Boosting Confidence

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Ladue News – May 18 2007
by mary jo BLACKWOOD, R.N., MPH

After years of splitting her time between a medical practice, teaching and research, Dr. Judith Gurley moved into private practice to devote herself full time to her real love: treating patients. Recently she opened a solo practice to become even more involved with all aspects of  the business while still concentrating  on building relationships with her patients.

“I’m passionate about patient care,” Gurley says. “I might have a young woman who is struggling with how she develops and its effect on her self-esteem,” Gurley says. “I like getting to understand how to best help a patient become confident about her body.” Gurley, a board-certified plastic surgeon, says women wanting to age gracefully comprise a large segment of the cosmetic surgery market. A huge part of her practice, she says, is helping women address physical aging in stages. She recommends that we first take care of our skin by not smoking and using a high-quality sunscreen every day. Then we should get on a program of excellent skin care, using products that are scientifically proven and in strengths not available over-thecounter. “Our regimens should be specific to our skin type and issues,” Gurley notes. “If we use the right products and use them consistently, they can often prevent or postpone the need for facial surgeries. In a fairly short period of time, we’ll notice some dramatic differences.” After the skin is healthier, the next step might be injectables like Botox to prevent motion, wrinkles and fillers to plump up hollows, fill in grooves and get rid of pruney lips. The newer non-ablative laser treatments complement injectables by building up underlying proteins and collagen and thickening the skin, Gurley explains. “At that point, when we’ve done all we can non-surgically and still would like more changes, then surgery can add the final touch,” she says. “For some, it might be an eyelid lift, for others, a foreheadbrow lift, or even a neck or full face-lift. In all cases, I operate on the principle that less is more. No one wants an operated on look.”

A main focus of Gurley’s practice is a combined approach to body rejuvenation, which often includes a combination of procedures such as tummy tucks, liposuction, body contouring and breast augmentation.

“You want to look at everything as a whole,” she says. “You have to think about proportions.” For example, Gurley says a tummy tuck can’t just stop at the front because bulges would appear elsewhere. “I almost never do a tummy tuck without liposuction,” she says. “Cosmetic surgery should be about looking good from all angles.”

And just as the face or stomach might sag, breasts also head south and lose fullness and volume, she adds, noting that breast procedures offer another common surgery that slows the physical aging process. “It’s very common to have a breast lift and tummy tuck together,” Gurley notes. “Breast lifts can really restore a youthful appearance and cleavage,” while other breast surgeries—reduction or augmentation—also prove to be among the most beneficial for patients. “Reduction can free a woman of her back and neck pain, grooved shoulders and limitations on physical activity. And augmentation is something I love to do because women are so happy with it.”

The primary concern for anyone contemplating surgery should be safety, Gurley points out. Patients should use a board-certified plastic surgeon who is experienced in the procedure and savvy about avoiding problems like stretching the skin too tight, nerve injury or discernable incisions.