Emily Clark, MD, provides a variety of elective and restorative plastic surgery procedures for patients in the Sumter and Columbia communities. Dr. Clark received her medical degree at Tulane University in New Orleans, and completed her training in plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of California, Irvine. She offers breast reconstruction, cosmetic surgeries, hand and facial surgeries and procedures following accidents or traumas.
Here, she talks about some of the key aspects and joys of her work.
What steered you into plastic surgery?
The first time I did general surgery, I was really excited and surprised that I enjoyed that type of medical care. When I did a breast cancer surgery for the first time, I was with the general surgery team, and we removed the cancer and the breast tissue and kind of left a mess that didn’t look very nice. The plastic surgeons came in … and got to reconstruct and build this beautiful breast, and I thought that’s really what I want to do. It looked really fun to be a part of the rebuilding process.
What general plastic surgery procedures do you offer?
There are some non-cancerous and non-emergent plastic surgeries that are covered by insurance – things like a breast reduction for shoulder pain. Insurance also covers upper eyelid surgery to remove excess skin that hangs over the lashes. This is a great operation because it not only improves a person’s visual field but makes the eyes look brighter and more youthful.
Then there are aesthetic-only procedures like breast augmentation and the classic “Mommy Makeover,” which is a breast lift and a tummy tuck. For people who just want a little something, we also offer chemical peels, Botox and fillers.
As a female practitioner, what sensitivity do you bring to many of the women’s restorative procedures – particularly breast reconstruction?
I relate to the fact that breasts are a part of our identity as women, they’re how we nurture our babies and are part of what makes us feel feminine. Having breast cancer and going through that loss of who you feel you are can be a really traumatizing experience. It’s truly rewarding for me to work with patients going through that and help get them through to the other side where they feel restored again.
What conversations take place with a patient contemplating a plastic surgery procedure?
I spend a lot of time talking with patients before surgery since these are big decisions for them. We talk about what their expectations are … and what their risks might be with surgery and how aggressive we should be with the operation. That all comes into play before we do the consent for the procedure. I also reassure patients that I will see them every week until they have recovered from their operation.
Are men as prone to seek such services?
They don’t talk about it publicly as much, but men want to feel like they did when they were 20 just as much as women do. There is a lot we can offer men. A brow lift is probably the most common facial surgery men seek, and liposuction. They’re smaller operations that have less downtime and allow them to get back into their activities and work faster. And that’s usually what appeals to the guys out there.
What is providing the biggest reward for you professionally in this stage of your career?
It’s so rewarding to be able to offer patients the ability to feel restored or to look on the outside the way they feel on the inside. I’m really excited to be here and to be caring for patients in our communities.