• September 22, 2015

RealSelf Stories: How This Doctor Advisor Became a Patient

RealSelf Stories: How This Doctor Advisor Became a Patient

150 150 Mari Malcolm

When Debra Gravelle joined RealSelf in 2012 as a doctor advisor, she was a cosmetic surgery skeptic. Three years later, she’s undergoing her own inspiring transformation, starting “from the head down” with laser resurfacing, Voluma, and Botox. In December, just before her 60th birthday, she’ll get a tummy tuck with liposuction and fat transfers, followed by a breast lift. She’s documenting it all in her RealSelf review, and in a forthcoming “‘Sexy at 60” mini-documentary by our RealSelf video team.

We asked Debra what she loves about her role of doctor advisor, why this was the moment for her to make such big personal changes, and how her perspective on cosmetic surgery has evolved.


Debra Gravelle, Senior RealSelf Advisor, looking fabulous.

I loved everybody I talked to during my RealSelf interview, but I had a lot of questions about what I thought about plastic surgery. I just didn’t get that these were things people were doing to increase their confidence and happiness level — I thought it was about vanity. I didn’t realize the depths of change that can happen in a person when they go through it.

When I read the stories on RealSelf, I started to understand that it’s more about how you feel inside than how you look, that those things are so connected.

What I love about the role of doctor advisor is that it’s a combination of relationship building and helping doctors with marketing. I didn’t realize how satisfying that customer service piece of the role would become for me, building that trust with doctors and giving them a chance to give back to the community as they build their practice.

In most cases, we’re dealing with their marketing and office staff, more than with the doctors themselves. I love getting that chance to support a practice, almost like one of their team members, coaching them on how to build their presence on our site. When you see them get a new review, you get excited for them, because you know last week you talked about the importance of asking for reviews. You see the results of your advising first-hand. You get to share in their successes.

I have one doctor who told me he had two people chatting in his waiting room, and they realized they’d both been on RealSelf. They’d been commenting on the same post, and they knew each other’s usernames. They laughed and said, “We’ve been on RealSelf together!”

It’s also great being part of the Advisor team. There’s a lot of support that goes on. I’ve been here nearly three years, and I have more than 30 years of experience in helping people through coaching, advising, or selling. I love to see the new people have success with their doctors, hearing them say, “I told my doctor to do this, and two weeks later he’s getting more inquiries.” I love that!

It’s scary to share my own treatment journey on RealSelf because I’m not anonymous. I have posted a couple pictures that I would never send to a fellow employee and say, “Look at this picture!” But anybody at RealSelf can see it. I’m not a prude by any means, but I’m aware that I’m not anonymous, that I have adult children who might go, “Oh my God, Mother.” I’m aware I have a granddaughter who will see those photos when she gets older. So I’m being tasteful about what I put up, but I still want other people to see and share and be encouraged, because I’ve been so encouraged by others.

Never in my wildest dreams when I showed up at RealSelf would I have thought I’d be going through with this surgery. But I changed my mind, seeing the confidence people gain. This is a banner year for me: I’m turning 60! I feel like if I’m going to do it, I need to do it now. I want to enjoy it for a while! — Debra Gravelle is a Senior RealSelf Advisor. Follow her personal journey, Bringing Sexy Back at 60, on RealSelf.com.