most all, ourselves.  Also, these are downer times where many people are feeling anxiety and uncertainty about the future.

We all have our chosen successes and failures in our lives. Whether it’s a daily routine or a goal that we feel we must achieve but haven’t, we tend to focus on “failures” hence our society’s omnipotent and highly popular resolution concept. Sometimes failures are highlighted because people around us love to focus on and gossip about these things……especially, in the competitive milieu. What self-acceptance/self-love do is not make us lazy and say to hell with it, this is the way it is. Rather, instead of negative thoughts, self-acceptance brings on the energy of focusing on the good about ourselves and then, if there’s something we want to change approach our inner critic with the “ by the way, there’s something I’d like to improve upon and let’s give it a whirl” attitude. My best example that I can think of comes from sports. We all have favorite teams and athletes. There are times, for example, that I watch Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls MVPx3) who is amazing most of the time. However, even Derrick misses a key lay up or free throw that costs the team a game. I’m sure he, his teammates and coach (Oh! And let’s not forget the people who bet on the game, the team owner and manager and the whole state of IL) slam him.  Outside of his not playing a game this season because of his ACL issue, does he throw in the towel? NO!!!! He knows he’s good, we know he’s good and he just goes back and tries his best.

My closing thought to you is to be kind to yourself. Life is hard, but guess what? We’re all in this together and if we’re kind to self and accept self, collectively, we’re kind and accept each other

Health Care Summit: Part 2

Health Care Summit: Part 2

Really, guys, I intend to inform you about that great ASPS meeting on complications that I attended back in July. But, with the last blog, I got some great feedback and comments. Yes, I did leave the conclusion open-ended. Why? Because, none of us know what’s going on and what the future entails for all of us: physicians, businesses, insurance companies and, most importantly, patients. The trend from a universal healthcare and cost standpoint is the conglomerate health care system or group practice. There is a subtle implication in the previous blog that the solo physician, like me, in private practice may be of historical value in the next few years. I think that it is a sad state of affairs, because I, personally, love my patient base, and, in addition to the medical treatment, enjoy getting to know my folks. Most of us our going to hang in there the best we can.  That being said, I also believe that the leadership and physicians of groups like Kaiser, PAMF, etc. are trying their best to provide the best healthcare as possible. Same goes for hospitals like ValleyMedicalCenter that provide service to the uninsured. We’re all caught up with desire to provide excellent care as proud citizens of the USA; however, our financial hands tied.

What is known is there is a problem residing on the multitude of people who are losing their health care benefits because of the anemic economy. For those who have insurance, we physicians are having an even more difficult time getting tests or procedures authorized. Finally, the uncertainty, changes and increase cost create a general frustration amongst the people. People are justifiably scared because we, as Americans, simply aren’t used to uncertainty. The American way is fertile with ingenuity, possibility and hope.

Let’s see what the future holds and put our creative minds together for a do-able solution. We are all in this together and need to remember that and work together in a positive fashion.

On that note, next blog I’ll talk about different body shapes. ‘Til then, be well, my friends. 

Health Care Summit Report

Health Care Summit Report

Here is my report regarding the Health Care Summit held at Mountain View’s Computer History Museum about which I facebooked. First of all, there’s something that all of you should know about most of us physicians. My colleague friends and I love taking care of people and thrive on the human interaction. That desire to help our fellow man really fuels us to wake up day in and day out to continue hearing patient “complaints” and attempting to help. We relish the relationship based on and built upon trust and honesty. We value the special very private relationship between physician and patient. Our chosen specialty and how we can use our knowledge and skill truly is a privilege, period. So, that being said, all of us agree that we wish everyone to have health care. But, the big issue, as is always the issue, is money.

The stars of the Health Care Summit were: Diana Dooley, Secretary of California Health and Human Services Agency; Dr. Richard Slavin, CEO of Palo Alto Medical Foundation; Paul Markovich, President and COO of Blue Shield of California; Chris Boyd, Senior Vice President and area manager of Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, and; Amir Dan Rubin, President and CEO of Stanford Hospital and Clinics. Each hospital and medical business had representative administrators distributed in placard labeled tables. It really was very nice to see some of my friends whom I haven’t seen in quite a while. But, how many private practice doctors attended? Now, I know a lot of people but not the world; so, from what I could tell, I didn’t see many (if any). What followed was an open forum by the aforementioned parties about their take on the ambiguous future of health care. The recurring theme was the two main issues: access to health care and money. Each speaker discussed his/her viewpoint and demonstrated how his/her organization represents supported views. Each speaker demonstrated a well thought out and meaningful goal in the uncertain arena. One speaker talked about using value based medicine and studying trends that will help reduce future cost. I found it very interesting but the comments drew me into a reverie of how much things have changed from my medical school days. Back in the early 90’s in an effort to practice “defensive medicine” as students we were taught and directed to draw frequent labs and order tests. We would often curse under our breath our mentors who made us draw blood levels to document health status (I’m way oversimplifying this!). Of course, often tests would return normal; but, it was documented!! Things have certainly done a 180 as we can’t even get half of our surgeries, tests or opinions authorized by insurance. How things have changed. My concern, and most of the publics’, is what is going to happen to that personalized care that we provide? I don’t know if that was addressed at the summit because I had to leave early. I had patients in my office to see.

Complications in Plastic Surgery

Complications in Plastic Surgery

As promised from my facebook entry, here is my first blog from the insightful plastic surgery meeting that I attended a couple weeks ago in DC. The American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS) sponsors many educational seminars throughout the year to keep plastic surgeons current. The “Challenging Complications in Plastic Surgery: Successful Management Strategies” was the first of its kind. I mentioned prior to the meeting my excitement regarding the meeting, and, sure enough, the ASPS delivered.

Topics varied at the symposium that covered common issues that we face in plastic surgery. Most of the time was spent on breast surgery, both aesthetic and reconstructive. Breast implant problems, uneven breasts, scar tissue and new experimental procedures were discussed. We talked about scars, in general, and how to treat them. Then, we discussed most of the body contouring procedures like tummytuck, arm and leg lift, and liposuction. Of particular interest to me were the patient case presentations and their management. I always love to hear not only humble pearls of wisdom, but also group discussions of common issues. And, I found it very insightful the way presenting plastic surgeons discussed and differentiated between true complications and common healing situations. One of my parting thoughts was the real need to bridge the understanding of plastic surgery procedures between physician and patient. This may sound obvious, but there is so much marketing and information overload, even on reputable shows, about miracle machines and creams. In small doses, I am going to share with you the salient points of this great meeting. Please look for the next blog on……different body shapes.

Are You a Work of Art?

Are You a Work of Art?


Recently, I received a very nice affirmation card from Canyon Ranch, and I’d like to share it with you:


“As different as our lives are from one another, the goal is the same: to create ourselves like works of art.”


I appreciate the message viewing myself as a theoretical work of art but what I found very interesting was that of all the people to get this card, it was given to none other than a plastic surgeon, ie, me. Mind you, the card’s benefactor did not possess knowledge of this fact. So, I could look at this message from two perspectives: one coming from what I think is its true intent of achieving acceptance of my imperfections and appreciating my uniqueness as an art-form; or, one coming from the critical eye of a plastic surgeon with evaluating the deformity and addressing its correction in order for beauty to occur.

To me, this affirmation card ignites the age old debate of the utility of plastic or cosmetic surgery. Do we accept ourselves for what we have or do we pick ourselves apart so that we can’t stand to look in the mirror any longer? You know where I’m going with this because I think of this often both from a female and a plastic surgeon’s standpoint. I do think that we all have natural beauty. We all should embrace our genetics and features that make us our own personal work of art. In addition to our features, we have our mode of expression, personality and health that factor into our own personal work of art. A healthy approach to plastic surgery is one that seeks refinement in a state of self-acceptance. As always, the right answer is not a true or false option but a spectrum starting from healthy psychology and, again, self-acceptance. And, with more self-acceptance lies more growth for change. You all are beautiful works of art. As a work of art, be kind and gentle to that art and treat it with care.

I Am a Plastic Surgeon: From Brooklyn to Silicon Valley

Today, March 5, 2012, marks a very special day for me. Exactly nine years ago to date I obtained my business license. I know most people celebrate their 10, 25, and 50 year anniversaries, which I hope to celebrate. But, the nine year mark is of significance to me because I completed nine years of residency prior to my nine years of practice. Hence, being the math whiz that I am, today marks the 1:1 ratio between my training years and my solo, private practice years.

After my medical school graduation from Kansas City, I moved to Brooklyn, New York to embark upon my general surgery residency. At that time, I left my options open knowing that I wanted to finish my general surgical training with possible further training in either surgical oncology or plastic surgery. A sweet, little Mid-Western girl found herself driving down Brooklyn’s Belt Parkway taking exit 13 into Canarsie leading to East New York. Despite the rough terrain into gang-land and a culture completely different from my upbringing, I will never forget my excitement moving to Brooklyn and New York City which was my choice: I applied only to general surgery programs in New York. It was a physically, emotionally and technically demanding period of my life, but a time that was well spent in developing my endurance, judgment and skill. I feel blessed regarding my experience and felt Brooklyn’s love because I STILL LOVE YOU BROOKLYN….HEY, YO!!! HOW YA DOIN’?

After graduating from Brooklyn, I moved to Chicago to complete my plastic surgery fellowship. This comprised the last three years of my total nine year training gig. I trained at Cook County Hospital in addition to some private hospitals and practices. Now, I’m originally an Illinois-girl, so I enjoyed seeing the homeland (I’m actually from a very small town on the Mississippi eight hours from Chicago). It was during my Chicago tenure that 911 hit, and, to this day will never forget how a city as huge as Chicago was rendered a ghost town within an hour. Business’ shut down and the Chicago PD were everywhere. Very few places were open like Cook County Hospital which is where I was rotating at the time.Chicago is such a well-run city and absolutely beautiful. I’ve been sweet on Chicago since childhood, and I feel the love of my town that is Chi-town and, yes, I LOVE YOU TOO CHICAGO. Just don’t have any cute linguistics to exemplify the place like I do with Brooklyn or NYC in general.

To say that I moved to Silicon Valley because of the great weather does not justify the depth and value of my final destination. True, when I flew into sunny SFO from O’Hare that December day and loaded up my parka, boots, gloves, earmuffs, and hat off the plane, I enjoyed the warmth and glow of the sun. But, I had job opportunities all over the country, and as I familiarized myself with Silicon Valley, I was mesmerized by the fact that this is a place where if you have a dream YOU can make it happen. The whole state is just beautiful. The weather is great and if you’re a health nut like me, well, this is a health conscious area. In addition to the aforementioned, there are many great minds and resources that make any possibility or idea that you have a reality (if you have a good business plan). The nine years zoomed by……..zoomed!!! It wasn’t easy but I am so blessed and grateful to the many who have contributed to my life from a simple smile to words of wisdom. I love my friends, my patients and my Mission Santa Clara. With that, I conclude my 1:1 reverie feeling the love of my home (uh, hello,San Jose is the capitol of Silicon Valley). I LOVE YOU SILICON VALLEY.