This is the story of Tarea, a patient who had multiple facial cosmetic plastic surgery procedures performed. They were: a facelift (SMAS mini facelift / lower facelift), chin liposuction and blepharoplasty (upper eyelid lift).
I have wanted to have and planned for this facelift for about six years, but never got around to it. I finally decided, that at age 55, it was now or never. I chose the end of July so that by December I would be able to resume my beloved pastime of scuba diving in Florida, without having to worry about the sun.
Once I got into this waiting mode, I decided that I might as well be recuperating from the liposuction that I had also dreamed about, and so I scheduled that for seven weeks earlier than my facelift.
That was a great decision and great timing, since I feel that the liposuction will actually take longer to fully recuperate from. Finding the Liposuction Support Board
at LipoSite, was truly a Godsend and then having the opportunity to discuss my facial surgery (face lift and blepharoplasty)
on FaceForum; gave me the perfect support groups for which I will always be thankful.
Thursday, July 19th - Facial Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Day
I arrive at the surgical center at 6:15 a.m.. This place is like a hospital. They have everything here for emergencies and the staff is extraordinary. I have so many wonderful people tending to my every comfort and need. I luck out to get Dr. Smithers for an anesthesiologist. My plastic surgeon really likes him, because he has "no ego thing" going on and does the anesthesia exactly as my plastic surgeon instructs. I have intravenous sedation (NOT general anesthesia), but they assure me that I will be kept asleep and I am. They wash my hair with a disinfectant and then my cosmetic plastic surgeon puts it in tiny bunches. He marks my face and the marks on my cheeks look like purple freckles. I am not nervous at all, but that could be the drugs working!
My husband Dick has brought his wireless phone so that he can be reached when it's time to pick me up after my surgery. My surgery is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon. Dick has to pick up some prescriptions and get me checked into the hotel that I will stay at tonight. (I traveled to have the plastic surgery, so I am staying at a hotel for a few days after surgery so I can get to the follow-up appointments with the plastic surgeon more conveniently.
I wake up feeling great and need to urinate. I am given a bedpan. It presents no problem. I feel no pain.
After a short while, the nurses help me get dressed. I wear a big hat, which I refer to as "my helmet", and I wrap myself in a big scarf. This is for purely psychological reasons because this disquise fools no one.
Dick drives us about two miles to the hotel that my plastic surgeon's has prearranged for us. The plastic surgery office got me a special rate. Staying at the hotel was my idea, based on the reading I had done here at FaceForum. (Thanks, Terri!) It turned out to be a splendid idea. We live about two hours away and this hotel is across the street from the surgeon's office and the surgery center.
The room consisted of two double beds, two very comfortable chairs and had bathroom right next to the bed. (Very important!) The room also had a kitchenette with stove and a refrigerator.
Before Dick and I left the house, I packed a cooler with all the foods and drinks I suspected I might need during my recovery period. I packed yogurt, Jell-O, chicken broth and ginger snap cookies. Ginger snaps or candied ginger helps for nausea. I also had a supply of saltines and graham crackers from the hospital, but I pass on the saltines because my mouth is already dry enough from the anesthesia.
Cosmetic Surgery Day - Part Two
Because I had a bout of nausea after my liposuction surgery a few months prior, I vowed to be ready this time. My plastic surgeon gave me six Compazine (anti-nausea) suppositories to use prophylactically. I used one every six hours. I was also careful to always eat a few giber snaps or some yogurt before taking any pain medication. This did the trick! I never once got sick! I also never had a post-anesthesia headache either, so I will be sending Dr. Smithers some flowers!
I have two "Jackson Pratt" drains hanging out of the back of my neck. These safety-pinned to my nightgown. My husband Dick is supposed to drain and measure the amount of drainage at certain intervals. Luckily, I never have any bleeding. Everyone is impressed and my plastic surgeon was even impressed with how little bleeding I did during surgery. I give credit to the tremendous effort I put into nutrition and supplements prior to surgery. My plastic surgeon just smiles. He says some people just aren't bleeders. (I still think it's because I took care to eat right!)
When I awoke after surgery, I had on an ice pack mask which was supplied by the surgical center. That is the BEST thing I had for post surgery swelling and discomfort. My plastic surgeon says he is only going to use this type from now on. You fill it with ice - crushed is best - and it never is too cold, so you can just leave it on until all you have is cold water, then fill again. No bothering with ice every 15 minutes, etc. My eyes were cold 24 hours a day and hardly swelled at all.
It is now three days after my blepharoplasty and my eyes are only red, not swollen.
I was also given a gel mask with slits for the eyes to see out of. I found it to be useless. It never properly formed to my face and the slits were so large that they allowed for both eyelids to be uncovered. The stitching from the blepharoplasty kept my eyelids from shutting tightly and if I had swelling, they wouldn't have shut well at all.
The ice mask holds everything down very comfortably. I am given a salve to apply regularly along my lower eyelids to keep my eyes from drying out. (This can be a problem after blepharoplasty.) My husband applies this for me. He is also responsible for putting on my chin strap which usually feels too loose, but I am told that is correct. (Chin straps are commonly used after facelifts.)
A word about husbands as nurses: Dick was really wonderful and good to me, but when you are blindfolded and in a helmet and your plastic surgery nurse/husband is saying "Whoops!" and "Oh sh%t".... Well, let's just say it's a bit disconcerting!
Then, I got a wonderful surprise. My plastic surgeon shows up at my hotel room to check on me! Everything looks great. He is pleased. My post-facelift chin strap is on just right and my pillows are piled high enough.
Because my husband has already been through so much, I have arranged with an LPN (licensed practical nurse) who works for my plastic surgeon to spend the night with me. She arrives at 9:00 p.m. and leaves at 7:00 a.m., when my hubby reappears. (He has to go home to check on our dog, Wilbur and our cat, Croquet.)
The nurse was very sweet and I talked to her way more than I should have. I was almost wired, (from the pain pills I think). I only had to wake her a few times to add ice. ;-)
I slept intermittently, but all in all it wasn't bad and I had no pain.
Post-Surgery Recovery Day 1
Dick and I drive to my plastic surgeon's office, where they remove my helmet and wash and dry my hair. I see myself in the mirror and my face looks quite tight, rather like some of those old ladies you see on cruise ships. It looks like I have sucked in my cheeks and pulled my face back, but I am not upset.
I know this tightness will "fall" a lot and I'll probably be wishing it was tighter in 6 months. My eyes are red and my eyelids and puffy, which is pretty normal considering that I just had a lower facelift and blepharoplasty yesterday! The stitches extend out onto my face about one inch. This surprises me since I didn't think the cutting would go out so far. But again, I am not upset. The threads from the inside area of both eyes are taped to the center of my brow. The plastic surgeon removes the drains. This doesn't really hurt, and I am sent home in a lovely chin strap.
I have rented a recliner again, just like I did after my liposuction. Once again I pat myself on the back for it. That thing is great for recovering from plastic surgery! I put pillows behind me, so that even when the recliner is way back, I am still at good angle for healing and my back doesn't hurt from having to stay in the same position day and night.
At night, I sleep in my bed.. I have convinced my plastic surgeon to give me Dalmane for sleep and it works really well for me. I have taken pain pills every 3-4 hours ever since I woke up after surgery.. I take the pain medication not for pain but to prevent of pain. The pain medication is making me very restless and so I don't take any this second night. Fortunately, it presents no problem.
Post-Facelift & Blepharoplasty Recovery Days 2 & 3
Just mellowing out at home. I have rented talking books and they are great to listen to. (Don't try reading after blepharoplasty. Trust me! Recovering from eyelid surgery and reading do not mix!
I have been eating yogurt and a great homemade soup I made up prior to my cosmetic surgery. I am drinking a sports drink that I think is healthier than Ensure. It called Met-Rx "Extreme Chocolate". I use the powder mix, but I think it also comes pre-mixed, which would have been more convenient. It has protein, fiber, carbohydrates and all kinds of vitamins. I think it's delicious. Dick thinks it tastes like chocolate dirt water. Of course, he calls soy nuts (one of my favs) "soil nuts", so I pay no attention to him.
I also fruit smoothies. I also made pots and pots of homemade vegetable soup up ahead of time and portioned it out into little microwave-safe bowls. I am eating so healthfully, it's amazing.
The time is not dragging, I am not in pain. This is almost fun! One note for pet owners: Pets don't understand that you are recovering from plastic surgery. Make sure that someone comes over to tire them out for you!
Tomorrow I get my eyelid stitches removed. Whee!
Post-Surgical Recovery - Day 4
I take a pain pill before I leave the house, since I am a little scared of the stitches hurting.
My cosmetic plastic surgeon is very pleased, but I am concerned that my cheeks look so drawn and tight. I don't really feel like I get a lot of encouragement from my plastic surgeon there. Well, I'm not going to worry about it now. It's too late, so I will just continue to concentrate of healing. He says I will have the rest of the staples and stitches removed next Tuesday, eight days after the facelift, blepharoplasty and chin liposuction. My surgeon tells me to wear the chin support as much as possible, especially at night. He says the first 5 days are critical. I apply Arnica Montana Gel to my neck and face for the first time.
I am continuing with all my vitamin and mineral supplements. My doctor says I can chew and eat whatever I want now. That will take time as it hurts to really use my jaw much. My eyes have improved since just this morning. My neck is not too badly bruised. I feel like I am starving! I am ravenous.
Surgery Recovery - Day 5
I slept well last night, no pills. I still have no pain or tightness around the throat which I was expecting. As long as I make sure that the pillows don't touch the backs of my ears and nothing hurts. I take a shower and wash my hair today. I used lots of cream rinse so I would be able to comb through my hair easily, being extra careful around the stitches and staples.
I apply Arnica gel and put my chin support strap back on. My eyes have lost a lot of the redness and the eyelids do not hurt at all. The only negative is that I have a pulled area on my right side. My chin profile looks so nice and more pronounced. I used to think that I had a very small, receding chin. I even thought about jaw surgery once - but only for a second. It turns out I have a normal chin and I love it!
Dick and I have been taking pictures every day, starting from before the surgery and even in the surgical center.
I must admit, I am very concerned about how tightly pulled my face looks on the right side, where my mouth is pulled up a little and my cheek actually is slightly indented looking. I put a call in to my plastic surgeon about this.
After My Facelift, Eyelid Surgery and Chin Lipo - Day 6
I get a call from my plastic surgeon telling me that it is too early to tell what the final contour of my cheeks will be. He says it shouldn't be too different from when I was younger. I still have that walnut-sized swelling on my right cheekbone. I'll feel better when it softens a little and the smile lines start to come back. (Who'd have thought I'd be saying that???) My lip still is slightly pulled up on the right. I feel great though. Showering in the morning is the high point of my day. You never know how much you miss showering until you can't shower for a few days! I love letting the water just stream over the backs of my ears.
Recovery from Cosmetic Surgery - Day 9
I think that my lip is coming down and the walnut-sized knot is shrinking. My face still seems very wide and swollen but the bruising is almost non-existent. There are only a few little black and blue areas in the inner corners of my eyes.
My eyes and eyelids look almost normal. If I didn't feel funny about my squirrel cheeks I could easily go out, with a little concealer and cover-up makeup. I must say I feel great, but I do sleep a lot. I am still using the Arnica Montana gel.
Post-Operative Recovery - Day 10
Well, I'm happy to report that my lip is no longer doing the Billy Idol curl thing. My face still appears very wide to me. I noticed that I had some bleeding behind my right ear last night. Dried blood is caked on my ear. I rinse it gently in the shower and apply some Neosporin. My plastic surgeon said I could take Advil now for pain, but I don't need it.
I have gained about nine pounds in about the ten days since surgery. I am sure that some of it is bloat and the rest is lack of exercise. I guess it was from the steroids given to me to help promote healing after the plastic surgery, but it sure has ruined the appearance of my liposuctioned abdomen. I look all poofy. I will have to find out more about how long it takes for the steroids to get out of my system!
Blepharoplasty, Facelift and Chin Liposuction Recovery - Day 11
My plastic surgeon agreed to see me today to look at my ear and my poofy abdomen. With respect to the abs, he said I gained a lot of weight -- which I knew. I said I was still surprised that it went to the previously liposuctioned area and not somewhere else. I was still checking in at the liposuction web site (Hope's LipoSite) and everything I read there led me to believe that the weight would show up elsewhere.
My cosmetic surgeon was surprised too, but he felt it definitely had to do wit the steroids and now that they are leaving my system, things should improve. My abs are very hard too, which is not how they usually get when I gain weight.
I've started a diet and he said I could start using my treadmill now too as long as I walked and didn't run. He said my ear looked fine and sometimes stuff like that just happens. We decided to put off removing my stitches for two more days. Most all the bruising is gone from my face and neck and the swelling is starting to come down too. I still can’t quite get used to my new look. Smiling is hard because the muscles seem very stiff.
Blepharoplasty, Facelift and Chin Liposuction Recovery -Day 13
I wear make-up for the first time today. Yowzah! I can’t stop staring at myself. I am looking goooood! Every time I catch myself off guard in a mirror, I see myself twenty years ago.
I spent quite a bit of the day without my chin strap on, I feel like it gave my face a chance to relax some more. My cheeks and lips are completely symmetrical now. The swelling and pulling in my right cheek is almost totally gone. By the end of the day, my smile lines are back a little, which gives my face a more natural look.
I am starting to feel really happy about this facelift now! Knowing that there is so much more healing and improvement to go is pretty exciting. (Thanks to Terri and all the wonderful people on FaceForum for their ongoing love and support!)
I have my stitches removed. As you'll recall, I had blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), a lower facelift (a.k.a. mini or SMAS facelift) and liposuction of the chin for improved contour of my jaw. That means a fair number of really, really tiny stitches. The removal is only slightly uncomfortable, not a big deal. The staples are the best! I don't feel them coming out at all!
At the day's end, my face aches and I can’t wait to put my chin strap back on. (And here I was, so eager to leave it off!) I also realize that I become fatigued easily, and need plenty of naps. I did not get this tired after abdominal liposuction, but then again, the facelift, the blepharoplasty and the chin liposuction made for a much longer, more involved surgery.
On the plus side, my plastic surgeon says he’d be happy if all his patients healed as well as I have. (I just know it's the healthy eating and the supplements! LOL.)
After Plastic Surgery Recovery - Day 16
The scars in front of my ears seem to be getting lighter every day. Oddly enough, the left one, which looked so much better for the first week or so, now looks worse than the right one, which had been wider and pinker! I guess that goes to show you that you shouldn't try to judge your results too early!
The right side of my face is still more bruised. I seem somewhat bumpy under my still numb skin and am massaging the areas nightly with Arnica Montana gel. The bruises on my neck are gone but I definitely have some lumpy areas. This same sort of thing happened with my liposuction too, but the lumps appeared earlier in the healing process. I massage there also.
The scabs have come off the backs of my ears. I kept them slathered with Aquaphor. Some people prefer to keep them dry, but it seems like they came off faster this if I kept them moist. My face is appears less wide every day. I still have a indented areas under my cheek on the right side. I am not happy with that, but I remind myself that I need to be patient.
I am going to visit my son (Little Ricky) for a few days. This will allow me to get out of town for an extra couple of days of healing and yet be able to go outside, since no one knows me in Ricky's town. I am going to stay at a bead and breakfast near his condo, since he has a smallish place. I think that I will go to the mall every day and play "dress-up Tarea" with new clothes and makeup! I'll also try to relax a bit and visit my boy.
I also hope that when I return, my husband will be able to see a positive change in my face. So far, Dick says that he's waiting until I am all healed to give his opinion. I take this to mean he's not at all pleased, which hurts my feelings. Sometimes Dick is such a.... Well, let's just say that sometimes he lives up to his name, if you get my drift. I guess it is understandable, since I am still waiting too. But I am beginning to feel pretty happy with my face. If he doesn't get more supportive, I may just find myself Dick-less and looking for a new love. (Not really, but I am steamed! Grrrr!)
Tarea's Facial Plastic Surgery Recovery - Day 17
Some things I've been meaning to share --- My eyelids, while not very bruised or swollen any longer, are not without signs of the blepharoplasty surgery. The incision lines are still raised and a bit eneven. I use Mederama or Aquaphor on them once or twice a day.
The right side of my face seems to have a bit of discoloration. It reminds you of the yellowish cast that you get when a bruise is almost all the way healed, only more "gray".
My face and eyes are still very tight feeling. Pressing my eyelids closed with pressure still feels very tight. I have to some eye drops in them when they feel a little dry.
My face is still feels very tight, especially when I smile.
I think that most of this will be gone when the swelling is gone, but that remains to be seen.
My face looks less and less wide every day now.
I also thought I would tell you some of my plastic surgeon's instructions. Keep in mind that each cosmetic surgery office will have different instruction, so make sure you clear any changes with your own plastic surgeon. Also, your mileage may vary. <grin>
- Avoid talking or chewing for the first 48 hours after surgery. (Get a notepad and pencils!)
- Keep your head elevated for 14 days. Sleep on several pillows.
- Sleep on your back for thirty days following surgery.
- With your doctor's permission, you may begin walking or other moderate exercise one week after your surgery.
- You may return to work in two weeks.
3 Weeks After Tarea's SMAS Mini Facelift (Lower Facelift), Chin Liposuction & Blepharoplasty (Eyelid Surgery)
It's only been 4 days since my last update and boy-oh-boy what difference a long weekend makes!
My face is losing so much of that wideness, that I would think it was gone, except for the fact that I can still feel the uneven areas and little lumps under the all the areas that were facelifted, eyelid-tucked and chin-lipoed, so I know that I am still swollen and healing, even if it's not outwardly visible.
The sides of my face are still kind of numb, but some feeling is coming back as the swelling decreases.
During the day, when I am not wearing my chin strap, I feel a tingly sensation. I wore makeup Tuesday and Wednesday for my "lunches out". I am suddenly in love with my made-up face. Every time I catch in a mirror, I am thrilled. I have achieved maximum hotness. I am 20 years younger!
I am really starting to be pleased with my results.
I spend a lot of time studying my face in the mirror. I focus on the little things like scars, bumps, and indentations -- how they are healing and whatnot, so I don't get as excited as I do when I see myself with makeup.
After Facial Plastic Surgery - Day 22 Update
Looking even better. Woohoo! I am in the phase where you begin to realize that your plastic surgeon is a genius.
Post-Surgery - Day 23
Maybe it was because I spent the entire day without my chin strap (a.k.a. "The FaceBra") but for some reason, I see some big changes today. I can finally feel a lot of the lumpiness leaving and I am noticeably less swollen. I can still see bruising, but the walnut on the right side is almost gone.
Suddenly I look pretty normal. My smile lines and even my laugh lines are becoming more apparent.
Unfortunately, the area between my chin and neck also looks a little more normal. This is the chin liposuction area. That is one area in which I can live without normalcy. (Wrinkles, ugh.) It will be interesting to see what happens, since I know two things for sure:
- I am still swollen and healing
- My plastic surgeon can always remove more if it really comes to that.
My plastic surgeon is known for his light touch and stays on the conservative side. I really respect him for that. That means that more patience is required of me, but better safe than sorry!
I don't think anyone who isn't told that I had a facelift can tell I had a facelift. I think that three weeks is an optimum time before your reveal yourself. (Dogs and cats don't care though. They love you no matter what!) If you want to hide the fact that you had a facelift, try to wait three weeks before you "come out". This is just my opinion, so take it for what it's worth.
Yesterday, I completely lost it on Dick for not being sensitive and complimentary to me.
There are times when Dick needs to be more sensitive, but I don't know where my outburst came from. He's been so supportive and good to me. I should have known better. I'll be nice today. I guess Dick's reactions to my face are part of the healing process, too.
Four Weeks After Facelift, Chin Enhancement & Eyelid Surgery
The sides of my face and some parts of my ears are still pretty numb. The feeling is hard to describe, but it feels like my skin is hot. My face, eyelids, ears, and neck still feel tight.
My ears are still sensitive. I must still be very gentle in certain areas when I brush my hair. I have also become very accustomed to my new face and it is becoming harder and harder to tell the little daily changes,. I am beginning to see "just me" when I look in the mirror.
I can tell that I still have a long way to go from a healing perspective, but I can honestly say now that I am very, very happy that I did this.
I often put one or two drops of natural tears-type eyedrops in my eyes, first thing in the morning, since my eyes still feel dry after my eyelid surgery. I think this will pass when I am completely healed. My eyes are just fine all day long after the drops. Perhaps I don't even need them, but it feels nice.
Five Weeks After My Face Plastic Surgery
It's been another week. It seems as if I have stopped healing.
I think that I have come to a time when the healing will not be noticeable anymore day to day.
I have been pretty depressed because of this. My ears and the sides of my face and neck are still numb and it is a very annoying feeling. My neck doesn't seem to be improving much.
The scars on my eyelids haven't changed. My earlobes don't match each other.
All I can see are the imperfections and areas that need to be touched up. My husband Dick has been taking photos of me as I progress, because it's easier to see the differences when you look at your pictures. (Those photos of Dick's can be a real morale-booster some days!) I am considering skipping the Dick-pictures this week. If my husband takes the next sets at the six-week mark, maybe I will see some improvement.
I guess this is a good post-op depression message for you, so you will be prepared. I hope I can look back at this time and say that my concerns were unfounded!
10 Weeks After Surgery
Well, my face is finally starting to feel better.
The sides of my face are still somewhat numb, but it feels as if the numbness is not as deep.
The past few weeks had brought quite a bit of itching under the numb areas, which is a sign of healing. (An annoying sign, but a sign nonetheless.)
Lately the itching sensation seems to be subsiding.
My eyelids feel almost completely normal now. I only feel little tightness if I squeeze them shut very hard. The incisions are gone, with only extremely tiny little lumps still evident. They are easily covered by makeup, though.
The large, lumpy red scar under my chin (from the chin liposuction) has flattened tremendously. It is almost completely flat and flesh-colored now. The scars on my ears are almost invisible and the feeling is completely back.
My plastic surgeon wants to reassess everything six months after my surgery. I tell myself to be patient.
Twelve Months After My SMAS Mini Facelift (Lower Facelift), Chin Liposuction & Blepharoplasty (Eyelid Surgery)
It now is 12 months since my surgery.
The scars I had are virtually invisible. I seem to be the only one who can see any scars or lines.
The hardness and lumps in my neck have softened quite a bit and are now totally gone. I last remember "seeing" them at around the seven-month mark. I now have a very soft and normal neck.
In the grand scheme of things, I would say that my facelift, my blepharoplasty and chin definition surgery were a success. However, getting "old" still pisses me off. I guess that there's not much I can do about that though.....