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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 tmes
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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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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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EasyGoinGal - thank you for sharing your wonderful success story with us. So pleased for you. The suggestions for alternative accommodation to Villa LaMas is very helpful. Place and owner sound scary! LOL! Just have one question to ask: where did Dr Lev place the incisions? Were they well hidden around and behind the hair? Enough that is to wear your hair up without them being noticed? Pictures would be really helpful, if its not too much to ask. Thanks once again for taking the time and trouble to post your experience - Aloha!
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Dear Easy Goin Gal, I also plan to have surgery with Dr. Lev, but his coordinator just sent an email requesting a $1,000 deposit to be deposited in his Miami account. Did her make the same request from you?
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I was worried about that also, but ended up sending the entire amount as I didn't want to carry around that much cash and wanted the discount, no problem. I know it is scary for us US citizens not used to that practice, but it is not that uncommon in CR. All my incisions are well hidden or non-existent (surgery last February) except the ones above my eyebrows. They are just above the hair line and very faint, hidden by bangs. Not sure I would have the brow lift done again. levplast@racsa.co.cr
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Thanks for that. I was going to get brow lift but Dr. Lev actually told me I didnt need it. I think that kind of honesty is what made me decide to go with him. Can you tell me a little more about your experience?
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thank you , could you please share the doc. Lev contacts.
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I stayed at Che Tica Ranch 3 1/2 months ago, after a facelift with Dr. Luis Da Cruz. Lovely place, in the green hills just outside San Jose. Gorgeous views. Cool mountain air. Homemade meals in the diningroom or delivered to your room, your own private cottage, rides to medical appointments and airport. The whole experience was excellent. Highly recommended.
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I did not like the place. They were all about money. I had forgotten about them until I found this site because I am thinking of returning to Costa Rica I wanted a quiet place out of the city. I liked the ground keeper who lit fires for me at night. They were control freaks and when I left early they wouldn't refund any money. Beautiful setting but they were rude and didn't have rides to town when I needed to see the doctor as they advertised...I got a taxi out of there...
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I found that the people at CheTica Ranch are very clear about what they can and cannot do. It is posted on their website and at the ranch. I found that they were very responsible. Check out Dr. Luis Da Cruz. He is a very good surgeon.
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The people at Chetica Ranch are very clear about what they can and cannot do. It is posted on the website and at the ranch. I was able to work within those boundaries and had a wonderful experience. Check out Dr. Luis Da Cruz. He is a very good surgeon.
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wow, some of that sounds like a nightmare, but - YOU LOOK GREAT! right? alls well that ends well? sorry for all that mistreatment at the recovery ranch though - I'd read about that place on line and it looked like heaven - . that would scare and anger me.
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I stayed at CheTica for 3 1/2 weeks and it was awesome! Not one issue! Cleaned my cottage, assisted with showers or whatever I needed help with. Prepared delicious food, everyone was very accommodating and I'm gong back in April. I've heard terrible stories of other recovery places by patients staying at CheTica. They say Ruben & Lorena are the best, best cottages, clean and delicious food along with scheduled rides to doctors appointments.
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I did woke up during my face lift with Dr. Pino in CR and it was a nightmare which I still remember after 2,5 years. Never again! Lots of his patients waking up during surgeries!
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With no harsh language and clearly written, I suspect my comment re my tragic experience with Dr. Pino (he did the wrong side of my face!) was pulled due to my naming the owner of the AC I stayed, guessing she is rewarded with a finder's fee. Although I see her mentioned elsewhere on this site. I also see a rave review of Dr. Pino, proving only that he is able to get one right.
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Hi, just want to put it out there about general vs local. People need to research both options if they have not already. I haven't seen discussion on this topic. I don't do we'll with general, nausea, shakes. With local your not awake. Misconception.
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Count me as one that prefers local and not general. Why take the added chance of going under when you don't have to? And yeah, you are not awake on local!
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Guess it all depends on what you like. Personally, I don't want to be awake during major procedures. Dr. Lev's anesthesiologist is amazing. You are awake 5 minutes after surgery and I had no nausea or ill effects at all.
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Also, no payment until you get to hospital.Check him out on CNN. Dr Carlos Barrera, San Miguel, MX
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i have some issues with dr. barrera, as wonderful as he sounds. the deal breaker for me was that he raises the sideburns 10 mm or more, a telltale sign of a facelift. the earlobes change in shape as well. this may not bother many women. if not, that's great.
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