Westport plastic surgeon, bodybuilder balances career and passion
WESTPORT — For Ellen Mahony, her work as a plastic surgeon is akin to artistry.
“I love the creative aspect of it and the artistic part of it,” the 61-year-old Westport resident said. “No two surgeries are alike.”
Her lifelong interest in the human anatomy and fitness has led Mahony to pursue a second passion in recent years — bodybuilding.
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In her decades working as a plastic surgeon, Mahony noticed many of her patients voicing concerns about gaining weight as they get older. So six years ago when Mahony began to experience this herself, she decided to make a lifestyle change.
“As it turned out I was working out with a friend of mine who was training for a body building competition. I started doing his work out and much to my surprise I started gaining quite a bit of muscle mass,” Mahony said. “He convinced me to compete also.”
From there, she began a more serious workout routine and eating four to five meals a day, and started seeing instant results. Now, she wakes up as early as 4 a.m. to get a workout in before going to her office.
“There’s nothing better than physical exercise for clearing your mind, giving you a lot of energy and giving you peace for the day,” Mahony said. “As long as I keep doing that I can work for a long, long time.”
In recent years, Mahony not only experienced a physical transformation, but a professional one as well. When Mahony started her practice, she focused on upper extremity surgery and reconstructive surgery. Now, she has a larger focus on aesthetic surgery and regenerative aesthetics; the latter uses the body’s own biology to repair and regenerate tissue.
“That’s an area I’ve had an interest in for the last three or four years,” she said. “I think that’s really the area that’s up-and-coming in medicine across the board. Rather it be in surgery, plastic surgery or journal medicine.”
As the field of medicine continues to expand, Mahony said there are now plastic surgeons who specialize in areas ranging from facial surgery to hand surgery.
“There’s a million areas within plastic surgery that, in order to be trained in and develop expertise in, you really have to learn quite a lot,” she said. “In my field what I’ve done is I’ve started in a broader area, and I’ve now become more specialized.”
Her decision to focus on regenerative aesthetics has also separated her from other practitioners in the area. According to Mahony, she may be the only plastic surgeon in Connecticut to have a center for regenerative aesthetics.
The noninvasive method — platelet plasma therapy — gives patients a way to improve their skin and hair loss.
“We’ve applied this to all types of healing,” Mahony said. “Orthopoedics are using that now for tendon healing. Dental doctors are using that for gum grafts, for people who have gum surgery, and plastic surgeons are using it for aging skin.”
As her practice continues to evolve, Mahony said she also sees similarities with fitness and bodybuilding.
“I think there’s a tremendous amount of crossover,” she said, adding her practice is also about lifestyle changes, not just surgery. “My practice is really based on the whole person. You have to really develop a relationship with people.”
She noted her personal experience as a woman who understands the aging process has also helped her build bridges with patients.
“I think that’s been a great part of the practice in being able to relate to people and have them relate to me,” Mahony said.