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Setting Up A ‘Virtual Date’ with a Harvard-Trained, Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon

2014 April 16

I’ve visited a psychic, figuring what did I have to lose (It was fun!). I tasted live teeny tiny snails in Paris (They were delicious!). I made out with a devilishly handsome stranger on a flight from Atlanta to New York when was I was 41 (We were together for 12 years, until he died 14 years ago!). And I tried cocaine when I was about 29 (Had no effect on me whatsoever. I never went near the stuff again.).

Although I haven’t gone sky diving or climbed Mount Everest and refuse to eat soft-boiled eggs (my mother practically forced them down my throat in the fifties), I like stepping out of my comfort zone, even if it’s not always very comfortable. Sometimes, it’s even downright idiotic.

Having liposuction on my jowls (they were getting pretty nasty looking); a chin implant (I was almost as chinless as fifties gossip columnist, Dorothy Kilgallen); some work done on my upper eyelids (the droopiness made me look sad and tired) and Ultherapy (lax skin looks, well, lax) were some of the best step-out-of-my-comfort-zone-moves I ever made.

Although I enthusiastically recommend plastic surgery, I recognize that many of my FOFriends are A) nervous about B) against or C) can’t afford it. Despite their concerns, I still believe it’s a mighty interesting exercise to at least have a consultation with a world class, board certified surgeon and hear what he or she has to say.

I recently had a conversation with Dr. Brooke Seckel, whose practice, Boston Plastic Surgery Specialists, is located in Concord and Boston, MA. He has 32 years experience, teaches, launched a residency program in the field and talks about his work with passion and intelligence. You can have a painless, quick, convenient—and gratis—Virtual Consultation with Dr. Seckel by clicking here, but first, read my Q&A with him for a bit of insight into his philosophy.

What exactly is a Virtual Consultation?

The Virtual Consultation is handled through email. I’m not yet at the stage where I use a video camera and conferencing that let me see and talk with a patient, although that will be a logical evolution of what I’m now doing. However, my Virtual Consultations still give me the opportunities to communicate with patients with whom I normally might not otherwise have communicated.

I started these consultations about five years ago, when I began to get inquiries on my website from potential patients who lived out of state and even in Europe and India. I’d ask them to send me photographs and to tell me exactly what troubles them and I’d let them know if it was worth it for them to meet with me in person. It’s expensive to come from out of town, especially if someone is not even a candidate for plastic surgery. I still insist patients come for in-person consultations. I do not book surgery based on a Virtual Consultation.

How many Virtual Consults do you do in a typical week and how much time do you spend on each?

I certainly get at least one VC form a day; some days I’ll get three. The Virtual Consult gives a patient the opportunity to describe exactly what’s bothering her and to send me photos. It also can save someone the time and expense of a trip if she’s not a good candidate for surgery.

Based on the photographs, I can say, ‘Come and see me. I think you may be a candidate.’ Patients really seem to like it.

I usually spend 20 to 30 minutes reading, analyzing, sometimes consulting my associate for an opinion about a particularly challenging problem, finding proper content to send back to the patient, and writing the email.

Besides responding to the form they submit, do you give the potential patient anything else?

I’ve been writing informative, high-quality web content for six years so I have an excellent backlog of information to send potential patients. If someone wants a breast augmentation, for example, I’ll respond to her and will include links to articles on how to choose breast size, whether to use silicone or saline, textured or smooth implants. My goal is to educate patients before they ever show up at the office. If there’s anything really worrying a patient, it usually comes out in the Virtual Consult.

It’s just horrific how much misleading information is available on the Internet in our extremely competitive field. Some websites invent names for procedures to make you think they’re gentle and non-surgical procedure, when, in fact, they’re not. But there also is good content out there if you know which sites are reputable.

Besides the issues you address through the VC, what important characteristics should someone look for in a plastic surgeon?

Honesty, professionalism and patience. Surveys have revealed that price doesn’t come up till later in the decision process. Choosing a plastic surgeon is a personal experience. Patients also report that they’re not looking for flashy, fancy dressers or offices.

It’s imperative to ask if a doctor board certified, whether he or she belongs to the American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS) and how much experience he has.

Trust your gut feelings. Each one of us has a subconscious sense when we meet someone: ‘Do I trust him? Do I feel safe and comfortable here?’

You can also take recommendations from friends and relatives. But it’s face-to-face interaction with the doctor that counts most.

What about reviews?

There’s been a lot of controversy about fake reviews. Some doctors buy reviews, too. Fortunately, Google will not accept a review if it’s written from the surgeon’s computer. A review must be sent from a patient’s own computer.

How much importance should a woman place on the locale of the doctor?

It’s pretty important that you have access to your doctor after you’ve had a complex surgical procedure. There are people who go to the Dominican Republic and then have great complications. Their local surgeons are offended that they went there, so they’re reluctant to see the patient once there are problems.

I perform a fairly unique procedure to correct dark circles under the eyes, so people come from overseas for it. About 20 percent to 30 percent of my patients are from out of state or out of the country. I tell them, right upfront, that they need to stay local and can’t fly for 10 days. I see them on days 1, 3, 5, and 7, following surgery, and then at day 10. I’m comfortable with a patient driving or taking a train after 5 days, If there’s no unusual swelling, vision is fine, and a patient is reliable, but they still can’t fly.

Flying is risky after complicated, multiple procedures. The risk of blood clots in the calf—which can lead to pulmonary embolisms—is very high immediately after any kind of surgery when you’re put to sleep and lying down on a table. If you’re already at risk and get into negative pressure cabin on a plane, you could get dependent pooling of your blood.

What do you say to a woman who absolutely wants plastic surgery, but can’t afford it? Should she just forget about it?

Absolutely not. Mass General, for example, a renowned hospital in Boston, has a clinic where world class plastic surgeons supervise the Fellows who are almost at the end of their training. Fellows will perform the surgeries with their ‘attending doctors,’ who must be in the operating room. So you have the advantage of a leading surgeon being in the operating room, without having to pay steep fees. Most major cities have programs such as this. Call the Department of Plastic Surgery at the leading hospital near you and find out if they have a Resident’s Clinic.

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I’ve GOT TO TELL Everyone What I’m Doing RIGHT THIS MINUTE!

2014 April 9

Remember when we used to take a vacation? Once we arrived at our destination, we had a dandy ole’ time, and then we returned home. We took lots of pictures and couldn’t wait to pick them up from the photo shop. We’d share them with our family, and maybe show them to a few friends when we’d get together.

Remember when we used to go out to dinner? We’d choose a restaurant, had a delightful meal, great conversation, maybe a cigarette with an after-dinner drink, and then we went home. We might tell a friend or colleague about the restaurant the next day. Then again, we probably didn’t.

Oy vey. Things have changed. Now I see countless Facebook posts showing smiling faces and sights from cities around the world. Muffy and Mickey in front of the Taj Mahal; Shari and Stan on Melrose Avenue in LA; Rhonda and Rufus yukking it up on a boat in Venice.

Not to mention the smiling faces at countless dinners. Louisa and Larry with 5 friends at a pizzeria in South Beach; Simone and Sammy at a French bistro in Atlanta; Mary and Max with their darling kids at a diner in Chicago.

If everyone is having such a dandy ole’ time on vacation, why are they spending any time creating countless posts—every step of the way—to show and tell their thousands of good friends and family members about it?

Surely, they can wait until they return home to regale us with details of their fascinating trip. Do we really need to know that they’re on their way to lunch at Cipriani in Venice, or on a train from Paris to London?

Now a word about the dinners everyone is enjoying. One acquaintance posts endless group photos at dimly lit restaurants. Everyone is idiotically smiling at the camera and the caption on the post says something like: “With my west coast family — at Gary’s Grill @ La Mancha Resort & Spa” (the names have been changed). A lovey-dovey couple looks up from their candlelit dinner to tell us how they’re relishing their time away from their kids.

Enough already, folks! Perhaps your mother, son, cousin or best pal is thrilled to know where you’re eating or exactly what you’re doing at 6:35 pm on Wednesday in Palermo or Atlanta, and although the rest of us are thrilled you’re having a good meal and a nice trip, we really don’t need all the details. At least, send us some interesting tidbit you learned about Turkey or Timbuktu.

Get a life, away from Facebook!

P.S. By the way, you might be questioning why I keep all these restaurant & vacation-goers on my newsfeed, if I find their posts less than thought provoking, motivating or interesting. It’s because I’m fascinated by the social sea changes in our society today and what better place than Facebook to see how people are thinking and acting? Facebook has unleashed some pretty dramatic behaviors, including people’s intense needs to be popular. If she has 500 friends she must be 10 times more popular than I, with my 50 friends. And if I don’t post on Facebook at least three times a day, my 50 friends might think I don’t exist, I will lose them all, and I will disappear into a puff of smoke.

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Staness and I Ate Like Women

2014 April 2


What do you serve to a friend whose revolutionary new book, Eat Like A Woman, is going to be featured on one of the two big morning shows next month?


You serve her one of the dishes from her book, of course!!!

My beautiful, talented and all-around wonderful pal, Staness Jonekos, flew in from LA this week for a media tour, so I decided to cook a Honey-Glazed Spiced Pork Tenderloin for her, from a recipe in Eat Like A Woman.

The elegant recipe was simple to follow and took under 20 minutes to put together. The two-pound pork tenderloin cooked in about 25 minutes.

The dish was light and scrumptious. Slightly spicy and sweet at the same time (it’s made with a dash of cayenne pepper, as well as honey), I served it with broccoli and garlic. Pork tenderloin is super lean, extremely low in fat, sodium and cholesterol, and full of protein.

I’m not going to give you the recipe here because I want you to buy the book, but here are the nutrition facts for 3 ounces of pork tenderloin: 122 calories, 3 grams of fat, 0 carbs, 0 sugar and 22 grams of protein. As Staness would say: “Yummers!”

Eat Like A Woman is not a cookbook. It’s worlds better because it tells us what we should eat, why we should eat it, and when we should eat it. The recipes in the back are bonuses.

I’m tempted to next make the Dolly Parton’s Hello Dolly Bars. Staness is crazy about them. They’re not dietetic but, as my friend says: “Practice portion control and you don’t need to diet.”

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Mick to L’Wren: “Miss You”

2014 March 19

There goes Sarah Jessica Parker, strutting down the red carpet at another Hollywood awards event. “Ooh Ahh,” the gawkers mutter.

“Who are you wearing?” a reporter asks Sarah Jessica.

“L’Wren Scott,” she answers.

Ooh Ahh, I think. L’Wren Scott must be on Cloud 9. I know I’ve heard her name before (didn’t Michelle Obama once wear one of her dresses?), but I don’t know much else about her, She’s got to be a hot-shot designer, what with all these “celebs” wearing and lauding her creations, I surmise.

By all appearances, 49-year-old L’Wren had it all: A former model (standing 6’3”), celebrity stylist and costume designer, she worked with renowned photographers, singers, and actors, from Helmut Newton and Herb Ritts to Madonna and Elizabeth Taylor. She was romantically involved with the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger since 2001. She launched her first clothing line in 2006 and handbag collection in 2011.

We all know appearances can be deceiving. And in the vacuous world of “high fashion,” where fantasy often does a superb job of masking the facts, appearances count for a great deal. Until they don’t. Unfortunately, L’Wren’s seeming success had no bearing on the facts: Her company was $6 million in debt; she reportedly refused to ask boyfriend, Mick, for financial help, and she was haunted by her situation. So haunted, she hung herself in her Manhattan apartment earlier this week.

“She wanted so badly for things to be a success. Whereas she got her outfits on a number of high profile people, the clothes were not a commercial hit and didn’t fly off the shelves. It was a huge burden on her and she didn’t want to fail,” a spokesman said for an article in a London newspaper.

“There was a delight to her that is hard to imagine extinguished,” Sarah Jessica Parker said, after receiving news of her death. “She didn’t reveal another side to me, but, of course, we are all complex as human beings and I wouldn’t have claimed to be privy to that other part of late.”

A few months from her 50th birthday, L’Wren’s act of suicide, like any suicide, unnerves me. I can imagine the extreme anxiety she must have felt, but what propelled her from distress to despair?

Life can be pretty brutal, even for
the happiest people, although I can’t imagine how things could get so bleak that you’d want to kill yourself.

I only know my own life. I doubt L’Wren made her decision on a whim, so things must have been a lot bleaker for her than anything I’ve ever experienced.

Yes, appearances are, indeed, deceiving. We might envy a woman for her connection to one of the most talented, famous men in the world, but we learn her relationship was as shrouded in fantasy as her business. Seeking financial or emotional help from her successful boyfriend apparently wasn’t an option. We might believe a woman basks in her friendships with the rich and the famous, but we learn that her fear of failure prevented her from being her own best friend. It just goes to show that you can never quantify someone else’s happiness or success. That’s something only they can do.

Please tell me your thoughts on L’Wren’s suicide

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