Category Archives: Education

How long does it take to become a Surgeon?

There are many different ways to measure this length of time for surgery training and surgery education.  I was just wondering these same things as I reflect on my surgical experience.  I was also wondering how long it might take me to become a pianist.  Perhaps my musings might help others.  First I should say that I am very grateful to all my teachers.

I currently practice in a Modesto Plastic Surgery setting with my wife, Dr. Tammy Wu, Modesto Plastic Surgeon.

I had posted this comment on my Modesto FaceBook page, but I thought I’d share these educational duration thoughts here:

It took me 10 years of diligent study to become a semi-proficient VIOLINIST. It took me 17 years to become a competent full fledged SURGEON. I wonder how long it would be if I attempted to tackle piano.

1) Violin years determined by age started (7) and age with performance-readiness of the Tchaikovsky violin concerto.  My Tchaikovsky violin concerto – see below.
2) Surgery years determined by starting with the first year of acceptance into Brown University’s Medical Education program and the year where I became a full fledged board certified surgeon. This duration of time is 17 years after high school.
3) I learned piano briefly when I was little, but then switched to violin, dropping all piano lessons. I had to focus. Just like these days I have to choose between Acupuncture vs. Surgery – there isn’t enough time/energy to focus on all things.

Here’s a violin recording/video of my Tchaikovsky violin concerto:

Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, Calvin Lee

When to restart Tretinoin after an Obagi Blue Peel Radiance Peel

I got this question today, and it’s a question we address constantly.  I thought I’d write about restarting facial topical Tretinoin after a Blue Peel Radiance (Obagi) Peel treatment on the face.

Obagi Blue Peel Radiance in Modesto, CA

When should I re-start Tretinoin again after I receive a Blue Peel Radiance Peel (Obagi)?

The quick answer is about 6 days to restart your tretinoin, also known as Retin-A (among other names).  The range for most patients would be 4-8 days.  Some can restart sooner if there wasn’t too much irritation from the Obagi Blue Peel Radiance.

The problem of starting Tretioin too soon after a Blue Peel Radiance is that your skin may become too irritated and uncomfortable.

The same goes for restarting all the other Obagi Nu-Derm skin care products which may have been stopped – such as Exfoderm, Exfoderm Forte.

Everyone’s skin is a little different and every esthetician, doctor, dermatologist, surgeon, nurse has a different plan.  My guideline of about 6 days works for us at Surgical Artistry, Modesto.  But please consult your own practitioner for their own preferences.  Our plastic surgery office is directed by Dr. Tammy Wu, Plastic Surgeon and we are located in Modesto, California.  Different locations and different climates on the skin affect these recommendations on returning back to tretinoin use.

Other important aftercare instructions for Obagi Blue Peel Radiance Chemical Peel:

Download the Blue Peel RADIANCE After-care Card here or with the below link.


The pdf file above will talk about the importance of applying Sunscreen.

When to consider another Blue Peel Radiance Chemical Peel.

One can consider another Blue Peel Radiance chemical peel about 1 month later.  Theoretically, one can consider a repeat Blue Peel Radiance as close as 2 weeks apart.  The purpose of “stacking” the peels closer together is to continue to get better results.  After about a series of 5 peels, the improvement is at it’s maximum, and then the goal is maintenance which may be achieved with continued peels every 2-3 months.

Body Mass Index for Me, and my best so far in Modesto.

Body Mass Index

Regarding body flab, I’m going from Good to Great / from Overweight to Obese. My body mass index has got to stop increasing. It is currently at 27.6. Normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. My BMI falls into the overweight range. A BMI of 30 or more is considered obese (I’m getting close?). 30 must be some sort of magic number because if I lose 30 lbs, I would be right in the middle of the “normal” range for BMI. Gosh this BMI scale is harsh.

My best Modesto recorded BMI was 24.5

Here’s a BMI calculator I found on the web:

Mobile Devices taking over Computer usage for FaceBook viewers

Is this the death of the computer?

Desktops and Laptop included in the funeral march?

I posted on FaceBook – asking my Modesto, CA friends and friends elsewhere:

Help me with this Poll: What device are you using right now on FaceBook (ie. Laptop, iPhone, iPad, whatever).

Mobile devices vs. Computer – the winner regarding FaceBook is:

A few hours later:

I got 47 responses.

77% Mobile Devices vs. 23% Computer when viewing FaceBook.

Of the Mobile devices, 70% of them were iPhones and 30% were non-iPhones.

I didn’t tally up the tablets:  iPad vs. non-iPad.

Just for the record:

I personally put myself down as Laptop user.

How is this computer vs mobile usage important to Cosmetic Surgeons?

For example if we’re going to advertise Botox, we should probably make sure those ads make it to the mobile devices.

9 Habits of Highly Successful MD Cosmetic Injectors

My list of 9 habits of “Highly Successful MD Cosmetic Injectors.” I’ve spent the last few months hovering around internationally renown MD Cosmetic Injectors.   I participated at a Palette Injectors meeting / training for Level III injectors in Sacramento, and I also at the 2013 Vegas Cosmetic Surgery Meeting.

botox bottles

This is my partial collection of empty Botox bottles.

Here are some success habits I think these great injectors have in common.

1. Most of the MD injectors are the injectors of their practice without delegating to a nurse or PA
2. They are constantly looking for newer and better ways to do things.
3. They are eager to explore new products.
4. They selectively use cannulas for some of their injections.
5. They are very willing to share / talk / publish.
6. They make injections a priority in their practice.
7. They often go back to basics which includes knowing the anatomy, and exploring new anatomical concepts.
8. They are not be afraid to show off their grey hair – but will make some attempt to hide their wrinkles.
9. Most importantly they do not view fillers or Botox as a COMMODITY. In other words, it’s not a Botox per unit price or cost per syringe of Juvederm (the PRODUCTS), rather it’s the injector’s SKILL which is the true value. And this is how they provide the best VALUE – through the best skill and materials.

There are also a great number of amazing Nurse and Physician Assistant injectors. I haven’t had the opportunity to attend sessions and lectures by them (yet – I’d like to see what makes them successful as well, so it’s on my list). All the lectures and meetings and demonstrations that I’ve attended in the past few months were by Surgeons and Dermatologists.

Also, these aren’t necessarily “habits.”  It was just a catchy title.  These are more like “attributes” or “traits.” (209) 551-1888
(209) 551-1888