Written for Scars1 by Michelle Alford
Sean Doherty, M.D., received his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine and completed his residency at Lahey Clinic in Burlington, MA. In addition, he studied art and architecture in Paris, France. He believes that plastic surgery relies on equal parts technical skill and artistic ability.
His articles have been published in the American Journal of Medicine, Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. He’s a member of the Northeastern Plastic Surgical Society and the Massachusetts Plastic Surgical Society.
Dr. Doherty currently splits his time between Boston Plastic Surgery Associates and Palomar Medical Technology, where he is the Assistant Medical Director.
Dr. Doherty specializes in nonsurgical treatments for stretch marks. Stretch marks are challenging to treat, but recent medical advances allow for better results. It’s now understood that stretch marks are caused by damaged dermis that then manifests in the skin above the dermis. Technology allows for nonsurgical treatment of deep tissue. “Treatment focuses on giving more strength to damaged dermis,” says Dr. Doherty, “and in my practice that’s done with a series of nonablative skin treatments—about four to six treatments done every three to four weeks.” The results have been great in appropriate patients.
“Plastic surgeons aren’t easily impressed by new technology,” he adds. “We’ve been trained in general surgical principals, so we tend to go with the basics, and we are hard pressed to recommend technology to our patients until we’ve seen it proved by other people and then by ourselves.”
Though not scientifically proven, some of the wives tales and old treatments may be helpful in preventing stretch marks. “Putting mayonnaise and cocoa butter on your abdomen keeps your skin moist, supple, and more resistant to deep damage that can cause stretch marks.” Dr. Doherty also recommends minimizing weight gain. Patients that go through ups and downs with their weight are at greater risk for stretch marks.
The economy isn’t preventing people from pursuing plastic surgery, but it is changing which procedures they get. “We’ve had a consistent stream of patients, but I think that they are gravitating towards the less invasive procedures.” Patients are less likely to have major surgery, and more likely to have a series of treatments like botox injections, facial fillers, or laser resurfacing—procedures with nice results but lower costs.
Cosmetic surgery is becoming more socially acceptable. “It’s considered less vain to have cosmetic surgery, which I think is great because cosmetic surgery just makes patients feel better about themselves.” It’s also a benefit because more openness about cosmetic surgery means more education and that people better understand the procedures.
Current social media trends also increase patient knowledge. “Most physicians utilize internet and social media outlets for advertising, discussions, presentations of information, and procedures. It’s really the only way to reach people these days.”