The topic of plastic surgery is a great way to get a person’s opinion even if you don’t ask for it. What you normally hear is it’s extreme, superficial and only something attainable if you have money to burn. On the flip side, people who have had procedures done will attest it was the best thing they have ever done for themselves and it made them happy. We typically like to focus more on the negative because it’s more interesting and controversial. Who does not love a good debate? For those who don’t know much about the individuals who perform these procedures, I encourage you to read on because on the contrary, beauty is not skin deep.
I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with plastic surgeon Dr. Pamela Gallagher along with her warm and welcoming staff of professionals. As a beauty industry expert, I think it’s absolutely necessary to be on top of what’s new out there not just in cosmetics and skincare, but also non-surgical procedures that keep us looking fresh and youthful.
My evening began at Dr. Gallagher’s practice in Mineola with her skilled aesthetician Jennifer Hines demonstrating a procedure called Ultherapy. It employs ultrasound and heat spots to build collagen back, which is the foundation for your skin and pivotal for firm and youthful looking skin. I am self admittedly a baby when it comes to pain, and typically non-surgical procedures use methods that can feel hot or cold upon contact with the skin. The sensations can cause discomfort however; this isn’t my first ride at the rodeo of “beauty is pain”. When Jennifer began the procedure, I was pleasantly surprised because it was more of a tingling sensation rather than a burning feeling. I wasn’t lucky enough to get a full procedure, but it normally takes an hour and will give a demonstrable lift to any part on the face, not that I need it-not yet, anyway!
After my time with Jennifer and getting up to speed with all the new procedures available, we were finally blessed with Dr. Pam’s presence; who was running late. Usually when you’re late there is a reason – traffic, procrastination, alarm clock didn’t work – but in Dr. Pam’s case, she didn’t require one because she was busy changing a child’s life forever, for the good. Not only is Dr. Gallagher a leading surgeon in the region with surgical expertise and experience that is immeasurable, but she is also a person who uses her talents to give back to children around the world who are born with facial and cranial deformities. She currently serves as the Medical Director of the Hagedorn Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Center at North Shore University Hospital at Manhasset and as a founding member of the Board of Directors for the New York State Federation of Craniofacial and Cleft Palate Centers. Prior to arriving, she had been notified that a baby had been born with an unexpected cleft palate which is unusual according to Dr. Gallagher because normally it can be identified within eighteen to twenty weeks of pregnancy and that’s when the planning for the operation usually begins. So with this case, it was special and she responded immediately to visit the parents to buffer the shock of the surprise.
Dr. Gallagher’s passion for surgery and compassion for others began as a child when she encountered a man who was inflicted with a facial deformity that rendered his life unhappy and lonely. Her experience with this one man created a drive in her to help others. Always knowing she wanted to be a doctor, it is no surprise she went straight into medical school upon completion of high school. It was during a surgical observation when she saw blood and thought it was such a beautiful color that she decided to be a surgeon. Who better to operate on you then a person who is not only undeterred by the sight of blood but who is inspired by it?
For over 35 years Dr. Gallagher has operated on thousands of patients inflicted with cleft palates from around the world. Through the center, and with the help of international charities, patients are flown in from areas like Asia and India to have the corrective surgeries performed. Dr. Gallagher is not the only member of the team – specialists in dentistry, oral surgery, audiology, speech therapy and social work also join the effort to make not only the child’s but the family’s life a better one.
Dr. Gallagher mentioned some interesting facts about her time in college in Chicago and even high school. In the early sixties, she was confronted with the idea that girls shouldn’t be studying science. That didn’t stop her from pursuing an education to become a medical doctor. In her college class things didn’t change much for her as she was one of only 10 women out of 100 students. Furthermore, Ivy League schools didn’t allow women in their medical programs at all. I found it disturbing that women such as Dr. Gallagher were almost repressed from following their passions. Can you imagine how many lives would not have been changed for the better if she stayed submissive to the status quo?
It is an inspiration to know that humanitarians like Dr. Pamela Gallagher exist and use their gifts to help make children scorned with a life altering deformity live quality and content lives.