My Experience - Costa Rica

I felt a responsibility to report back to this...

I felt a responsibility to report back to this site after my face lift so that I might provide feedback to others. I have been helped by so many others in the past.
My story is a bit different.

I had 10 - 12 consults over a 2 year period. I flew to and personally met with, every surgeon I was seriously considering. I felt this was just part of the cost of my surgery. By the time I left each consultation, I knew whether or not that surgeon was the one for me. Beside personal consults in California, I flew to Tijuana, Guadalajara, and Costa Rica.

I had facelift surgery on October 18, 2012 with Dr. Lev in San Jose, Costa Rica. I had a previous facelift and upper eyelid lift about 15 years ago, but my surgeon retired. Dr. Lev felt the skin on my upper lid was too thin to have another upper eyelid lift. We talked about other options, but, at the time, I opted for a facelift only. I was also concerned about the bags on my upper cheeks. Several surgeons in California said an additional procedure of pulling my skin laterally would work, but there seems to be no consensus on this. I am still searching for a solution.

I don’t hear much about the anesthesiologists. Mine was fantastic. I have had several medical surgeries in California, so I feel I had a basis for comparison.
I never read anything negative about Dr. Lev, so I was curious when I went for my consultation. I found him to be skilled, kind, and a very experienced surgeon. He cares about his patients. He is accessible, available, and treated me like I was a valued and important patient and person. No question or concern was too small for him to provide a thoughtful response. After about 4 or 5 days, I called him, as a few of my stitches were bothering me. Dr. Lev told me to come right over, and he fixed it. After my surgery, I was out and about in a few days. I even had some dental work done that I didn’t feel I would be up to having.

Here are some points I want to make. Please contact me through this site if you have any questions. Again, I want to be as helpful to others as others have been to me.

1. Dr. Lev was the best surgeon for me.
2. I was very apprehensive about having my surgery in another country, but the prices in the U.S. were way out of my budget range.
3. I dealt with Dr. Lev directly. I initially communicated with his medical coordinator, but I had some concerns, and then dealt with him directly.
4. When I went for my dental work at the dental office, I had so many requests for his contact information that I asked him what information I could give out. If you need his email address please PM me.
5. Villa Le Mas after Care Facility, San Antonio de Escazu was a nightmare. Petra is not what she seems, and I heard several times that some of the reviews are not from people who stayed there. My plane arrived at 10:30 p.m., but I didn’t get picked up from the airport until 1 a.m. I had to leave for my surgery at 7 a.m. Even though I provided information twice, she sent the taxi to the wrong surgery facility in the morning. I was 1 ½ hours late for my own surgery. She just blew it off. There was not enough to eat. It is out in the middle of nowhere. The nearest store or transportation is miles away. There is no phone service there, so my cell was useless. She would barge into my room at any time of the day or night. After the second time she came in while I was sitting on the toilet, I asked her to knock first. They have animals that smell so badly that it permeates the entire place. One cat bit me when I shooed it away after it jumped on the table and started eating my meal. I verified ahead of time that they could accommodate a tomato allergy, but I regularly received meals with tomatoes. When I mentioned it, I was told the slice of tomato wasn’t a tomato, and the red spaghetti sauce didn’t have tomatoes in it. I never received a replacement, so I didn’t eat every time this happened. The shower stall was cement blocks. There were bugs flying and crawling everywhere. The television was about 12 inches wide, and often didn’t work. The plug was so far away that I could barely see the tv when it did work. Many nights it was very cold. When I asked for a blanket, I was told to just put on my jacket.

They advertise heavily in the U.S. No one I spoke with in San Jose even heard of this place. So many things happened. One of the biggest is an $800 overcharge. I am currently working with the police and owners on this. Finally, at one point, I started feeling a bit apprehensive and fearful, and had a friend’s personal driver take me away practically in the middle of the night.
6. I then stayed at the Apartotel Le Sabana and loved it. It is only a few miles from Dr. Lev’s office and was almost half the price of Villa le Mas. I met several people who had been returning there for years. Apartotel Le Sabana has a wonderful breakfast each morning. They even brought me chicken soup, yogurt and tea each afternoon.
7. Apartotel Suites Christina is a few blocks from Apartotel Le Sabana. I walked over there one day, and it was also great. The Christina has kitchenettes, which is helpful.
8. I spoke with the front desk clerk at each place. Even though they are not recovery places, each said they often have cosmetic surgery patients (with bandages) stay with them. Check with your surgeon to see if either is an option for you.
9. I hope this information has been helpful.

Dr. Lev

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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Comments (128)

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Currently at Las Cumbres. Super clean, friendly and very timely service. Food is plentiful and very good. Nurses on staff 7 am to 8 or 9 pm. Came to see me 2x per day, more if I needed it. Close to shops in Escazu. Most transportation, 3 meals and snack per day are included in very reasonable room rates
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I was there a few years ago - had extensive dental work done. Elsie and Las Cumbres are the best. Loved it. Had my eyes done by Dr. Conan at Rubenstein Clinic. Pleased with that result.
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I was staying in La Cambres. It was very good and close to everything. My doctor was Alberto Arguell, I was trying to have dr. Lev, but his assistant Didi was not really good and she blocked my access to dr. Lev because I wanted to work directly with him.
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I will be staying at CheTica I am already so impressed just by how the respond to my emails and all my questions.
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I opted for the clinic with Dr. Lev and was totally impressed with both. The clinic doesn't look very good from the outside but it was spotless, quiet, and very modern inside. A nurse stayed with me right in the room all night changing eye compressions and taking blood pressure every few hours. I had automatic leg compressions to keep the blood flowing, his anesthesiologist was amazing as was Dr. Lev. A hospital would have been noisy (or at least in the states they are) and this was ultra quiet so you could really get the rest. Dr. Lev told me prior that he actually prefers the clinic to the hospital as in the hospital his patients are low priority and in the clinic are tops. Che Tica was OK. Food was good although they were giving facelift patients the same fare as others and trust me, you cannot chew very good the first few days. Maybe they have changed that policy now. They were extremely accommodating though when I explained it and asked for jello. An entire tray of jello appeared in my room that afternoon so I could eat at leisure. It was cold, take plenty of warm clothes (I know it's CR but it was rainy and cold). Staff is wonderful, providing free rides to appointments. You can really hear the highway in your rooms though and I am used to 'country' sounds so that was annoying.
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I was staying in La Cambres. It was very good and close to everything. My doctor was Alberto Arguell, I was trying to have dr. Lev, but his assistant Didi was not really good and she blocked my access to dr. Lev because I wanted to work directly with him.
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Didi has caused some problems for Dr. Lev. l*****@*****  is his personal email. I always got very fast responses from him. You might just send him a note and tell him you wanted to talk to him personally, blah, blah and see what happens. I also had problems with Didi, she got very snippy with me.
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My experience with Didi, Dr. Lev, CIMA, CheTica and Costa Rica was above and beyond my wildest expectations!! I had several consultations here and you NEVER have access to your surgeon... only their snotty staff! Didi was efficient and knowledgeable in all of her responses to all of my questions or concerns. Dr. Lev is in surgery and can't be expected to answer emails from every patient. What doctor does??? That's why Didi was so priceless! One person who has been with Dr. Lev for over 17 years... in direct contact with him and talks to him regarding each patient and question. Gotta be realistic!
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I can vouch for the Hotel Christina as I stayed there for one week in Aug 2012 while in San Jose for a dental procedure. I really enjoyed staying there, having the onsite restaurant and overall excellent service was delightful (my dental implant experience was beyond perfect and superior results compared to my experience in US at a fraction of the cost. I 'll be in Costa Rica again within a couple of weeks and want to explore (consultation) a facelift. I would appreciate feedback as to what hospital(s) were used as I would prefer a hospital in case of unforeseen circumstances, vs a private clinic and any comments/suggestions in general would be appreciated. Also, what is a realistic/reasonable recovery time frame from a facelift? justmeasking
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May I ask who you used to do your dental work? I am currently considering dental implants/veneers in D+San Jose. Please advise...
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I lucked out and my dentist here at home said he would do the same price as Costa Rica Dentist. Sorry I cannot help with that. I will tell you that after all my research, I was going to see Dr. Meza. I thought it was really cool that he even took time to call me on the phone. His assistant is great and very proficient. (he is from US) You should contact him. Just look online. He is at the Meza clinic. Good luck my dear.
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i went to Dr. José V. Garita Carrillo..........he was amazing,and 6 years on my teeth are still perfect.
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I had Dr. Kaver (US trained) and was well pleased. Had some extensive work (sinus cavity rebuild) prior to one of the implants so had to make an extra trip) but the cost was about one third of what it would have cost here for four implants. He works with an oral surgeon also who was equally great. I stayed at Las Cumbres and they too were fantastic.
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I looked into Las Cumbres but they are in the mountains where it is cooler and also quite a distance from anything. (I also have grass and plant allergies) They include one free ride transportation for doctor or dentist appt. but after that you are charged or spending $ for cabs to go to additional appts or (after day 8) any gifts shops etc. Merecedes is right in town and next to a large Mall. If you see Dr. Lev, you can walk to his office. I thought that a pool would have been nice but you are suppose to avoid sun at all costs after surgery so I did not see the point. Would be nice if you are simply doing dental. As long as people are happy with their care, that is all that matters.
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Looks like there are several great choices. I was very happy at Las Cumbres and did not find it in the mountains, it was in Escanzu (or something like that) and perhaps it is changed but I am thinking most, if not all of my rides to the doc were included. Elsie, the owner, is on site and the staff is great.
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Dr. Cohen at the Rubenstein Clinic did an upper and lower eye procedure a few years ago and I was very pleased.
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That is wonderful. it was very smart of you to have the only "Board Certified" doctor at the Rubenstein Clinic do surgery on you. It is of the utmost importance to find a "Board Certified" surgeon. A lot of people do not know that.
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CheTica Recovery Center is like the Costa Ricans say "Pura Vida". My friend and I had surgery in Costa Rica in Oct 2013 and our best decision was to stay in CheTica. We were concerned that it would be too far from Cima Hospital but that was not a problem We preferred to stay away from the city and recuperate in a lush mountain setting, in a stay that included pick up from the airport, transportation to the numerous doctor's appointments, three daily meals, and experienced medical staff that bathe you after your procedure, gave us our medications and made sure that we were very well taken care off. In Chetica we could breath fresh mountain air, walk around without feeling awkward or concerned as to what were wearing and without having to decide what we were to eat and how we were going to get it. Actually, the center is family owned, where the owners, Ruben and Lorena's family including their mothers and the staff live in house. Actually, the first day we arrived we were happy to meet Carmen, Lorena's mother who walked us around the site and showed us all the trees including the luscious guava trees. Each morning during our walks we would pick the high vitamin C rich guavas and eat them throughout the day. We had our individual very large and comfortable cottage where unlike hotel rooms we could walk without walking into the furniture. Each rustic cottage is unique. Ours, Old Tucson, had a very large glass window were at all times we could look out into a meadow with very large trees and roaming horses. We could eat our meals at the cottage or visit the large social club/dining room, where we could make our free calls back to the US. The cottages had Wi-Fi, TV, radio and dvd, if we wanted to watch movies, although we never did. We did however, meet a lot of lovely fellow Americans that were there for surgery, dental and eye procedures. The cost was very reasonable and very inclusive. They even arranged a tour for us (paid extra) before the surgery. Recommendations: Do your sightseeing before the surgery 2) make sure that your blood pressure is controlled. We did not use Dr. Lev although we saw two women that used him and they looked great. I liked my results but I know I need to wait at least 3 months to a year to see the full results. Anyway - I would highly recommend Costa Rica for surgery, Cima Hospital (excellent care and fast response when you need assistance) and especially CHETICA which we both highly recommend
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THE VERY BEST MEDICAL RETREAT/Costa Rica Casa Mariposa is clean,beautiful,private. I felt very safe there.They are reasonable in price. 3full & delicious meals delivered to your room.Your freshly laundered clothes are hand delivered,full time maid & cook.Beautiful,lucious tropical garden is the backdrop for scenery. Mercedes, Mariposa's proprietor, has excellent working relationship with the doctors.You are provided transportation in a new,luxury vehicle.Very close to hospital & clinics. No bumpy rides off the mountain or from miles away when protection & comfort of fresh incisions are an issue.
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There are 2 good hotels not too far from Dr. Lev. La Sabana and Hotel Christina have gotten great reviews.
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you look fantastic! Did you have fat implanted? If I go alone how would I get to a hotel near by after surgery?
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I too had surgery by Dr. Lev in June 2013. I had a 360 tummy tuck and it was the best experience of my life! He was beyond wonderful and his patient coordinator, Didi, was a complete lifesaver! My recovery was at CheTica, with Ruben and Lorena Martin and I didn't want to leave after my 3 weeks! I heard nightmare stories about other surgeons and recovery centers and I knew I was so very blessed to have Dr. Lev, Didi and the entire staff of CheTica taking great care of me as I recovered. I can email you pictures of my before & after, CheTica, their incredible food, the staff, everything! It was awesome! I'm going back in April 2014 for my arms!
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hi, did you go back in April and have work done on your arms & if so is there a new procedure that they are using?
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Hi, how did the arms go? I am thinking of going to Dr. Lev for arm lift and face lift. Would love to see pics!
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