Blog — Notes of a Plastic Surgeon

Welcome to my blog. I am a plastic surgeon in Seattle and have been in private practice since 1991. I've seen more than a few interesting faces and cases through my years spent in the exam room, the operating room and the emergency room. And I have an opinion on just about everything relating to plastic surgery (and a lot of unrelated stuff). If you like my blog, let me know. Thanks for reading! Lisa

Category: Children


Off to college? Words of wisdom.

August 26th, 2019 — 9:35am

Four years ago I sent my twin sons off to college. Last Saturday I help their little sister move into her dorm.  And then I cried.  A lot. 

For those parents doing this for the first time, second, third or fourth time,  and for all those lucky youngsters heading off to college, let me share this wonderful essay with you.

blog off to collegeCoping with the angst of dropping off your child at college by Kent Hickey.

From the Seattle Times, August 29, 2014.

All around the country freshmen are filling up suitcases for college. Their parents’ heads are filling up too, mostly with “remember when.”

As we prepared to send our first off to college, my mind kept revisiting all those Saturday mornings in parks when our kids were little. They loved to sneak acorns into my pockets and run away laughing as if they had pulled off some grand caper. One day I caught the eye of an older gentleman as he walked by. “Enjoy it while you can,” he said. “This passes fast.”

It has. And that first college drop-off was a big moment for all of us, especially for our daughter, though one likely eclipsed by that even bigger moment when she finally received the highly anticipated and much practiced “Dad’s Wisdom for College” talk.

I found the perfect setting a few days before departure: a car ride to the grocery store, doors locked and vehicle in motion to guard against the inevitable triggering of the daughter’s flight response.

Here it is:

“Introverts draw energy from solitude. Extroverts draw it from company. Know who you are and find your balance.

“Dads are awesome; boys are not. Always do what Dad would think is right. Never do what a boy thinks is right.

“The single most stupid thing done in college is almost always done while drunk. And, while getting high on marijuana may not necessarily lead to doing equally stupid things, it will lead to doing fewer things. Don’t be stupid.

“God has been a friend in your life every day, whether you’ve known it or not. Bring your friend to college with you and spend time with your friend every day.

“You will never really leave your home.”

It’s hard to say what the daughter took from these pearls, especially with all the other messages, often mixed, that young people hear as they prepare to head off for college:

Explore, find yourself; just make sure you earn a marketable degree that guarantees high lifetime earnings. Don’t be afraid to meet new people, but be wary given all those sexual assaults on campuses. Become a lover of learning without obsessing over grades, though they will likely decide your future.

Colleges are now keenly aware of how hard the drop-off is on my generation, the baby boomers. Upon our arrival on campus the daughter was quickly immersed in her orientation. The same experience awaited parents. I’ve never felt so nurtured, or exhausted.

There were days of parent orientation, each session starting with a “Relax, it will all be fine.” Heck, the school’s president even gave out his personal cell number, just in case we needed to chat, and I don’t even think it was fake. When did we become so needy?

My folks, who were of the World War II and Korean War generation, drove me from our home in Kalamazoo, Mich., to Marquette University in Milwaukee 35 years ago. We had one stop along the way, at the Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha, went straight to my dorm upon arrival and quickly deposited the contents of one suitcase in my room.

Then Mom gave me a tearful hug, Dad an awkward handshake. Right after I moved in, they moved on. No dayslong orientation for them, and hardly one for me. My first lesson was given that very night by two sailors who tried to mug me when I got lost in an alley behind some dorms. I ran away and hid in a dumpster. A passing grade, if not a very courageous one.

Yes, a lot has changed, but one thing hasn’t. That drop-off moment is just really hard.

Right after the final goodbye the daughter gently slipped an acorn into my hand. I’m glad I had already said all that I wanted to say. I couldn’t talk anymore.

Kent Hickey is president of Seattle Preparatory School.

Thanks for reading!  Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder

i would be honored if you followed me on Instagram @sowdermd and @breastimplantsanity.

 

Children, Highly Recommended Reading

4th of July Buzzkill

July 3rd, 2018 — 4:00pm

Seattle Plastic Surgeon and mother of two young adult men is a total buzzkill on the 4th of July.

Shall we limit the fireworks to glow worms this year?

For most people, the 4th of July is a nice holiday filled with family, friends, good food and maybe some good fireworks.  But……..for the plastic surgeon on call for the emergency room, the 4th of July can be a very, very busy day which continues into a very, very busy night.

I’m not on call this 4th of July and I feel kinda sorry for the plastic surgeon who is.  I know he or she will be waiting for that call to come in and treat the kid with the facial burns or a 25 year old computer programmer with a blown off finger.  The plastic surgeon won’t even be able to enjoy a brewski with his/her hamburger and potato salad because more likely than not, he/she will be working.

I love fireworks when supervised by a responsible adult and when lit by individuals who wear eye protection, long sleeves and pants and gloves.  I hate fireworks when lit by teenage boys who are by definition immortal, at least in their minds.  And if the numbers are true, the danger doesn’t end when junior turns 20 or 30 or even 40.  The most injuries occur in men over 36!  Hummmm- something to do with a Y chromosome?

Most people read about these injuries in the newspaper or hear about them on the news but this plastic surgeon and mother sees these injuries and how one lousy M-80 can ruin your musical career if it blows up in your hand or worse if it blows up in your face.

Take a look at theses stats from the Washington State Patrol and keep your eye on those teenage boys of yours.  Oh, and keep an eye on those older dudes too.  I can assure you that the plastic surgeon on call would rather not be seeing them this 4th of July.

Thanks for reading and have a happy and safe 4th of July.  Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder

Children, Emergency Room, Hand Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Trauma

Off to college? Words of wisdom.

August 23rd, 2016 — 10:11am

A year ago I sent my twin sons off to college.  This year it will be a little easier. 

For those parents doing this for the first time and for all those lucky youngsters heading off to college, let me share this wonderful essay with you.

blog off to collegeCoping with the angst of dropping off your child at college by Kent Hickey.

From the Seattle Times, August 29, 2014.

All around the country freshmen are filling up suitcases for college. Their parents’ heads are filling up too, mostly with “remember when.”

As we prepared to send our first off to college, my mind kept revisiting all those Saturday mornings in parks when our kids were little. They loved to sneak acorns into my pockets and run away laughing as if they had pulled off some grand caper. One day I caught the eye of an older gentleman as he walked by. “Enjoy it while you can,” he said. “This passes fast.”

It has. And that first college drop-off was a big moment for all of us, especially for our daughter, though one likely eclipsed by that even bigger moment when she finally received the highly anticipated and much practiced “Dad’s Wisdom for College” talk.

I found the perfect setting a few days before departure: a car ride to the grocery store, doors locked and vehicle in motion to guard against the inevitable triggering of the daughter’s flight response.

Here it is:

“Introverts draw energy from solitude. Extroverts draw it from company. Know who you are and find your balance.

“Dads are awesome; boys are not. Always do what Dad would think is right. Never do what a boy thinks is right.

“The single most stupid thing done in college is almost always done while drunk. And, while getting high on marijuana may not necessarily lead to doing equally stupid things, it will lead to doing fewer things. Don’t be stupid.

“God has been a friend in your life every day, whether you’ve known it or not. Bring your friend to college with you and spend time with your friend every day.

“You will never really leave your home.”

It’s hard to say what the daughter took from these pearls, especially with all the other messages, often mixed, that young people hear as they prepare to head off for college:

Explore, find yourself; just make sure you earn a marketable degree that guarantees high lifetime earnings. Don’t be afraid to meet new people, but be wary given all those sexual assaults on campuses. Become a lover of learning without obsessing over grades, though they will likely decide your future.

Colleges are now keenly aware of how hard the drop-off is on my generation, the baby boomers. Upon our arrival on campus the daughter was quickly immersed in her orientation. The same experience awaited parents. I’ve never felt so nurtured, or exhausted.

There were days of parent orientation, each session starting with a “Relax, it will all be fine.” Heck, the school’s president even gave out his personal cell number, just in case we needed to chat, and I don’t even think it was fake. When did we become so needy?

My folks, who were of the World War II and Korean War generation, drove me from our home in Kalamazoo, Mich., to Marquette University in Milwaukee 35 years ago. We had one stop along the way, at the Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha, went straight to my dorm upon arrival and quickly deposited the contents of one suitcase in my room.

Then Mom gave me a tearful hug, Dad an awkward handshake. Right after I moved in, they moved on. No dayslong orientation for them, and hardly one for me. My first lesson was given that very night by two sailors who tried to mug me when I got lost in an alley behind some dorms. I ran away and hid in a dumpster. A passing grade, if not a very courageous one.

Yes, a lot has changed, but one thing hasn’t. That drop-off moment is just really hard.

Right after the final goodbye the daughter gently slipped an acorn into my hand. I’m glad I had already said all that I wanted to say. I couldn’t talk anymore.

Kent Hickey is president of Seattle Preparatory School.

Thanks for reading!  Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder

 

Children, Highly Recommended Reading

Halloween Owl is a Mother’s Friend

October 28th, 2015 — 9:49am

Happy Halloween!

blog halloween owl

“I’ve come for my candy.”

If you have young kids at home, you need to meet the Halloween Owl.  He is your best friend this time of year.

This is how he operates.   You help your  children set aside at least half of their sugary treasure to donate to the Halloween Owl.  They put their donation into a nice decorated paper bag with “Halloween Owl Only” written on it with big black letters.   After the children are in bed, their tummies aching from all of that crappy candy, the Halloween Owl taps on the window to claim his share of the bounty which he shares  with all of his woodland friends.    There is little pushback from the children as they imagine the owls and raccoons and possums enjoying their once a year treat.  And in Seattle, where I live, there are occasionally reports of coyotes in the city limits and once a report of a cougar in one of our city parks.   Those are big critters and they need lots of candy and the children may be even more generous with their donation.

My children are teenagers now and they are wise to the Halloween Owl but it worked great for years.  So if your kids are young, give it a try.  Just make sure that you put the candy at the very bottom of the garbage can.

Thanks for reading!  Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder

Children, Now That's Cool

POST ACNE SKIN REHABILITATION: A LONG AND INVOLVED PROCESS

March 14th, 2012 — 11:36pm

Do you have a child with severe acne???  An ounce of treatment now is worth a ton of scar revisions later.

Left: Before a bazillion procedures. Right: After a bazillion procedures.

I have two children in high school and I often am asked for advice regarding acne.  I am not a dermatologist nor do I play one on T.V. so do not expect any advice as to the latest therapies for acne.  I do have advice, however, on whether or not one should seek therapy.   So here goes.

If the zits are small and superficial, there will likely be no lasting damage and whether or not to seek anything other than over-the-counter treatment is really a matter of how much the zits bother your child.  BUT if the zits are deep (so called cystic acne), your child needs to get treatment YESTERDAY. 

 The problem with cystic acne is that it causes inflammation deep under the skin and can result in very bad scarring that can be devastating and permanent.   And it’s not just the scarring that is an issue.  The inflammation can also cause atrophy of the fatty layer under the skin and cause sinking in of the face. 

 The example on the right shows both superficial scarring and also some deeper scarring and atrophy.  This is a mild case.  If this were a man, he probably would not have sought treatment but this is a young, beautiful, fine featured woman and this post acne scarring affects her self esteem and also results in her spending a lot of time every morning trying to cover this up.   

She an I got to know each other very, very well over about two years of procedures that included fat grafting, skin resurfacing, excisional scar revision and filler injection.  It was a long process but worth it for both of us.  She can now get on with her day without the prolonged fussing with cover-up and I just loved the bright smile on her face at her last visit. 

 Not all plastic surgeons are well suited to treat these patients because it involves a lot of patience (which I for some reason have in abundance) and a lot of hand holding. 

 But the real message here is that if you know someone with deep, cystic acne who is not under the care of a dermatologist, do what you can to get them proper care.  What seems like just a minor, cosmetic issue can be a major, difficult to treat problem later. 

Thanks for reading!  Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder

Acne, Children, Facial Fillers, Fat Injection, Plastic Surgery, Scar, Skin Care

The Cautionary Tale of Gertrude McFuzz

February 6th, 2012 — 7:09pm

Seattle Plastic Surgeon Tells the Tale of a Tail – It’s a great story about greed.

 

This in Gertrude after discovering the secret of a bigger tail.

Gertrude McFuzz is a wonderful Dr. Seuss story, one of three in his book Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories.

All three stories involve hubris and/or greed.

Here’s the Cliff Notes of Gertrude McFuzz:

  1. Gertrude is a plain little bird with a one feather tail.  She seethes with jealously when she see’s La La Lee Lou, a bird with a two feathered tail fly buy.

  2. She visits her uncle with her woe of inadequacy and he tells her about the berries on a special bush that will make her tail grow.

  3. She eats one berry and finds that her tail is just an nice as La La Lee Lou’s tail.  But of course, she cannot stop at two and she eats all the berries.  Her tail explodes over the next few hours in a show of lavish feathers and fronds and Gertrude is  thrilled.  Her tail is sooooo much better than La La’s.

  4. Then she tries to fly home to show off her beautiful tail but finds she cannot fly with the weight and drag of her magnificent appendage.

  5. Her whimper for help reaches her Uncle who sends out a flock of birds to help Gertrude home.  Once home, she is plucked back to her one feather status.  OUCH!

  6. She is so happy to be able to fly again with her one feather tail.

I think of Gertrude every time I see or hear of a patient who has a nice result from breast augmentation and wants to “go bigger”, especially if she wants to be as big as “fill in the blank with the name of a friend or celebrity”.   Breast implant problems are much more common in patients with big implants, especially when the implants are too big for the patient’s frame and/or life style.

A lot of patients and their plastic surgeons belong to the “GO BIG OR GO HOME CLUB” but this plastic surgeon has read Gertrude McFuzz a jillion times to her children, nieces and nephews and this tale of a tail always pops into my brain when I hear the words, “these are really, really great but can’t I go just a little bigger?”

Buy Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories even if you have no young kids to read to.  You will enjoy and learn from it!   I personally think every plastic surgeon would benefit from reading about Yertle and his ego run riot.  That’s another blog.   Thanks for reading.  Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder

 

Breast Contouring, Breast Implants, Children, My Plastic Surgery Philosophy, Now That's a Little Weird, Patient Beware, Plastic Surgery

Meet the Tooth Fairy’s cousin – the Scab Fairy

December 20th, 2011 — 6:09pm

Seattle Plastic Surgeon tells the story of the Scab Fairy, a story that every parent needs to know.

Seattle Plastic Surgeon's scab fairy
This is the Scab Fairy. She’ll leave you a little something if you put that scabby Band-aid under you pillow.

Last week I had the opportunity to take care of a delightful little boy in the emergency room.  He had a classic childhood injury:  forehead vs coffee table.  The table won (it always does) and he needed a half dozen sutures to sew up the deep, jagged gash in his forehead. 

When he came to my office for suture removal, his suture line was scabby and crusty and this can make it hard to remove the teeny, tiny sutures.  Now little kids do not like having anyone mess with their scabs but once I told him about the Scab Fairy, he became much more enthusiastic about the whole thing.  

 You see, the Scab Fairy visits every night looking for scabby Band-aids that good little children have placed under their pillow.  Usually the Scab Fairy leaves something like a Hershey’s Kiss or even a little money.  Once one of my children scored a Pop Tart!   Once my little patient heard this, he was fine with me gently removing the Band-aid and underlying scab.  I made sure to send this home with him in a little baggie. 

 So,  all of you parents out there with active children:  There will be scabs and you need to make friends with the Scab Fairy.

 Thanks for reading!   Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder.

Children, Emergency Room, General Health, Now That's a Little Weird, Plastic Surgery, Postoperative Care, Trauma

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