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Mini-Lift but Maximum Scars - South Africa
I am in my mid-40’s and had a mini face lift...
- 22 Dec 2012
I am in my mid-40’s and had a mini face lift performed by Professor Donald Hudson at Renaissance Surgical Clinic, Cape Town, South Africa.
During my consultation appointment:
At my consult I told Dr. Hudson that I wanted the most minimal of mini-lifts, simply to tighten slight jowls at my jawline and address a tiny turkey neck.
He assured me that I would look totally natural, just refreshed. Dr. Hudson said that he would use the most modern techniques and that my incisions would be hidden in my hair and ear anatomy such that they would be imperceptible when I needed to return in two weeks.
My surgery was literally a waking nightmare. I experienced anesthesia alertness. I awoke on the operating table, hearing and feeling everything, although I didn’t feel pain. I could not move or scream out. I have since learned that anesthesia alertness may be caused by improper anesthesia protocol.
Mr. Donald Hudson was to remove my bandages one week after my surgery. During that appointment, he peered beneath my bandages and quickly re-bandaged me before I could see my incisions. He said that the plan had changed and I would now leave the bandages on until I returned home.
A week later I was home alone and removed the bandages. I will never forget that moment. I looked in the mirror was near fainting as I saw the barbaric Frankenstein-style scars on my face. I felt shock, repulsion, and the darkest despair.
My surgical results:
- Dr. Hudson destroyed my natural hairline at my temples. Prior to surgery we had agreed that there would be a small incision hidden in my hair. Once I was anesthetized I guess he did what he wanted.
- Dr. Hudson placed wide ugly scars on some of the most visible parts of my face. His suturing on my FACE was like the suturing a medic might do to save a soldier’s life on the battlefield while under heavy fire. One would get better looking incisions in any emergency room surgery. These ugly red scars matured into ugly wide bright white scars at one-year post surgery.
- He removed too much skin on the left side of my face making later revision almost an impossible challenge – even for the top facial plastic surgeons in the world.
- Dr. Hudson put incisions prominently directly in front of my ears and did all that was possible to make them easily seen and closed under tension to cause hypertropic scarring.
- Just below my earlobes, Dr. Hudson simply “tacked back” vertical folds and pleats of my excess skin.
- I was left with chronic pain in both ears which competent surgeons later told me was caused by incorrectly placed deep anchoring sutures.
- Dr. Hudson convinced me to have a “very small amount of fat grafting.” He injected sausage-shaped rolls of fat below each of my eyes. He also injected fat into my lower nasio-labial folds which is well known, by competent surgeons, to cause a bottom-heavy facial appearance.
- I developed a hematoma on my left cheek following surgery. I told by the physician I saw on an emergency basis that I was lucky that I narrowly escaped skin necrosis which would have necessitated a skin graft on my face. Hematoma may be caused by rough and improper treatment of the delicate tissues during surgery.
How I was treated when I complained:
I had one single phone conversation with Dr. Hudson shortly after he disfigured me. I had emailed him detailed photos of each of my areas of complaint to look at during our phone conversation. Dr. Hudson, in a haughty and superior voice simply denied, one-by-one, each of my complaints.
I was stunned because I had never imagined that Dr. Hudson would be so irrational and brazen as to totally contradict the photographic evidence. Dr. Hudson insisted that I had a perfectly acceptable surgical result. Then Dr. Hudson said, in a boastful voice as if suggesting that my concerns were trivial, “I am hanging up now. I’m going to go operate on children.” And he hung up on me.
I reported my surgery to Julie Colman, the Renaissance Surgical Clinic Manager. I thought that she would want to know about what had happened to protect other patients and their clinic reputation. She couldn’t have shown less concern for me or my complaint. Julie Colman said that the clinic “merely offers a surgical facility” and bears no responsibility for physician standards of care.
Finally, I reported my surgery to Dr. Des Fernandez, the head physician at Renaissance Surgical Clinic, where Dr. Hudson performed my surgery. Mr. Des Fernandez looked at my photographs and stated that I had a perfectly acceptable surgical result. He sent me an email enthusiastically approving of the scars.
Consumers should be made aware of the substandard level of clinical care that is considered acceptable at Renaissance Surgical Clinic. Potential patients need to be forewarned about how they will be treated by Renaissance should they have the need to report a problem with the care received.
As I began to seek out surgeons for revision surgery, I came to understand that, because of the severe errors Dr. Hudson had made, only a handful of top facial plastic surgeons in the world with successful revision experience would be qualified to attempt to perform my surgery, and even for them it would be risky and challenging. I consulted in person with 15 surgeons in person and at least 6 more by phone. I heard the same comments over and over, along with expressions of sympathy:
“The scars border on medical malpractice.”
“You got an old fashioned facelift using out-of-date-techniques - performed poorly.”
“Everything he did to you made you look worse.”
“He calls this a mini-lift?!”
“Do you think that the surgeon who did this to you was fit to operate?”
I had revision surgery one-year after my surgery. My revision surgeon is well-known as one of the top facial plastic surgeons in the world. I am thankful for his great talent and for the professionalism and kindness of his entire team. Given the challenges my revision surgeon had to work with, my results are not perfect, but I know that all that could be done was done. The pain in my ears that I had suffered for an entire year was gone when I woke up from the revision surgery. I know I still have a tough road ahead, and my appearance will never be as it was, but I am lucky to even have the opportunity to rebuild my life.
The total cost of my revision surgery and a subsequent hair transplant to fix my hairline was approximately $30,000 USD; 269,295 ZAR; 18,829 GBP. These costs do not include what I paid Dr. Hudson for the surgery.
I hope that by sharing my story other potential patients are spared this physical and emotional pain and suffering and financial devastation.
I wanted to share a few very hard-earned tips for...
- 30 Dec 2012
-- Start with a list of about the top dozen surgeons in your particular niche of surgical interest, not the top in your town, the top PERIOD. This is the #1 tip. Drill down from there. If you don’t know enough about this surgical niche to know the names of the top surgeons in this procedure, or if you think cannot afford them, then you are not ready to proceed. The best don’t necessarily cost more - - and there is NOTHING in the world more expensive than bad surgery. If necessary, wait. Continue studying. Save up more money.
-- Independently identify previous patients of the surgeon and contact them directly. Ideally meet them in person to see their results. Do not limit yourself to the referral list of patients supplied to you by the surgeon.
-- All the obvious stuff: check all professional titles/certifications/degrees, search court records, read every single on-line patient review...
-- Find examples of how the surgeon treats patients when things don’t go well. Even the most skilled surgeon has to deal with patient follow-up issues on a routine basis. How is a patient treated with he or she complains?
-- Study many before and after photos from any surgeon you are considering. Look at the photos with a critical eye - look for the incision sites/scars, does that patient actually look better to you, do you like the surgeon's aesthetic...?
-- Know that as a consumer, you are up against a huge marketing machine. In terms of Internet research, know that the level of online disinformation is high. There are fake-positive-reviews written by marketers. Actual real-negative reviews may be supressed and/or buried. There are companies that can be hired to assist businesses in this effort. Even so, the truth is out there! Be sure to connect with other actual consumers. There is power in numbers!
-- Try to find evidence of whether the surgeon is a decent human being. I know this is really challenging but, believe me, this will matter if anything goes wrong!*
* By digging around, I was able to find out that the revision surgeon I selected does charity work (but doesn’t promote this vs. all the PS's who use pro bono work as a marketing tool). Also, I found out that he did some extensive urgent surgery for one of his previous patients who developed an infection following surgery by another surgeon and he never billed her or her insurance. He did not take her type of insurance, and he never even mentioned it to her until she asked him about it much later. Learning these things about my revision surgeon helped so much in terms of being able to trust him after I had been treated so horribly, basically like a piece of garbage, by my original surgeon.
Here is something that I would like to share with...
- 6 Jan 2013
** There is no such thing as a "mini lift." **
What I mean is that, by clinical/medical standards, there is no procedure defined as a “mini-lift.” Mini-lift is primarily a marketing term. The physicians will all differ on what they define as a mini-lift. Many will go further and make up branded names for their own version of mini-lift.
If you get a botched so called "mini-lift" and go in to consult with top facial plastic surgeons to consult regarding a revision, you will quickly learn that you were sold a bill of goods. The "real" surgeons will roll their eyes at the term mini-lift. In the world of plastic surgery, you the ubiquitous botched mini-lift patient are almost a joke in terms of your gullibility.
The term "mini-lift" is, in essence, a meaningless moniker and I feel that it does patients a disservice. This term MINIMIZES the risk, the scarring, the recovery process. Nothing about what you are about to embark upon as a "mini-lift" patient is mini or minimal. The line between mini-lift, face-lift, mid-face-lift, lower-face-lift, etc. is just a blur.
Finally, please consider the scars. See photo number 4 that I have posted above. Regardless of the type of "mini-lift" you have, your PS will make these incisions at the ear (certainly not barbarically like in my photo, but still they must be made). Yes, an extremely small number of PS's will make these scars imperceptible on some patients. Even the top PS's cannot control the portion of scarring that is due to a patient's skin type - ex. forming keloids. Most patients WILL have some visible scarring. The party line among PS's is that most patients won't have visible scarring from a facelift or mini-lift - - That is just untrue. Try talking to other patients.
Please think long and hard about how you will feel about having obvious PS scars on your ears. Before you proceed with a mini-lift, you owe it to yourself to spend just one single day pretending that you had to hide your ears. Imagine needing to be conscious of your hair covering your ears at all times. Imagine needing to keep people at a certain distance. Imagine worrying about wind, light, etc.
All unscarred skin is beautiful. Natural aging faces are beautiful. Please think long and hard and consider EVERY alternative to surgery. If you do proceed do so only with the greatest caution.
I have received private messages asking my opinion...
- 10 Mar 2013
Here is my response:
- I do not have any first-hand knowledge regarding the clinical skill level of thes surgeons other than Dr. Hudson.
- After seeing my horrific photos, Dr. Fernandes, the principal owner physician of the clinic wrote this to me regarding Dr. Hudson: "I think his credential speak for themselves and there is no doubt that he qualifies to operate at the Renaissance Surgical Clinic." Is this the level of skill YOU are looking for in your surgeon?
- I emailed my complaint to every single one of the surgeons at Renaissance Surgical Clinic. Not ONE of these physicians replied to say they were sorry that this had happened to me or that this atrocity is not representative of their standards of care. They each chose to support a butcher rather demonstrating ethics and honor and standing up for a patient.
My question to you if you are considering one of the physicians at this clinic:
- Knowing my experience, do you want to take this risk with your health, appearance, emotional well-being, and finances?
- How will you be treated if something goes wrong with your procedure?
- The RealSelf forum gives patients the ability to learn the TRUTH about the real personality behind physicians and clinics. We now have the knowledge we need to reward skill and humanity in our physicans. With a botox seller on every corner, why reward this treatment with your hard earned money? Just say NO to those doctors who treat patients simply as a source of cash to be used and thrown out like garbage!
My Doctor: Donald Hudson
Professor Donald Hudson claims that he is the head of the department of plastic surgery at the University of Cape Town. He promotes himself as a pioneer in mini-facelift surgery. He claims that he taught his advanced surgical techniques to most all of the other plastic surgeons in town. During my pre-surgery consultation, Dr. Hudson pumped himself up and he even criticized another local plastic surgeon for his old-fashioned surgical techniques. I am sad to say that at the time I was naive. I was actually impressed by Dr. Hudson's monologue of his own accomplishments. I failed to grasp how inappropriate that behavior was. No truly competent plastic surgeon brags like that during a patient consultation. It was a sign that there was something very wrong with this person. I missed that red flag and I will regret this lapse in judgment for the rest of my life.
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