Category Archives: Wellness

Where were we before Modesto, Botox and Plastic Surgery?

Before Plastic Surgery, Modesto and Botox, we spent met a wonderful retired pianist named Joan Orvis who lived next door.

There’s a lot before Modesto, Botox, and Plastic Surgery.  But today, I was reminded of Dr. Wu (Tammy’s) neighbor – while she was an undergraduate student at Brown University.

Here’s the story which I posted on FaceBook, but I share here:

My story of pianist Joan Orvis, our friend.

I want to spend a moment here to celebrate my memory of my friend pianist Joan Orvis. I met her when Tammy and I were young students at Brown University. Tammy lived off campus on Blackstone Blvd. She had a neighbor (Joan) in her apartment complex who played piano from time to time. She found out that I played violin. She introduced me to piano trio music at the highest level. I had always loved listening to piano trios, but never had the chance to play them. Her sister lived nearby and was a professional cellist. The three of us would get together regularly through my 8 years at Brown University and play trios. This was completely off the grid from Brown University. We even performed throughout Rhode Island as a trio. Some of my favorite classical music is piano trios and quartets, and all this blossomed from the time that I spent with Joan and her sister. Joan was a retired piano professor from University of Wisconsin-Platteville for nearly 30 years. I was just checking the internet to see what has happened to my friend whom I’ve lost contact with. I just found out that she passed away in 2001. My memories of that time were jogged when I saw Chee Yun’s posting about a piano quartet which I’ve always loved. I’ve shared that version on FB this morning (please see that video – it is quite worthy). In this link, the piano is played by one of Joan Orvis’ teacher (Menahem Pressler who is now 90 years old), so I share it here:


and for reference, here’s Chee Yun’s posting of a rehearsal in Hawaii:

I have much to be thankful for.  Thank you Joan for your friendship and the wonderful music.

– Calvin Lee


Ear Plugs for musicians and hearing protection

I posted this on my personal FaceBook

“I suffer from hyperacusis (sound distortion) in mainly one ear. I’m wondering if there are ear plugs out there that would work with piano or music playing. About 15 years ago, I had an ENT in Springfield Illinois make me a custom ear plug which cut down the sound partially, but I only had it made for one ear. I’m thinking that I might need it for both ears, and I’m not sure if anything is now off the shelf. I could probably just use those foam buds. If anything I could try Botox around the ear for this – it hasn’t been tried yet, I could be a pioneer here. It seems that Botox works for so many other things.”

And I got the response from another fellow doctor who suggested:

“Try etymotic , they reduce DB in a flat style, appropriate for musicians.”

I’ll have to try these ear buds for hearing protection, and I hope to report back.  This would be great in an operating room environment too.  There is a lot of suction and other noises going on in the operating room.  I’ll have to see if these will work.  I have heard that dentists use ear plugs like these, so I think it would work well for surgeons in the operating room as well.

custom ear plugs

My previous ear plugs (hearing protectors) were made by Westone Laboratories, Inc.   – westone style # 49.  These were custom made and I had them made by an Ear Nose Throat Surgeon who made a mold of my ear canal and sent it to the company.  But this was back around the year 2001.  I just visited their webpage and it seems to have Etymotic ear plugs for sale at their webpage as well.

Google search “westone style 49.” for more info.



Random notes on Mount Diablo

I’m thinking about planning a Surgical Artistry / Plastic Surgery staff hike on a weekend at Mount Diablo.  Perhaps it would be a nice relaxing and healthy activity.  This may never happen, but it’s a thought, and here are some of my notes.  I figured we spend enough time at work talking about Botox, Breast Augmentation, Tummy tucks, and Acupuncture – that I think we could get a change of scenery from our Modesto plastic surgery office.

Notes about Mount Diablo

Mount Diablo state park page

Mount Diablo state park Brochure

Hours of operation at Mount Diablo

8am – sunset

Water at Mount Diablo

  • All the water faucets have been turned off as a result of the drought (info rom 10/20/14)
  • Portable toilets are now used instead of flushing restrooms.
  • It’s is encouraged to bring your own water for drinking.

Mailing Address for Mount Diablo

Mount Diablo State Park
96 Mitchell Canyon Road
Clayton CA 94517

Directions for Mount Diablo

North Gate Road Entrance
1300 North Gate Road
Walnut Creek, 94598
(Concord / Walnut Creek)

South Gate Road Entrance
2675 Mt. Diablo Scenic Boulevard
Blackhawk, 94506

Macedo Ranch Staging Area
3756 Green Valley Road
Alamo, 94507
(no vehicle access to the Summit)

Mitchell Canyon Staging Area
96 Mitchell Canyon Road
Clayton, 94517
(no vehicle access to the Summit)

What is Mount Diablo

It is a mountain of the Diablo Range in Contra Costa county.  Located northeast of Danville.  In relation to Modesto, it is North West of Modesto, CA.  It’s about a 1.5 hour drive (73.1 miles according to Google maps).  It is east of San Francisco.  It is located south of Clayton.

The peak is in the state park which is about 20,000 acres in area.  Alcohol is strictly forbidden in the park.


Lip Augmentation with Cannulas

First what are blunt tipped cannulas for fillers?

Surgical Artistry - Calvin Lee, MD / Tammy Wu, MD

Borrowed over from the world of liposuction and the world of Huber needles for chemotherapy.  There are four benefits of using a cannula for filler (ie. Juvederm) injections:

  1. Tip is blunt, not sharp – so it won’t easily pierce unwanted delicate structures such as nerves and blood vessels
  2. Side exit port for the opening for extrusion of filler.  This is on the side so that the tip can be blunt.  So this reason goes along with the blunt tip reason.
  3. Flexible cannula.  This allows for less injury as well, it has the potential to wiggle around obstructions which are sometimes cause by the vitals structures of nerves and vessels.
  4. Long length.  this allows for fewer puncture sites.

Why do we care about blunt tipped cannulas?

In the end the results are for safety and less bruising.  But are the effects better looking when the swelling goes down?  for the most part I think so, for broad areas such as cheek and temples.

Picture is worth a thousand words

Perhaps a picture would help describe cannulas for injectable fillers:

blunt tip cannulas

blunt tip cannulas

Lip augmentation with cannulas?

Currently, for myself as an injector in Modesto, I’m a fan of cannulas for filling the central part (body) of the lips.  But for precision, I feel that I lose a little bit of the precision needed when working on the border of the lips.  Thus I still find myself gravitating to the regular needle.  I have also used longer needles.  So for now, there’s a role for both cannulas and needles in my practice for lips.  But for the most part, I’m doing most of the lip augmentations with needles.  I like the precision that I get with a short stiff needle.  However, I understand that there is more of a risk of bruising and swelling right after the procedure.  These are just my thoughts at my current level of comfort with cannulas.  For more of what I think, visit: my thoughts on Lip Augmentation with fillers: (209) 551-1888
(209) 551-1888

Sherman Clay and Steinway fans in Modesto

Performing Masterpieces in the Operating Room

We are proud to have acquired a fine Steinway Piano from Sherman Clay Pianos in Walnut Creek, CA, almost 10 years ago when we moved to Modesto, CA. It was a symbol to us that we had “made it.” Tammy had become a full fledged Plastic Surgeon and for me, a General Surgeon. On Friday, 5/31/13 Sherman Clay, is closing its doors after 142 years of being America’s Finest Piano Dealer. The owners are retiring, and they deserve a standing ovation for all they have done for the piano arts. We wish Justin Levitt the manager of the Sherman Clay store in Walnut Creek a wonderful future with Steinway & Sons. He is a pianist, composer, Carnegie Hall performer, and an ambassador for all things piano.

Both Dr. Wu and I play the piano.

Steinway Piano

Dr. Lee and Dr. Wu’s Steinway Piano

Our Steinway Piano (Model B, 6’11”, 760 lbs) acquired in 2004 from Sherman Clay Pianos in Walnut Creek.  Tammy wanted to purchase the piano to go along with my violin playing.  But I couldn’t resist the urge to play the piano as well, and I’m glad she decided upon this high caliber instrument.    I had learned some piano as a child but had been “fired” by my piano teacher.  In college, I came up with this idea that in order to become a better violinist, I needed to learn piano.  So, I  sneaked in piano lessons with great piano teacher Arlene Cole at Brown University.  I wasn’t nearly anywhere good enough to be one of her regular students, but she allowed me to take lessons with her on the side for one summer. Then of course, medical school took over and I had forgotten about the piano until Tammy brought it up in 2004 as one of her interests and insisted on the best piano we could obtain and fit into our first house.   We have moved 3 times since 2003 and I’ve nearly had heart attacks each time the piano was moved, but it has fared well.

Currently I’ve been teaching myself some piano and here’s some Cosmetic Surgery finger dexterity practicing on Chopin’s Minute Waltz.


We believe in performing great masterpieces on stage and in the operating room