Dr. Alexis Parcells is a New Jersey-based Board-Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. As the only young female plastic surgeon at her office, she specializes in Breast and Body Aesthetic Surgery and utilizes the most advanced surgical and nonsurgical techniques in order to achieve natural, beautiful results. Dr. Parcells tailors her technique to each individual patient’s desire because no two women are the same, nor should we be!
In addition to her practice, she is passionate about treating her breast cancer patients, helping them to restore wholeness after lumpectomy or mastectomy through breast reconstruction. She’s created a website, bravebras.org specifically for breast cancer patients so they can better understand their reconstructive options. Additionally, she is actively volunteering for organizations including The Breasties, Minette’s Angels, and Fashion for the Pink Crusade. As a mother of two young daughters, Dr. Parcells values the time she spends advocating for Girls Inc., a non-profit organization committed to inspiring girls and young women.
Our Interview with Dr. Alexis Parcells
Tell us about your professional journey. What made you want to become a plastic surgeon.
My father is a urologist, and growing up his office was attached to our home. He had a procedure room with a bathroom adjoining our kitchen, and every-so-often a patient would enter through the wrong door and perplexingly stare at me as I completed my homework at the kitchen table. Without skipping a beat, I’d lead him back to the waiting room and carry on with my routine. I was surrounded by medicine and this early exposure lead to an appreciation for how hard my father worked and how much his patients appreciated the care he provided. I felt compelled to contribute in a similar, meaningful way.
I found my own path in medicine, specifically plastic surgery, during high school. I volunteered with Operation Smile and went on several medical missions to assist in cleft lip and palate surgery. I became acutely aware of how one operation can profoundly change a patient’s, her mother’s, and her community’s perception of who she is and what she is capable of. I was determined to channel my passion towards helping others in this visible way.
Why are you passionate about being a plastic surgeon, and what do you love most about it?
Performing plastic surgery is incredibly challenging and gratifying. No two patients and no two concerns are exactly the same. I call it the sub-specialty of detail. Even though the layers that make up our body are constant (i.e. skin, fat, muscle, bone) we all age differently. Appreciating and addressing those subtle changes are the difference between a good and great surgical result.
My practice is a combination of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures, and I focus on empowering women to feel their best in their bodies.
I treat all types of women from all walks of life. Whether she’s a high school sports athlete who is suffering from neck and back pain and desires a breast reduction, or a middle-aged cancer patient simultaneously battling her disease and undergoing reconstruction, the goal is always the same: to make the experience as pleasant and empowering as possible – all while creating a beautiful result.
I am continually inspired by my patients, and their stories of strength encourage me to continually push myself to be the best I can be.
It seems like the stigma that some used to associate with plastic surgery has been fading more rapidly in recent years.
What would you say to females that may want to have a procedure – but still feel like its taboo?
The stigma surrounding plastic surgery has dissipated over the last few decades, and the reason is multifactorial.
Thirty years ago, women who underwent plastic surgery would avoid talking about it, but their results were obvious. The surgeries were long and oftentimes patients stayed in the hospital to recover and didn’t return back into the community for weeks.
Today, the opposite is true. Our specialty has done an excellent job of evolving. What was once a transformative experience with a long downtime is now a series of small minimally invasive refined procedures with a quick recovery. And when done correctly- can trick a discerning eye. We’re also pushing the limits on biotechnology and tissue engineering. It’s exciting to see what the future holds.
In addition to the evolution and technological advancement in the field, many women are increasingly posting photos of themselves on social media platforms and following influencers and celebrities who endorse plastic surgery. Plastic surgery in the 21st century is within the self-care space. Women are empowered to schedule a Botox or filler treatment in the same way they would make an appointment to color their hair. An abdominoplasty to strengthen a woman’s core abdominal muscles after multiple pregnancies is no longer taboo. Instead, its celebrated by trainers and wellness experts.
And if it’s not for you, I think that’s great too. But if someone is interested, she should research the topic to obtain accurate information and be empowered to make an informed decision.
You’ve mentioned previously that you took a significant amount of time to identify your priorities for a successful career and what you would be willing to give on.
Can you walk us through what that process looked like for you – and the conclusion you came to?
There are only 24 hours in the day, and our lives and priorities are continually evolving.
During my surgical training, my husband and I decided to start our family. Many women’s careers stall while having children (or trying to have, i.e. IVF), and I was fearful I’d be left behind if I didn’t over-compensate. I resumed a full work schedule 3 weeks after each of my daughter’s. Finding affordable and qualified child care was even more stressful than sustaining my workload.
I realized quickly that finding a reliable support system was integral to my success and the success of my family and practice. I am routinely assessing my priorities and having difficult conversations on work-life integration in order to be attentive to my needs as well as my family and my patients.
Additionally, I am surrounded by an amazing team of women both in my office and in the O.R.. I enjoy discussing challenging issues regarding motherhood and climbing the career ladder because there is no perfect solution to a problem. I’m open to learning tips and tricks on what has worked for someone else. We can all be each other’s best advocates. Better, together.
In moments of uncertainty or doubt that you’ve had, what do you do to build yourself back up? Where do you find that support?
Brene Brown has this great segment about showing up in the arena and challenging yourself to be better that I’ve really resonated with. It’s important to understand the reason behind a doubt – it may be because we are afraid of how we’ll be judged. We always want to present the best version of ourselves, but it may not always be the result. I find it helpful to be honest with myself about how I handled a specific situation, digest the constructive criticism, critique myself on how I could improve with a do-over, and push forward.
What does success mean to you?
Success means that I’m proud of myself, that my family is proud of me, and that my patients are proud to call me their surgeon.
If you could go back and give yourself three pieces of advice at the beginning of your career – what would you tell yourself?
- Don’t let someone else manage your career because you will be unhappy with the result.
- Stay true to your values. You’ll never lose a night’s sleep for doing the right thing.
- Find something you are passionate about, and practice it as often as you can.
What single word, saying, or motivational quote do you identify most with?
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts – Winston Churchill
What’s next for you?
You’ll have to stay tuned to find out!