I'm Up!!

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I can't believe it's already time for my surgery....

I can't believe it's already time for my surgery. I had planned to do this for quite some time, and initially set my date for October 2016, but elected to reschedule for February since there is little to do in winter in Chicago but wait for Spring, mope and recover ;) I have read and re-read countless reviews on RealSelf and everywhere else I could find them on the internet for Dr. Harley, and I am convinced I have chosen the correct surgeon for my lower face lift. I am scheduled for my consultation on February 8, surgery bright and early on Feb 9th. I feel pretty good about the way I look most days. I am a yoga and fitness instructor full-time, and am as fit as I've ever been at 50. I eat a mostly plant-based diet, don't drink or smoke, get good rest and do all of the other stuff that is supposed to be good for you, but that wasn't always the case. I smoked for about 20 years and am a recovering alcoholic with 6 years of sobriety. I went through a divorce, subsequent bankruptcy, and the loss of both parents in a year, and I think the events of the last decade took more of a toll on my skin than I'd like. I have completely reinvented myself over the last 7 years, and I feel strong, capable and sure. I agonized a bit over the expense of the trip and procedure, but ultimately decided that I want to do this for myself, so that my appearance can more closely match how I feel inside, which is pretty damn good;)
Oy, the "befores." I have a little mascara that didn't melt off from hot yoga this morning, but that's it. I have had deep smile lines since I was in my 20's - so much better than the alternative, but I've never been fond of them. I smile a LOT - has anyone experienced uncomfortable tightness smiling in the weeks after the procedure? The lines under my eyes when I smile are really prevalent - I am wondering if the lift extends far enough up to draw these in a little smoother? I think about a brow lift, maybe next year. I have very expressive brows and the lines to match. I also want to ask Dr. H about an under eye peel and maybe a little lip juvederm during my consultation. I am alternately terrified and thrilled as the date approaches. I am driving there and back (10 hours each way) and have told exactly 3 people what I'm doing, everyone else thinks I'm taking time from work for "dental procedures."I am extremely independent and want to do as much as I can by myself and return as quickly as I can to my life, but will absolutely defer to my healing process if I need more time. Has anyone used the caregivers for a briefer time -say 4 hours the first day, and then a few the next to get back for wrap and drain removal? Has anyone gone it alone? What about Airbnb vs. hotels during their stay? Anyone return to fairly regular exercise within the first few weeks? I am training myself to sit upright now and eating pineapple......thank you for any and all advice and positive vibes!!

I'm here!

It's been a whirlwind of a month, but I'm here at last. Whew! What a trek getting here was. I found out at the last minute that my car was not driveable (transmission bearing?) , so I literally sprinted out for a rental 10 minutes before Enterprise closed, and then had to run back and teach my last yoga class before my trip. I drove through the night and slept really well on my wedge pillow in the car, but got stuck behind every truck conceivable on the 2 lane highway in. Annnnnd, got a speeding ticket - I deserved it, but....ouch :( The mountains, though - absolutely breathtaking! What a beautiful place Asheville is. I was late to my consult, but Dr, Harley was so accommodating, as expected, and spoke with me for a while - what a love he is, sweet, very confident and professional - any anxiety about all of it really disappeared after that. I met with Susie and Violet from TLC, equally lovely and very conscientious. I know I am in good hands all around. I have blueberries, pineapple, ice packs, arnica, bromelain, another few homeopathic remedies for scar healing and nerve repair in the days after. All I have left is to pick up my prescriptions and probably lounge in the hot tub at the hotel, which (I have heard) is crawling with several other of Dr. Harley's patients - a big HEY to all of you here! I'll be the lady in the hoodie with the hair all in her face looking dazed at the breakfast buffet ;) Thank you all so much for the love and support - looking at all of your gorgeous pictures and hearing your stories has gotten me through many a restless night leading up to now, and I appreciate each and every one of you. Thank you again for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers - I can't tell you how much it means to me. If you would also send some of those thoughts my daughter's way - she is having dizziness and severe headaches and is getting an EEG on Friday. I got that call on the way here too - yikes. She is with her dad and holding steady for now, thus I am going through with my plans, but may be cutting my trip short and driving back this weekend if she is not improving. I am praying it's an iron deficiency or a virus, but lots of waiting and stressing in the meantime.

Here are some more "befores" I am looking forward to smoother, for sure. And yes, I have another sweater - that's just my favorite;) See you all on the other side!!

Post Op day 1

I am through and thrilled - I can't get over how easy it all was. After I got my "cocktail" Dr. Harley left me to fill out my waiver and after about 5 minutes I was giggling like a crazy person - I guess Valium makes me extra loopy! I remember being escorted to the chair, and some pulling, and Dr. Harley saying "don't move, you're having surgery" a few times (lol), but that is about it. Michael from TLC drove me back to the hotel and woke me up for meds until Susie came and then Jan -what amazing caregivers - I felt completely pampered. The pain was very manageable, mostly from the compression wrap. By morning, I switched to just tylenol. Getting the wrap and drain out felt wonderful, and was quick and painless. I have considerable bruising on the left side of my neck where the drain was, but virtually none on my face. I have been taking tylenol to alleviate the tight feeling on my cheeks and neck, which helps.My earlobes are numb but I have at least some sensation everywhere else. I look a bit alien - I have a very thin neck and face and its all widened now with the swelling, kind of like I have gills! But it gets better every hour - I am icing and arnicaing and resting a lot. I have been eating mostly smoothies because I can't open my mouth really wide yet, but it's not too uncomfortable. Overall, I am thrilled to pieces as I see the beginnings of what my final result will be. Dr, Harley is amazing, kind, and, as they say, an artist - I don't look like a cookie cutter version of someone else, just me.

Post Op day 1 pics

Post Op Day 3

Feeling so much better today - I hit a rough patch yesterday. I want to be one of those patients who bounds right back into life without swelling or bruising but healing proceeds at the pace it wants - zen lesson noted :) My jaw is pretty swollen, as is my neck, and is a full spectrum sunset of color. I kind of look like I have a badass neck tattoo or a beard, lol. I am eating pineapple and blueberries, taking and applying arnica as well as bromelain, but it's there regardless. It is definitely mellowing and healing to lighter purple and yellow as the time passes. I walked around downtown Asheville for a bit yesterday but it was too soon, I felt shaky and weak and emotional, so I went back to the Airbnb to sleep, which helped a lot. I am staying with the most DELIGHTFUL couple - I rented a room in their home, which is quiet and perfect and has its own bathroom. They even include homemade breakfast every day - 40 bucks a night! I highly recommend - I transferred here after I had the wrap removed -direct message if you are interested in more information. I realized yesterday that my reduced calorie intake is probably affecting how I felt - I've basically just eaten fruit since I've been here, and I'm a big eater because of my crazy class schedule. So I added some protein and feel a little stronger today. So, all that to say that although I am DYING to get out in this beautiful day, I am sleeping and reading and laying about today to keep my healing on track. I plan to bring my kids and boyfriend here in Spring to sightsee properly - I have to keep in mind what I came here for :) I love Asheville! Here are more pics of progress, bruising and my pillow set up,as requested. Elaborate, but it works!!

Post-Op Day 9

Lol - see comments below

Worth Every Penny!!

Wow, ladies - what a month!!! This is seriously about the first time I've been able to sit down by myself when I wasn't exhausted or preoccupied with school to write! I just completed my final last night, so at long last, a break in the action. I thought about updating so many times, but I really wanted to take pictures that reflected my results and to devote this review the attention it deserves. My daughter is doing extremely well - her tests were inconclusive, so the dizziness and vision issues were likely hormonal or stress related. Thank you all SO much for keeping her in your thoughts and prayers - I am positive that did wonders.
So - as of today, a month post-op, I am feeling pretty happy with my journey. I'm still healing, though. My earlobes - the bottom third, are still numb, as are the sides of my face from there to my jaw. I think I feel more sensation, little by little, or I could just be getting used to it. There is a tiny residual yellowness along that line too, but it is almost gone. I have some hard spots there, and under the jaw, but that seems to soften a bit too a bit more with time. When I do too much physically, I feel it there - I tighten and swell a bit, which at first freaked me out, but at this point just serves as a reminder to slow the hell down. This is the first week I've amped up to close to my previous activity level. I still have not done any down dogs of length or folds, or inversions - little experiments with that movement illustrated to me pretty quickly why Dr. Harley advises against it - the pressure I feel in my face is very uncomfortable then and I most certainly do not want to compromise anything. so I am laying off for probably 1 week more. When I lay on my back and try to sit up or do certain ab exercises I feel pressure in my neck - Kelly told me that the platysma (neck) muscle runs all the way down to the chest, so that makes sense. I have been easy there too. Long story short, the biggest lesson I have learned is that in contrast to what I was expecting, my recovery took longer that I thought because of my fitness level, since I had to return to work after a week and a half (teaching 21 classes per week) and although taking it slow was possible, a lot slower would have served me better. It took until this past week to feel almost normal. I was tired, sore and swollen when I overdid it. I think if I had a desk job, and I went from recovery to that it would have been a lot more seamless, if that makes sense. 0-60 is a way bigger contrast! I still have a big bump behind my left ear, where the drain was - there was one on the left but it is receding. Dr. Harley assured me they would both reabsorb into the tissues with time. No one can see it, but I can't stop rubbing my fingers over it - I do massage it to help it along. My scars look great - visible, but a tiny bit of makeup blends them in. I wear the silicone tape a lot too when I'm not working. I bruised a lot, and it took a few weeks for all of it to fade - I think that much bruising is not commonplace, I'm just a bruiser. All clear now :)
And the good? So good I can't stop smiling! I'd do it all again, in a heartbeat. The past month flew by. My dental surgery cover story seemed to placate anyone worried about me, and allowed me to back off on my workload a bit without question. People tell me I look great, like I've lost weight, or ask if I've had my hair cut. My NO one has said I look different, not even the few people I told. I still have expression lines. My neck is not 100 percent smooth. But it is so natural, so subtle - it is exactly what I was hoping for. I thought about getting fillers for my smile lines, and did about 10 years ago. But I look at pictures of women that I suspect have had that done and there is a heaviness to their jaw line, an almost masculine look. The skin is still there, its just filled in, so even if it is smooth with filler, the shape is aging. My face is now more heart shaped, like it was when I was younger, and that is the most obvious and pleasing change to me. I don't look like I'm 25, and I didn't want to (necessarily, lol) but I do look like a fortyish woman aging well, and THAT is beyond all of my hopes and expectations. If you're on the fence, hop off -a few weeks recovery is nothing for the benefits. I feel confident and comfortable in my skin again, and I look forward to my 50's looking and feeling refreshed. Dr, Harley is an artist, and just a very good man - it radiates out of him. He cares about his work, deeply, and about his patients. Thank you ALL for your constant cheerleading, prayers and support - I look forward to hearing about all of your respective journeys!!

Month 4 post

It's almost five months now, but I took these last month - I've just been too busy to post them! So, those are my ear scars without any makeup. I have been derma rolling then every 2-3 weeks and they have faded so well, most of the time I forget concealer. I feel great - still a little residual numbness in spots, but it is almost all resolved. As the feeling returns to my ears they are ITCHY, but I welcome it as a sign of healing. I still have some smile lines, and am going to get some filler next week to smooth it all out. I am nothing but thrilled with my neck and jaw - my own mother would never guess I had anything done. I'll post more pics in a few months - hope all my fellow Harley honeys are enjoying Dr. Harley's magic!!

6 months post

New haircut, a little zeomin in the forehead, voluma in cheeks and Juvederm in the smile lines. I'll do a separate review for my injector here -simply amazing. Smoothed out all the pouchiness I had left. I am beyond thrilled. My scars are pretty much gone - I don't wear makeup on them any more. Life at 51, my friends, is good!!! I am happier every day with Dr. Harley's work - amazing!!
Asheville Facial Plastic Surgeon

Sr. Harley is an exceptional surgeon, and a genuinely sweet and caring person. I felt completely cared for every step of the way, and the recovery was very minimal. I am so in love with my results - I look natural, and refreshed, not pulled or "done" in any way. I will be returning to Asheville for any procedure I elect to have in the future, and I would recommend Dr. Harley and his staff a million times over.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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