CSI is expanding! We recently welcomed 9 experienced providers who will be offering their expertise to patients throughout the California area. We sat down with Dr. Kristelle Lusby who is Board Certified in General Surgery and a board-eligible Plastic & Reconstructive surgeon to learn more about her medical approach and to dispel some misconceptions around plastic surgery.
Q: What inspired you to become a plastic surgeon?
Dr. Lusby: I like working with soft tissues and being able to see instant results. When a physician is considering medical versus surgical fields, those who opt to go in the surgical direction tend to be very hands on. With plastic surgery, it’s also very satisfying to see instantaneous results that are tangible. You have a patient who starts on the table one way and two hours later, he or she has undergone a notable change.
There’s also quite a bit of crossover into the other fields because we operate on the entire body head to toe, so I can also perform, among other procedures, biopsies and cancer excisions, things that deliver results right away.
Q: Electing to have plastic surgery is a big decision. How do you help patients feel at ease or confident in their decision to undergo plastic surgery?
Dr. Lusby: The important thing is understanding your patient and where he or she is coming from. It’s important to take into mind if they are having any trepidation, where is that coming from and addressing their specific concerns. A lot of times, patients aren’t going to be straight-forward with articulating their concerns and it is my responsibility to ask the right questions so that I can tease out those concerns and address them.
A lot of the trepidation typically comes from a lack of knowledge, so the more information you can give them the better. It’s important to gauge the patient and inform them what you’re going to do, what they can expect as far as outcomes and that there’s a spectrum on the other end. It’s important to make sure patients understand what that range of outcomes may look like. For example, a patient may scar beautifully or they may have a visible scar afterwards and they need to understand that before going into the procedure.
Q: What do you think makes a doctor a good plastic surgeon?
Dr. Lusby: When I am evaluating a patient with a problem or a concern, as a plastic surgeon, I have a lot of options. One of my mentors says there are six different ways to do everything, even a fracture of the hand. There’s more than one way to fix a fracture.
When I look at a defect, whether it’s a cancer or a fracture or or a defect that needs reconstruction, I’ll take into consideration where is the defect located, what are the patient’s concerns, what do they do for a living, how old is the patient. I am going to take all of these factors into consideration when I choose an operation. A uniform approach doesn’t work in plastic surgery because we work with the whole body, there’s so much diversity and different aspects to consider for each individual. There really is no single right answer.
Also, communication is key, as mentioned earlier. A good doctor needs to be able to clearly explain the procedure and the expected outcome to the patient as well as explain any limitations. If a patient comes with an unrealistic goal, it is the mark of a good surgeon to be honest with the patient and inform them that their original goal isn’t something that we can achieve, especially if it could cause complications or disappointment or could be something that may be functionally limiting for the patient.
Q: Other than an improved aesthetic appearance, what other benefits do you see patients experience after undergoing cosmetic surgery?
Dr. Lusby: They will usually experience a boost of confidence and improved self-esteem, but they may also experience functional improvement, for example, after body contouring for massive weight loss. They’re able to move around better.
For another population of patients, there’s the ability to help remove or reshape something that is a painful reminder from their past, whether it be a scar from a traumatic event or a cancer survivor. That has an effect on patients that you can’t really measure, to be able to give them that peace of mind to put that behind them allowing them to move one.
Q: Are there any common misconceptions about plastic surgery that you’d like to people to know about?
Dr. Lusby: People think of plastic surgery and they think of plastic like Barbie, but the word plastic in plastic surgery actually comes from the Greek word plastikos, which means to mold.
Our job is to restore, repair, manipulate tissue and move things around for a specific purpose, so it’s not always breast implants and abdominoplasties.
It’s a very diverse field so we operate on the entire body, which includes hand surgery, facial procedures, oncological reconstruction, trauma, microsurgery, burn surgery, pediatric craniofacial surgery and of course there’s cosmetics and nonsurgical aesthetic techniques.
A lot of people think of cosmetics, but that’s actually a minority of plastic surgeries. I really enjoy removing tumors and skin cancers and the reconstruction processes as well as the cosmetic procedures.
If you are considering plastic surgery for cosmetic or medical purposes and would like to know if you are a candidate, schedule a consultation with Dr. Kristelle Lusby or one of our expert providers.* Simply call a California Skin Institute practice near you, or use the online scheduling portal now!
Dr. Lusby is Board Certified in General Surgery and a board-eligible Plastic & Reconstructive surgeon. She completed her medical degree at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, VA. She then completed her General Surgery residency at University of California, Irvine. Dr. Lusby completed a 2 years Post-Doctoral NIH T32 Fellowship in Surgical Oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. Her research focus was on soft-tissue sarcomas and Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumors (MPNST). She then went on to complete a Plastic Surgery Fellowship at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, IN. Dr. Lusby has a special interest in skin cancers, soft-tissue tumors, oncologic reconstruction, and body contouring after massive weight loss. She is very happy to be returning to her home state to join California Skin Institute.