Author Archives: Mark

RealSelf Announces Partnership to Support Training and Mentoring of Female Surgeons in Africa

RealSelf, the most trusted online destination to get informed about elective cosmetic treatments and find the right provider, announced a partnership with Mission: Restore to support the next generation of female surgeons in Africa. The first initiative is the Women in Surgery campaign, which provides training to fifteen surgeons who seek to advance their skills in reconstructive surgery. RealSelf is matching up to $15,000 in new donations to the campaign through October 31.

Through the matching grant from RealSelf, funds will support East African female surgeons’ access to highly focused hands-on surgical training, mentorship and grant opportunities, and access to regional conferences so they can further their impact in the surgical field.

“RealSelf has a commitment to supporting doctors who deliver reconstructive care in underserved communities around the world,” said RealSelf Founder and CEO Tom Seery. “We are proud to support a campaign that provides training and mentorship to female surgeons and highlights the powerful work they’re doing to bring reconstructive care, and confidence, to patients who need it most.”

Both Mission: Restore and RealSelf recognize that closing the gender gap in surgery is not only about equality for women, but is one of the most impactful and effective ways to meet the global surgical need. This partnership builds on other philanthropic efforts by RealSelf, including the RealSelf Fellowship Program, which awards funding to medical professionals who donate their time to deliver medical care and training to vulnerable populations around the world.

“We work with amazing female surgeons in East Africa every day, and we see the impact they have on their communities. With partners like RealSelf we can continue to support these women and recruit the next generation of surgeons,” said Executive Director of Mission: Restore Karina Nagin.

To learn more or donate to the Women in Surgery campaign, please visit: Generosity.com/medical-fundraising/women-in-global-surgery

About RealSelf

RealSelf is the largest online marketplace for people to learn and share experiences about elective cosmetic procedures and connect with the right providers. Offering millions of photos and medical expert answers, 10 million people visit RealSelf each month to find out which treatments and providers live up to their promise of being “Worth It.” From simple skincare to highly considered cosmetic surgery, RealSelf makes it easy to discover what’s possible and find the right provider.

About Mission: Restore

Mission: Restore is a global health non-profit increasing the capacity of surgeons in developing countries through training and mentorship. We specialize in reconstructive surgery and create a sustainable infrastructure in which local surgeons have the knowledge, skills and support they need to treat debilitating injuries in their own communities.

RealSelf Fellow Teaches Through Surgery in Vietnam

When Dr. Joseph Gruss set out on a recent humanitarian medical trip to Vietnam, he did so not expecting to spend much, if any, time in the operating room. The trip was designed to be a teaching trip, where he could connect with local surgeons and give lectures. The operating room turned out to be the perfect classroom.

“The problem is when you get to these countries, a lot of the local people don’t speak good English, so it’s really hard to teach all the time without translators,” Dr. Gruss said in an interview with RealSelf. “I found the best way to teach was in the operating room.”

And teach he did. A lot.

“Even though I was not supposed to do many surgeries … I eventually did five cases a day for five days,” Dr. Gruss said. “To do five major cases in a day is absolutely impossible in the U.S.”

Dr. Gruss explains a procedure in the operating room. Photo via ReSurge.

Most of the patients were children in need of facial reconstruction. The majority of the surgeries were to repair cleft lips or cleft palates. Dr. Gruss said it would take at least a month in the United States to perform as many surgeries as he did in five days. He credited the efficiency of the process in Vietnam. From the nurses and anesthesiologists who got patients set up quickly, to the lack of road blocks in the process that doctors often face in the United States.

“Myself and my resident were actually blown away by how efficient the operating rooms run there,” Dr. Gruss said.

Dr. Gruss noted that while the process is much quicker than it is in the United States, it isn’t because of a lack of safety. All of the appropriate safety measures are taken with each patient. Dr. Gruss said the level of care in Vietnam was fairly sophisticated compared to many countries. There just isn’t enough of it. He visited one of the few major hospitals. Many patients live long distances away and struggle to travel for the care they need.

Dr. Gruss made this trip with a group from ReSurge, who are working to expand and raise the level of care in countries like Vietnam. He did so with a sponsorship from RealSelf as one of the members of the initial class for the RealSelf Fellowship. RealSelf Fellows are awarded $7,500 to help fund nonprofit-sponsored humanitarian trips with the potential to further the RealSelf mission to bring confidence to people worldwide.

He is planning a return trip to Vietnam, and hoping to be able to see some of the patients he operated on.

Until then, he’s continuing to do what he initially set out to do; teach. He has maintained relationships with some of the doctors he met in Vietnam, and frequently answers their questions via email.

Learn more about the RealSelf Fellowship and how to apply here.

RealSelf’s Volunteering Day at the Treehouse Warehouse

RealSelf employees recently put their sorting, folding, packing, and tagging skills to the test during an afternoon volunteering in the Treehouse warehouse.

Treehouse’s mission is to bring equity for youth in foster care. That includes providing the kids with the academic support they need to graduate from high school at the same rate as their peers. The impact of the effort has been significant. Washington youth in foster care who aren’t in the Treehouse program have a 5-year high school graduation rate of 49%. The rate for those in the program jumps to 89% — above the Washington state average rate of 82%.

A huge part of the effort is an annual back-to-school drive that helps supply youth in the program with the supplies they need to feel confident in school.

That is where RealSelf came in.

In July, RealSelf employees participated in a back-to-school drive for Treehouse, donating clothing and school supplies.

We wanted to make an even bigger impact, so we partnered with Treehouse on a volunteer day in the warehouse. Treehouse receives thousands of donations ranging from new school supplies to used clothing, and everything in between. Each item has to be checked for quality, sorted, and processed before it hits the floor of the Treehouse store where the kids shop. Nearly a dozen RealSelf employees spent an afternoon doing just that.

“Working with Treehouse
was a great 
team experience,
and I can’t wait to go back!”

— Michael Peberdy

From separating pencils and pens to processing bags and bags of clothing, we did a little bit of everything. The majority of the day was spent in the Treehouse warehouse, but we also spent some time stocking the the store floor while several kids were busy shopping.

Treehouse received so many school supply donations we were running out of bins to store them all in. We were also put on duty of sorting more than 100 donated backpacks and dozens and dozens of new clothing items.

Everything donated to Treehouse gets put to use. If it’s not up to the standard of what the kids would receive, then it is donated to Goodwill in exchange for vouchers Treehouse uses to purchase additional inventory. Processing all of the items is a major effort, and volunteer teams are a big help.

This wasn’t the first time RealSelf partnered with Treehouse and that partnership will continue in the future with more clothing drives and volunteer opportunities.

Want to work for one of Seattle’s best companies? We’re hiring! Apply to join our team today.

RealSelf Gives Back with a Month of Volunteering

At RealSelf, we want all of our employees enjoy great work-life balance. We also understand it’s impossible to not bring aspects of life into work and aspects of work home. That’s why we try to support the RealSelf team whether they are in or out of the office.

That’s where our COR Learning program comes in.

There is a different COR Learning every month, ranging from self defense seminars and nutrition training, to improv classes. Each is designed to offer employees support they can use in all parts of their life.

The COR Learnings are also another chance for RealSelf to give back. Giving back is at the heart of RealSelf and something we believe in strongly. The RealSelf Local Giving team organizes volunteer projects throughout the year, but it only seemed right to designate an entire month to giving back. That’s exactly what we did in July with our Volunteering COR Learning. We partnered with local organizations to help make an impact in our community.

Part of the collection RealSelf delivered to Treehouse.

That included holding a drive for Treehouse, an organization that supplies youth in foster care with the items and support they need to succeed. Treehouse serves more than 7,000 foster care youth annually, helping them with clothing and supplies for school as well as academic and financial support. The result is overwhelming with an 89% five-year graduation rate for those in the Treehouse program, compared to 49% for foster youth not in the program.

RealSelf has worked with Treehouse before and the drive this year was another success. Employees brought in bags and bags of new clothing and school supplies, adding up to a large delivery that will help more than 50 kids get ready to go back to school.

For the second time this year, several employees visited Food Lifeline to help sort and repack food that would otherwise go to waste. Food Lifeline rescues millions of pounds of food every year and redirects it to food banks, shelters and meal programs.

July may have been the volunteering COR Learning month, but RealSelf’s efforts to give back go well beyond a couple events one month of the year. The RealSelf Local Giving team is always looking for ways to make an impact in our community. Making a year-round effort was also part of the COR Learning as a representative from Seattle Works stopped by the office to help us find more ways to volunteer.

The COR Learning program has a lot more in store in 2017 with mental health and financial wellness events planned in the coming months.

Want to work for one of Seattle’s best companies? We’re hiring! Apply to join our team today.

RealSelf Makes Two More ‘Best Workplace’ Lists

It’s time to celebrate again!

RealSelf continues to collect accolades as a stellar place to work, this time by both Inc. magazine and Seattle Business magazine.

We are the No. 15 midsize company (60 to 149 employees) on Seattle Business magazine’s list of the 100 best places to work in Washington in 2017. This marks the third consecutive year we made the list.

The ranking is based on 10 categories, including benefits, communication, corporate culture, hiring/retention, executive leadership, performance standards, responsibility/decision making, rewards/recognition, training/education, and workplace environment.

RealSelf staffers celebrate the Seattle Business honor

We were also named an honoree in Inc. magazine’s national list of “Best Workplaces 2017.” The list recognized the 233 best companies from around the country. RealSelf was one of only 10 companies recognized from Washington state. The magazine surveyed more than 169,000 employees to formulate the list.

Creating and maintaining a strong company culture has been a priority at RealSelf. CEO Tom Seery said the company has worked to establish a culture where employees can be themselves, and work in an environment that makes them want to come back every day.

Earlier this year, RealSelf ranked No. 29 for top company culture by Entrepreneur magazine and claimed the No. 17 spot out of 50 on Glassdoor’s 2017 Employees’ Choice Best Place to Work list

Want to work for one of Seattle’s best companies? We’re hiring! Apply to join our team today.

RealSelf Joins the 2017 Seattle Pride Parade

The 43rd annual Seattle Pride Parade will be Sunday, June 25, and for the first time, RealSelf will be a sponsoring participant. More than 30 RealSelfers, family members, and friends will march to celebrate the LGBTQ community.

Planning for the event was a team effort with more than 40 employees collaborating on the process. While this will be the first time RealSelf participates as a company, there were plenty of Seattle Pride veterans to help with preparations.

The result is RealPride.

RealPride means supporting our community and people’s ability to be proud of themselves as individuals. It means love for all. It means celebrating joy and happiness. And it means paving the way for the next generation to be out and proud.

Courtesy: Seattle Pride

RealSelf will join more than 200 other organizations as sponsoring participants. The RealSelf team will be decked out in ’90s themed wardrobes, and passing out goodies for the crowd.

Participating in the event is another opportunity for the RealSelf Local Giving team to support the local community. Recently the Local Giving team prepared groceries with the Food Lifeline Hunger Solution Center and helped with a spring cleanup of Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood

The Seattle Pride Parade begins at 11 a.m. PT. The parade will run along 4th Avenue in Downtown Seattle, beginning at Union Street and running north to Denny Way, ending near the Seattle Center and Space Needle.

Want to work for one of Seattle’s best companies? We’re hiring! Apply to join our team today.

RealSelf Fellowship Assists Project Medishare’s Haiti Efforts

For 15 years, Dr. Seth Thaller and his team with Project Medishare have taken humanitarian medical trips to Port Au Prince, Haiti, every quarter. Some trips have been postponed due to social, political, or environmental factors, but whenever the barriers clear, the Miami-based doctor and his team are back helping the community.

Dr. Thaller’s team has treated hundreds of patients on these trips. Most need surgery for cleft lips, cleft palates, or significant burn injuries, patients with issues so severe that they struggle to adapt to regular society. Patients just like the 38-year-old woman Dr. Thaller treated on his most recent visit to Haiti. The woman suffered from a cleft lip. She complained of breathing issues and had trouble eating. She talked about the shame she felt from her facial appearance and how often she noticed people staring. A mother of two, the woman dealt with the issue her entire life.

Now, the woman never has to be ashamed again.

The woman was one of 22 patients Dr. Thaller’s team operated on during a recent trip to Port Au Prince. Although the trip was a familiar one for Dr. Thaller, there was a change this trip. This time Dr. Thaller traveled as a member of the inaugural class of the RealSelf Fellowship. The RealSelf Fellowship awards funding for medical professionals donating their time and expertise to deliver care and training in underserved communities around the world. Project Medishare is entirely self-funded and relies on programs like the RealSelf Fellowship to make these trips possible.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. There is desperate need for improved medical care. Not only for reconstructive surgical care, but for even routine, basic healthcare. Patients travel from all over the country just for the chance to receive care from visiting doctors. The trips are not only vital to the patients who undergo operations, but also for training and improving the standard of care.

“We have definite plans to continue our enduring promise to our Haitian neighbors,” Dr. Thaller said in an interview with RealSelf.

The procedures Dr. Thaller and his team performed don’t just fix issues, they change lives. The conditions can be debilitating and fixing them can be a platform to return to society whether it’s a child returning to or starting school, or an adult getting back into the workforce.

To make a sustainable impact, the effort needs to go beyond performing a couple dozen surgeries once a quarter. That’s why education is such a focus of the trips. Dr. Thaller said his staff works with the local care providers to assist in pre- and post-operative care. They also work with local surgery residents.

“They were able to closely observe our surgeries, and we could teach them directly,” Dr. Thaller said.

“You will always get more from these trips then you are giving,” he said.

Learn more about the RealSelf Fellowship and how to apply here.

RealSelf Fellow Repairs Communities One Surgery at a Time

Dr. Andrew Wexler is no stranger to humanitarian medical trips just like this one. He has decades of experience and has performed hundreds of surgeries on people in need.

But it’s not often he encounters a patient with a case as challenging as Lydia’s.

Dr. Wexler met Lydia on his recent trip to Zimbabwe, as a RealSelf Fellow traveling with ReSurge International. It isn’t uncommon for him to meet teens like this 17-year-old. Many need surgery for cleft lips, cleft palates, or burn injuries. Lydia was in desperate need for something more. She needed significant facial surgery after suffering devastating injuries when she was run over by an ox cart.

Lydia suffered a panfacial fracture, which includes fractures in the upper, middle, and lower parts of her face. She needed significant and complex surgery.

Fortunately, Dr. Wexler and his team were there and able to help. His decades of experience proved pivotal as he was able to incorporate older technology and techniques to the surgery, even building a dental model, a skill not all facial plastic surgeons, even experienced ones, have.

“It was just a remarkable stroke of luck and fate for this girl that, 1) a team was there, and 2) that myself, a member of that team, just happened to be the right person at the right time for her injuries,” Dr. Wexler told RealSelf. 

Dr. Wexler and his team operated on Lydia for eight hours. The results are dramatic.

Photo courtesy: Dr. Andrew Wexler

Remarkably, Lydia was released from the hospital just a few days after her surgery.

In addition to Lydia, Dr. Wexler treated five other patients and spent a significant part of his trip training local medical professionals, focusing on using the equipment available in the local facilities. It forced Dr. Wexler and his team to adapt to what was available, but also to help train local providers on the equipment they use every day.

Dr. Wexler traveled to Zimbabwe as one of the Fellows in the inaugural group of the RealSelf Fellowship. The RealSelf Fellowship awards funding to medical professionals like Dr. Wexler who donate time and expertise to deliver care and training to underserved communities worldwide.

Photo courtesy: Dr. Andrew Wexler

Traveling and teaching is somewhat of a life’s work for Dr. Wexler. In 25 years worth of humanitarian medical trips, he’s visited more than a dozen countries and performed hundreds of operations.

“When you fix a child with a deformity you not only fix the child, but you fix a family,” Dr. Wexler said.

As part of every trip, Dr. Wexler says the educational component is key to leaving a true impact. “It is a little like throwing a rock into the water and watching the concentric circles move out from the center,” he said.

“My goal is to stand on the banks of the water and throw as many stones as I can with the distant hope that with each change of a child, a family, a community, in some little way I can make a difference in the world.”

Learn more about the RealSelf Fellowship and how to apply here.

RealSelf Joins Food Lifeline During National Volunteer Week

Every year, millions of pounds of food goes to waste in Seattle. We’re not talking about the avocado you forgot in the back of your fridge. We’re talking about good food from restaurants, grocery stores, manufacturers, and farmers.

Food Lifeline works to reduce that waste, rescuing more than 44 million pounds of food last year alone, and redirecting it to more than 275 food banks, shelters, and meal programs.

Sorting and repacking that much food requires a lot of help, and this week the RealSelf Local Giving team chipped in. After learning about the Food Lifeline operation and touring the facility, a few of our employees got to work sorting pears.

A lot of pears.

Additionally, as part of National Volunteer Week, it was perfect timing for the RealSelf team to support our community. Their efforts will go beyond Volunteer Week, and they are already planning philanthropic activities for summer and fall.

Food Lifeline has flexible and family-friendly volunteer hours. There are opportunities during the day and at night during the week and on the weekend. The robust operation is part of the reason why Food Lifeline is able to provide 90,000 meals every day, accounting for 30 percent of the meals served by food programs in Seattle.

If you’re interested in volunteering with Food Lifeline, you can register on their website.

Want to work for one of Seattle’s best companies? We’re hiring! Apply to join our team today.

#RealSelfLife: 21 Questions With Amber From Sales

If you met Amber for the first time, it might be hard to see her as anything other than a star member of the RealSelf sales team.

One of our most successful doctor advisors, Amber has had many roles at RealSelf, including digital marketing specialist in PR, and an audience-engagement specialist on our Community team.

We know that Amber is making the most of the opportunity to grow at RealSelf, but what do we really know about her?

Amber sat down with us for the first installment of 21 questions with your RealSelf co-workers. Let’s get to know her better.

What is your favorite snack in the office?
String cheese or beer

What was your favorite TV show growing up?
Dick Van Dyke

Where do you want to go on your next vacation?
Indonesia

Where is your favorite place to go for lunch in Pioneer Square?
Pho Fuchsia

If you could have one superpower, what would you choose?
Invisibility

Who are three people alive or dead you’d want to have dinner with?
Oprah, Beyoncé, and Chelsea Handler

iPhone or Android?
iPhone

Twitter or Instagram?
Instagram

What is one skill you wish you had?
Singing

When you were 5, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A lawyer

What is your favorite food?
Popcorn

What is one thing you’ve never done in Seattle that you want to do?
Scuba dive

What three things do you keep in your fridge or pantry at all times?
Cholula hot sauce, Parmesan cheese, and wine

What is your favorite holiday?
Halloween

What toppings do you like on your pizza?
Meat, garlic, and extra cheese

Do you pronounce GIF with a hard G or like GIF or a soft G like JIF?
GIF

Who is your favorite musician?
Prince

Is a hot dog a sandwich?
No, it’s more like a taco

What was your first job?
Selling Dish Network and DirecTV in a creepy call center

What is one thing in the world you think is underrated?
The cinematic film Madagascar

Which one of your co-workers would make the best president?
Kirsten Mann

Want to work for one of Seattle’s best companies? We’re hiring! Apply to join our team today.