Nevada Woman (January/February 2004)
THREE WOMEN SHARE THEIR PLASTIC SURGERY EXPERIENCES
Dr. George Alexander and patient counselor Anita guide patients to a renewed self-image and improved self-confidence.
Three Las Vegas women found that by visiting one of Las Vegas’ premier plastic surgeons, Dr. George Alexander, they were given the education they needed to make a sound choice. At his office, these women felt they were among friends, trusting and confident in the doctor and his staff, who helped them to experience a positive change-a renewed self-image and self-confidence.
ALYSON’S FIGHT FOR LIFE
In February 2002, Alyson Jenkins’ doctor uttered two devastating words: breast cancer. “It was shocking,” says the 57-year-old. “I shed a lot of tears the first few days, but as soon as I overcame that part, I knew I had to be pro-active.”
Jenkins first immersed herself in breast cancer research. When her doctor recommended a lumpectomy, Jenkins opted for a more radical route-a bilateral mastectomy with reconstructive breast surgery.
“I chose to do this because I wanted to save my life,” says Jenkins, who has battled with skin cancer since 1990. “I didn’t want to take the chance that in two, four or six years the cancer would reoccur in the other breast, and I’d have to go through the same thing all over again.”
Her doctor and a local plastic surgeon suggested she have a consultation with Dr. Alexander about the breast reconstruction procedure. “I’ve been to a lot of doctors over the years,” says Jenkins. “And from the minute I walked in Dr. Alexander’s office, I was so impressed. I would never want to go to anyone else.”
Alexander walked Jenkins through the three-stage process, which took over a year to complete. First, a mastectomy where temporary implants were put in place, then a surgery to insert her permanent implants. Her final reconstructive surgery took skin from her inner thigh, which was grafted to reconstruct her nipples. Despite a long year of chemotherapy and surgeries, Jenkins is incredibly positive. She laughs when recalling her granddaughter’s response after her surgery: “Grandma, you like a model.”
Now cancer-free, Jenkins doesn’t regret her decision. “I have better breasts than I had before,” she says. “This doctor is so good, you can’t believe I have reconstructed breast. they’re that natural!”
CATHY’S CONFIDENCE RESTORED
Cathy Gamble is no stranger to head-to-toe glances. “I’ve always been self-conscious because of what I do for a living,” says the 35-year-old cocktail waitress. “As much as you don’t want it to affect how you feel about yourself, it does.”
As a 34B, Gamble wanted larger breasts. But thoughts of pain, anesthesia and a breast augmentation surgery were terrifying. Growing tired of padding her bras for work, on the advice of a friend, she mustered up the courage to call Dr. Alexander. During a consultation with Alexander’s patient counselor, Jami Enger, Gamble began to relax. The two women talked for over an hour before even discussing surgery.
“She doesn’t treat you like just another patient,” says Gamble. “She knows you want to do something to change your body, but you’re afraid.”
Meeting with Alexander, Gamble’s reservations lessened. “The first thing he does is make you smile. He always says something to make you feel comfortable; it’s not just, ‘Let’s get down to business.'”
Still, Gamble called Alexander’s office almost daily. “Every fear I had, I would call and ask,” she says. And without hesitation, her calls were answered. When it came time for her to select her breast size, she says laughing, “I put his staff through torture! I brought all my clothes in, fitted every size, and went back and forth, back and forth!”
With every visit, she found the support she needed to make her decision. Gamble has only regret about her surgery: “Why did I wait so long?”
She doesn’t recall waking up in pain and she’s received compliments from strangers, friends and even a few skeptical family members.
Now a 34D, Gamble says, “They’re absolutely perfect!”
Price Crawford, 50, waited as the cashier at her favorite wine shop totaled her purchases.
“Did you lose weight,” asked the female cashier. “No,” Price replied. “Hmm, then did you change your hairs color?” “No,” she replied again. Crawford leaned forward and whispered, “I had a face-lift.” Excited, the woman exclaimed, “You don’t look mad anymore!”
“People thought I was walking around angry because of the line and age on my face,” says Crawford, who is a fun-loving free spirit. Happy with her appearance most of her life, she knew based on genetics, that a face-lift would someday be a consideration.
Doing her homework, she read books and watched videos to educate herself on the face-lift procedure. She asked other doctors for referrals, checked with professional organizations and began interviewing surgeons. “I knew 20 minutes into the consultation that Dr. Alexander was the only doctor I would let operate on my face,” says Crawford. “Other surgeons were answering the phone, talking to their assistants. When you go into Dr. Alexander, he’s there for you.”
Since face-lifts rejuvenate the area from the nose to the neck, Alexander recommended Crawford also undergo a browlift. “I thought I needed something under my eyes,” says Crawford, who simply wanted to look refreshed.
Alexander met with Crawford on three occasions to explain the procedure and why it would help her achieve her goal. Opting to go with his recommendation, she says, “If I hadn’t had the brow life. I don’t think I’d be as happy. He knows his business.”
With strangers stopping Crawford at the gym to comment on her beautiful eyes, she says. “If Dr. Alexander wasn’t as good as he is I wouldn’t be as happy as I am!”
The skin’s appearance is affected by aging, the environment, lifestyle, and heredity. It can lose its elasticity and muscle tone in both the face and neck, while deep creases between the base of the nose and corners of the mouth appear. A face-lift can rejuvenate the lower portion of the face.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reports face-lift surgeries increased 84 percent between 1992 and 2002. According to Anita, who’s been a patient counselor with Dr. Alexander since 1997, people are now embarking on facial cosmetic procedures at a younger age, doing a little bit at a time. Both men and women have undergone Alexander’s artistic inconspicuous face-lift, a procedure intended to leave the face looking naturally rejuvenated.
From a mini-to a standard face-lift, the surgery is done on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia. Incisions are made at the hairline, above the ear. The facial skin is re-draped and lifted, excess skin is removed and neck muscles are tightened. The head and neck are wrapped in dressings, which are removed the following day. Patient’s stitches are removed within two weeks. Swelling and bruising begin to subside within two to six weeks, with results becoming more evident within six to eight weeks, and scars fading from six to twelve months.
Specialized procedures such as a forehead/brow lift and an eyelid enhancement target the forehead and the eye area. Each region can be treated individually or as multiple procedures, which can create a more harmonious look.
The number of breast augmentations performed by board certified plastic surgeons increased 533 percent from 1992 to 2002. Some patients desire balance and proportion in their body, while others are challenged after excessive weight loss or childbirth. For many, surgery is a difficult choice.
Jami Enger, Dr. Alexander’s patient counselor, explains that some women struggle with the stigma associated with breast augmentation. “They feel only women who want a fake look have breast augmentation,” she says.
By viewing before and after photos and interviewing other patients who have undergone the procedure, women understand that Alexander’s goal is to help them create a natural look that instills confidence and comfort. Alexander’s breast augmentation patient Melina says, “I often forget they’re not mine!”
During surgery, a small incision is made under the breast and a saline implant is installed underneath the muscle of the chest wall to enlarge the size and modify the shape of the breast. The procedure is done on an outpatient basis and patients are asleep under general anesthesia.
Women also may choose a breast lift or mastopexy, sometimes combined with an augmentation, to improve sagging breast. As with other elective procedures, it’s important for patients to make decisions for the right reasons-do it for yourself.
No matter how hard some people workout or diet, they can’t lose fat in certain areas. Anita explains, “Most of our patients are educated on diet and exercise, but they’re looking for improvement in those areas that are diet and exercise resistant.”
Men and women near their ideal weight and struggle with fatty areas opt for body-contouring procedures, such as a tummy tuck or liposuction, to help them to have the look they’ve been working towards.
A tummy tuck tightens the abdominal muscles and removes fatty tissue and skin from the abdomen, creating a flatter tummy. An incision is carefully made across the patient’s lower abdomen and the scar is camouflaged. Strenuous activities must be avoided for four to six weeks.
Liposuction, first introduced in the 1980s, removes fat deposits on the thighs, hips, abdomen, buttocks, and knees. The procedure is sometimes performed on the chin. Liposuction isn’t a weight loss method and shouldn’t be used in place of a healthy diet and exercise program. Patients should be near their ideal weight with good skin elasticity and the fatty deposits should be in a few restricted areas.
The ideal candidate for any procedure is a healthy patient with realistic expectations and who is well informed. If you’re considering plastic surgery, Anita Alexander offers a few tips: Define your goals and what you hope for achieve, be sure your interest in surgery is for the right reasons, and confirm your surgeon is a board certified plastic surgeon by the American Board of Medical Specialties (call 866.275.2267 for more information).