Plastic surgery’s benefits more than skin-deep

Plastic surgery blunders grab headlines, but successful procedures can
transform people’s lives for the better.

That’s been the case for a 21-year-old Durham man whose abnormal breast growth
in his early teens made him self-conscious and “aggravated to be a boy but have
a woman’s features.”

Courtland McKibbins, a senior at N.C. A&T State University in Greensboro, said
he tried to fix the problem by losing weight, but his breasts didn’t shrink, and
he went through his middle school and high school years suffering.

At 18, at the urging of his mother, he turned to Durham plastic surgeon Laura
Gunn, who did the reduction and gave McKibbins new confidence.

“I was nervous about doing it, but I wanted to get it done, and I’m glad I did,”
he said. “Now, I’m not worried that my chest will bounce a certain way or how
people will look at me.”

For another patient, Mary Winstead of Roxboro, a face lift, neck liposuction and
eyelid surgery gave her “a new life.”

Winstead, 69, had the procedure two years ago, “because I would look in the
mirror and see the sagging under my chin and neck. I’m amazed at what the
difference is between before and after. It’s just unreal. People couldn’t
believe the difference, and I have people say today there is no way I look 69.”

Her advice to others considering cosmetic surgery is to consult a qualified
plastic surgeon and discuss your concerns.

Sandi Hammock, 59, of Halifax, Va., wasn’t happy with what depression had done
to her face, so she had upper and lower eyelid surgery in Durham last year.

“I’d had some tragedy in my life, and my face was showing it,” she said. “I just
looked so old and depressed, and it made me feel that way.”

Before the procedure, Hammock said, she looked older than 59 but now looks “as
young as my daughter, who is 38. People say all the time we look like sisters.
That really boosts your ego.”

Now, she rides a Harley-Davidson motorcycle with her husband, whereas before,
she usually stayed indoors. “Now I go out all the time.”

Hammock said her husband “thinks it’s great. He’s glad to go with a woman who
looks younger than he does — and I’m older than he is!”

“When people tell you that you look so much younger and so great, you begin to
feel that way.”

She said she had no complications from the surgery, and advises anyone
considering a cosmetic procedure to “research it and be sure it’s what you want
and need.”

The desire for larger breasts is what motivated 21-year-old Michelle Grissom of
Durham to have breast enlargement, which took her from a size A cup to “a full

The UNC student said she knew she wanted the procedure since she was 16, but
decided to wait until she was older to be certain she would need it. She was 20
when the surgery was done.

She’s pleased with the results, although one challenge has been “dealing with
negative comments from certain people.”

“Sometimes, they say idiotic things like: ‘Are you going to have children?’ They
thought maybe I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed.” But she’s also gotten positive
comments from friends.

Her fuller figure has given her more confidence at the pool and on the beach,
“and that’s really good.”

Recovery time was about 10 days before she was up and moving, and Grissom was
able to drive about two weeks after the surgery.

Grissom, who is studying political science and may become a paralegal, said it’s
important to find a good doctor and have someone who can help with daily tasks
for first few days after surgery.

It’s also important to have surgery for the right reason, she said. “Make sure
you do it because you want to, not to please someone else.”

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