Profile of a Lady Surgeon
by Beverly Parkhurst
Published in Bent Tree Elite in Dallas, TX
What goes into the making of a cosmetic surgeon? Especially if she’s a woman. According to Dr. Elliott, it all began when she was a little girl living in the small town of Gallatin, Tennessee. Teresa Marie Elliott was a pretty girl who typified the all American teenager. Her mother had the usual aspirations for her daughter, mainly that she marry well and better yet, that the husband be a wealthy man.
Teresa had other ideas however, ideas fostered by the inspiration of a small town doctor who took care of everyone. Dedicated as small town doctors were in those days, Teresa remembers him performing a tonsillectomy in his office even after he had lost both legs due to diabetes. It was this that led her to becoming a doctor.
“I achieve my self-esteem through helping people,” Dr. Elliott admits. “I don’t focus on money because I believe money follows good works. I truly love to help people.”
What sets Dr. Elliott apart from other cosmetic surgeons? “I identify with many of the emotional experiences and needs of my patients,” Dr. Elliott announces.
Dr. Elliott’s background is excellent. Graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, she served her internship at Presbyterian University Hospital at Pittsburg, her residency at the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine, and completed her General Surgery Residency at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center. Dr. Elliott practiced Plastic Surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. She also served as a family practitioner in the military in the National Health Service Corps in Ringling, Oklahoma.
“Being a resident can be very stressful,” Dr. Elliott comments. “I had the added pressure of invariably being the only female in every residency program I was in.”
Like many women of today’s era, Dr. Elliott has suffered her share of trauma. Blessed not only with tenacity, she has a diverse personality with many facets to her abilities. Her way of coping with a painful divorce was to redo houses.
“I have the ability to go into a house and envision how it should be,” Elliott comments. “I would buy a house and then do a lot of the labor myself. It was very therapeutic. Actually I’m convinced it kept me out of Timberlawn.”
Dr. Elliott and her two daughters now live on 2 acres and have 2 ponies. Her daughters, age 9 and 11, have made it quite clear they don’t want to move again.
“I do not believe that every operation is the same,” Elliott comments. “Each individual has customized needs and the surgery has to be appropriate to the needs of the individual” Dr. Elliott makes a point out of getting to know each patient and invariably they become friends. Dr. Elliott doesn’t indulge in. assembly-line techniques and wants the final result for her patients to be subtle and the very best of quality. She also doesn’t accept everyone.
For instance, when a 70 year old comes in expecting to end up looking like she’s 30 years old, Elliott immediately looks into that woman’s life to see what emotional trauma brought her there. She is also concerned when a patient comes in with a photograph and for example, states that she wants a nose just like the one in the photo.
“In cosmetic procedures, I believe that everything needs to be blended,” Elliott states. “I will do individual procedures where some surgeons will only do total face lifts.” Convinced that cosmetic surgery helps self-esteem, Elliott points out that there is a difference in a healthy ego and the person who expects the surgery to solve all of their problems.
“There are some people who no matter what is do