Meet Your Instructor
Hello, and welcome!
I’m Shannon Goins-Blair, a LANA Certified Lymphedema Therapist (CLT) and Licensed Massage Therapist who specializes in post-operative recovery for plastic surgery.
One of my favorite things to do is teach others.
To that end I have pursued a masters degree in education, and I have decades of teaching experience in a wide variety of subjects. Nothing makes me happier than to take students from novice to expert by sharing with them all of the knowledge that I have gained – especially the lessons that I learned “the hard way.” In this field I had to struggle to figure out so much to get where I am now, so my classes are designed to ensure my students avoid the pitfalls I had to navigate.
If you have ever had a person on your table who had plastic surgery, and you didn’t know where to begin despite being well-trained in Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD), I know how you feel. I’ve been there.
It is humbling to be a well-trained MLD therapist, but to be afraid to touch someone after plastic surgery due to a lack of knowledge.
It is even more frustrating when that client leaves and you try to find the answers online and are left with more questions than answers. So much of the information available is put out by unlicensed and untrained people teaching improper techniques that are dangerous, illegal, and out-of-scope of practice for massage therapists.
After years of studying plastic surgery books, attending plastic surgeries, and helping hundreds of clients with their post-op struggles, I have developed great techniques that are backed by scientific understanding of anatomy and physiology.
Now I share this information with other therapists who are struggling like I did in this newly-emerging field.
My courses are designed for someone who wants more than piecemeal information, and who seeks to become a true expert in the art and science of plastic surgery recovery.
My Full Bio
Some people want to know “the whole story” of how I got to be where I am today. So, for those of you who want to know the bigger picture, here’s the longer version of my story.
My journey to become a specialist in post-operative lymphatic care began in 2013 when I enrolled in massage school at 40 years old.
In the preceding 13 years, I had owned several different types of companies and was ready for a change.
It took about 2 years of looking inside myself to come to the conclusion that helping others was the most important thing I needed from a new career. I also wanted to be free of employees, and I wanted a portable career.
One day while getting a massage it occurred to me that massage therapy fit all of those criteria to a “T.” My therapist told me there was a school down the street, and without a second thought I went there and signed up as soon as I was done with the massage.
The funny thing was that I had never even thought about massage therapy. I have an undergraduate degree in German with a minor in Biology, and a Masters in International Studies with further masters studies in education. My careers prior to enrolling in massage school had been wide-ranging. I had owned a computer consulting business as a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, and for 11 years I had owned an aquarium and pond store. Prior to those careers I was in K-12 and adult technology education.
To the average ear, it sounds like I was just all over the map – and to some extent that is true – but, my choices to take on those various roles were based on seeing and seizing opportunity. In every career I had, I excelled. In K-12 education I helped get an overseas school accredited to issue a United States high school diploma by designing a custom curriculum that addressed disparities in English ability. As a technology educator I was recognized by Microsoft as the first person to train a person who was totally blind to be a fully certified systems engineer (MCSE). My aquarium store was the largest in my state and drew customers from 10+ hours away because of the excellent selection and employees who were expert aquarists who provided impeccable advice.
The same thing happened when I became a massage therapist. I didn’t stop there. Before my basic education was complete I was already taking continuing education courses to further my skills. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know, and the more specific my interests became.
When I moved to Phoenix, Arizona I enrolled in another school for even more continuing education. It is there that I started to find my specific niche. I fell in love with the gentle style of myofascial work they taught, and shifted my practice to that.
Simultaneously, I was pursuing a certification in Medical Massage. The classes were amazing and I learned a lot, but there was one class I just didn’t want to take. It just didn’t interest me. (Prepare yourself for a never say “never” lesson…) That class was lymphatic massage. (HA!) It just seemed so repetitive and the touch was so light – how could it possibly be very helpful?
Well, as it turned out I had an as-of-yet undiagnosed case of chronic venous insufficiency which causes a lot of leg swelling. I had had it all of my life and just thought I had “my grandmother’s legs.”
The first day of class a student with all of about an hour’s worth of lecture worked on my legs, and when I stood up and the world changed for me. The pain in my legs that had been there all of my life was gone. I was speechless. (If you know me, you would know that doesn’t happen very often.) Lymphatic work, for all of its repetition and gentle touch, was nothing short of magical in my opinion.
At the end of that first day I went up to my instructor and asked her how I could specialize in lymphatics. She told me I could either get Manual Lymphatic Drainage Certified, or if I wanted to go for the gold, I could enroll to become a Certified Lymphedema Therapist. About 8 months later a course was available in my area, and I jumped on it.
In that course, I learned the most advanced techniques in lymphatic therapy, compression physiology, garment fitting, advanced anatomy and physiology of the lymphatic system, co-morbid conditions, genetic factors affecting lymphatics, and a great deal more. A couple of years later, I took and passed the Lymphology Association of North America’s exam to become a LANA-Certified Lymphedema Therapist, which is the highest level of recognition in the discipline of lymphatic therapy.
What got me from that point to here as an expert in plastic surgery recovery is why I’m now shifting my focus from doing to teaching others.
Massive FAIL: My Very First Plastic Surgery Recovery Client
Not long after I added the term “lymphatic massage” to my website I found myself sitting at the front desk of the studio where I had my office, staring out at an empty parking lot. It was Sunday and I was waiting for my next client. She had signed up online, but had failed to fill out her client intake form, so I had no idea why she was coming to see me.
A car pulled up and the driver was a man. “He must be lost,” I thought to myself, as he got out of the car. I’m expecting a female and he was the only person in the car.
He walked around to the back door and opened it. Much to my astonishment, out clambered a very disheveled woman wearing a bathrobe and slippers. She had been lying face down in the back seat, and boy did she look rough.
They came into the studio and confirmed that she was my client. She waddled into my massage room and as I’m trying to ask her why she was there to see me, she just started undressing.
As the garment came off, it looked like she had been beaten with a lead pipe for a few days – especially her butt. It was black and purple. To this day many years later, she had the worst case of bruising I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen a lot of bruising by now.
I did my best to work around her incisions, but she was uncomfortable due to having had surgery recently. I didn’t have the right things to position her correctly, and worst of all, I didn’t have gloves!
Usually I pride myself in my work, but this session was terrible with a capital “T.” To be fair, I had no warning of what to expect because she failed to fill out her intake form ahead of time, but looking back on that day from my perspective now – I did literally everything wrong.
Needless to say, she didn’t come back – and with good reason! (I can laugh about this now, sort-of.) I didn’t know anything about what she needed, how to accommodate her, and I got it all wrong. I chalked it up to just a fluke experience and tried to put my abysmal failure out of my mind. “You can’t get it right 100% of the time,” I told myself. (That’s hard for a perfectionist to hear.) “This is a one-off incident. It will probably never happen again,” I reassured myself, as I licked my emotional wounds.
The following week it happened again, and while I wasn’t as surprised, I certainly still wasn’t ready – but I did have gloves on hand this time. It continued to happen and all the while I was struggling to find training on how to help this group of women who were coming for lymphatic work after plastic surgery.
There was nothing to be had. Not one single class.
Since there were no classes, I began reading textbooks on plastic surgery, asking my clients to share everything about their surgery and their recovery, and I even started sitting in on actual plastic surgeries to see it first-hand.
Since that first plastic surgery client came to my office I have gone from novice to expert in plastic surgery recovery, but my learning has not stopped. I continue to further my education in surgical procedures, advanced physiology and pathophysiology, wound management (even though I never touch them), compression garments for plastic surgery, and anything else I can get my hands on.
Why I’m Focusing Now on Training
A couple of factors have been instrumental for me in making the switch now to teach other therapists. The first is that I’ve been doing it on facebook, email, and via Zoom for a couple of years. Therapists have reached out to me for help, and I have tried my best in the few short minutes to answer their questions in between my clients. While I’m sure my brief consults have helped, they fall far short of a detailed and thorough explanation of the hows and whys. I always feel like I’ve cheated them by not telling them all they need to know to do a great job. All I’ve managed to do is just help them with one small hurdle. I know that they are still struggling and are often failing – just like I did when those first few plastic surgery clients landed on my table when I was not prepared.
The second reason is that with the expansion of social media’s influence over the last few years, there has been a rise in the number of untrained, unlicensed social influencers who have deemed themselves “plastic surgery recovery experts.” They are teaching anyone who will pay for their courses (not just licensed therapists), often promising six-figure incomes in 6 months.
They are dispensing incorrect information about how to care for people after plastic surgery that puts clients’ health at risk by teaching illegal, dangerous, and brutally painful techniques that in many instances are so dangerous that it could kill the person receiving these “therapies.”
It is my mission, therefore, to provide evidence-based instruction that is in scope-of-practice so that therapists can work confidently and safely on their clients in a manner that is comfortable and effective.
Additionally, I share numerous tips and tricks that I’ve found with years of solving challenges faced when working with this unique clientele base. My training allows therapists to increase their level of knowledge from fledgling to expert in the field of plastic surgery recovery, and enables them to earn a better living by being a leader in a niche market.