Dr. Sonya Merriman is a board-certified plastic surgeon and the leader of Plastic Surgery Associates of Valdosta. She has been a plastic surgeon for 28 years and has no plan to slow down anytime soon. Being inspired to focus on plastic surgery during a rotation procedure during her general surgery residency, Merriman realized her passion to help improve her patients’ lives whether it’s through reconstructive or cosmetic surgery.
Plastic Surgery Associates of Valdosta specializes in cosmetic procedures for the breast, face, and body. Well-known procedures such as buttlifts, breast implants, facelifts, and tummy tucks can all be done at the practice. Other procedures that can be performed at the practice include skincare, injectables, laser hair removal, and microblading, just to name a few. The practice has services available for both men and women, including procedures such as eyelid lifts and rhinoplasties (nose reshaping).
“It’s important to me to have the availability for people who want to improve the way they look and the way they feel,” Merriman said. “Plastic surgery is just as much a psyche as it is a body. If people feel better about the way they look, then they just feel better all over.”
One of Merriman’s favorite procedures to perform is the “Mommy Makeover,” which includes a tummy tuck and one of the reconstructive breast options. She described the service as a “dramatic makeover” that gives mothers a new boost of confidence after giving birth.
Botox is the most popular non-surgical procedure that patients come in for, while breast augmentation and liposuction are the most popular surgical procedures.
Another main priority for Merriman is to make sure her patients are treated like family. When a patient comes into the practice, they are greeted by a friendly staff that promises to take care of their needs. Merriman said that she “makes friends, not patients,” and that is something she aims for during every patient encounter. The practice takes pride in making every patient feel like family. Merriman doesn’t want her patients to just feel like a number.
“We want them to come in here and feel like we’re going to take care of them and do what’s best for them,” Merriman said. “We just have a really, really good atmosphere here, and our entire staff always get complimented.”
The staff includes a few registered nurses, aestheticians, a surgical technician, an anesthetist, and other office personnel.
Merriman is transparent with all who are interested in getting a procedure. Her number one piece of advice is to do the research. Not everyone is board certified to provide surgical services, and more harm than good can be done if not performed by a trained professional.
“Make sure that the surgeon you’re going to see is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and has privileges to do the procedures in the hospital even if they’re not going to be done in the hospital,” Merriman said. “I have my own ASC (ambulatory surgery center). We do our surgeries here at the office, but I have privileges to do all those procedures at the hospital as well.”
This important factor can give the patients a sense of relief in knowing the hospital has done its research on the doctor and has looked into their credentials and training.
Her second piece of advice is to plan ahead. If surgery is what a patient desires, Merriman always tells her patients to have help and support ready ahead of time for the recovery process, which varies depending on which procedure is being done and the person’s body. Having a strong support system can even help the body to heal quicker and can help elevate a person’s self-esteem.
One myth that Merriman hears a lot is that implants are easy to do when they really aren’t. She has had patients come in that have had procedures done incorrectly by physicians who were not board-certified.
“You talk to people,” she said. “Online resources are very good as far as getting an idea of what things will be like as far as the post opp and how long it takes to recover.”
Another myth that Merriman comes across is that some procedures make a person look fake or false. The truth is that you can have your surgeon perform so well that one would never be able to tell that you got work done, such as botox or fillers. As Meriman puts it, “You don’t have to look Hollywood.” Everyday people can benefit from it.
Why should people consider plastic surgery? Well, for Merriman it’s clear: People want to look and feel great. It boosts confidence and can be beneficial for their mental health. While some may be against changing their looks, she encourages patients to do what’s best for them. There shouldn’t be any negative stereotypes for wanting to enhance. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, male or female; all can benefit from her services.
“For people who are out in the public and need to look their best, I think it gives them an edge,” Merriman said. “People will tell you that there’s age discrimination, that if you look older you may be less likely to get the promotion or get the job. Looking more youthful, and of course feeling good about it, gives you a step up in the professional world.”
Merriman has performed over 4,000 procedures and is happy to welcome new patient consultations. With a five-star RealSelf rating, years of experience, passion, and drive, Merriman is one of the best in town and equipped to help patients with their beauty needs. The practice is located in Valdosta, but receives patients from all over South Georgia and North Central Florida as well. For more information on Merriman and Plastic Surgery Associates of Valdosta, visit sonyamerrimanmd.com.
Written by: Tyrah Walker