WHITEFISH – Welcome to the laser room. Would you like your hair removed?
At Whitefish Plastic Surgery a patient can choose from a variety of non-surgical procedures courtesy of nearly $200,000 worth of the latest in cosmetic laser technology. Across the hall in the operation room you can get a collagen injection or an eyelid lift, while a couple doors down your kids play in the family room. And, of course, you can get some plastic surgery done: facelifts, tummy tucks and the whole bit.
The office is a place of injections, medicine and surgery, but with its music and vibrant atmosphere it doesn’t feel like it.
“It’s like being in a coffee shop,” said Dr. Sarah Nargi, the center’s founder. “It’s formal, it’s medical, but we make it as relaxing as humanly possible. It takes the anxiety out.”
The Whitefish Plastic Surgery center sits on nine acres of wooded land off U.S. 93. Five horses graze behind the office. Inside, the lobby is decorated with fashionable chairs, darkly stained wood benches, colorful rugs and ornate vases. Paintings line the green walls and a large horse statue pays tribute to Nargi’s quadruped friends outside.
Dr. Nargi bought the building when she moved to Montana last year with her husband and daughter. She did much of the physical labor involved with remodeling the building into an office and even painted most of the art hanging on the walls.
She opened up last July. A year later she is surprised by her popularity, especially considering there are two other practicing plastic surgeons in Kalispell. Three surgeons for the Flathead are a lot, she said, adding that there are only 11 or 12 in the state.
“You don’t go somewhere that’s already saturated,” she said. “It worried me. I moved here strictly for the lifestyle.”
She got the lifestyle and the business. Today, she said, her “parking lot is always full.”
Montana has been kind to Nargi’s business, despite not being known as a plastic surgery hub like, say, Orange County, Calif. Nargi said she has plastic surgeon friends in Miami and Atlanta that are limited by too much competition. In cities, plastic surgeons have to focus on specialties, Nargi said, while in Montana she does everything.
“I’m a lot busier than them,” she said of her friends.
Nargi originally thought she would get a lot of patients seeking reconstructive surgery: for burns, cleft lips, skin cancer and other conditions. But she says 90 percent of her patients come for cosmetic – or aesthetic – surgery. These are people who simply aren’t happy with a physical feature or want to experiment with a new look.
“I try to make people pretty and natural,” Nargi said. “But not have them look unlike themselves.”
All ages come, though not usually younger than 20, Nargi said. She feels uncomfortable with 18 or 19-year-old patients, unless they truly understand what they’re doing. For the most part, though, her patients are a diverse collection of people – mostly women – between 25 and 75. Many are seasonal homeowners, but she said it’s difficult to classify her patients.
“That’s the weird thing about this place,” she said. “You never know who’ll you get.”
One thing she can say for sure is that her patients aren’t generally rich, as is often assumed.
“They’re just regular folks,” she said. “Of course, some are rich.”
For larger operations, Nargi goes to either North Valley Hospital in Whitefish or the Kalispell Regional Medical Center. There, Nargi performs liposuction; breast augmentations, lifts and reductions; tummy tucks; rhinoplasties; facelifts; and breast reconstructions for patients who have undergone mastectomies. The office is used for smaller operations like eyelid lifts and a variety of “MedSpa” services.
The MedSpa brochure features imaginative names for its operations such as “eye candy” and “the perfect lips,” and some that leave less to the imagination like “non-surgical facelift.” A licensed aesthetician and two registered nurses offer a wide range of non-surgical MedSpa services. In the aesthetician’s room, Jene Morrison performs procedures such as facials, waxing, microdermabrasion and many others. In the operation room Sara Torgerson does injections and Dr. Nargi does small operations. Sometimes her 6-year-old daughter watches.
“(The patients) are totally fine with it,” Nargi said.
Then there’s the laser room. There are two lasers – Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and fractional – with various attachments. Patty Dobis uses the lasers to remove hair, spider veins, wrinkles and tattoos. She also does photo rejuvenation, facial resurfacing and other procedures. Whitefish Plastic Surgery, Dobis said, is the only place capable of removing tattoos in the valley.
“It’s cool,” Dobis said. “It’s a lot of technology.”
Laser operations range from $70 to $2,500, while aesthetician services generally cost less than $100. Injections, including BOTOX, run from $300 to $1,800. Nargi’s large surgical operations usually cost between $6,000 and 7,000.
Nargi said her most popular operations are on breasts, then faces, followed by stomachs. She spends a lot of time discussing the operations with her patients before they make their decisions, she said. Ultimately, she’s involved in life-changing procedures and she wants patients to be completely aware of the ramifications. In the end, seeing how she’s affected them is why she chose her profession.
“It’s a really positive medical specialty,” she said. “I love it. I live for it.”
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