Face Lift, Neck Lift, Endoscopic Brow Lift at 56 After 20 Years of Gaining and Losing Weight - Orange Country, CA

Surgery is scheduled for June 27th for a face,...

Surgery is scheduled for June 27th for a face, neck and brow lift. I found this site with my first surgery (2 years ago; full abdominoplasty, breast lift with augmentation) and learned so much. I always wanted to post and was so private I never did. This time, I know I need even more support than with my first surgery as I have so many conflicting emotions, with no one to talk with. I am also considering minor rhinoplasty (is there such a thing as minor?) and will discuss with my PS this week.

A little about me; married for 38 years to a very simple man-still the love of my life! 2 grown boys, each with their own children (5 grandchildren in all). An RN for 30 years, yikes a long time! Does that make me feel old saying that! I am a 2 time Weight Watcher lifetime member, who has finally figured it out. Over the years I went as high as a size 26, now I am a 0 or 2! I still cannot believe it! I have realized that the consistent gaining and losing has played havoc with my confidence and self image. This, I am sure is a major part of my decision for surgery.

Reading everyone’s story on RealSelf has helped so much. For my first surgery, I was determined to be a perfect patient; learning from everyone’s comments. For this surgery I want to share my journey, hopefully my story will help someone else. Pre op June 19th: What I have done so far to prepare: healthy eating (part of my Weight Watcher lifestyle) and exercise. I stopped all my daily vitamins 2 weeks post op, and started: Arnica Montana, Bromelain, Vitamin C. I stopped drinking red wine (I wanted this to stop 2 weeks pre op; ended up to be 11 days....just could not give up that red wine after coming home from work, and then there was Fathers Day with the family), I could not remember what was on the “stop list” from my first surgery, so I hope I have not forgotten anything. I am planning on taking the entire month of July off, as only a few people know about this surgery besides my husband (my family-at this point do not know). I hope it will be long enough to return to work relatively “unnoticeable”.

Checking things off my list

Mammogram, hair appointment, facial, massage, manicure, pedicure scheduled. Trying to think of everything that I need (or want) to get done before next Thursday. I am looking forward to seeing my PS tomorrow for my pre op, so many questions and concerns.

Another decision to make...

Met with my PS today, trying do decide if I want to add rhinoplasty. My husband (with love), and my son, with humor, occasionally refer's to my nose as "the beak". I have to make a decision by Friday. I miss my glass of red wine!

Surgery in 3 days

After meeting with my PS and discussing with my husband, I decided to include rhinoplasty with my surgery. I am trying to prepare myself for recovery from 4 procedures. Surgery is scheduled for 5 am, no turning back now...

Tomorrow at 5:00 am!

I received a call from my PS office today saying they did not receive the medical clearance that my primary MD faxed last week. 10 minutes to 5:00 pm I am trying to contact the primary MD office to re-fax. Slightly elevated blood pressure later, the medical clearance was re-faxed. Once I heard back from my PS, I immediately became nauseous. I think because it is officially real. You would think after paying, scheduling the surgery, taking all these pre op medications that it would have already been "real" :) I heard my PS in the background saying, you will be fine, drink lots of water, get lots of sleep! I could hear the smile in her voice over the phone. Nothing after 7:30 pm tonight. We will be on the road at 3:00 am to be there at 4:00 am for check in. Thanks to ALL of you for your words of support. I never realized how much I need additional encouragement from women who have similar (or will soon have) experiences. My takeaway from today. Ensure your primary MD has faxed any required documents AND they are received.

5 Days post op (including surgery day)

I finally have enough energy to get on the computer. It has been much rougher than I thought. Surgery, according to my PS went well. Neck, face and brow lift, rhinoplasty. Added in at the last minute; lower eyelids (seriously, last minute), my PS was taking her before photo, and drawing on my face right before surgery. She asked if she could do them if she thought I would look better. I said sure, why not. I have been known to be spontaneous, and I trust her judgement explicitly.

Made it home OK, after a few hours my right eye started to swell. By the next day I could not even open my eye. Compression bandage too tight and unusual amount of swelling. PS said only about 5% have as much as swelling that she saw in me. Ice, ice and ice. It was very rough, I had second thoughts about doing the procedures (a little too late for second thoughts though). My amazing husband took and has taken care of my every need. Slept on the sofa next to me, changed ice every 20 minutes all night the first night. Salt free home made chicken soup. I do not think I would have made it without him. Probably one of the hardest last few days I have every had. Of course, now the worry about will the excessive swelling change the outcome...

Each day the swelling has changed, from day 1; eyes, to today ears, lower cheek and neck. Swelling definitely works it’s way down, very slowly. Still very swollen around my eyes, however, I can open both of them and see. It was very scary not being able to open the right eye. Due to the swelling the sclera in my eye was bruised, you can see how bloodshot it looks in my ‘day 4 after surgery photo’. My husband notices little differences everyday. Currently it is my ears, very hot and swollen, lower cheeks and neck, so so swollen and at times throbbing. Icing on and off. It has not seemed to help today.

I was able to shower yesterday. My husband put a shower chair and washed my hair as best as he could with baby shampoo. What a difference a shower makes. Exhausting, so worth it. I don’t have much of an appetite, lost about 4 pounds already. Trying to drink protein shakes, broth and greek yogurt. It is difficult to eat due to the swelling and tightness.

What worked: Vicodin for 2 days with stool softener and laxative as a chaser. Extra strength Tylenol after day 2. I wanted the Vicodin, did not want the extra’s that come with taking it too long. Vitamin C, Bromelain, Arnica, Frozen peas, cloths in ice water, pillows and recliner. PS gave me a steroid pack to help with the swelling. What I wish I did differently; mentally prepare myself for the unexpected.

The packing was removed yesterday from my nose. I think I read somewhere on RealSelf that it felt like worms being pulled from your brain. I would agree, only add the worms had suction cups straining to stay in, not come out. Wouldn't want to do that again! Still draining, although not bloody-more of a light pink clear fluid. She said she was surprised I could even breath as the turbinates in my nose were so large. I have probably lived with it so long, it was normal to me. I am looking forward to breathing easier (in a month she said when the swelling goes down), as she did some work with turbinate reduction.

Next PS visit in 2 days, I think she is taking sutures out, staples out of my head and cast off my nose! Not sure if she will have to recast due to continued swelling.

One week ago today

One week ago today I was in surgery. A rough week, today I am finally feeling better, YAY!!!

Status: Lost 10 pounds; trying to do more smoothies and shakes. It is difficult to chew due to the hardness in front of both ears banding down along my jawline, continuing under my chin. I have read this is normal? My amazing husband is enticing me with diced mushrooms, spinach with egg white scramble.

Face: My PS said I had so much loose skin, more than she had seen before (the result of my perfected weight loss and gain over the last 25 years). She used some of the skin to fill in the hollows that had developed in front of each ear (from weight loss too), she said she doesn't like to waste anything and said the hollows made me look older. The stitches have dissolved around my ears. Fresh scars, however, look good to me. Both ears remain swollen, and hot. My husband says “you used to have extra skin on each cheek, especially noticeable when you smiled, it’s gone!” Still very swollen, however, minimal bruising, just a lovely shade of yellow in certain areas.

Nose: Stitches out from my nose. My PS LOVES my nose. She was so cute. She still cannot believe I was able to breath due to the size of my turbinates. I haven't noticed a difference as the inside of my nose is so swollen. I am looking forward to less congestion and being able to breath easier. Developed a small pressure ulcer beneath the nose cast. She had never seen it before, of course, if anything unusual will happen, it historically happens to me.

Neck: Very hard beneath my chin, warm and hot. She said it is due to swelling.

Eyes: She removed the stitches from my lower lids. Still very swollen. Cannot even see where she cut! The right eye is healing quickly, progress every day with the sclera and upper lid bruising from the excessive swelling.

Brows: Tender, swollen, my husband thinks they look good.

I was able to take a full shower today, oh my gosh, I love showers! Took some time getting caked blood from my scalp by the staples (which will be removed next week), gently washed my face. It was a little bit of heaven!

My husband has been taking me on drives around the ocean to get me out of the house. How long do I need to just “sit?” Although, up until today, all I could really do is sit. My PS scolded me because I told her I wiped down the kitchen counters...now I am doing nothing! So hard when I am usually always “doing something”.

Staples out next Wednesday!

2 Weeks Post op

Its hard to believe 2 weeks have gone by already. I am so glad I took a month off! There is no way I could work yet.

I saw my PS surgeon yesterday. Staples were removed! She said I still have a lot of swelling, and that it is slowly working its way down. My right ear incision is not healing correctly so I am now applying Silvadene on the incision. Left side of my face is slightly more swollen than my right side, with the exception of my right ear. Lots of swelling underneath my chin too. I have what my PS surgeon calls a "crinkle" beneath my right ear. She said it was because I had so much lose skin and she was trying not to make the scar to large. She said if it does not settle down after the swelling goes down, she will do a local and fix it in her office. She did not seem too concerned. To me, my left eyebrow seems slightly lower than the right, she says wait until all the swelling goes down. She says, everything is correctable if needed. Its the waiting that is so hard. My husband said to stop looking in the mirror! It is still difficult chewing, trying to advance a little more each day. Strawberries, blueberries, banana, greek yogurt smoothies are my new favorite food! She had me start using ScarGuard on my chin incision, next week, I will start using it on the face incisions by my ears.

My younger son turned 31 yesterday, so we had him, his wife and my Mom over for dinner. He knew I did "some work” on my face" in addition to the turbinate reduction. Both he and his wife didn't seem to act differently at all. It was a good test for me to be with people. I don't really have much discoloration or bruising (still taking Arnica), just swelling. I still feel self conscious about the swelling in public though.

Today will be the first day I drive, my wonderful husband hurt his shoulder, so I will need to take him to the doctor this afternoon. Funny how little things, like driving can be exciting!

Thank you everyone!! I have appreciated your comments and support so much! I am hoping the journey only gets better going forward!

Finally, 3 weeks post surgery!

I can't believe 3 weeks has finally passed since surgery! I feel so much better! Still low on energy, yet feeling better every day!

I went for a manicure/pedicure today, which was so nice to get out of the house. My progress has been slow. No bruising, I still have swelling overall, with more beneath my eyes, chin and side of face. It is so funny, my right ear is still very swollen. I am still using Silvadene on the incisions inside my ear. Some of the dissolvable stitches have not dissolved well. My left ear is doing great! My eyes are gradually decreasing in swelling, although, very slowly. My chin is still swollen with some hardness beneath my chin. I am finally getting used to the tightness from my PS pulling the muscles so tight for the facelift. Eating more substantial food (made by my wonderful husband), and drinking my first glass of wine in 5 weeks! Just a small glass to start with; it is delightful! Hopefully it will not increase the swelling. I still have a lot of swelling on my nose, even with the swelling I like it much more than before surgery. Dealing with this cold and not being able to blow my nose has been interesting. Going through lots of QTips. My husband said "the beak is gone" He is so funny! I am using ScarGuard on the scar beneath my chin. I will start this on the scars on my face by my ears soon. Any suggestions on what else to use would be wonderful and appreciated!

I am going to see 4 of my 5 grandchildren tomorrow, I am so excited! Curious what my daughter-in-law will say (I have not mentioned my surgery....yet...to her or my older son).

This journey has been filled with the unexpected. RealSelf support/friends has been so valuable. Thank you! I hope I can support others as YOU have supported me.

One month post op!

One month post op: My swelling continues to decrease daily. I still have noticeable swelling beneath my eyes, chin, cheeks, nose and ear area. So much improved though! The scars on the left side of my face are healing nicely. A few dissolvable sutures have appeared behind my left ear. My right side scars are decreasing in swelling daily, I am still applying Silvadene to the inner ear scar. Some dissolvable sutures on the inner right ear too. A few days ago, I must have had a huge fluid shift to my ear lobes. Both lobes became very red and started oozing fluid. My PS surgeon said it was from the fluid working its way down. They are both much better today. I think I will continue the Arnica and Bromelain unit the swelling is pretty much gone. It is so interesting, the mood changes that have occurred post surgery. My energy level is almost back to normal. I wanted to start exercising and walking again, my PS said not yet! She said walk for only 20 minutes. So hard to be inactive! I actually ate a few baby carrots yesterday. I did not want to push my luck too much, however I didn't have any soreness from the hard chewing. Breathing is amazing from the turbinate reduction. I can actually breathe through my nose when sleeping now! Back to work in one more week. Have I mentioned how glad I am that I took to much time off from work!

My PS said she fixed my face, now wants to work on my skin. She gave me a good 55 sun block, and also wants me start 8% hydroquinone cream. I was not sure what it was when I purchased it. After doing the research, I have decided to wait until I am totally recovered from surgery before starting something else.

Thank you again, for ALL your positive comments. They have been so uplifting, especially when I am feeling slightly discouraged.

6 Weeks post surgery

So hard to believe it has been 6 weeks since surgery. My energy is finally returning. I walked yesterday and today 4-5 miles each day. Not as fast as I want, however still walking. My trainer will come back this week. I am sure she will have to start back from the beginning for my workouts. I am looking forward to seeing her!. Still waking up to increased swelling after exercise and drinking a glass or two of wine, yet diminishes through the day. I still have swelling beneath my eyes, nose and overall. The only swelling that others would really see is my eyes and nose. I am still slightly discouraged from the continued swelling from my eyes (even without walking or drinking a glass of wine), I am hoping it is not permanent. I am continuing to be vigilant with my sodium intake to help decrease swelling.

My scars are "finally" healing nicely. My PS encouraged me to use ScarGuard twice a day. I returned to work Monday, which makes it difficult to use it when I am work as it is noticeable. So I have been using it mostly at night and weekends. It has made a difference. My right ear has finally healed! No more Silvadene! The scars on my right side are so much redder than left. The swelling is not equal, some areas more on right, some areas more on left, overall I am so pleased. My PS did a wonderful job! Unless I am home, I just wear my hair down so no one really can see them. The best news, I can breathe so much better from the turbinate reduction!!!

Not too many comments from people at work, although I have to admit I stayed mostly in my office (returned Monday of this week). A couple of people said I looked: "fit, good, nice". One of my closer co-workers knew I had something done within 30 seconds of seeing me. Other than that, no one has really said anything. It will be interesting to see what happens next week.

I told my husband this weekend; how lucky are we... 5 weeks together almost 24/7 and we still love each others company! I am so blessed to have him as my partner. I have seen all 5 of my grandchildren this week, fills up one's heart and soul!

Next visit with my PS this coming Friday (7 weeks post op)... what a journey.

Thank you my RealSelf friends. I could not have done this without all of your support. I hope I can, in turn, help others with their journey.

11 weeks today post surgery!

It is so hard to believe 11 weeks ago today I had surgery. I remember feeling like this day would never come! I am feeling so much better. The swelling in my face has gradually gone down. Some swelling beneath my eyes (especially in the mornings) from the rhinoplasty, and continued swelling on my nose. My PS continues to reassure me and tells me it takes up to one year for ALL the swelling to disappear. The scars from my face lift on my face are minimal and the ones behind my ear so much improved. The crinkle that I had at my right earlobe has all but disappeared. Tightness along my checks and neck remain, yet, greatly improved. Still get the "zingers", which I don't mind at all. People at work, I am sure are curious. Very few say anything. Yesterday someone actually asked if I had something done on my face as I was looking "so beautiful" (who doesn't like to hear that). I just smiled and said thank you. Most people comment on my eyes. I highly recommend the endoscopic brow lift for those of you possibly considering that procedure. I will post pictures at 3, 6 and 12 months going forward. Thank you RealSelf friends!

6 Months post op!

6 months have passed and life, has returned to normal… almost. Post surgery; No swelling to speak of from the face, neck, brow lift. Swelling remains on the lower 1/3 portion from the rhinoplasty. My PS continues to say "wait for one year". Minimal swelling beneath my eyes. This increases with too much sodium in my diet, which is scant. Interestingly, the swelling increases when I am sick too. Scars, very minimal, crinkles from the excess skin removal areas, minimal, zingers… well, still have these daily. Some tightness remains, yet I have lived with it for so long it is not that noticeable. I am back to my normal exercise routine without residual swelling, the exception would be if I "overdue" in one day-which doesn't happen very often -who wants to overdue exercise :) . I did use ScarGel for a few months and about a month of silicone strips behind my ears due to the crinkling of skin. I probably could benefit from continued use, yet now it doesn't really matter so I don't seem to find time to apply. 6 months post op, I am very happy I had all the procedures, and LOVE my PS. She continues to be amazing, warm and genuine with her care and communications. Happy 2014 to my RealSelf friends, thank you~ for helping me through my surgery journey.
Orange County Plastic Surgeon

Dr Afifi is amazing, personable yet professional. Someone who takes the time to get the results both her and her patients want.

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