Physician Assistant, Spa on the Green; Age 39
While studying to be a physician assistant, Leah Kenney planned to go into pediatric plastic surgery, fixing cleft palates and birth defects. But when she trained with Dr. Glen Brooks, she was intrigued by the wide range of procedures and the way they changed lives in ways both big and small.
“I love the diversity of being involved in short, sweet cosmetic cases, and then big, involved cases,” she said. “Either way, you’re making life better for the patient.”
Those major cases include assisting Brooks with breast reconstructions after cancer-related mastectomies. “The advances in the field have been extensive; we can do smaller surgeries now with equally satisfying results and less downtime, so patients can move forward with their recovery much more quickly.”
But Kenney has also built a strong niche in cosmetic injections, fillers, and laser work, which have become as common as getting highlights in one’s hair, she said.
“I remember when Botox was a dirty word, and now it’s truly a household word. Today, the question isn’t ‘who’s getting Botox,’ it’s who’s not having it done. It’s such a small thing, but it makes people feel more confident and competitive in the workforce because they feel as good as they look.”
Kenney’s passion for improving lives extends far beyond her office, however, with a host of volunteer roles in the community.
“Throughout my life, I’ve always been advocating for my peers,” she said, from her term as class vice president in college to her launch of the Assoc. of Plastic Surgery Physician Assistants. “And when I became a mother, I started Longmeadow Swap.”
That’s a Facebook page she expected to link a small number of area moms, who would send each other used toys and household items they were done with, as a way to keep plastic out of landfills. “But it’s unbelievably popular,” she said of the 5,000-strong group (with another 2,400 on the waiting list), which has assembled its collective might in the service of everything from helping members find jobs to locating lost dogs and even, in one case, a child who had wandered off.
It’s impressive she fits all this in while also training students in injection techniques, working at a second practice in Connecticut, and raising three children. But her work keeps her energized.
“Every day is a good day at work. When students come from area programs, they always have a fun rotation here because the patients are so thankful. It’s very satisfying.”