54 years old—buying myself a facelift for...
54 years old—buying myself a facelift for 55!
I’m a healthy, in-shape 54 year old. Lost 50lbs 5 years ago, no sugar for 6 years, no alcohol for 16. I swim 150 laps every week & enjoy water aerobics 3x/week. I have taken very good care of my face; started moisturizing my face/neck 2x/day since the age of 12. Most mistake me for at least 10-15 younger than my age. My only downfall is tanning 3x/week, although I do use sunscreen when in the real sun.
I started with Botox 4 years ago for the 11’s, that made me look tired & angry all the time. Then Juviderm & other fillers for the jowls & deeper wrinkles. I had Ultherapy 3x, the 3rd time they also did my neck. I have been using Retin-a at night for the past 15 years. I exfoliate 2x/day & this year bought a Clarasonic brush, which I love! In the mornings I use a 14% Glycoloc AHA serum, along with Revox on my chin, under eyes & between brows & Nectifirm on my neck (2x/day). It’s gotten to the point that my neck is starting to sag & my lower face looks terrible, despite all this. I also have been noticing my upper eyelids drooping & I can’t see as well at night driving as I used to.
I scheduled a consultation with a very nice, open, friendly Dr (Leonard Lu) at the facility I have been going to for the past 4 years. He agreed—I need a neck lift & lower facelift. He said the owner of the facility is the eye specialist (Daniel Ritacca), so I also consulted with him about an upper eyelift.
It turns out my insurance will pay for the eyelift! So all I have to pay for that, is a little under $500. The lower facelift & neck lift will come to $9500 & that’s with their discount club I joined. I paid $5000 up front & charged the rest to my Care Credit card, which offers up to $10,000, INTEREST FREE for 2 years. I did the math & that comes to around $187/month. I usually paid them $200/month, when borrowing from them anyway (for the Ultherapy), so I always pay it off early.
It is now 6 days before my surgery. I stopped taking my fish oil & krill oil a week ago. I started taking the recommended 50mg zinc last week, 3x/day. I started Arnica Montana 3x/day & 500mg Bromelain & discontinued Retin-a last night. I know after filler, I always peel extra because of the stretching skin, so I can imagine what I’d look like with all the swelling to come. I know I’m not going to be able to exfoliate for quite some time after surgery & don’t want to look like a giant lizard!
I am starting to freak out after reading many of the reviews on here. What I DIDN’T do was consult with any other plastic surgeons. I’ve been speaking to Dr Lu for all the years I’ve been going to the Ritacca Laser Center & feel very comfortable around him. I also read his educational profile & he excels in everything he does. But I read here, you should consult with several Drs & also see MANY of their before/after photos. I can’t get them to send me a single photo, because of the HIPAA law??? My other concern is I can’t find a single bit of information about him doing facelifts on anyone—only breast work & a few other body parts—all positive reviews. But just because a surgeon does great work on one body part, doesn’t mean he’s an artist in others, right? I mean, you can be a wonderful artistic dog groomer. That doesn’t make you a great cat groomer, does it? (I know, because I’ve done both for 30 years.)
I did get a referral from the doctor/patient liaison--someone who had the same surgery I am, by Dr Lu. She was really nice, answered all my questions & sent me a before/after pic. She also said she did consult with 2 other surgeons & picked Dr Lu above the others. She had Dr Lu’s cell phone number & he answered all her queries after surgery. I’m hoping to get in to see Dr Lu one more time before the surgery & maybe he can show me before/after photos in his office. Of course Hubby says maybe all my fear is because I shouldn't be doing this surgery in the 1st place. He keeps telling me it’s all based in vanity, that I look wonderful to him…
I took everything I learned from you gals on my post here & brought it all to the PS. He sat with me & answered all my Qs to my satisfaction. While waiting in his office, the PT liaison gave me 2 more referrals to call. On of them gave raving reviews, says he's an artist in his field, came highly recommended by her oncologist & has NO scars (same as the 1st gal I spoke to). She picked him over 3 other PS. The other gal kinda went into it like I did & from doing business with the cosmetic clinic for 11 years & having previous surgery eyelid by the PA who will be doing my eyes , just went with this PS for her face. She's very pleased with her results too. I saw lots of before/after photos on his computer & explained to me how most women do not want their face lifts plastered all over the internet. I'm going for it on Saturday!
I slept about 5 hours last night. Took my last sublingual Arnica in the morning & Hubby drove me to the surgical center. Surgery was scheduled for 8am. I arrived at 7am & they prepped me. Lots of forms to sign. I was totally calm—not nervous at all—just excited. They didn’t even have to give me the normal valium to calm my nerves. My eyelids were 1st but the facelift surgeon came in at 7am to see me, because he didn’t want me not to be able to see him before I was put out. I was impressed by that. He also marked my face. The eyelid surgeon came in 2nd, to mark my eyelids. Then I was out. Hubby went golfing. I was in recovery about 1 ½ hours & wheeled out to go home.
Hubby set me up in his leather Lazy Boy recliner, with my Temperpedic pillow vertically behind me. It’s very comfortable! I slept a lot. Tried to eat some creamed broccoli soup but everything came back up. Yogurt stayed down later in the evening & so did some Jell-O. In & out most of the day. Hubby put ice on my eyes, 20 minutes every hour. My face was too bandaged for ice to help any there. Took my evening pills & threw them all up. Lots of pain in my TMJ (jaw) on both sides & my throat. I have previously had serious TMJ problems—don’t know if it was the surgery or the heavy bandaging pressing against it but it hurt really BAD. I can’t stand tight things on my neck (cut the collars off all my t-shirts), so Hubby called the surgeon to see if he could cut the bandages away from my neck a bit. He cut a notch from where it was pressing against my trachea & it helped a lot. Slept on & off during the night, taking 1 Norco every 4 hours.
Sunday was just a little better than surgery day. Still very nauseous but kept everything down. Tried some chicken noodle soup but it was too salty. Very difficult to chew because of the jaw pain. I can’t open my mouth very far, either. Stuck to soup, Jell-O & yogurt. By the evening though, I was eating a few grapes. The surgeon came to my home to remove the bandages. I didn’t think anyone made house calls anymore!!! He was very pleased as the results. Although, all I can see is a puffy, tight face, I’m sure he knows better what he’s looking at. He squeezed out the excess fluids from behind my ears & put some bandaging back on to catch any remaining oozing. I feel soooooo much better! Trying to just take ½ a Norco now. Better night’s sleep. My back & neck hurt by morning though--sleeping in the same position all night, upright in the chair. The dog must have felt sorry for me—he slept by my side most of the night, bless him…
Day 3, Doing Great!
I’m very happy to report I am feeling much better today (Monday). Couldn’t wait to get out of that chair! ½ Norco in the morning. It’s noon now & the pain is down to a dull throb. Jaw still sore, still having trouble chewing solids, so Hubby made me scrambled Eggbeaters & I’m eating yogurt with ground flax right now. Hubby will make me his Quinoa for later & maybe brown rice soup for dinner. Just very slight nausea. I got to wash my face & have the compression bandage on right now. I made an appt to have stitches removed next Saturday. The eye dr asked to speak to me & I reported to him I could see pretty well & there is very little bruising—just on the crease of my eyelids.
3 days since my surgery
Today is Tuesday, my usual fish tank water change day. I also answer a Hotline all day. No Hotline calls as of yet but I'm almost done with the fish tanks. Up & down the stairs a lot, no cleaning gravel this time. Too much climbing up/down the stepstool & bending over the tanks. Too germy, too! The fish will be happy enough with clean, fresh water. Did a good gravel cleaning last week, in anticipation of not doing much after surgery this week. I got to take a shower & wash my hair, YIPPEE!!! I waited for my hair to dry before I put the compression strap back on. It feels better (more supported) with it on--definitely when eating. Speaking of germs, I've had Hubby wash my compression bandage 2x already, because he touched it after he touched the lid of the garbage can. I think he might be getting a bit annoyed with me today...
Last night we took the dog for a walk & when I came back, I started shivering really bad. Not sure what that was about. Last 1/2 Norco last night, only Tylenol today. Looks a bit more swollen than yesterday. Possible because of everything I'm doing today?
3rd evening, swelling
One more update to add to today, 3 days after surgery. I'm pretty sure, salt is thee enemy. Yeah, I did read that on here but I thought I eat so healthy, often my food is bland & needs a little enhancement. I use the pink salt & only half the amount as usual, so I thought that might be OK. 2nd, I spent most of the evening without the compression bandage. I've had pretty minimal pain today (only 2 Tylenol in the morning) & got ahead of myself here. It is now midnight & my face is very swollen & lumpy. The skin feels extremely tight. It looks like my face is on crooked & there's a lot of swelling on my cheekbones (especially my left one & also a red band popped out of my neck on both sided (again, the left seems worse). My eyes look great though--the bruising on the right one is almost gone.
Eating solid food today
Good news is I can eat my normal diet of solid food. Lost 2 lbs eating a liquid diet the past 2 days.
I can't sleep in that recliner anymore. My neck & back are hurting. I declined the offer of a friend's bolster she bought for her FL a couple of years ago, because she lives an hour away & I thought the recliner would be good enough. After not much sleep last night, Hubby set up 3 pillows in the bed & I slept comfortably for a few more hours. I called my friend & she'll bring the bolster over tonight, YEA! She owes me a foot rub, too!
Friend cancelled her trip to bring me the booster. Can't blame her--she opted to see a dying friend. At least that's not me! Hubby's at a meeting but said he'll cut it short to take me & the dog for a walk & set something up that will prop me well enough to sleep in the bed with him. I MISS MY BED!
I find my sleeping (or lack of) is becoming the WORSE part of this entire experience. I don't care if my neck looks like a Linebacker's, I just want to find a way to sleep through the night comfortably! I have incurable, lifelong, chronic insomnia & have to take a TON of drugs to sleep normally. I'm skipping the Benadryl for now, because I don't want to dry out my eyes more than they already get during the night. I am a side sleeper... by sleeping on my back, my neck is killing me! My entire body aches... I keep moving from the bed to the recliner, trying to get comfortable. I read here about an airplane neck pillow & scrounged mine up at 4am this morning. It's a blow up one & I did my best not to puff up my cheeks (didn't have the heart to wake Hubby to blow up a pillow) but when it got near being full, I could feel the pressure in my face. After all the stern warnings here, I'm really trying to be more aware of working my face too much. I wrapped it around my neck, but after a few minutes I found it was pressing against the ears & flipped it upside down. Wound up taking it back to the bed with me but still didn't sleep comfortably.
Out in Public!
On way my out in public for the 1st time. Gotta go get worms for the fish. Hubby's driving.
Yay, 1st compliment!
Just got back from the local fish store. The fellow who bagged my worms was surprised to see me. He was aware that I've been selling off all my corals for an impending cross-country move. I told him I made a bunch of $$$ on the corals & bought myself a facelift! He said, "I was wondering why you looked so young, I thought you had a painting hidden somewhere... Remember when I rescued you from that baby bear who gave you a bear hug & wouldn't let go, 35 years ago? Well you look as young as that day!" See, this is why I tell people I've gotten a facelift. He was fascinated & I showed him all the stitches. He told me I deserved it.
Day 6, Look'n good!
Today is 6 days after my facelift. I have to say, I'm very pleased! My eyes are still quite puffy & bruised, my neck still looks like a linebacker's & I have no defined jawline yet but I think the lipstick helped with the yellow pallor starting across my face. Hubby took me out shopping to Sams Club, Walmart, Marshalls & the Vitamin Shoppe. I felt like everyone was staring at me, until I remembered they always do, because I'm so heavily tattooed, LOL! I get what the other gals say about getting tired quickly though. I felt exhausted by the 3rd store.
I stopped at the health food store too, to get more Arnica. The worker there felt the arnica was more for pain & I'm way past that. He highly recommended Turmeric for swelling & he said even better yet, are cherries. Well, guess what just came back this week at /sam's Club??? I bought 4lbs!
Sorry it's taken me so long to update! I've been waiting since saturday, to receive the photos my surgeon took. He took out my stitches, said I'm healing very well & told me to keep using the antibiotic ointment, wearing the face bra, sleeping upright, no neck turning (which means no driving) & no lifting
IDK what happened to all I wrote! Try this again...
Sorry it's taken me so long to update! I've been waiting since Saturday to receive the photos my surgeon took. He took out my stitches, said I'm healing very well & told me to keep using the antibiotic ointment, wearing the face bra, sleeping upright, no neck turning (which means no driving) & no lifting (which means no cat/dog grooming/work). We were supposed to leave yesterday on a 500 mile road trip but I told Hubby I wasn't ready for that. He's sulking a bit but still helping me with fish tanks, lifting & picking up stuff & driving me everywhere. I'm pretty stir-crazy here! At least I got a pedicure in yesterday. =o) Swelling/bruising gets better every day. Just a lil black eye on my left & some yellowing of the skin. The bruising seems to travel down the face, I'm seeing it in my neck now a bit. The incision seems ti be somewhat bumpy behind my left ear & looks a lil funky in front of my right. I'm still waiting for my cheekbones to emerge from the swelling.
I ordered the silicone gel my Dr recommends. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AV14GTE/ref=pe_385040_30332190_TE_M3T1_ST1_dp_1
Should be here by the time I see him on Saturday. Hopefully, he says I can start using it. I'm back to the Retin-a too--PEELING like a lizard today!
Just got back from seeing both surgeons for my 2 week check up. A few more things were taking off my restrictions. I can bend over now, drive (yay!!!), wear earrings where I have placed them in the back of the ear--just not where it's still swollen, no more bra during the day, use the Clarasonic (just not on anywhere I was cut), sleep level, use the silicone gel, do low-impact water aerobics & gentle sex. I can wear make up! I still can't lift >10 lbs so no work for another week, can't ride my motorcycle for another 2 weeks, no massage face down (been getting them laying on my side & back). I can get Botox after 2 more weeks, too. The eyelid surgeon wants me back for laser, to remove the crepey eyelid skin in a month, too. I finally got the surgeon's "Before" pice. OMG, I've already forgotten how bad I looked! I also got you some pics with makeup today.
Sorry if it's confusing, I finally got the photos form the surgeon showing how I looked pre-op. Thought you might want to see better pics of how much worse I looked before surgery.
Driving & Work
Today was my 1st day back driving! I'm free!!! And I groomed a cat today, too.
Went out to a meeting yesterday. Lots of the men whom I didn't even know were following my Facebook posts said I look fantastic, like a gal in her 20s! I even wore my hair in pigtails.
3 weeks post facelift. I feel fantastic! Tiny bruise under left eye. Scars are disappearing. Just a lil tightness behind my ears & neck (I want that, right???). I'm even sleeping! I'm 55 a week from tomorrow... I worked really hard to look like this!
Back to normal life
Yep--life is pretty much back to normal, only 4 weeks out. Grooming full time again & got in the pool today! 50 minutes high impact water aerobics & 30 laps. Not bad, considering I only planned to do 20 of my normal Tuesday's 40 laps. The gals thought I looked great & 1 asked for my surgeon's number. I saw the surgeon on Saturday. I'll post an update on all that when he sends me my newest pics tomorrow.
Seeing Sis Tonight
Seeing my sister tonight for the 1st time since my FL. You know, the one who said a couple years back, "At least my neck doesn't look as bad as your's & Mom's!" And then told Mom she didn't think I needed to do this? Hmmm...
I'm still waiting to post my 1 month update for my 55th b-day (was Monday). Surgeon hasn't sent me the pics yet.
11 Aug 2014
3 months post
It was 3 months this weekend, since my lower face/neck/eyelid lift. I'd say I'm very pleased! I did go get $1500 worth of filler & Botox 3 weeks ago but I knew that was to be expected. They banked 1/2 a syringe for me & using it next week. All swelling has been gone for a while now. I still have a tiny bit of numbness in my cheekbones near the ears but that's about it. I do see some wrinkles around my mouth--I wish the PS had pulled the skin just a wee bit tighter by my ears but he promised me a natural, not windblown look, so I'll just keep going with the Botox (or the likes) & filers. Pretty sure I could easily pass for late 30s - early 40s.
12 Sep 2014
4 months post
4 months this week. Visited a friend while looking for a new home down south. I haven't seen her since pre-surgery. She loves my new look! Says I don't look "done" at all. Said I have the neck of a 30 year old. Just what I wanted to hear... :o)
I have been going to Ritacca Laser Center for the past 4 years, for Botox, Juviderm & Ultherapy. I have been using Retin-a for the past 15 years, Nectifirm for 2 years & recently added Revox II to my daily routine. I’m coming up on my 55th birthday in a month & it is now past the time for these to help me look as good as I want to look. Hubby & I plan on moving out of state soon. Since I have a place I am familiar with & trust here in Chicago & I found out my health insurance will pay for most of my upper blepharoplasty by Dr Ritacca, I decided to get my sagging neck fixed also (my LEAST favorite body part). Dr Lu said I’d be unhappy with just doing my neck, so I added the lower facelift to that. I knew Dr Ritacca was the “eye” man, so I had him do the eyes & since seeing Dr Lu in the offices & speaking to him often, I had him do the neck/facelift. After not being able to find anything on his facelifts on the net, he had me come in for a 3rd consultation, showing me lots of before/after photos, so I’d feel more comfortable. I also got to speak to 3 gals who had the same surgeries by Dr Lu; 1 of them even had their eyes also done by Dr Ritacca. Both Drs are friendly, personable & very caring. Dr Lu actually came to my HOME the day after my surgery, to remove my bandages!
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