Dr. Sean Kelishadi and Playmate of the Year Shantal Monique: Playboy, Plastic Surgery and Everything in Between
It’s true that Playboy is home to some of the most beautiful women on the planet. For decades Playboy has helped define trends in pop-culture and beauty, forever evolving with the times and helping to bring forth new concepts of what it means to be sexy. Playmates have long been known to exude the ultimate female physique, and Playmate of the Year Shantal Monique is no exception to that. In addition to the hard work and dedication to one’s fitness it takes to maintain such a physique, Shantal partnered with leading cosmetic surgeon Dr. Sean Kelishadi to help her achieve her dream body.
Sean, a Board Certified plastic surgeon in Newport Beach, California sat down with us to discuss how he helps everyone from fitness models, to playmates and mothers transform their bodies and what it takes for him to manage his practice and achieve the recognition he’s had in the industry for over 20 years. Lucky for us, Shantal let us pick her brain about her experience as a patient of Dr. Kelishadi’s and what it was like becoming Playmate of the Year.
Sean what plans do you have this summer? Are you travelling anywhere? Are you doing anything fun with your family?
Sean: Yes! I am going to Paris with my wife, her mom, and my daughter. A few days later we’re going to go to Saint Tropez. We will be gone approximately 11 days.
Have you ever visited Australia?
Sean: I have not visited Australia, but I’ve been asked to go to Australia to give talks. I have had many patients from Australia reach out to me, so I am due to go to Australia in the very near future. It’s on my “to-do” list!
You have your facility and your office here in California but if you had a client that was like, “Hey, I want you to come to Australia to do my surgery.” Would that be feasible for you if they covered the cost of travel?
Sean: It may be feasible, but you have to look at the laws of practicing medicine in that other country; so it depends on where you go. You have to make sure that the US medical license is acceptable where you’re going; otherwise you could go to jail for taking a knife and cutting another human’s body. That’s one thing. Number two is, if somebody really wants to have surgery with me, they want not just me to do their surgery, but they want my team to take care of them. For me to go to another country, I’d want to bring my anesthesiologist, my nurses, and the rest of my team. There’s a lot that goes into surgery and when you go to a new place, you’ve got to make sure they have all the equipment that you need and then you have to make sure everyone knows the routines, which may require extra training. There are also opportunities to do plastic surgery in the Middle East and so forth, and you can set things up anywhere, but it doesn’t make sense to have me flying all over the world doing one surgery at a time because I have to basically shut down my practice, and my patients that are here would have to wait to see me, so it’s a huge expense and risk. I guess if someone’s willing to compensate me for all that , we could make it work, but it’s definitely more efficient if you have, let’s say, a week or a month in a particular location, as that’s easier to plan around.
Shantal, tell us a bit about you, how did you first get into modeling?
Shantal: I have been modeling for ten years now. I always wanted to model for as long as I can remember. I received a lot of criticism for that and believe my drive came from being told I couldn’t.
What would you say has been your career highlight so far?
Shantal: What I love most about what I get to do for a living is the variety of work and the amazing people I get to meet and work with. Working for Playboy was one of my goals. When I first got the chance to work for the online side in the US I knew I wanted more. I continued to submit myself and tested. When I became a Playmate it was unreal so becoming Playmate of the Year was truly an honor. I have done an array of other projects, catalogs and social media campaigns. I recently did a billboard campaign in Los Angeles and feel so fortunate to be freelance.
Tell us how you two met. How did that come to fruition?
Shantal: I actually found Dr. Sean’s Instagram profile and was so impressed with his work. I messaged him on IG and he replied the very same day. I set up a consult that following week and once there knew it was the perfect fit.
Sean: From the get go, she’s been very reasonable, very easy to talk to, and I think it’s very important for her as a patient and also the surgeon to have good chemistry. She had certain goals and there are things that I like taking care of. What she wanted done and what I’m able to do were in line with each other. It was just really easy from the beginning and she’s just been a joy to work with, as she’s been very excited about the work we’ve done. She’s been super generous by telling the world about how she chose me as her surgeon and why, and I’m really humbled by her kindness and trust in me, you know?
Shantal, what was the best thing about working with Sean?
Shantal: Everything about getting to work with Sean is the best. He is extremely skilled in his profession, listens and offers solutions so you make the best decision for yourself. Sean treats people with kindness, respect, compassion and does so with a humbleness I find so refreshing.
Having other high profile model clients, what are some procedures you’re doing for them to keep them looking super fit?
Sean: Okay. Well, there is a huge armamentarium of things that I do, but I’ll start with simple things. For most people, their face is their logo, so we start with simple things like giving a neurotoxin like Botox or Dysport, or the newest toxin on the block that actually is geared towards millennials called Jeuveau. You can use that to prevent muscles that are actively moving that cause wrinkles in the face.
A lot of the models and clients that I deal with are lean, and believe it or not, the face has nine different fat pockets. So, you lose volume in those fat pockets, but also over time, we can lose volume in our bones. A lot of people need fillers under their eyes, or a lot of people like having filler in their lips because they want to look more sexy. We can also put some in their cheeks to give them that sculpted look. Then there are simple things like micro-needling and skincare that we use to help give the skin a better shine and glow, and of course, all my patients love being out in the sun, so good medical grade sunscreen is essential to keep them from getting sun damage, to keep their skin looking nice forever.
I do have some patients who are models for example, and they may be mothers, and other people might not know that, but they may suffer from urinary incontinence when they laugh or sneeze, and they can come in and get some of our vaginal rejuvenation treatments like ThermiVa; this is a radiofrequency treatment that heals the tissue. One of the side effects of it is that is it can tighten the vaginal wall, build more collagen, help with lubrication, improve pleasure with sexual encounters, and on top of that, because we’re building the walls of the vagina, you get more support and there’s not much (or any) leakage from the bladder.
There’s things like that that we do that are all non- surgical. The newest thing that I’ve brought in is, everyone wants to look good and feel sexy, but they also want to enjoy sex. With women, it’s kind of taboo to talk about this because in the male market, it’s really easy. We can talk about Viagra, Cialis and erectile dysfunction in men. There’s a lot of men who take testosterone. We’re helping the men, but believe it or not, women are built the same way and a lot of them have difficulty achieving orgasms and so forth. Now we’ve got this really hot device called Cliovana and this uses shockwave therapy.
It doesn’t hurt at all, but the vibration from the soundwave technology stimulates angiogenesis, which means the blood flow improves around the clitoral area, and also the nerves wake up and those vibrations help stimulate those nerves to basically re-establish pathways that go back to the brain and induce pleasure and so forth. I was actually the first to introduce this in southern California. These are some of the amazing things that we have in our medspa. A lot of women look good but they don’t enjoy looking good. So Cliovana is a great adjunct to them feeling sexy inside and out.
When it comes to surgery, I think most of what I do is what I call a bikini makeover, or playmate makeover! So, you’ve got to figure out, what makes people feel sexy in a bikini or when they are naked? Obviously, we start with their breasts! If they’ve never had breast surgery then we obviously can do breast augmentation that’s catered to their anatomy and their wishes for the kind of look they are going for. Some people want a more natural look and some people want a more obvious look, especially if they’re a lingerie model. A lot of models have already had breast augmentation, and either their implants were never placed the way they wanted, or they never got the look they wanted, or their breast implants changed over time because the pocket wasn’t really stable or because the person had lifestyle changes like weight gain or loss, pregnancy, and so forth. That’s where we do breast revision surgery. For example, someone like Shantal, she’s thin, so her tissue couldn’t hold the implants that she originally had, and she wanted something that gave her a perkier, rounder look. So, we were able to adjust her pockets and basically redesign them and also used implants that add a better shape to give her the look she wants.
Then, when we go further down, some people get tummy tucks to get rid of loose skin in their abdomen and tighten stomach muscles that may have stretched over time. A lot of the people, especially in our playmate era, they want to have sculpted abs, so they work out all the time, they are very strict with their diet, but they have these little fat pockets that keep them from getting the ultimate definition in their waistline. We’re able to use liposuction to suck out that fat. A lot of times, I like to think of fat as liquid gold. It’s the ultimate filler and it lasts forever. When you put in a certain amount of fat it stays forever. We could put that fat in their lips or in their cheeks. A lot of people love to put it in their rear end because a lot of these girls are lean, and even though they work out, they don’t have that roundness in their buttocks that they want, so if we could take some fat and put it in the buttocks and hips and give them cleavage on the backside, then we’re really doing great.
Actually, I’m working with a company right now called Cellmyx. They have got this amazing all-in-one liposuction and fat transfer device, and I love it because they’re using vibrational technology which helps reduce pain, but also, when you’re doing liposuction, it expands the space so you have a smoother and more accurate liposuction. It’s got a closed loop system where basically, instead of getting the fat out and pulling it out and then processing it on a table and getting it exposed to oxygen and getting different reactions, we’re able to get rid of the extra fluid within the canister and then reverse the pump and basically inject the fat with the same cannula we sucked it out in! That vibrational cannula helps to equilibrate the space by opening it up with vibration and getting the fat dispensed evenly by using the pump. The most powerful thing about this is it’s safe and this is very important because there’s more people who’ve died worldwide from fat injections to the butt than all other plastic surgery procedures combined. The reason is that your body is a series of tubes, and is made up of skin superficially, then subcutaneous fat, and then a little deeper you have your muscle layer. Once you get deep into the muscle in the buttocks, there’s huge blood vessels. Once you’re in that space where the muscles are, it’s like a negative pressure system where the fat that gets into the muscle gets sucked into the vessels and then that can embolize and basically block the passage between the heart and lungs, and keep you from oxygenating, and it can kill you.
What’s really neat about this device that’s made by Cellmyx is that they have this function called ASR, which stands for Auto Stop Reach. Where they have their vibrational cannula, it’s got an auto shut-off sensor where when you reach the increased resistance, it turns off. When you are injecting blindly into the buttocks, the fat a low resistance system. Once you hit the fascia, which is covering over the muscle layer, the resistance is higher because muscle is denser than fat. This ASR technology senses that increased resistance, and it stops. It’s one more thing that we do to ensure safety for our patients!
The last surgical thing I do that I didn’t mention is labiaplasty. I’m actually well known for labiaplasty. While women are wearing tighter, more revealing clothing nowadays, some of them don’t like their genitalia hanging out of their bikini bottoms or their yoga pants, so we are able to give them that kind of Playboy, beautiful aesthetic vagina look! A lot of the models, they get their bottoms photoshopped if they have lips hanging out here and there, so some of them come to me because it just makes it much easier to model for them while also making the situation less embarrassing. So, they love it!
That’s so cool that you can do that and you can do it discreetly and its just awesome.
Sean: Yes. Women like to always portray themselves in a more positive light especially because of social media. People are scared to tell their friends, “Hey, I have a broken vagina.” Men can talk about it because we have a solution. It’s like you can take the blue pill or you can take the testosterone but for women, if they don’t know the solution, they’re not going to talk to their friends because they’re going to get labeled as somebody who has a problem and they don’t want to walk around feeling like they’re less of a woman than their peers.
What would you say are some misconceptions you’ve dealt with or heard about plastic surgeons in general? I think a lot of people visualize your life being a certain way, the perfect glamorous rock star life. I mean, you’re a dad, you’re a husband, you work really hard, so where is the truth in that and where are the misconceptions?
Sean: Okay, I think plastic surgeons for the most part are people who like to solve problems. They don’t like to deal with emergencies per se, so they like to meet their patients or their clients and then come up with those solutions for them to help them feel their best; this scenario also allows the surgeon to show off his or her art. It is really cool. It’s kind of like being an athlete and being in the spotlight, and you know, for example, you’re going to be playing this amazing venue in front of everybody in a few weeks or three months or whatever.
It’s like the NBA, they always come out with their Christmas schedule for which basketball teams are playing that day because they know lots of people may be watching. For us as plastic surgeons, we love the spotlight most of the time. A lot of us, because we like being able to plan for things, we also like to center our lives around it, which means our workouts and our hobbies. I like to go mountain biking, I like to drive fast cars, I like to go to the race track with my cars, and I like spending time with my wife and daughter.
We are able to plan what we do around these things. The things that people don’t see is that there’s a lot of people that think they have the expertise that a plastic surgeon does by going to a weekend course learning about fillers or liposuction. The reality is, it took me 20 years after high school to be able to learn to do what I do, and then you add the extra years of experience I’ve had in my training. It’s really hard to learn what I did overnight. There’s just a lot of people out there who say they do plastic surgery because they want a piece of that lifestyle.
What people don’t know is, I’m scared of everything I do because there’s really bad complications that can happen with anything I do, and there is no complication that’s worth any amount of money that you make. I’m very detail-oriented, I’m very cautious and also, I’m not just a plastic surgeon but I’m a business owner. I take pride in my brand, but I’m competing with everyone in the world. I have to be really good at what I do and be up to date on my stuff. So, I’m up really late at night reading textbooks, reading new articles. I’m also giving talks, and I’m educating people.
The last six weeks, every weekend I’ve either traveled to go to a seminar to teach people things, or to learn things from other people. People don’t see that I’m also up pretty late at night answering questions on my email from my global customers or on my Instagram, or that I am working on my marketing, or thinking about what I can do better. It’s a hard job and not everyone is blessed with making a bunch of money. People think that just because you’re a plastic surgeon, the city of Beverly Hills or Newport Beach handed you a briefcase full of cash. It’s not what happens. You’ve got to earn your money.
I know a lot of plastic surgeons that make as much money as just a regular, good old family practice doctor. The ones that are really good are the ones who can make a lot more money. There are challenges; for example people get exposed to my work through marketing, but the marketing algorithms are changing all the time with Google and Instagram and Facebook. When they change, whatever I was using that was working before doesn’t work anymore. So, you’re always reinventing the wheel, but again, that’s part of being a plastic surgeon because we like to solve problems; we like being challenged and we like finding new ideas.
What would you say are the benefits of having your own practice versus having your own practice?
Sean: Well, when you start your own business, you don’t make as much money as if you would work for someone else off the bat. In order to make more money, you have to be grinding all the time, and the moment you let off the gas, you’re going to go backwards. It’s a lot of stress because you’re investing your own money and you have to take risks; for example, I get solicited about 200 times a week about things that can help my marketing. You get sick of being harassed by the world. There’s downsides to owning your business and I’ve got employees and I’ve got to make sure that we’re producing, and also, I want to make sure that they’re able to succeed in their lives and that I’m paying them adequately and so forth.
The pluses of having your own business is I love my boss; he’s the coolest guy I know! I love my uniform because it’s got my initials on it and I wear it with pride every day, and I got to pick uniforms that make me feel and look good. I get to use the electronic medical records system and patient management system I like. I love my employees because they’re like family to me because we’re always spending time together since we work so much. I get to choose who those people are. When you don’t own your business, someone else chooses who you get to spend all your time with, which is not fun.
I love being my own boss, I love picking my uniform, being able to choose which days I want to work and which days I don’t. I get to attract the kind of patients that bring out the best in me because I think in general, you attract people that resemble yourself as clients because they relate to you. If you’re working for someone else, and you have a mean boss, you might have a lot of mean patients, and it’s not going to be fun going to work. On the other hand, when there’s economic changes and so forth, I don’t have a contract that says I’m guaranteed a certain amount of money. I have to make it work. I’ve got to figure it out, whereas when you work for someone else, then you have a contract. They’ve got to pay you or they can fire you, but you’re guaranteed that money.
All you’ve got to do is clock in, clock out, but when you leave, who answers the phone and if the insurance bill was paid, or if the electric bill was paid, or if the loan payment was made on time, or what equipment you’re going to buy and whether it is a good investment or not, you don’t have to worry about any of that! There’s a lot less responsibility. When I go home, I’m still working, whereas if I worked for someone else, when I go home, I’d be done. It’s like, “Cool, I did my deed for the day,” and you collect your paycheck. I think it’s actually more efficient to work for someone else to make more money but you have less autonomy and you just take a lot less pride in the project because it’s not something that you built yourself.
Sean: I think there are pros and cons to everything but for me, for some reason, I like challenging myself to the max. I think I like being challenged; that’s what drives me. I like overcoming obstacles. If you have that personality, you should be your own boss. If you can’t handle the stress or if you want to go the easier route, which is totally okay, go and work for someone else as it can be great too. We talked about me going to Europe. I haven’t been to Europe in like 10 years. All my friends are always going yearly but I own my business and I’ve got to get coverage from other surgeons for my patients while I am out of town, and this is very challenging. On a positive note, we are taking our daughter because we don’t want her to miss out on these moments with us. God knows when the next time will be when I can go to Europe, but we’re also bringing my mother-in-law because you know what, it not only would be nice to have some help with our daughter, but we get to spend time with her too. It’s been really stressful making this kind of trip happen because I am a business owner and I have had to grind hard for the last four to six weeks as I’ve got to take about two weeks off from work, and I’m not making any money during that time. I’ve got to make it up before and after when I come back, and I need to pay the bills, pay my staff, cover my overhead, etc. It’s very stressful in my situation, whereas if I worked for someone else, I could say “Yep, so I go on vacation but you won’t be bothering me anymore, right??”
You like being challenged and I think that’s probably part of the reason you’re such a great surgeon because you’ve experienced and challenged yourself to be a great surgeon and you learn all these new techniques and you continue to educate yourself because continuing to educate yourself while you’re running a business, while you’re being a dad, while you’re being a husband, while you’re being a great surgeon, that’s a lot to do and that is a massive undertaking but you do it and you do it with style every single day.
I was so honored when Shantal chose me as her plastic surgeon, because I want to be popular. When people think about being sexy or looking better, I want my name to pop up in their heads as one of the top five things they think about. To have that opportunity is really a privilege. For me, to get a chance to have my work featured in Playboy is so huge. That feeds my ego on a different level because I want to be recognized as being great, but not just good at what I do, but also how nicely I treat people, how I take care of them, etc. I want to have more opportunities like that because that really excites me to know that I’m doing it right.
I used to love the show Nip/Tuck and I loved that they followed these two plastic surgeons and the ins and outs of their lives. One of the things that they always showed, in every single episode, they would show them in surgeries together and they would always put music on during surgery. Do you listen to music while you are in the OR?
Sean: I do listen to music. I do.
What things would I find on your workplace playlist? What artists may I find on any given day?
Sean: Well, I listen to Pandora and there’s a dance station that I listen to. Some of it is like EDM type music and some of it is house, but it’s always really upbeat and I always tell my patients, I listen to the kind of music that their surgery is going to be listening to, so if they’re getting a breast augmentation, I’m like, “This is what your breasts are going to be listening to when you’re in Vegas in a hot club.” Actually, there’s a study proven in the Journal of Anesthesia that says that music helps surgeon and operating room morale, and actually improves patient safety. I think that’s good. The thing with Nip/Tuck is some of the stuff was dramatized, obviously, and some of the stuff they would talk about on TV, because it makes for good TV drama, might have been unethical or unsafe. Those are not things that we do, but yes, I do listen to music but I’m not dancing or doing backflips in the operating room. I’m focused on surgery but the music just helps keep my mind focused, and blocks out all the noise from the equipment and sometimes the nurses talking to each other or whatever in the background. It just helps me tune everybody out and focus on the art ahead.
I love dance music too. It’s like having that upbeat energy in the room while you are operating which is really cool.
Sean: Yeah, one of the songs that I listen to, actually, it’s kind of funny. I think the group’s from Australia. Their group I think is called Melbourne Bounce 2. One of my favorite songs from that playlist is Bootie in Your Face. It is so funny!
So awesome! What is your personal take on Playboy and how do you feel about it? How has it affected you growing up?
Sean: I think Playboy is an icon in terms of when we think about beauty and sexiness in a classy way. What I mean by that is, we all know that women are beautiful; we know that it’s just the curiosity or maybe added to it, what people look like at home, outside of the work clothes, without their bikini top on and so forth. For Playboy to actually come out when they did and to want to pursue this idea and expose the world to this, it’s like, “Hey, we all think about this, why aren’t we looking at it? Why are we being so conservative about it?” That took a lot of guts because there was a lot of resistance, I’m sure, back in the day when this came out. But when they did it, when you think about it, seeing how much the world evolved and how liberal we are now with things, they were so classy when they came out.
It wasn’t vulgar. That’s not what they were doing. They were real modeling shots but without the clothes. Yes, we heard about some of the mansion parties and this or that, but again, there’s no such thing as negative publicity. You need something to get people excited. If we’re talking about Hugh Heffner petting his dog, people wouldn’t care about that. You need something people will remember. The parties were extravagant and so forth, but the way the magazine’s been, and if you think about the stuff that we see now on TV, the stuff we see on social media and the stuff that we see in print, I mean, Playboy came out the classiest and with the most prized aesthetics involved. Today, they’re still the classiest with the most aesthetic angles and shots of people.
They were and always have been the gold standard. I’ve not seen anyone do Playboy better than Playboy. That’s amazing. On a personal note, when I was growing up, I was like eight or nine years old, I was at my friend’s house, he was a good family friend and he was the same age as me. I went to use the restroom and there was a stack of 30 Playboys in this bathroom. I was like, “Oh my God! What is this?” I asked my buddy, I said, “Dude, what’s up with these magazines? Are these your dad’s?” He says, “Oh no, they’re my mom’s.” I said, “What do you mean they are your mom’s?” He said, “My mom thinks she’s really sexy and she likes to compare herself with these people and likes the outfits they wear, and the articles are really good.” I said, “Wow, that’s crazy.” I thought the dad was collecting them but it was actually his mom!
It totally gave me a different perspective. This is like the 1980s we’re talking about. But it totally taught me that it’s not just guys that want to see women portrayed in a certain way but women want to look that way too! Your typical housewife or your friend wants to look good in the bedroom.
Sean: Yeah, so that really opened my mind to different perspectives of how things are seen and really information and knowledge is powerful. Yes, men may look at a picture of somebody a certain way, and not all of them do, but women may have a different objective when they’re looking at such pictures as well.
Amazing perspective Sean. So where can people find you and how can they get in touch with you?
Sean: People fly in from all over the world. The reality is I try to give everyone the best value for their money between the quality of our work and our customer service. I’m really easy to get a hold of as I use whatsapp and Facebook and Instagram and Facetime. Being in Newport Beach, we are a very hot destination spot. We get visitors from all over the world. We’ve got lots of great deals with local hotels and resorts. We’ve got drivers that can pick you up and take you anywhere you need to go, and we even have people who can cook your food. Whatever you need to make your stay a possibility here, we can work within your budget. That’s one of the things that sets us apart.
Shantal, would you recommend Dr. Kelishadi to other models?
Shantal: I absolutely would and already have recommended Dr. Kelishadi to models, friends and family. I think sharing personal experience is powerful. I often talk with women via social media about my surgery and experience with Dr. K. I really enjoy the conversations and reading about women excited for their own journey.
How can people follow you and get in touch?
Shantal: You can follow me on social media and/or check out my website!