Balancing a full-time position as an award-winning plastic surgeon while raising four children can be a balancing act for Dr. Maida Parkins.
Parkins, a surgeon at Quintessa Aesthetic Center, lives in Oconomowoc with her husband of 12 years, David – an anesthesiologist – and their four children: Niall, 10; Maeve, 7; Dain 5; and Rhys, 10 months.
“On a recent Saturday, my daughter had a volleyball tournament, my middle son had a soccer game, my oldest son had swimming practice, the baby was sick and my husband was on call,” said Parkins. “But we always make it work.”
Parkins is a rarity among plastic surgeons as only about one in five are female, according to a 2017 Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery-Global Open study focusing on global plastic and reconstructive surgery of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
“I know there are a lot more women coming into the field of medicine, but in surgery women are still underrepresented,” said Parkins, who in October was named one of the Top 10 Plastic Surgeons in Middle America – and one of only three women on the list — by Aesthetic Everything. She also was the only woman to be named as one of the Top 8 Breast Surgeons in America by the publication.
Parkins said patients regularly come from as far as 6 hours away – including the upper peninsula of Michigan, Illinois, near LaCrosse, Wisconsin and far northern parts of the state – to see her, in part because she is a woman. Parkins also noted she takes pride in listening to her patients’ needs before surgery.
“Women are looking for female surgeons,” Parkins said. “Many patients find me online because they are looking for a woman. But you can’t just be a woman. You have to be a woman who can execute the traits that they’re looking for and who listens to what the patients want.”
Parkins decided to become a plastic surgeon after conducting research on creating skin substitutes for burn victims during a summer internship in California and as a volunteer in a Cleveland hospital burn unit where surgeons performed reconstructive surgery.
“The burn unit is a very sad place,” said Parkins, who vividly remembered seeing patients including an older man who had been left in scalding bathtub water, a woman who had been hit in the face with battery acid, and a man who landed on a transformer and, as a result, lost an arm.
“And I came to realize that I wanted to work directly with patients rather than working in a lab developing products to help patients,” Parkins added.
After graduating from with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in biomedical engineering from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, she graduated with honors from University of Illinois College of Medicine, then completed a six-year residency program at Medical College of Wisconsin in plastic and reconstructive surgery.
Parkins said she was just the fourth female plastic surgery resident to graduate from her program, and there had been a nearly 20-year gap since the previous female residency graduate. She also said at the time there were no female surgeons to serve as mentors in the residency program.
“You’re in a field where you’re one of few women,” said Parkins, who added she had her first child during residency.
At Quintessa, Parkins, who works in the Delafield office – one of five branches in the Quintessa practice — primarily performs surgeries in the following areas: breast implant, lifts, reduction; arm and thigh lifts; tummy tucks; and liposuction.
Parkins hails from Freeport, Illinois, where her parents were both elementary school teachers. Her sister and brother are teachers as well, while her uncles and grandparents are all corn farmers.
“I chose a different path,” Parkins said.
Parkins, who lives on a lake in Oconomowoc and loves the town’s mix of community events, parades and festivals, has relatively normal hours at Quintessa.
Parkins said when she arrives home, she gets to spend quality time with her children.
“It’s important to not feel guilty about wanting a career and then also being able to spend quality time with your children,” Parkins said. “I’ve chosen a job that allows me to be there for them, and when I get home, I’m there for them.”