Seeking change in the New Year

As we welcome in a new year, there is a feeling of optimism and hope that this year will be better than the last. If you ask anyone, they’ll say that 2020 was one for the books, and many found it difficult to focus on the things they normally would. Whether it was because places were closed, or the desire to continue showing up for ourselves got lost, it was a year we all watched come to a standstill.

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But as we dive head first into 2021, it’s important to remember that while we may not be able to change what’s happening outside our doors, we can change what happens inside, and that all starts with self-care.

Dr. B. Aviva Preminger, one of Manhattan’s top plastic surgeons, points out one common side effect of the pandemic: It prevented many people from taking care of themselves. Hair was no longer dyed, fillers and Botox treatments fell by the wayside, even a mani and pedi and gym sessions were next to impossible. For many months, all of the things people would do on a routine basis to feel good were put on pause.

“I think that all got to people, and I believe they’re really looking to the new year, wanting to hit it hard,” says Dr. Preminger.

As Clint Eastwood famously said, “Tomorrow is promised to no one,” which is why it’s so important to make sure we show up for ourselves each and every day.

Because we are looking to this upcoming year as a time for reinvention, we sat down with Dr. Preminger to talk about some of the ways in which she is helping her patients look and feel their very best. 

The start of a new year is not only a time to reflect but also to make promises to ourselves. As a doctor, you’re a part of the patient’s journey. What does that mean to you, knowing that ultimately you’re responsible for the change they’re seeking?

This is particularly poignant now with everything going on in the world. I have been busier than I’ve ever been, operating multiple days a week, and I think it has to do with the fact that people want a change. Things in the world have changed, perspective has changed a little bit, and I think people want a bit of optimism. They want to take care of themselves.

People have also saved money because there really hasn’t been anywhere to go, they couldn’t eat out, couldn’t travel, and this is one of the few luxuries we have left right now. I think people are happy to invest in themselves, and I feel good to be a part of that process.

What are some of the most sought after procedures patients have been asking for?

I’ve been doing a ton of breasts and Mommy Makeovers, as well as bigger procedures that involve a bit of downtime, such as face lifts, eyes, and a lot of liposuction.

Why is this time of year always an ideal time for certain procedures?

Winter is always a great time to do things that involve downtime. In terms of scarring and healing, laser procedures are best done now because of the lack of sun exposure. I usually have to deal with patients’ vacation schedules, but right now people are traveling less and working from home, so there is no sun exposure, making it an ideal time to get these things done.

We hear the term “Mommy Makeover” often, but you don’t have to technically be a mom to have one done. What exactly does this popular procedure involve?

It’s a procedure that is pretty subjective; when people use the term they are using it loosely as a combination of procedures—most commonly breast, belly, and liposuction procedures. But then things get added on, and it ends up a little different in every situation.

I think terminology is something patients struggle with—they don’t know what to call things. “Mommy Makeover” has a little less medical ring to it and is a bit more of a general term. When people come in and say what they want, I say to them, “Tell me what bothers you.” And so it really is a combination of things that make you feel good about the way you look.

Do you see many male patients? If so, what type of procedures do they look for?

I do treat a fair number of male patients although the overwhelming majority are females. I will say I think men appreciate a little bit of a softer side, and I have a different style as a woman. I’m less dogmatic about my approach, and I think men are sometimes embarrassed to go to another man.

The things men come in for are less diverse than what women come in for. [They seek treatments] like liposuction or CoolSculpting, usually [targeting] fat, abdominal fat, or fat under the neck or muffin top area. They’re also great candidates for these because they’ve never been pregnant, they have good skin tone, and they don’t have muscle laxity.

A fair number of men also complain about gynecomastia, which is excess breast tissue of the chest. I think in particular they’re embarrassed to go to another man for this; oddly enough, they feel less embarrassed going to see a woman.

Men also come in for injectables—Botox, fillers. The same way women want to stay young in the professional arena, men want to stay young as well.

What message do you want to share with patients when it comes to self-care?

As plastic surgeons, what we do has such a huge psychological component in a very positive way. It’s pretty amazing for me to get to do what I do. When you can turn it around for someone, that’s powerful.

I think there are two components to what plastic surgeons do. There is the actual physical component we can achieve, and then there is the tremendous psychological impact of what we do. I think that it’s particularly powerful, especially in times like these. One of the things plastic surgeons do is create hope.

How would you say you’re creating hope through the work that you do?

Plastic surgeons are innovators, we’re problem-solvers in general. I do a lot of complicated revision surgeries and those patients are tremendously grateful. They’ve been operated on before, they’re not satisfied, and they want to know that somebody can help them. So when I can turn that around and hit a home run on something that has been tried before and was unsuccessful, those patients are even more appreciative.

For me, every case—every patient—no two are the same. It’s one of the reasons I love what I do. We are masters of reinvention and creativity, and I think COVID-19 has really made us have to think about that.

In what way would you say that’s true?

There are ways in which our practices reinvented themselves in terms of safety standards. I’m fortunate to have an operating room here in my office, and that affords certain safety precautions for patients.

The whole focus has been on 2020 being a terrible year, but we’ve turned the corner to 2021. I think we need to actively make this year different. People are feeling a certain desperation to create hope and take care of themselves, and I think plastic surgery is part of that change.

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