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The emotional journey of self-betterment By K. Kuhlman-Wood, MD, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon & Owner Coeur d’Alene Plastic Surgery & Spa


Many times, we search for the perfect word or phrase—some combination of words or letters capable of fully encompassing an experience or emotion. The struggle to effectively communicate what we are feeling is common on playgrounds, mountain passes or the occasional seaside vacation. Not surprisingly, the struggle is also common in plastic surgery consultation rooms, as our patients search for ways to express their roller-coaster of emotions. Deciding to move forward with an elective procedure or surgery takes significant expenditures of both time and thought. And, whether it’s an in-office application of facial filler, non-invasive body contouring or major surgery with general anesthesia, the emotions are bubbling inside them.

I was describing this phenomenon at the dinner table one evening when my 8-year-old daughter said, “Oh, I get that way all the time. It’s when I am nervouscited!” “Brilliant!” I thought. “That’s it!” (Leave it to our children to find the right words.)

Merriam Webster dictionary defines nervous as: having or showing feelings of being worried and afraid about what might happen; often or easily becoming worried and afraid about what might happen; causing someone to feel worried and afraid: making someone nervous.

It defines excited, also an adjective, as: feeling, having, showing, or characterized by a heightened state of energy, enthusiasm, eagerness, etc.: feeling or showing. So, imagine looking in the mirror every morning after your shower and feeling defeated. Imagine feeling that it’s not really you looking back—not your body, not your face. Somewhere, your inner self has been lost in your reflection. There are innumerable reasons for this feeling, but in my consultation rooms, it usually stems from the following: They committed their body selflessly to carry and deliver their children; they fed them from their bosom and watched themselves deflate. Or, they finally took back control, and either through diet and exercise or the miracle of weight-loss surgery, shed the extra pounds and added years to their life. These admirable actions left behind extra skin that developed rashes in the summer, and made it difficult to be comfortable in or out of their clothes.

And now, they have decided to consult with a professional and start down a new, and often unfamiliar, path of self-betterment. It’s hard not to imagine someone being extremely nervouscited.

Choosing the right guide for your journey can be difficult. In every market, there is no shortage of “beauty” experts and practitioners. However, choosing appropriately educated and trained providers is the critical first step on your path. This step, if taken correctly, provides the necessary weight in tipping the emotional scales more to the side of excited, rather than nervous.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons® (ASPS) is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. If your journey includes any surgical, and/or surgery-like procedures, a visit to the ASPS website cannot be overlooked. With more than 8,000 members, the society is recognized as a leading authority, and information source, on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. It also comprises more than 93 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. The ASPS is a nonprofit organization that supports board-certified plastic surgeons in their efforts to provide the highest quality patient care through education, research and advocacy.

One particular resource available through the ASPS is their universal and comprehensive estimate of cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery procedures. It’s a snapshot of procedural trends in the United States and can provide insight into what types of procedures surgeons are recommending and performing. Although not as hyperactive as TikTok or Instagram, the value resides in the quality of information presented.

ASPS Member Surgeons, like myself, are uniquely qualified to perform cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery on all areas of the body. You can visit the ASPS at to learn more about cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery, and more importantly, to help narrow the search for the “right” person to help guide you on your path.

One of the reasons I enjoy being a plastic surgeon is that I perform lifestyle surgery. For a short time, I get to be part of someone’s most intimate journey and watch them transform both physically and emotionally. I have the privilege to perform as the surgeon and the witness to the restoration of function, confidence and/or a sense of self-worth. I hear stories of renewed intimacy with loved ones, and once again, recognizing the person staring back in the mirror. It is incredibly powerful, and I and my staff feel honored to have played the part of the guide.

Arguably, the past two years have been filled with increased feelings of nervousness. But it has shown us the importance of taking care of ourselves, and not simply with a bubble bath or a nap. Sometimes, taking care of ourselves is finally reaching the goal of physical restoration or rebirth.

And that is incredibly nervousciting!

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