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Cary Magazine (Jan/Feb) 2005
Cosmetic Surgery: Revealing One Woman’s Inner Beauty

Cary Magazine feature on Blue Water SpaAfter her husband of 23 years suddenly passed away in 2003, 62-year-old Marian Thomas decided she needed to reinvent herself. Her goal was to project her newly found inner strength. What better way to do this than with plastic surgery?

“After what I’ve been through, I felt like I was stronger on the inside, and I wanted that to show on the outside,” Marian explained. ” I wanted to be more positive about myself.”

The Grief

The past year was tough for Marian. While working at Rex Healthcare, Marian discovered she needed back surgery – not one, but two operations. While recovering from the second operation, her husband, Art, became ill and was rushed to the emergency room.

I had just been out of the hospital from my second back surgery and Art was taking care of me, then the tables turned around,” she recalled. “My sister came into town and was visiting with me. She was more observant than I was since I was on heavy medication. She said Art was poor-looking and asked if he wanted to go the emergency room. He said yes, so I knew he was really sick.”

Since Marian had just gone through surgery, she wasn’t able to spend much time with her husband while he was in the hospital.

“When they moved him to the ICU for more concentrated attention, I knew it wasn’t going to be good news,” she remembered. “I told the family to be prepared, and he passed away soon after.”

Marian said the medication made her numb to the grief of her husband passing. It kept her from completely losing control, but at the same time, it caused her to miss those last moments with her husband.

“I blanked out a lot of what happened at that time,” she said. “After I had more clarity of mind, my grief wasn’t so much about his passing ? but what I missed. I missed closure.

My family members shared the events, but I don’t remember much of it. Art was even asking about me in the hospital. He was worried about me being alone. He was such a giving person.”

The Decision

Marian went to grief counseling and left her job with Rex to concentrate on improving her outlook on life. In the past, Marian had discussed the possibility of plastic surgery with Art, and he had supported it. But the idea didn’t completely take form until she attended a party several months after Art’s passing. At the party, someone was taking photos and uploading them onto a TV for everyone to see.

“Everyone said I was losing weight and looking good, but when I saw my photo, I thought I would die,” she said. “I made them take it off. That was the beginning of rekindling the idea of getting some work done.”

After hears of taking care of others, she decided it was time to concentrate on her. Marian visited four different plastic surgeons before settling on Dr. Michael Law’s practice in Raleigh. Several friends had recommended the practice, and she decided to check it out.

“I went in and had an evaluation,” she said. “I got along with everyone there really well. You know when you meet someone and there’s a connection, I had that connection with both Dr. Law and his wife, (Kile). I was very impressed with the warm response I received.”

Marian said Dr. Law was able to simply look at her and see the possibilities. She refers to him as a talented artist and was extremely impressed with his attentiveness to detail.

Her first procedure included a neck and jaw-line lift, as well as a cheek lift and fat injections.

Part of the reason her result looks so natural, and not like a facelift, is that rather than having the skin pulled across the face(the wind tunnel look), her cheeks were elevated to the position they were in her youth,” Kile explained.

Additionally, Dr. Law gave Marian autologous fat grafting of the cheeks, in the lines around her mouth and directly into her lips.

“As we age, the face can get hollow in areas and look thinner,” Kile said. “Cheeks can become sunken; hollows can develop under the eyes and the lips become thinner. This look is very aging and often fat grafting is the only real permanent solution for these problems.”

In order to achieve the right look, Dr. Law had asked Marian to bring photos of her youth to the first evaluation. Through the photos, both she and Dr. Law were able to observe the changes that occurred in her face over the years.

Marian didn’t want a result that screamed, I’ve had plastic surgery! “She wanted to look like herself, but younger and more refreshed,” said Kile. “That is exactly the result she achieved”.

According to Marian, both the doctor and his wife made the entire process comfortable for her. Marian knew she was in good hands, which made the surgery and recovery time easier to deal with.

“When I was preparing to go into the OR (operating room), Dr. Law noticed something else that he could fix,” she said. “He told me he would go ahead and fix it while in the OR. I’ve never had anyone say they would be willing to do a little more without saying it cost additional.”

Being nervous or scared wasn’t that much of a problem for Marian before going into surgery. She said Dr. Law and his wife were so gentle and kind that most or her fears were eased.

“When I got home from the surgery, I discovered they had sent me some flowers and a fruit basket,” she said. “It’s been so long since someone has taken the time to think of me, that it left a really strong impression.” So strong in fact, a few months later, Marian decided to return to the office for liposuction.

“Liposuction is a very commonly performed procedure because very few individuals are perfectly proportioned,” Kile explained. “Even in thin athletic individuals, there are often stubborn areas of fat that are the last to go even with rigorous exercise and a very strict diet. We have often heard patients say, ‘I know there is a six pack under here.’ After surgery, they can see it.

The Recovery

Marian said she didn’t see the results of the surgery right away. Other people noticed the changes quicker than she did. But today, roughly eight months after the initial procedure, Marian said she couldn’t be more pleased with the results.

According to Kile, recovery time usually varies by person and it also varies based on the invasiveness of the procedures performed. “Even with extensive surgery, patients are up and walking the day of the surgery,” she said.

“It is very difficult to even give a range (for each person),” she continued. “Some procedures are minimally invasive and recovery can be a long weekend. There are non-surgical procedures, like Restylane injections, Botox, laser facials and other treatments with absolutely no down time.”

For others considering cosmetic surgery, Marian offered a few words of wisdom: “The most important thing is to find a plastic surgeon you feel comfortable with,” advised Marian. “I just felt so comfortable with Dr. Law and Kile. He went beyond being a doctor to being a friend. His gifts and blessings will always stay with me.”

Dr. Michael offers tips on how to achieve the right look. First, patients should ask themselves and their doctors the following questions:

  • What exactly is it I want to achieve?
  • Am I a good candidate for the surgery I’m interested in ?
  • Are the less invasive, or even non-surgical techniques that could fulfill my needs?
  • What is the best technique for receiving the result that I want?
  • Is my physician able to educate me about all possible surgical options?
  • Is my physician qualified to perform the surgery I am interested in?

An individual who is interested in an aesthetic enhancement should seek a surgically trained specialist that has knowledge of (and experience with) a wide range of both surgical and non-surgical techniques.

There is only one organization that is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties, www.abms.org, which certifies plastic surgeons: The American Board of Plastic Surgery, www.abplsurg.orf. Over the last several years there has been a proliferation of “Boards” with titles that include words such as “Plastic” and “Cosmetic”. Aside from the American Board of Medical Specialties. Visit the ABMS Web site to see which specialties have ABMS recognition.

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