47 and Too Droopy for My Liking. Asheville, NC

After decades of yo-yo dieting, the last round of...

After decades of yo-yo dieting, the last round of weight loss left me with a crepey neck and looseness under my chin. I also have hereditary jowls that don't go away even when I am on the slimmer side. For a while I was toying with the idea of Thermitight or Thermismooth, but after reading a lot of reviews and taking a good look at my own situation, I realized it's time for surgery. All the reviews and pictures of Dr Harley's work convinced me that he was the doctor to go with. Also, I am a former NC resident and have a good friend in Asheville I can stay with, so no worries about hotels, transportation etc. Dr. Harley and I had a phone conversation last week and set up a surgery date for May 25th. I'm more excited than nervous, to be honest. Not having to get general anesthesia is a huge bonus as is the MORE than reasonable fee for Dr. Harley's expert services! I will upload before pictures soon -- need to get them off my other computer. Hurry up, May!

Before picture

This is my left profile. I know there is a jawline under the flab! I have been losing a little extra weight before the procedure even though Dr. Harley will excise fat from my neck and chin. Lost around 15 pounds since January. Another 8-10 to go and I'll be happy.

Another Before Pic

Even though it was cloudy outside, I decided to take another before picture of the laxity in the front of my neck. It doesn't show up that well in the picture, but hopefully you get the idea. :) These vertical lines started showing up about a year ago when I wore higher neck sweaters, but since December and this last round of weight loss, they have gotten really bad and are visible all the time. The lines on either side of my mouth have also gotten noticeably worse in the last six months, which might be from the weight loss or just normal aging. Not sure if the facelift will improve them or not, but I guess we'll see. :) I'm also a bit appalled at the rough texture of the skin on my chin and mouth. Maybe I should get a light peel as well?

Man, if I had seen these pictures a month ago, I would have been depressed. But I have my date set with Dr. Harley, so I feel is happiness and anticipation! Those of you who have recently had the Biltmore Lift, just know that I'm reading your updates and cheering you on every day. I swear, a lot of your "after" pictures have made me tear up. You all look amazing and happy. If I get half as good of a result as yours, I'll be thrilled. :)

I really need to get ready, huh?

Less than two weeks until I go to Asheville. Time to get the various things I'll need for recovery. I have Mepitac to use later in the healing process and...that's it, so far. I'm not worried about bruises so I'm not getting arnica (heard it doesn't work too well anyway). My only real concern is sleeping upright for the first week or so. I'm staying at a friend's house near Dr. Harley's office and she has a regular bed in the guestroom. Any advice on pillows would be welcomed! I'm reading the other Biltmore Lift reviews here and feeling so encouraged by your stories and beautiful after pictures, so THANK YOU to everyone for sharing your experiences!

Out of Surgery - Day 1

I was at Dr. Harley's office super early this morning - in fact, I was the first to arrive! Dr. Harley and Kelly got there after a couple of minutes, greeted me warmly, and then we all got down to work. I did some paperwork and gave Dr. Harley the prescription meds I picked up from the nearby CVS the day before. He gave me the "cocktail" with a tiny amount of water and let me wait about 10-15 minutes for it to kick in. Since I take a similar benzodiazepine for occasional anxiety and already have a slight tolerance, he gave me a couple more Diazepam, which helped to relax me more once I got in the surgery chair. I never fell asleep so I did feel the numbing shots but they weren't terrible and Kelly was so reassuring throughout. It takes a lot to knock me out, so I was awake the entire time. However, let me assure everyone that the procedure itself was PAINLESS. As others have said in their reviews, I did feel some light pressure the whole time, but no pain. I chatted with Kelly for most of the time except the part where Dr. Harley was working on my chin because he needed me to be as still as possible. By 8:30, I was done and all wrapped up. My friends took me back to their place and I have been mostly napping since then. I didn't take a pain pill right away but when my jaw and ears started hurting, I drank a protein shake through a straw, had an anti-nausea med, waited about 40 minutes, and had the pain pill. Then I slept about four hours, woke up, had some water and a protein shake, and started the process all over again. I'm jealous of the people who said they had no pain at all. My jawline does hurt. Not agonizing, but a good 7 or 8 out of 10. Will definitely be ready for the bandage to come off tomorrow! I'm not sure if I am supposed to be cleaning the incisions yet or if I need to wait until the bandage comes off tomorrow. I will call Dr. Harley and find out. That's all I can manage for now. So far, so good!

Day 2/3 - no more bandage!

The bandage came off yesterday AM. I was counting the hours until it was gone! The pain I was feeling was definitely related to pressure on the drain site. I had no idea the tube ran all the way across my jawline like it did - yikes! Shows how little I felt during the procedure even though I was awake. Just very, very mellow thanks to the Valium "cocktail" beforehand.

Of course I have quite a bit of swelling now but it's normal. I took two of the prescribed pain pills spread out over 8 hours yesterday and had a bit of discomfort around the stitch sites, but nothing out of the ordinary. No nausea or stomach problems, either. Then again, medications don't usually bother my digestive system, except for Oxycodone (which Dr. Harley didn't prescribe - I had the Oxy for another non-cosmetic procedure 5 years ago -- never again will I touch that stuff!) Last night around 4AM, I got up and iced a little bit because my ears felt swollen. Someone here had suggested making a two-sided ice pack by putting ice in a plastic bag umbrella cover from the grocery store so you can ice both sides of your head at the same time. It really works! I'm also making sure to take the antibiotics as prescribed and to also clean the sutures and apply the Bacitracin as directed. I'm definitely the most swollen in my upper face/cheekbone area. It also feels like a tight band is under my jaw, but I called Dr. Harley's office and was assured that it was normal. And hey, it's good to be nice and taut under there again after so many years of slackness hahaha!

It's hard to open my mouth wide and chew, so I have been living on protein shakes and fresh blueberries since Wednesday. Tonight I am going to have some egg salad with no sodium. And I've been drinking water like crazy -- can't recommend it enough! Already washed my hair following the Dr's instructions and had no problems there. So far today I have only needed Tylenol. As others have said, the post-bandage pain is pretty minimal. It's more of a swollen/pulled feeling than anything, and I can totally live with that.

I'm including front, side, and chin scar view pictures which were taken last night before bed. Today I look just the same, maybe more bruised on my right cheek. Bruising isn't bad at all, but it's definitely there. Good thing I can work from home for as long as needed! Will take more pics when the swelling goes down. Juanita said to give it a few more days of rest and relaxation. But so far, I am just thrilled with the results and so happy I did this!

Healing continues...in the bruise phase now

Today is Sunday and I get the sutures removed on Wednesday, so just a few more days to go and then I can drive back home. The swelling in my upper face is better today. I'm putting up one pic I took this morning of the yellow bruising down the front of my neck. Seems to be par for the course for almost everyone at this stage. It didn't stop me from going out for a brief time to Whole Paycheck (oops, I mean Whole Foods) and getting some unsweetened almond milk and protein powder. I also checked out a great antique/artsy-craftsy store called the Screen Door, which is less than 10 minutes north of Dr. Harley's office. Cool place! If anybody noticed the sutures or bruising, I couldn't tell. People here are very polite but also good at minding their business, it seems! Didn't ice today (it makes the swollen sites VERY painful), but am still taking the antibiotics and cleaning with the water/peroxide mix and of course putting on the Bacitracin faithfully. As with yesterday, no need for the pain pills prescribed. Just tylenol every six hours or so to help with the pulled tight feeling under my ears and chin. I have to remember not to lower my chin, too, but if I tilt my head too high it pulls under my jaw pretty sharply. So I try to look straight ahead as much as possible. By the way, the friend that I am staying with while I heal has turned from a skeptic to a total believer in Dr. Harley's skills. The first night when I had the compression bandage on and was in all that pain, she was almost mocking me, saying things like "Is it worth it from all agony you're going through?" and "I don't think you needed plastic surgery" etc. It kind of irked me, but I stayed quiet -- no energy to argue with her! Well, this morning, she took a closer look at my face and said, "Wow, I really do see a huge difference in your jawline today. It's never looked so smooth in all the years I've known you." HA!

Back home - sutures out

Sorry for the lack of updates, but recovery is chugging along so no worries! I had my sutures out on Wednesday, June 1, exactly a week after the procedure. Kelly did a fast and fantastic job of removing them. One behind my ear was being a little stubborn and needed an extra tug, but it was over in no time. Kelly also said I did a great job with cleaning the incisions (no sign of infection) and then Dr. Harley checked them out and he agreed! After getting a little more after-care advice, I was good to go. Made sure to tell Juanita goodbye before I left - she was the first person I spoke to in order to get the ball rolling and I wanted to end my Asheville experience with her smiling face! =)

Folks, I can't emphasize the importance of following their post-surgery instructions to the letter. They will give you a two-page handout to take home the morning of the procedure itself. You're going to be drowsy and out of it when you leave, so make sure your ride gets it back with you and keep it close by your side until you know it by heart! =) I didn't use the medical visit service (forgot the name, sorry!) because I was staying with friends, so it was up to me to make sure I cleaned the incisions and took my medications as directed. One protip: don't use cotton balls when cleaning (that is per Kelly, the pro!) because they can snag on the sutures and make a big mess and possibly cause an infection. Also, until they come out, you really don't want to put anything on those sutures except the peroxide/water solution and the Bacitracin ointment. No makeup, no oils, no soap/shampoo etc.

The swelling has gone down a lot more and some of the feeling is coming back to the large numb areas in my jaws and cheeks next to my ears. Sometimes I get random twinges of pain (not severe, maybe a 3-4 out of 10) in my chin and under-jaw area, but that's the healing process at work. I left the silicone tape that Kelly put on my ears and chin on for four days. Now I have Mepitac on the incision sites unless I am showering. Taping is supposed to help the scarring because it reduces movement around the incision sites and keeps them nice and tight. I try to remember to keep my chin in a neutral position as much as possible and am still sleeping with the wedge pillow to keep my head up and reduce overnight swelling.

I've been working from home since the procedure so none of my coworkers have seen me yet (they don't know I had anything done and they don't need to know, haha!). For the last four days, I have been taking 30 minute afternoon walks down my street. Passed one of my neighbors and saw her kind of peering at my face like "hmm, she looks different somehow" but if she was wondering, she didn't say anything, haha! My husband's friends were over last night and none of them commented either, but they are guys so...yeah. The main thing is that *I* can see a big difference now and I am so happy with my new chin and jaw! For months before the procedure, every time I looked in the bathroom mirror, I had the compulsion to pull my slack skin up to see how much better my face would look. Now I don't have to do that anymore - it's all nice and tight, yeah!

I woke up about 30 minutes ago and still feel kind of bleary-eyed, so no pics for now. Before/after pics will follow, I promise. Quick summary: feel great, look great, so flippin' happy I did this! And oh yeah, I miss Asheville and the lovely people at Dr. Harley's office. What an amazing, life-changing experience it all was. I would do it all again without question or hesitation. Whoohoo!

Setback?!

Had a bad night because of the tight band feeling that runs laterally beneath my jawline. Not only was it pulling on everything, but it feels lumpy and tender to the touch, too. I did a little yardwork yesterday and took a longer walk than normal, so maybe that inflamed the area? I slept propped up all night and don't think that helped any. When I woke up, my chin scar especially hurt. I might sleep with the Mepitac on it tonight like I was doing last week. I took two Tylenol at 5AM but I don't think they helped much. Also very tender in front of my ears/lower cheeks. Something set me off for sure! If it's not better tomorrow morning, I will call Dr. Harley's office and see what they advise. Meanwhile, I will take more Tylenol and eat blueberries and try to have a restful Sunday.

All my best to everyone who is recovering along with me. Shows how easy it can be to take a step backward, but I'm still confident that forward progress will continue! I'm attaching a pic of my chin scar from three days ago. Still red and raised but it was only at 2 weeks post at that point. Ear scars looking much better although I have a feeling of fullness inside my right ear all the time. I'm sure that will diminish as well. Thanks for reading and commenting on my journey so far, ladies! ;)
Asheville Facial Plastic Surgeon

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