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Showing entries 1 - 5 of all blog entries.

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Turn that Frown Upside Down
Posted July 15, 2014, 10:14 a.m.
Updated July 15, 2014, 10:56 a.m.

It is probably obvious that our facial expressions telegraph our mood, good, bad or otherwise. If you are feeling cranky, it is likely that those around you, family, friends, coworkers, that poor guy sitting next to you on BART can tell you are unhappy just from a quick glance. What is probably more remarkable is that there is evidence that relaxing the muscles that make us frown not only makes us look happier, but can actually make us feel more relaxed, calm and content. Botulinum toxin as a mood elevator, who would have thought it?

We all know that no one observing us misses our ability to frown. Losing that frown does not make us look weird or inanimate, just relaxed and happy. Patients frequently report that after smoothing out the “angry eleven” between the brows, people respond to them more positively. They receive more smiles and nods and hellos. Interactions with others become more positive and welcoming. And now, there is scientific evidence that our facial expressions may cause our moods. In other words, frowning may make us actually feel angry, and relaxing the muscles that make us look mad or depressed may not only positively affect those around us, but can improve our own mental health too. Feedback loops between frown muscles and “wellness” centers in the brain may be partially responsible for the mood elevation experienced by people treated with Botox or Dysport.

So once again, we have evidence that shows that when we “look Mahvelous, we feel more Mahvelous.” I know I am misquoting Billy Crystal a bit….but most of us could enjoy feeling more relaxed and calm, right? Of course, more research needs to be done. But you can start investigating the possibilities by making an appointment with me to discuss the potential benefits of turning that frown upside down (and smoothing out those wrinkles) with one the current triumvirate of muscle relaxers – Botox, Dysport, and Xeomin. Check out some of the science in the links below. Call us with questions. Here’s to a more relaxed you.

Elizabeth Slass Lee, MD


Time Magazine - Wipe Away That Frown: Botox Makes You Happier
Scientific American - Botox Fights Depression
New York Times - A Feel-Good Theory: A Smile Affects Mood
The Face of Emotion: How Botox Affects Our Moods and Relationships. Eric Finzi, MD, Palgrave Macmillan, January 29, 2013.

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Sunblock and Vitamin D
Posted June 24, 2014, 10:52 a.m.
Updated June 24, 2014, 11:16 a.m.

As you know, l am a big fan of sunblock. Why am I such a sunblock devotee? Simply, sun damages the skin and causes premature aging, not to mention increasing the risk of skin cancer.

Time does march on and none of us are getting any younger, but if you have skipped the sunblock, the state of your skin may make you look older than you actually are. Those with fairer complexions are most susceptible, but all sun lovers suffer from some PREMATURE aging of the skin. To illustrate my point, stick your arm straight out in front of you with your palm down, and take a look at the skin on your forearm and hands. You probably see some discoloration, saggy skin, and wrinkles. Now, turn your arm over and look at the skin on the underside of your forearm. See the difference? The skin on the underside of your forearms is probably smoother, tighter, clearer, and brighter. This is what all your skin would look like if you grew up in Ireland, or used sunblock regularly your whole life. Those lovely rays from the sun cause several kinds of skin damage. UVA rays damage DNA, causing benign lesions and skin cancer. The longer UVB waves penetrate more deeply, damaging supportive collagen and causing wrinkles, age spots (which should be called sun spots), broken capillaries, and rosacea.

Now, I realize that I am not telling you something you don’t already know, and yet, not everyone is diligent in using good, reliable sunscreen. Why? Well, for one thing, people are often frustrated by sunscreens that just don’t work the way the bottle says they should. Some of us don’t like the way our skin looks and feels with sunscreen on. You know, I have the answers to the best, most effective, comfortable-to-use and cosmetically appealing sunscreens, so we can put those worries to rest. So what else prevents us from keeping our skin young and healthy?

Well interestingly enough, my smarty pants patients are concerned about vitamin D deficiency. So let me address that too. Vitamin D is in part created by conversion of provitamin D3 in the skin to vitamin D by the sun’s UVB rays. Current research has linked a deficiency of vitamin D to, among other things, cancer, osteoporosis, immune deficiencies and cardiovascular disease. And there is an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. We have supplemented sun induced vitamin D in milk and cereal products since the 1920’s, but are learning that the generally suggested daily intake of vitamin D may be too low. Many physicians are suggesting supplementation, but as far as the ideal dose, the jury is still out.

That’s a lot to digest, I know. But here is the take home message: Sun exposure is not a reliable way to be sure you get enough vitamin D. You need supplementation. And we know definitively that sun damages your skin and can cause skin cancer. So it is best to be sun smart and protect yourself.

Finally, it is never too late to start on a good skin care regimen. Begin with a high quality sunscreen and a hat. We have several excellent sunscreens in my office (you’ll need to supply the hat). Call or visit our office and we’ll be happy to recommend the perfect sunscreen for you. You’ll thank me in 10 years!
Tummy Tuck - Patient's experience
Posted June 17, 2014, 9:31 a.m.
Updated June 17, 2014, 9:40 a.m.

I had my abdominoplasty almost 12 years ago. That seems like a long time, but it was so transformative to my life that I remember the process leading up to it and the recovery almost like it was yesterday.

Until I had my second baby by C-section, I couldn’t have told you what the word abdominoplasty meant. I was somewhat familiar with the term “tummy tuck”, but I had no idea how that applied to me. All I know is that I hit the double century weight mark while I was pregnant with my second child (and the big 4-0), and had C-sections for both of them. I am very short-waisted, so these two babies, the first weighing in at almost 9 lbs and the second at almost 10 lbs, had nowhere to go but straight forward.

No cuddling down in my pelvic region for those babies. No, my abdomen preceded the arrival of the rest of me by a few minutes. I’m surprised CalTrans didn’t require an orange cone on my stomach. The havoc those babies wreaked on my abdomen during their development was mind-blowing. What was left was laps of extra abdominal skin around and below my belly button, a completely deformed belly button, stretch marks almost up to my breasts, along with the C-section scars. I have pictures if anyone would like to view the damage in real life.

I started considering a surgical solution after dieting and working out for two years after my second child was born. It eventually dawned on me that these stretch marks were never going to miraculously disappear, nor were the dewlaps I had formed below my belly button going to go away. My waist was horribly disproportional to the rest of my body.

I would search and search and search for a pair of pants that fit me. If the waist was big enough, the crotch hung to my knees. If the crotch fit, no way was the waist getting buttoned. Also the big-waisted pants resulted in pants that were way too long.

Really, finding a pair of pants that fit me was a freak occurrence, and I would try to buy every pair. Usually, there was just one forlorn pair available to me. I spent hours and hours clothes shopping in frustration.

I couldn’t take a bath because I couldn’t stand to look down at my abdomen. It just depressed me every time I looked at myself. Being a scientist, it looked to me to be eminently fixable (more of an engineering problem) - just not by me. That’s when I started considering a plastic surgeon. I checked the Internet, Berkeley Parent’s Network, and maybe even the Yellow Pages back then. I made appointments with several plastic surgeons, and Dr. Lee was the first surgeon I met with.

Five minutes after I met her I knew she would be my surgeon. I’m not a terribly trusting person, and I don’t tend to listen to my intuition, but I did in this case. Since I already knew this surgery would not be covered by insurance, I began looking into ways to pay for it. I considered CareCredit (a credit card just for plastic surgery), but Dr. Lee let me know that the interest rates on these cards were very high, bordering on usurious. So I took a few months to consolidate cards and amass some cash, and then called Dr. Lee to schedule the surgery.

Just an FYI if you are planning on having this type of surgery, it does take some time to plan. You will not be able to lift your children or anything over about 25 pounds for a month or so. You’ll need someone to stay at home with you for the first few days. I scheduled the surgery on a Thursday, and my husband stayed home with me until Monday. I had a babysitter for the next couple of weeks, and then slowly got back into my routine.

As far as the surgery itself - I was excited and happy from the moment I looked down while in the recovery room. Even with those warm blankets over me I could see the difference, and it was fantastic.

It is a challenging recovery. It did take me a couple of months to get back to about 90% of what I was just prior to the surgery. A few months later and I was about 200% of what I was prior to surgery. My abdomen was SO MUCH stronger. I could do sit ups, complete the home improvement projects I had started, and even continue my work as a carpenter. These are all things I could not do before the surgery.

I argue that the surgery is very time effective, because it takes me far less time to find clothes that fit. I can even purchase over the Internet if the mood strikes me, because I am proportional and don’t have to try thousands of things on to find one that fits. As far as cost effective, my improved figure makes we want to indulge in some more expensive clothes, rather than the Target sweatpants. The results I get from exercise are much more powerful and immediate. So you may not save a lot of money, but the level of aggravation with your figure will drop to nothing.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 12 years since the surgery. Time flies! I’m glad I didn’t wait to reap the rewards. I tell everyone – go for it: You’ll be glad you did!

Refer-A-Friend Program - Five Friends Schedule Surgery, Earn up to $1000 In Credit
Posted June 10, 2014, 12:16 p.m.
Updated June 11, 2014, 12:53 p.m.

What is one of the greatest gifts a friend can give? A great recommendation. At some time, all of us will need some help, be it a professional - a great mechanic, plumber, roofer, veterinarian, electrician, a job, a date. There is always some stress associated with stepping into the unknown. This uncertainty becomes even greater when we’re talking about our health and our bodies.

How do we know the professional we are working with understands what we really want and will help us understand the best way to get it? How can we be sure we can trust them to do what they say they can do? How do we know they’ll be reliable? How do we know we will be thrilled with the results? BECAUSE OUR FRIENDS TELL US SO! A recommendation from a trusted friend gives us the confidence to get off Google and move forward with our plans.

Replacing a roof, getting a new haircut, choosing our childrens’ summer camps are all big decisions, made easier with the information and support our friends provide. We would much rather send the kids to a camp our friends have loved than to reinvent the wheel. How much bigger the decision to change something about our face or body? What great benefit can be offered to friends by sharing experiences about rejuvenative treatments we have had? Be that friend! You have already done the research, you have already had your first, perhaps nerve wracking, consultation. You already know everything about being treated in my office, and hopefully, you have been thrilled with the results. So it makes complete sense to do your friends a favor and help them benefit from your experience. And trust me, you are not the only one thinking about how to look and feel your best; your friends are wondering about their options too, even if they, like you, feel nervous about sharing their concerns.

So, do your friends a favor and start the conversation, share your experience and don’t leave them to figure it out on their own. Be a great friend and a great patient champion for us. Your friends will love the information and support and we will show you (and them) the love, too.

Refer friends for their tummy tucks, breast lifts, breast augmentations, breast reductions, liposuction, facial plastic surgery – you get the picture: any surgical procedure and each of you wins.

Here’s how it works: You refer a friend (new to the practice). They mention you referred them when they call to schedule their surgical consult, and place a $150 deposit to reserve their appointment. At the time of the consult, $100 of their deposit is credited back to them (so they get $100 discount just for being your friend). When they have their surgery, you get credit too. For each friend who has surgery, you will receive $150 in “anything” credit in the office. This can be used towards anything, skin care, injectibles, laser, and yes, fabulous one of a kind jewelry. Refer five patients who have surgery, and your “bonus” goes from $750 to $1000 in “anything” credit. Help 10 friends find their way to the “best that they can be” and your credit goes to $2200. You get the picture. As I said, it’s a win-win-win-win-win-win-win.

So call your friends and get them scheduled. Help them get the best of care – care that you have already received. I will thank you and both you and your friends will be glad you shared. Let’s not keep this “the best kept secret.”

Looking forward to seeing all of you.

Best Wishes,
Elizabeth S. Lee, MD
Tyte and Bryte 18 months later
Posted May 5, 2014, 3:45 p.m.
Updated May 5, 2014, 3:45 p.m.

Tyte and Bryte/Sciton ForeverYoung BBL

So here I am, writing again, now nearly 18 months after the start of our Tyte and Bryte/ForeverYoungBBL protocol. To refresh your memory, I last blogged about the exciting science behind the ForeverYoungBBL, when we were first starting out and it sounded, even to me, too good to be true. I am happy to report that the treatment has exceeded our expectations. Why? Not only has it proven to be the easily tolerated, no downtime process we expected, but our patients are thrilled with the benefits. And I don’t say “thrilled” lightly.

One patient has happily reported that when reviewing the photos from her son’s wedding, her husband joked that she looked so young and fabulous, she made him look like a “dirty old man” by comparison! Her words, I swear. Another has just come in for her first maintenance treatment telling us how her skin has continued to improve even in the months between completing the initial series and this maintenance appointment. She is loving the daily compliments she gets on her now beautiful skin. There are more such stories.

Just this past week, one patient explained how this treatment protocol has changed her life. Her passion was somewhat surprising, but she clarified that we were saving her over 20 minutes each morning by simplifying her makeup routine. Her new skin looks great “naked” and so no longer needs foundation, spot coverup, undereye coverup, etc. Lips and eyes only and she is set to go, still looking better than she has in years. 20 minutes per day multiplied by 7 days per week by 52 weeks, 7,280 minutes or over 121 hours, ¾ of a week saved over a year. What you could do with that time? What could you do with the money you no longer have to spend on all those makeup products?

I am guessing that some of you out there have been hanging back, just a bit skeptical, waiting for the new protocol to prove itself. So I am here to promise you that it is working. Over 80% of the patients are coming back for maintenance and the numbers don’t lie. Come on, get started on healthier, younger beautiful skin. ForeverYoungBBl is really all that.


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