A Season for Change: One Woman's Journey with Plastic Surgeon Dr. Mark Barlow

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“We are at your service!” Those were the words I kept hearing over and over again, and their actions said it even louder! My journey with Dr. Barlow and his team
began almost three years ago. Eileen, the patient coordinator was so
warm, caring, and patient. I could tell that she was experienced with
helping others, like me, navigate their way through creating change. She
walked me through the process and I felt any intimidation melt away.
Because of our initial email contact and telephone conversations I felt
like I was among friends. Even though my time in the waiting room
was short (they faxed me my paperwork ahead of time), as I sipped the
Pellegrino they offered me and felt myself enveloped by the down filled
sofa, I began to appreciate my surroundings. The walls were the most
soothing blue, it made me feel as though I were in the middle of a water
color painting. The spa like music and calming lavender aromatherapy
were subtle and relaxing. If things couldn’t get any better, I looked at
the table and saw a silver tray with chocolates! I could have just stayed
there! I forgot that I was about to disrobe, put on a gown and display
what I considered my flaws. I knew a great deal of thought had gone
into creating a soothing environment for my comfort and well being.

I was promptly brought back and weighed, almost without realizing
it because at that moment another patient was making arrangements
for her follow-up appointment. I witnessed a real connection between
her and the staff. I also noticed how they were so careful to respect each
of our privacy. As I started down the hall, the patient leaving whispered
out to me, “You are going to love him, and well, everyone here!” I smiled
and entered one of several exam rooms. My patient coordinator came
in to visit with me as a young girl, named Lizzie, introduced herself as
a high school HOSA student whom Dr. Barlow was mentoring. She
asked my permission to take my blood pressure and temperature. They
gave me the gown, paper panties and exited the room to give me privacy.
Somehow, they were able to make an extremely clean exam room
comfortable. The walls were painted that same blue, I could see the
lake from the window and that beautiful music and smell was present.
A light knock on the door and my patient coordinator’s head popped
in and asked if I was ready. I took a deep breath. “I am,” I said! She came
through the door and Dr. Barlow followed looked directly at me, gave
me a smile that went all the way to his eyes and straight to my heart.
He took his time getting to know me as a person and my medical history.
We discussed my concerns and then he examined me. By the time
I was showing him my tummy I didn’t even feel self-conscious. In his
calm way, he gave me hope and realistic expectations. His precision was
something I expected after reading about his engineering background.
His intelligence was something I expected after reading about his
research at M.I.T. and Harvard on wound healing and scar suppression.
His skill level was something I expected after reading what his
peers said about him. What was so unexpected was how Dr. Barlow
and his staff treated me. Prior to my consultation, they did not know
that I had been around the proverbial plastic surgery block. I’d even had
a previous procedure. They didn’t know that I had not had the most
pleasant of experiences with another plastic surgeon. They didn’t know
I was shopping for the best of both worlds, a plastic surgeon with tremendous
skills both surgical and interpersonal. They were not trying
to “win me over” to their practice they just did what they always do. My
shopping was over. I had found the only plastic surgeon I would ever
allow to perform a cosmetic procedure on me.

From there I went to sit with the patient coordinator who explained
t