Paid $13,500 for $6000 Worth of Work

This surgeon (in Issaquah) was supposed to be one...

This surgeon (in Issaquah) was supposed to be one of the best in Seattle.

The prep was annoying: A couple of hours before the surgery, I had to smear lidocaine cream all over my body from groin to just below the breasts, the sides of my hips, my upper sides, and around back including tops of hips & my back up to shoulder blades, then wrap myself in Saran wrap. Yecchhh! Since then I've been told by the assistant of another surgeon who does lipo that this is very dangerous because lidocaine can kill.

I'm not usually up tight before surgeries but I was for this one. I think I was worried -- because I'd be awake & he would be, as someone here described it, viciously stabbing away under my skin -- that it would hurt. However, it didn't hurt at all.

When I got to the office, the nurse shot saline and lidocaine under my skin all over the to-be-lipo'd part. This is the "tumescent" part of tumescent lipo. I hadn't drunk anything after midnight but I kept having to get up & go to the bathroom. It was really weird because the tumescent solution had swollen my body up so much I couldn't get my arm around back to wipe! I felt like Tweedledum.

She had also given me some Valium and I had lost my nervousness. But another thing that goes in the tumescent solution is epinephrine. Epi is used in virtually (if not literally) all surgeries to make the blood vessels close up so the patient doesn't bleed a lot, and epi makes me shake all over like if you were really cold. I had the worst shaking attack ever (LOTS of epi), but they covered me with warm blankets & after a few minutes the shaking stopped.

So the doc did the job & I went to sleep (not from sedation) while he was doing my R side. I made myself stay awake while he was doing my L side because I wanted to make sure he got all the places I wanted him to get. I mean it when I say there was zero pain during the procedure.

Afterward, they wrapped dressings all around my body and, because it was late at night and the taxi didn't come (I live about 70 miles from where it was done, and because I'm new here, didn't have anyone I'd dare ask to make 2 round trips to get me there & bring me home), so the nurse drove me to the motel. Yes, Motel 6 Recovery & Rehab. And by the way, Motel 6's rooms are just as good as those in good big city hotels (I'm not talking about the Ritz Carlton, though -- I don't have enough money to walk through their doors).

I had left my car at the doc's office, and I really wanted it, so after I'd been at the motel for a couple of hours, at about 1:00 am I called a taxi & had the guy take me to the clinic so I could get it. I hadn't planned on doing this, and had taken my sleeping pill, and I'm sure still had Valium in my system, and had taken a Vicodin. Y'know when the instructions on the label say DO NOT DRIVE HEAVY MACHINERY? I couldn't believe I was all over the road! Crossing the midline (the painted line, not the median), etc. When I saw what I was doing, I paid more attention & stayed in my lane. Glad no cops around. Won't do that again.

I felt fine that night. Woke up in the middle of the night needing to go to the bathroom. Stood up, and all the fluid that had leaked out the lipo holes & was supposed to have gotten absorbed by the dressing went running down my legs onto the expensive Motel 6 carpet. I leaked like that for 2-3 days. I really hated that.

Driving home the day after the surgery, I suddenly had to pee, pulled off at a restaurant, leaked tumescent fluid all the way to the restroom. Horrible. There's gotta be a better way. I had bought some super-ultra-mega Kotex because they told me I'd leak, and had to tape it all over my body -- pretty much over each hole. That was the worst part of the procedure.

I'm glad I came home that afternoon because after I got home, the lidocaine wore off, and I don't like taking Vicodin, and I started hurting. I'd rank it at about a 5 on a scale of 10. Of course it makes sense that you'd hurt, having your skin separated from your muscle like that, and all that digging. BTW, he used a microcannula. And it turns out that he could have used laser-assisted lipo because he was using it a month later, but he never mentioned it to me. From what I've read here, the post-op experience would have been a lot nicer with the laser lipo.

I took photos every day for a month, then weekly. By day 5 I'd lost all the fluid & could see what he'd done. I looked a lot better, but there were still little domes sticking out of my hips (front view) & I still had rolls on my sides. I figured it was more fluid & kept waiting to get smaller. IT WASN'T!! He left actual fat sticking out on the sides of my hips (he did get rid of my belly & the fat that used to stack up on the tops of my hips, thank God), and took very little off my sides.

I complained about this & he said he could take more off, but in his opinion I couldn't afford to have any more sucked off because then my skin would sag. I had told him before the operation that I knew my skin would sag after, & that I'd get it lifted. So he should have taken off all that he could (you do need some subcutaneous fat, about 1/3" on your sides, but if you pinch up my skin where the folds are, it's about 4X that -- yes, I realize that when you pinch your skin up, it'll be twice as thick as it really is). He said he didn't think I'd be happy with the results of a side lift if he took more off, but he'd do it for $6500 if I found a doc who would commit to a side lift. So I already paid $13,500 and now he wants me to pay another $6500 to finish what he was supposed to do? Hey -- I'd like to drive a BMW too!

So I made an appt with another popular Seattle plastic surgeon, the one who did my recent face lift, a really really nice guy, and he said that although he didn't think he should take more fat off my sides, he would do the following for $1800: reverse tummy tuck (since the fat's been removed & I'm 65, there's a little sagging on my abdomen -- not as much as you'd think, though) i.e. pulling the skin up, all the way to the breasts; lift the sides/back, pulling the skin forward so most of the scar will be under the arm, getting rid of the excess skin, of course; AND he'll pull my abdominal muscles together because he thinks that's what makes my waist so wide. FOR $1800!! As a courtesy because he did my face lift (and maybe in penance for temporarily paralyzing my left forehead). He's also going to do a breast lift, which will be $6000-something.

I've discovered that doc. no. 1 is cheating Medicare (he also has a dermatology practice, which I've used, so it's covered by Medicare) to make more money from them. I want half my $13,500 back. I mean I could have bought a car with that! I think he only did half the job, if that. So maybe we could make a trade -- I don't tell Medicare what he's doing and he gives me my $6750 back.

I still wear the same size jeans as before the operation, even though my abs are now flat.

If only we could talk to doctors' patients to see how satisfied they were with the doc's work. You know that if a doc recommends patients for you to talk with (and I've never even gotten that far), it's going to be patients who he knows are satisfied. You can't rely on reports to the county health dept -- I looked a doctor up once who had had 9 complaints filed, but the "judge" is a former doctor. Of course he found no basis for the complaints.

I think it must be very hard to sculpt a body that's engorged with a lot of fluid under the skin -- you can't see the shape it's going to turn out to be. So I'd say if you get tumescent lipo, about half the time you'll have to go back for more. You might want to arrange beforehand that if you do, it'll be for free. If your mechanic put only 2 of your sparkplugs back, he wouldn't charge you to put the rest of them in (hopefully).

Sorry about the long story. Upshot: If he had done what I asked him to do, and then I got a side lift, I would be very happy. I'm very happy that my abdomen is flat & I don't have those doughnuts sitting on top of my hips any more. I just wish I hadn't paid him so much, or that I can get half my $$ back, and that I didn't have to go through more surgery to get it finished.

I have a question: the new laser lipo -- do they use a tumescent fluid?

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