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: Gardening

Lawn Mower Safety

July 18th, 2017 — 11:42am

Seattle Plastic Surgeon (and mother of three) Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder nags her children and you about lawn mower lawn mowing

It is such a wonderful thing to get some yard work out of my offspring now that they are old enough to mow, rake, sweep, weed, water, trim, edge, poop scoop, etc.  As much as I love the smell of newly mown grass and the thought of them working (instead of me), I worry.  I worry about the lawn mower thus the little nag session each and every time one of my boys has been nagged into mowing the lawn.

Here is my list of lawn mower safety tips.

        • Only children over 13 should mow a lawn.
        • One person only should be on the lawn being mowed.  That would be the person behind or on the mower.
        • NO PETS unless it’s a rabbit you really wish you had never adopted.
        • Always wear socks and heavy shoes and gloves.
        • Always wear eye protection.
        • Ear plugs okay but not no ipod listening.  They need to hear you yell, “Watch out for the dog!”
        • No mowing until the offspring has cooled down from his/her rage at having to actually perform agreed upon chores for agreed upon bennies.  Rage and lawn mowers should never coexist.
        • If the mower malfunctions, turn it off and don’t even think about flipping it over unless a knowledgeable and responsible adult is present.
        • Leave sharpening to the experts.  Oh, unless you work in a lawn mover sharpening shop, you are not an expert.
        • No using the lawn mover for anything other than mowing the lawn.  This calls for a cautionary (and I swear to God true) tale.  Two patients in the same day present with nearly identical lawn mower injuries sustained while attempting to trim a hedge with a lawn mower.  Patient #2  happen to see patient #1 (prior to his mishap) trimming his hedge with the lawn mower while Patient #2 was driving to get gas for his lawn mower and thought “Hey, what a great idea.” Not.

Stay tuned.  One of these blogs I will tell you about my dad’s snowblower injury.  His bloody glove is still nailed to the wall of his shop some 30 years later.

Thanks for reading.  Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder

Gardening, General Health, Trauma

Today is Arbor Day – a celebration of the future instead of the past

April 29th, 2016 — 11:16am

Those of you who know me well know that I am a real tree hugger.  blog arbor dayI love to garden and I really love my trees.  I have been know to tell my children that I love my 20 year old Chojuro pear tree more than I love them.  Of course they know that I am just kidding but I’ve told them not to let the Chojuro know.  It is currently magnificently in bloom and come August, I will be up to my armpits in pears.

Arbor Day is a little known holiday but it’s one of my favorites.  Arbor Day celebrates our hope for the future rather than our remembrance of the past.  Planting a tree is an act of faith that the little sapling will take root and turn sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into good things like wood, leaves, flowers and fruit.  My Chojuro provides shade for our hammock in the summer and a lovely silhouette in the blue light of winter.  Our 80 year old Deodar Cedar out front provides a rookery for our Stellar Jays, flickers, crows, chickadees and sparrows. Years ago a mother raccoon chose the crook of our Deodar to lounge all night with her 4 babies.  My children still talk about it some 10 years later.  Oh, and have I told you about my Harlequin Glorybower?  Actually, I have in a previous blog entry!

As you can see, I really am a bit of a tree freak.  So……..celebrate Arbor Day and plant a tree but first consult a knowledgable nursery.  It’s best not to chose that darling baby Giant Sequoia for that spot next to the front door.

Thanks for reading!  Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder



Happy Spring!

March 20th, 2013 — 1:07pm

Seattle Plastic Surgeon wishes everyone a Happy First Day of Spring.

Hellebores, a.k.a. Lenten Roses love Seattle's wet winter and early spring.

Hellebores, a.k.a. Lenten Roses love Seattle’s wet winter and early spring.

Today is the first day of spring and a storm is heading Seattle’s way.  It is supposed to hit mid-afternoon and bring wind up to 50 m.p.h., rain, sleet and/or snow and even a little thunder.

I made it a point to get out for a first day of Spring walk early this morning before all heaven broke loose.  I took my dog, Stella, to Seattle’s Parson’s Garden which is a teeny, tiny pocket park about a mile from my home.

I was delighted to see so many Hellebores in bloom.  They are my favorite winter perennial.    They bloom during Lent hence their common name Lenten Rose.    They are truly a 3 or even 4 season attraction to a mixed border garden.  Their blooms look great even months after Easter and most varieties have lovely foliage.  They look very delicate but are very hardy.  I’m quite confident that they will survive whatever the storm brings us today.

Thanks for reading.   Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder

Gardening, I Love Seattle!

Delayed Gratification in Gardening and Plastic Surgery

October 22nd, 2012 — 3:54pm

Seattle Plastic Surgeon riffs on delayed gratification.

 I spent the better part of last weekend digging in the dirt and planting my spring bulbs.  I had to take some extra ibuprofen this morning for my poor aching back and had to scrub extra long for surgery today to get the grime out of my poor old hands.  But come spring, I will be so thrilled to see the tulips, dafodils, Dutch iris, alliums and anenomes turn the garden into a riot of blooms.

The delayed gratification of gardening reminds me of other things in life such as the delayed gratification of becoming a plastic surgeon.  My training seemed to go on forever but once I finally finished my residencies and started practice (at age 35!!!), it was obvious that it was time well spent.   I would do it again in a heartbeat.     

And I stress to my patients that most operations involved quite a bit of delayed grantification.  Facial procedures usually make the patient looks worse before they look better.  Breast and body procedures leave a patient sore and gimping around for a couple of weeks.  Surgical scars can take an entire year to fade and settle down.  But after all the healing,  it’s worth it to see a pleasing result and to say goodbye to those features that keep a patient from living their best life.    It can be a little like watching a tulip push it’s way up through the dirt and bloom! 

Thanks for reading.  Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder

Gardening, Uncategorized

Tatty – my favorite new word

July 10th, 2012 — 4:35pm

Seattle Plastic Surgeon shares a fun word – “tatty”.

I came upon a fun word last weekend while visiting my mother.  I was out for an early morning walk and stopped to check out the beautiful display gardens in Spokane’s wonderful Manito Park.   I was admiring a lovely stand of Cone Flowers and noted instructions on trimming them back if they become “tatty”.  What a great word!  And it’s a great word for surgery. 

Tatty means shabby or unruly and we surgeons sometimes take something from tatty to tidy by cleaning and trimming.   I had a tatty to tidy moment today when I stitched up a lovely lady who dumped her bike and suffered a cheek laceration.  Her wound was ragged and dirty and looked a mess.  After some local anesthetic, a little washing away and picking out the road dirt and trimming the ragged edged it was nice and tidy and ready for stitches. 

Surgeons speak of “tidy and untidy wounds” but I am going to replace “untidy” with “tatty”,  just for grins. 

Thanks for reading!  The very easily amused (it’s a gift) Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder.

Gardening, Now That's Cool, Trauma

Got the Winter Blues? I’ve go the cure (at least for an evening).

January 30th, 2012 — 6:50pm

Seattle Plastic Surgeon blogs about her Northwest Flower and Garden Show Opening Night tradition.

Check out Opening Night at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. It’s like stepping into Spring, if only for an evening.

This  past weekend it rained and rained and rained.  It was so soggy, even in the mountains, that my daughter’s ski lesson was cancelled.  It was even too soggy to work in the garden.  Oh, winter in Seattle.  What a prescription for Seasonal Affective Disorder.

BUT next week, we get a reprieve for the wet and dreary weather with the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.  This event makes escape into a Spring Wonderland possible.  There’s only one problem:  Every other soggy, mossy, trench foot suffering soul is also there and the crowds can be as oppressive as the weather.

My solution for the last 10 years has been to attend the Opening Night Preview Show.  This year it is Tuesday, February 7th.   It costs $75 for non-members and $65 for members like me and it is soooooooo worth it.  There are complimentary light bites and beverages and uncrowded access to a dozen or so stunning display gardens and the chance to chat with the show garden designers.  And, I actually save money by attending this event.  None of the vendors are open  until the next morning so I cannot buy anything!  All I can take home is wonderful ideas and the feeling that I’ve had a lovely Spring evening.

So consider joining me, my daughter and my fellow garden freak neighbor, Mary, and a bunch of us who love this show but not the crowds it attracts.  You can purchase tickets here.

Thanks for reading and happy gardening.  Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder


Gardening, General Health, Now That's Cool

Happy sesquincentennial to the University of Washington!

October 13th, 2011 — 6:16pm

Seattle Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder wishes her Alma Mater a happy 150th birthday (sesquincentennial).

The University of Washington is celebrating its 150 birthday this year.   I drive or bike by the campus frequently and always feel a pang of nostalgia for the more simple times of my college and medical school years, all spent at the UW.

During my undergraduate years, I spent my time on “upper campus” shown in this photo.  The UW has one of the most beautiful campuses in the universe, thanks to some lovely old buildings, great landscape design and our mild, maritime climate that leaves most of the campus green even in the dark days of our northern winter.  Traipsing from German class to chemistry lab was just felt like a lovely 1/2 mile walk in the garden most days.

The medical school is located on “south campus” which is a collection of modern buildings that look like they were designed by Stalin or Mao Zedong.  I always felt I should be wearing a Chairman Mao hat and calling my med school buddies “comrade”.  The saving grace of the “south campus” is the fact that it is right on the shores of Lake Union.  There’s nothing like sitting by the lake to get a little mental clarity after 2 hours in the neuroanatomy lab trying to find then memorize the location the 12 cranial nerves.

So happy birthday University of Washington.  The times were great, the tuition cheap (really, it was) and the education was outstanding!

Thanks for reading!  Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder

Gardening, It's All About Me.

Let’s hear it for late bloomers!

August 17th, 2011 — 5:35pm

Seattle Plastic Surgeon Blogs About Trees and Mommy Makeovers – Again.

I returned from my two weeks away on Sunday night after dark.  The next morning as I was getting into my car, I caught the most lovely scent wafting across my drive way.  Lo and behold, our harlequin glorybower tree had bloomed while I was away.  This lovely little late bloomer does a good impression of being dead until late spring and then slowly leafs out and just when everything else in the garden is looking a little boring, tah dah, it bursts into bloom with the most lovely pink blossoms that then turn this otherworldy red and colbalt blue.  It  scent is heavenly for weeks. Come late fall, the leaves turn a purpilish orange  and if you crush them, they smell like peanut butter!

So what on earth does this have to do with plastic surgery?

Well, my first day back I saw a lady who described herself  as a late bloomer.    She’s forty-something and just sent her youngest off to college.  After years of taking care of her family, she’s ready to do a little something for herself, in this case a mommy makeover.  This is something she has wanted to do for years but with a busy household to run,  never had the time for the surgery or the recovery.    Now she’s finally has the time to bloom.

Thanks for reading,  Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder

Aging Issues, Body Contouring, Gardening, Mommy Makeover, Plastic Surgery

Seattle Plastic Surgeon Falls Hard for a Tree

July 26th, 2011 — 6:23pm

Seattle Plastic Surgery, Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder blogs about her newest obsession and Seattle’s lousy summer.

Last weekend my daughter and I went to Swanson’s, which is a lovely nursery in north Seattle.  We had a light lunch at the cafe and then went browsing.  (Now that I am most definitely a woman of a certain age, I would rather cruise a nursery than a boutique).

Marie and I saw it as the same instant, just sitting there like a beautiful young orphan, so tiny and out of place with the much taller quotidian deciduous ornamental trees.  And we fell hard for this Japanese Umbrella Pine.  I put it on our cart and found a staff member to ask about it.  He could have said you need to water it with sterile thrice deionized water 4 times a day and apply platypus feces as a side dressing in the spring and fall and I would have still purchased this beauty.  Actually all he said was that it will grow to 20 feet over 20 years and I can’t let it dry out.

And drying out won’t likely be a problem, at least this summer.  While the rest of the nation is sweltering and frying, Seattle is experiencing the coldest and wettest summer in any one’s memory.  But this is good for my sweet, beautiful Japanese Umbrella Pine.  It is native to the rain forests of Japan and I’m sure I can keep it happy in the rain forest of Seattle.

So what does this have to do with plastic surgery?  Okay, how’s this?

  • Just because it’s cloudy, you still need sunscreen!
  • And the real reason I do plastic surgery is to support my gardening habit.

Thanks for reading!  Seattle Plastic Surgeon and Plant Freak, Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder

Gardening, I Love Seattle!, It's All About Me., Now That's Cool, Plastic Surgery, Skin Care, sun damage

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