PODCAST: Phoebe Davis Takeover Pt. 2 – My Surgery Bestie, Nurse Carmen

During cosmetic surgery, the relationship with your nurse is so important because they hold your hand as you take this big step for yourself. In part two of Phoebe Davis’ series with her breast augmentation surgery team, she talks to Nurse Carmen about being by her side throughout her journey.

Carmen opens up to Phoebe about her nursing history, from working with Dr. Brahme at his private practice 25 years ago, to joining the LJC team as Dr. Smoot’s nurse in 2018, to recently becoming Dr. Salazar’s lead nurse.

Please request your free consultation online or call La Jolla Cosmetic, San Diego, at (858) 452-1981 for more


Speaker 1 (00:07):
You’re listening to The La Jolla Cosmetic Podcast.

Monique Ramsey (00:15):
Hello and welcome to The La Jolla Cosmetic Podcast. I’m your hostess, Monique Ramsey. So Phoebe Davis is one of our patients. She started a reality show called Cosmic Love on Amazon Prime. And if you missed her earlier takeover episode on our podcast, please go back and check it out and we’ll put a link in the show notes for that. So that episode was so good, you really have to listen. So we, we said we’ve gotta have her do another takeover and so this is a special part two of our series with her surgery team, which was Dr. Hector Salazar and his nurse Carmen. So welcome Phoebe, back to the podcast and thanks for taking over.

Phoebe Davis (00:57):
Hello, I’m so excited to be here with Carmen. Carmen is the most amazing, wonderful nurse who was part of my surgery team and I’m so excited that you’re here and we get to chat today.

Carmen (01:10):
Thank you. Thank you. And I look forward to this. I’m a little nervous, but I do look forward to this.

Phoebe Davis (01:15):
Oh, shake it off sister. It’s gonna be good. . So it’s been a little bit over two months since my breast augmentation. And the reason I’ve taken over the podcast to talk with you Carmen, and to talk to Dr. Salazar is to share some of the most important things that I learned throughout this process so that we can help others who are also thinking about getting breast implants. There is someone who is as important as a surgeon, if not more important, and that is the nurse. That’s you.

Carmen (01:46):
Yes. Thank you.

Phoebe Davis (01:47):
And I am just so grateful and appreciative of the relationship that we built together. And so, yeah, that’s why I just want you to be on the podcast with me today.

Carmen (01:58):
And I’m very flattered and honored.

Phoebe Davis (02:01):
Do you remember the first time we met?

Carmen (02:03):
Yes. It was at your consultation?

Phoebe Davis (02:06):
Mm-hmm. .

Carmen (02:07):
I cheated a little bit. I did see it was in September, but we met and we had a nice conversation and a nice consultation. And I believe you came back about a month later just to kind of reconfirm things and resize and I think, uh, yeah, that was the last time we met.

Phoebe Davis (02:24):
Mm-hmm. . Do you remember when I had the very first implant sizers with that like surgery bra?

Carmen (02:34):
Yes, yes. I did.

Phoebe Davis (02:35):
Yeah. And something that that you told me to do for the, my second consultation was to bring in my own bra and my own like crop tops, something that I would normally wear. That advice was so helpful for me because I couldn’t picture myself wearing the V-neck shirt and having that type of bra on. So that was really, really good advice. How long have you been helping patients?

Carmen (03:04):
Well, I don’t wanna date myself, but I graduated nursing school in 1980. But what got me into nursing was my sister, I think at the age of 13 had developed some bone cancer and I would go and visit her in the hospital. She was in the hospital probably for a couple years and I would go visit her in the hospital and I loved what the nurses did. I was only 15 back then and I said, you know what? This is what I wanna do. I wanna help people. So that’s pretty much what got me into nursing.

Phoebe Davis (03:33):
Yeah. So yes, being a nurse is your job, but what are the other components to that? Like what is your job really?

Carmen (03:42):
Coming into the plastic surgery field, it’s different. It’s basically fun rewarding cuz I don’t just take care of people that are sick. I take people that are just having life-changing events and procedures. So I help them and guide them through this event. And it’s fun. I like what I do.

Phoebe Davis (04:01):
Well, you’re amazing at it. I was telling Dr. Salazar something that was so meaningful to me. It just meant a lot was how great you were with checking up on me post-op and just calling me and leaving me voicemail saying you can always reach out. Like just wanna, just wanna check in on you and see how you’re doing. That meant so much because it just truly felt like, “Wow, I have such a strong team and like, just because I’m not planning the surgery and the surgery’s over, like they still care about me and they care about my recovery”.

Carmen (04:37):
Good. I, I like what I do, it makes me feel good and I could go home and rest assured that my patients are well taken care of.

Phoebe Davis (04:45):
Mm-hmm. ,

Carmen (04:46):
I like that.

Phoebe Davis (04:48):
When did you start working at La Jolla Cosmetic?

Carmen (04:51):
So I, I came with Dr. Smoot in 2013, so I’ve been in September will be about 10 years that I’ve been with La Jolla Cosmetic.

Phoebe Davis (04:59):
Wow, that’s amazing. That was actually my next question is, who else have you worked with at La Jolla Cosmetic?

Carmen (05:06):
So I have, prior to working with Dr. Smoot, I worked with Dr. Brahme and that’s probably again about 25 years ago when he had his private practice. Mm-hmm. I worked with him and then when he closed his practice, he joined the Smoots and then, then when Dr. Smoot closed his practice, then we joined La Jolla Cosmetic.

Phoebe Davis (05:27):

Carmen (05:27):
So, I’ve gone back.

Phoebe Davis (05:29):

Carmen (05:30):
I’ve been in this field a pretty long time.

Phoebe Davis (05:32):
That’s amazing. What made you choose plastic surgery to, to go into? Cuz my sister’s a nurse. She also works in plastic surgery. Mm-hmm. , but there are so many different areas of nursing. What made you choose plastic surgery?

Carmen (05:45):
I actually didn’t choose it. What happened was, is uh, there was a new plastic surgeon coming on board and this was in the eighties in one of the medical facilities that I worked at. And everyone said, Carmen, you would be the perfect person, work with a plastic surgeon. I never thought of it. And so I just kind of fell into that field and I loved what I did and I loved, you know, the patients that I dealt with and uh, that’s kind of how I fell into that field. One thing led to the other, now I’m here.

Phoebe Davis (06:14):

Carmen (06:15):
40 years later. .

Phoebe Davis (06:19):
Well that’s how you know that it’s in alignment with what you want and what you wanna be doing with your time. Cuz you’ve stuck with it for such a long time and you’re Yes, you’re the best. You’re the best nurse. I love it. Wow.

Carmen (06:31):
Thank you. And I love patients like you. They are so much fun.

Phoebe Davis (06:36):
Yeah. So have you had any surgery?

Carmen (06:40):
Uh, secrets out. Yes.

Phoebe Davis (06:41):

Carmen (06:41):
Yes, yes, yes.

Phoebe Davis (06:43):
Spill the beans. Spill the tea.

Carmen (06:45):
So this was, again, over 20 years ago when I did work with Dr. Brahme. He did a little lipo in my tummy. I had two children, so he did that. And just recently, about four years ago, Dr. Smoot did my face and neck.

Phoebe Davis (07:00):
Oh. Amazing.

Carmen (07:02):
Yes. And you know, Dr. Salazar doesn’t know this, but as soon as I lose a little more weight here, I’m gonna get on the table and have him do something with my breasts .

Phoebe Davis (07:10):
Oh. baby.

Carmen (07:11):
Make a little, little smaller and per smaller and perkier. .

Phoebe Davis (07:14):
Let’s go girls.

Carmen (07:15):

Phoebe Davis (07:17):
That’s amazing. Thank you for being open and honest about that.

Carmen (07:20):
Oh, of course.

Phoebe Davis (07:21):
Have you talked about that with your patients, like in consultations to try to like, get them to feel a little bit more comfortable?

Carmen (07:26):
Of course. I said the best thing I always tell my patients and advice is just to be confident. Just to be positive about what you’re gonna be doing. And I think that’s very helpful because if you go into, uh, this type of procedure in a negative attitude, it, it is really hard for recovery. I try to be positive and I encourage them to be positive.

Phoebe Davis (07:49):
Mm-hmm. , that actually leads into my next question perfectly. What kinds of mistakes do you see patients make in this process that we should watch out for?

Carmen (08:02):
The most common mistake is patients not choosing the correct surgeon, and not knowing what questions to ask, you know, when they’re interviewing a surgeon, basically it’s what it is an interview. So what I feel that we like to do, or I like to do, is to educate our patients as to how you know, what questions to ask, you know, the surgeons. And also to find a good reputable facility, which is very important.

Phoebe Davis (08:30):
Yeah. And from my personal experience coming in from my consultations, my, my interviews with, you and with Dr. Salazar, as you guys were so open to answering all of my questions, you wanted me to ask the questions. And I feel like that’s such a huge differentiator in the quality of a surgeon team.

Carmen (08:55):

Phoebe Davis (08:56):
And so it just really set the tone and the environment that you guys are trustworthy and you are, and your credentials are amazing. And I got lucky with the best team.

Carmen (09:06):
Oh yes. The A team. No ,

Phoebe Davis (09:09):
. Have you ever told any of your patients to wait?

Carmen (09:18):
I can’t tell a patient what to do. I can maybe advise them or guide them. You know, a lot of times the timing isn’t right. You know, patients are, have other medical or personal issues that can’t affect their healing. So basically guide them the right way. They, they do have to be in a good state of mind and also medically if they have other issues, if they have, you know, any concerns about some breast lump, you wanna get those addressed first, you know, before you go into an elective procedure.

Phoebe Davis (09:51):
Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. What questions do you want patients to ask when they come in to see you during their consultation?

Carmen (10:00):
I like patients that ask about the facility and the staff who’s gonna be taking care of them. I like for them to, to know the quality of care that they’re getting and that they’re getting an anesthesiologist who’s a physician who’s gonna be taking care of them.

Phoebe Davis (10:18):
Yeah. Absolutely. What advice would you give to young women who are thinking about plastic surgery?

Carmen (10:25):
Do their research. Just do their research. Don’t be scared to go to several surgeons and make sure you have the right questions, you know, to ask. You know, surgeon, look at the pictures. Make sure that you go to someone who is gonna do something that’s gonna make sense to you.

Phoebe Davis (10:46):
Mm-hmm. ,

Carmen (10:47):
Educate yourself. .

Phoebe Davis (10:50):
So do you ever recognize any of your patients when you’re out and about around town?

Carmen (10:57):
I don’t. They recognize me. Yeah. And it’s awkward because I, I get a little embarrassed when I don’t remember their name, but, you know, I just smile and continue on the conversation and eventually they’ll come out and they’ll tell me something about them that will trigger a memory. But, you know, you got this little hipaa so you have to be very careful.

Phoebe Davis (11:17):
For sure.

Carmen (11:18):
So, yeah. Yeah. But I do run into patients at ballgames, and all kinds of places. .

Phoebe Davis (11:22):
Mm-hmm. . That’s, that’s so funny because the title of this podcast is Carmen is my Nurse Bestie. And now I’m like, everybody thinks you’re their nurse Bestie .

Carmen (11:33):
Oh, oh, I love it. my nurse. Bestie .

Phoebe Davis (11:36):
Uhhuh . Okay. So you’ve been volunteering in Mexico with Interface for 25 years. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Carmen (11:47):
Yes. It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my life. I got involved, like I said, probably 25, 30 years ago. Uh, it’s a medical team. It’s made up of, uh, plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists, nurses, volunteers, speech pathologists, a big group that go in, uh, to different areas of Mexico and work on kids with, uh, congenital deformities. A lot of cleft, lip cleft palate. And they have to have multiple procedures. So they have teams and we go down there maybe two to three times a year and work on these kids. And you see them when you go back again cuz they need another surgery. And it’s, it’s, it’s life changing to them. But I love, I love doing that.

Phoebe Davis (12:33):
That’s amazing.

Carmen (12:34):
That’s amazing. In a different situation, you know, and you have to be a little bit open because the whole environment, the surgery and the operating rooms are a lot different than here. But it’s, it’s just amazing. I love it.

Phoebe Davis (12:47):
Yeah. So 25, 30 years, that’s a long time. How, how has that program like developed over the course of the time that you’ve been there?

Carmen (12:56):
After about five years, actually I, you know, with Covid and everything, it’s stopped. It just slowed down again. And there’s been a lot of changes I think, you know, financially with the programs, but there’s still a lot of people that go down there and work. But every time you go down there, you meet a whole group of people and they’re so grateful. They feed you, they’re just amazing. They’re, they don’t mind waiting, you know, but we do sometimes 90 to a hundred cases in a weekend, surgical cases.

Phoebe Davis (13:26):

Carmen (13:27):
But it’s amazing. We work hard but we just have an amazing time doing it. It’s not like work.

Phoebe Davis (13:34):

Carmen (13:35):
Cuz everyone always does it with a smile.

Phoebe Davis (13:38):
Great. Oh, that’s amazing. Yeah. That actually kind of leads into my next question. Mm-hmm. , how many surgeries do you think you’ve assisted in?

Carmen (13:46):
Oh, well I did actually work in the operating room for about 15 years, so I did a lot. It’s a lot of surgeries. It’s too many to count, but I, I loved being in there and being part of the team. Like I love being able to be there and do that and then, you know, take care of the patients as well. And then they wake up and they see you, they go to sleep and they see you that you’re still there. And a lot of patients have requested me to be there specifically on the surgery, so I love doing that.

Phoebe Davis (14:16):
So you don’t work in the operating room anymore?

Carmen (14:20):
No, now I am out, um, and I’m Dr. Salazar’s lead nurse.

Phoebe Davis (14:24):

Carmen (14:25):
So I work with him in doing the other end of it, basically with recovery and patient teaching, patient educating the preoperative visits. So I get everybody prepared for surgery and they’d tell them what to expect and what they need to do and what not, not to do and get ’em ready for surgery.

Phoebe Davis (14:43):
I wasn’t sure if you were gonna be there on the morning of my surgery or not, so I was kind of sad that you weren’t there. But I’ve got it through. I got through it. It was fine.

Carmen (14:54):
You got through it. I know we have an amazing staff, but Yeah, I’ve had patients request. I can only, I’m not only gonna have surgery with Carmen’s there and so that, you know, that makes me feel good and I’ve done it. I’ve come in.

Phoebe Davis (15:05):
Yeah. We need you to hold our hand.

Carmen (15:07):
Yes. Yes. And I love doing that.

Phoebe Davis (15:10):
What do we need to know about Dr. Salazar that only you know about him?

Carmen (15:17):
Well, deep down, I know that he cares a lot for his patients and I know that he can go home and he has surgery the next day. Well he will go home and prepare and, you know, review what he’s gonna be doing. And I know that patients are always on his mind. And another thing I love about Dr. Salazar is that I can always get a hold of him. If any patient has any concerns at all, he’s a phone call away. I can always turn to him and, you know, make sure that this is the correct advice I’d give to the patient and if he wants to add to that. So, um, I know that he’s his worst critic, so I know he’s a perfectionist. I think we all know that.

Phoebe Davis (15:59):
Yeah. I mean I feel like you kind of have to be as a surgeon.

Carmen (16:06):
Yes, they are. And I think you want that too, .

Phoebe Davis (16:08):
A hundred percent. Yes.

Carmen (16:09):
You want that too.

Phoebe Davis (16:11):
Yes, absolutely. And I love what you said too about him making himself so available for patients. Like, and I have felt that so much Yes. From him, but most definitely from you as well. You just have created such a, a beautiful environment and such a safe space and Yeah. It’s like every time I come in, it’s like with my family.

Carmen (16:36):
Yes. And you know, before Covid it was hugging. I love to hug my patients, I’m a hugger. And then when Covid came around, I, it was very hard for me to stay away from that. So both Dr. Salazar and I, because of our Latin culture, you know, but you are like family and we’d love to treat you like family cuz we’d like, uh, we like what we do and we love our patients.

Phoebe Davis (16:58):
Okay, last question. Are you ready for it?

Carmen (17:01):
I’m ready for it.

Phoebe Davis (17:02):
Okay. What do you like to do around San Diego for fun? Give us a scoop.

Carmen (17:09):
Well, I love going to the ballgame with my husband. We, you know, many years ago I have a friend who was a scout, uh, for Dominican players. And so he introduced me to a lot of these Dominican players that played for the Padres. So it was fun going in, sitting with all the wives of the players and uh, yeah, it was fun. And uh, you know, he’d come over to the house and everything. So I love to support the Padres and I think it, it’s fun to get out there and to a good ballgame you have, you know.

Phoebe Davis (17:39):
Oh, a hundred percent. Yeah.

Carmen (17:41):
So that’s one of the fun things besides having fun with my grandkids, that’s another fun thing. But a ballgame is great.

Phoebe Davis (17:48):
Yeah. So fun. And it’s, it’s spring training season right now, so baseball’s coming in hot.

Carmen (17:53):
Coming in.

Phoebe Davis (17:54):
So excited.

Carmen (17:54):
We got tickets to some games already.

Phoebe Davis (17:57):
Oh good. Good, good, good. As you should.

Carmen (17:59):

Phoebe Davis (18:00):
Well, Carmen, thank you so much for literally just everything that you’ve done for me throughout my experience. And I’m sure every single one of your other patients will relate to this because you just show the most amazing care and attention to your patients. And I’m just so grateful and I’m happy that we got to chat on this podcast today. So thank you so much.

Carmen (18:26):
Oh, and thank you, Phoebe. I mean, like I said, I can have, take care of so many patients and I love when I get patients like you, they’re just, they, they just make my life and the love for what I do. Just amazing. So makes me wanna come to work.

Phoebe Davis (18:43):
Well there’s, there’s gonna be thousands more women who will appreciate everything that you’re gonna do for them. And I’m just so grateful that you got to be, that I got to be one of your patients and that you were on my surgery team.

Carmen (18:57):
Aw, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Speaker 1 (19:05):
Take a screenshot of this podcast episode with your phone and show it at your consultation or appointment or mention the promo code PODCAST to receive $25 off any service or product of $50 or more at La Jolla Cosmetic. La Jolla Cosmetic is located just off the I-5 San Diego Freeway in the XiMed Building on the Scripps Memorial Hospital campus. To learn more, go to lj csc.com or follow the team on Instagram @ljcsc. The La Jolla Cosmetic Podcast is a production of The Axis.