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: Trauma

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, Hand Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Trauma

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

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

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

Plastic Surgeons in the Emergency Room?

June 1st, 2011 — 11:42pm

Plastic Surgeons in the Emergency Rooom?

Seattle Plastic Surgeon is proud of fellow plastic surgeon, Dr. Ross Bunch

Last month I attended the annual meeting of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery in Boston. I was lucky to attend a special presentation by Dr. Ross Bunch of Tuscaloosa, Alabama on the emergency medical response to the carnage left by the EF-5 tornado of April 27th. Dr. Bunch was finishing up a breast reconstruction (his fifth case of the day) at about 5:00 pm when the lights went out and the windows in the hospital recovery room exploded. He went from the operating room straight to the emergency room where, over the next 12 hours he treated 30 patients,one carried in on a door or one pushed in on rolling office chair. His most dramatic case was that of an elderly man whose face was alvulsed and hanging by a lateral flap of skin and fat.  Dr. Bunch reattached his face in the hallway with the aid of emergency lighting.

A total of 800 emergecy cases were treated by the various doctors who reported for emergency duty.

The following week, Dr. Bunch provided post op care for his patients and many others who had delayed healing and/or infections of their wounds given the high level of complexity of the injuries.  (Tornados do not use sterile technique).  His presentation made me proud of my profession and the things we do under the most dire of circumstances.

I am on Emergency Room call tonight and my guess is, if I get called, it won’t be anything more exciting than a dog bite requiring a few dozen stitches  but who knows?   Maybe the Big One (in Seattle that would be an earthquake) will hit and I’ll go into disaster mode like Dr. Bunch did.

Thanks for reading!  Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder

Plastic Surgery, Trauma


January 3rd, 2011 — 9:54am

Butler, Lawrence (20071221170617328) 20080410101310078I spent New Year’s weekend with my family in a rustic ski hut. When we weren’t skiing or eating or sleeping (three of my very favorite activities) we worked a little on a gazillion piece communal puzzle. Finding that just right piece and having it fall into place is such a great feeling. It is sort of like the feeling I get when I sew up an injured patient like the one on the right. His injury looks like such a big gaping hole but actually, it’s just a puzzle. No pieces are missing; they are just out of position. Finding them and putting them back where they belong and putting in a few stitches to hold it all together can make me look and feel like a real wizard. This particular patient was one of my best emergency room cases because he was injured on the job – playing Santa!!! Ho, ho, ho. No coal for me that Christmas! Happy New Year!

It's All About Me., Plastic Surgery, Trauma, Uncategorized

Man’s Best Friend???

September 27th, 2010 — 3:42pm

Seattle Plastic Surgeon Introduces Her New Puppy!

IMG_1565Meet Stella. She’s 3/4 Australian Shepard and 1/4 Border Collie with a little bit of Snapping Turtle thrown in. Because of her breeding and puppy hood, she is very nippy. I’m taking her to obedience school and she is slowly learning to control her “snippy, snappy snarly snout” as we call it at home.

Two weeks ago, I was at obedience class working with Stella and our trainer on her nipping. Actually, trainers call it “mouthing” when the perp is a puppy. When she’s older, it will be called biting and we do not want to go there – ever. Hence the training. Five minutes before class was out, I got a call on my cell phone from one of the local emergency rooms to come take care of a toddler with a dog bit to the face. Weird timing, huh? I dropped Stella off at home, went to the E.R. and stitched up a darling little girl. The perp was a friend of a friend’s dog at a social gathering. What a lousy way to end a late summer BBQ.

Over the years, I’ve sewn up dozens of little kids with dog bites. Despite having and loving a dog in my youth, I became vocally anti-dog and a proponent of “one bite and you’re out”. And now here I am, in love again with a dog, and a nippy one.

I never ever want Stella to be on the delivery end of a dog bite. My family and I will do everything we can to be responsible owners.

If you have a dog or a child, check out this web site. It has loads of good and very visual information on dog safety. It just may help a child in your life or your “best friend” avoid the pain, suffering and scarring of a dog bite.

General Health, Plastic Surgery, Trauma

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