In an age where “boss babe” and “power woman” get thrown around like sprinkles, Dr. Carmen Kavali is the whole darn cake. The Atlanta-based plastic surgeon runs a clinic that produces absolutely gorgeous skin, body, and facial transformations, and has been doing so for almost two decades. And, despite her ultra-busy days, she still finds time to co-manage a household of kids (teenagers, nonetheless) — and maintain a sense of Southern charm all the while.
“I consider myself a Georgia Peach, as I’ve lived most of my life here, but I was born in Ohio,” Kavali shares. “I love living in Atlanta! The culture, the diversity, the sports, the opportunity, the architecture, the people.” (All she asks is that you please, for goodness sake, don’t call it Hot-lanta.)
Below, the beauty dishes on her zippy morning routine, why she’s a fan of fat freezing, and the surprising thing that makes her feel most beautiful.
Spotlyte: When did you decide you wanted to become a plastic surgeon?
Carmen Kavali: I knew I wanted to be a surgeon, but I didn’t know what type of surgery. I loved all of it! Trauma, thoracic, vascular, general surgery — all of it. I was in the second year of my general surgery residency when I saw my first breast reconstruction — it was a TRAM flap, where a plastic surgeon uses abdominal tissue to create a new breast. It was like the angels sang! I went to my program director to ask what I needed to do to match into a plastic surgery fellowship, and the rest is history.
Spotlyte: Anything else about your journey?
CK: I’m the first generation on both sides of my family to finish college. My dad is pretty proud, and he doesn’t waste time telling anyone who will listen that his daughter is a surgeon (my apologies to anyone who has ever been his server in any restaurant).
Spotlyte: Since you began practicing, have you noticed significant technical and/or medical advancements in the field? If so, how has this impacted the way you work?
CK: Breast implant technology has changed since I started my practice in 2002. The gel cohesivity is more firm, which helps the implants keep their shape.
Spotlyte: What about skincare?
CK: Microneedling has changed my skincare practice. It is also called “collagen induction therapy,” and that’s exactly what it does. It’s also a versatile procedure that addresses different problems depending on how the treatment is customized.
Spotlyte: For someone who does not want surgery, are there any non-invasive fat reduction procedures and/or devices that elicit results?
CK: We’re so fortunate to have non-invasive options for body contouring. CoolSculpting® is a great option for contouring trouble spots — it literally freezes [treated] fat to remove it. As a plastic surgeon, I’m proud to offer CoolSculpting as a tool in my practice. Body contouring can land anywhere on the spectrum from CoolSculpting to liposuction to bigger surgery (like a tummy tuck).
The great thing about being a plastic surgeon offering CoolSculpting is that I’m never stuck with it as the only option. If someone is a great candidate for CoolSculpting, that’s what I’ll offer. If they have more thickness or loose skin, then I can offer other options to help meet their goals. Plastic surgery is all about matching goals and expectations to the procedures we have available.
[Editor’s note: The CoolSculpting treatment is a non-invasive fat-freezing treatment that effectively reduces fat in certain self-proclaimed “problem spots” in the submental and submandibular areas, thigh, abdomen, flank, and upper arm, along with bra fat, back fat, and underneath the buttocks (you know, those bulges that just won’t go away, regardless of how much you sweat it out on the treadmill). While it isn’t a weight loss solution, fat-freezing can reduce pouches of fat. As with any procedure, there are risks and side effects, so talk to a licensed provider to see if it’s right for you.]
Spotlyte: Have you tried injectables? If so, where?
CK: I have absolutely tried injectables! I already have somewhat full lips, but I wanted more smoothness and a bit more fullness, so I had a treatment with injectable lip filler. It gave me exactly what I wanted: subtle, but noticeable results.
I’ve also [added volume to] my cheeks with injectable filler, which I absolutely love and think [some people] can benefit from as they age. We lose volume in our faces as we age, and [it] helps to put that [volume] back.
[Editor’s note: Injectable filler is a temporary treatment that adds volume to areas of the face such as the lips, cheeks, and laugh lines. Like any medical treatment, it has potential risks and side effects. Be sure to talk to a licensed provider to see if it’s right for you. Have more questions? Chat with our team of trained aesthetics specialists now.]
Spotlyte: What about injectable wrinkle reducers?
CK: I’ve been an injectable wrinkle reducer fan [for a long time]. I love how it [reduces the appearance of] lines in my forehead and around my eyes.
[[Editor’s note: Injectable wrinkle reducers are used to temporarily smooth the look of moderate to severe wrinkles in certain areas of the face such as the forehead, frown lines, and crow’s feet. They should not be used more frequently than every three months. Like any medical treatment, they have potential risks and side effects. Be sure to talk to a licensed provider to see if they’re right for you. Have more questions? Chat with our team of trained aesthetics specialists now.]
Spotlyte: Generally speaking, do you think the attitude towards injectables differs in different areas of the country?
CK: Attitudes towards injectables mirror attitudes towards surgery in different areas of the country. In the South, women tend to want a more conservative look — the “did she or didn’t she” sort of result. Lip fillers are more “natural”-looking, [but] still full and voluptuous. Of course, there are some women who want [a different] look, and we’re happy to match our expertise to their goals.
Spotlyte: What are three skincare products you use every single day, and why?
CK: My everyday skincare products are Revision® Skincare Vitamin C 30% ($119), Revision D.E.J.™ Face Cream ($88), and Revision Intellishade® SPF 45. Got to have my sunscreen every day, whether it’s cloudy or not. I love the burst of brightness from the Vitamin C, and the D.E.J. helps protect my skin from further damage, while it reverses existing damage.
Spotlyte: You’re a mother of two — how do you manage running a practice, performing surgery, and being a mom?
CK: Life is crazy — there is no way I could achieve any semblance of balance by myself. I’ve got an incredible staff and a strong, long-suffering husband who always has my back. [Editor’s note: Kavali’s husband works with her!] My kids are in middle school now, and they’re very aware of what I do, and they’re proud and supportive.
Spotlyte: Are injectables a popular treatment in Atlanta?
CK: Injectables are done daily in my office, and we do thousands yearly. Since [I first started], we’ve seen many more fillers become available.
Spotlyte: What are some of the most common questions and/or concerns patients have about injectables? How do you address the questions/concerns?
CK: There's one theme I keep seeing over and over these days. So many of my patients are following YouTubers and bloggers and Insta-stars to learn about injectable wrinkle reducers and fillers. And that's great! But they're coming to me without understanding that injectable wrinkle reducer is not a filler, and a filler isn't injectable wrinkle reducers. And they don't do the same things, or even treat the same things.
The other main concern most people have about fillers is looking fake or “done.” Getting [them done] right will give a [subtle result].
Spotlyte: Do you wear makeup to work? What does your morning routine look like?
I wear makeup every day, because I feel naked without it. My morning routine is pretty quick and simple, though — streamlined. I always have eye makeup and lipstick, even in surgery. If I had to choose only one makeup item to keep, it would be lipstick.
Spotlyte: What makes you feel most beautiful?
CK: Having a fresh blowout with fresh makeup makes me feel most beautiful. But, sometimes, just having one of my kids (12 and 13) tell me I’m pretty is all it takes.
Spotlyte: If you weren’t a plastic surgeon, what do you think you would be doing?
CK: I would probably be an attorney. I would want to use my knowledge to protect vulnerable people, like patients and children.
Dr. Carmen Kavali is a paid Allergan® consultant.
Allergan may receive commission for purchases made through links in this article.
CoolSculpting® is an Allergan-owned non-invasive fat reduction treatment.
CoolSculpting® Treatment Important Information
The CoolSculpting® procedure is FDA-cleared for the treatment of visible fat bulges in the submental (under the chin) and submandibular (under the jawline) areas, thigh, abdomen and flank (love handles), along with bra fat, back fat, underneath the buttocks (also known as banana roll), and upper arm. It is also FDA-cleared to affect the appearance of lax tissue with submental area treatments. The CoolSculpting procedure is not a treatment for weight loss.
Important Safety Information
The CoolSculpting procedure is not for everyone. You should not have the CoolSculpting procedure if you suffer from cryoglobulinemia, cold agglutinin disease, or paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria.
Tell your doctor if you have any medical conditions including recent surgery, pre-existing hernia, and any known sensitivities or allergies.
During the procedure you may experience sensations of pulling, tugging, mild pinching, intense cold, tingling, stinging, aching, and cramping at the treatment site. These sensations subside as the area becomes numb. Following the procedure, typical side effects include temporary redness, swelling, blanching, bruising, firmness, tingling, stinging, tenderness, cramping, aching, itching, or skin sensitivity, and sensation of fullness in the back of the throat after submental or submandibular area treatment.
Rare side effects may also occur. CoolSculpting may cause a visible enlargement in the treated area which may develop two to five months after treatment and requires surgical intervention for correction.
Dr. Carmen Kavali is a paid Allergan® consultant.