44 Years Old, Birthday Present To Me - Asheville, NC

After significant, medical related weight-loss...

After significant, medical related weight-loss almost 8 years ago, and after 4 years of filler, I finally decided to do something more permanent about the sagging of my face, as well as the "issues" under my chin and neck and also the extra skin folds over my eyes. Some of the fillers worked better than others in some areas, and of course some of the issues weren't helped by filler at all. I was not sure what the next step would be, as I was terrified of the idea of a facelift, and the cost seemed prohibitive...That's when I found Dr Harley and the Biltmore lift on this site. It was a discovery that gave me real focus. Dr Harley's reviews, both on RealSelf and other places, are glowing. His before and afters are amazing. His cost was do-able, and the minimally-invasive procedure he offers, in his office without general anesthesia, was perfect for a scaredy-cat like me. Most of all, the women on RealSelf who shared their experiences with dr Harley and the Biltmore Lift ALL said "go for it!" ...so I AM!!! It took me 2 months to get an initial appointment with Dr Harley. I was sure, already, after all my research, that he was the Dr for me, and I hoped he would feel that the Biltmore lift would help me address my issues... He did. After the initial consultation, I decided I wanted to address my eyes as well, and I went back up for another visit. We decided to do an upper bleph along with the face/neck lift. My surgery is scheduled for Jan 8 and I could not be more excited and nervous. It took me almost 5 months to save up for this procedure, and it hardly seems possible that the Big Day is only 5 days away. My boyfriend will be driving me up to Asheville the day before the surgery and we will go to the office the next morning so I can have my procedure done. I will keep you all posted, as this site was so instrumental in helping me find the courage to do this and find the Dr I needed. Hopefully, I can help someone else make the right decision for themselves by sharing my experience the way you all have so graciously done for me.

Biltmore Lift

Before Photos

tracyanne

WOfll! I had my surgery yesterday. We met Dr Harley at the office at 6:15 am. He and his nurse were wonderful and positive. He one again went over the procedure and what to expect. My boyfriend was given a copy of post-op instructions. I took a "cocktail" Of about 7 pills and went back to the office and day in a chair not unlike a dentist chair. I fell asleep. I did wake up toasts the end, but could not feel any pain at all. None. The Dr was aware that I woke up at the end, but explained everything he wasdoing. It was all very easy. I took some pain medication and here, on my first day after surgery, I am still taking then. The poison is absolutely something that is easily managed. My boyfriend was conserved about some bleeding from my eye last night, and Dr Harley was easy to teach and put our mind at ease. I've s spent the day (Sat) in bed and watching Netflix and drinking pineapple juice. My eyes are swollen, and I have some swelling in my neck /jaw. Other than that swelling, which I am confident will resolve spoon, I just could not be happier.

Please, fpr anyone considering having this procedure done with Dr Harley and his awesome staff...DO IT! Please go on for your consultation and see what he had to say. He is a humble, quiet, enormously talented doctor. You won't regret it at all!

after photos

more after: still day 2

Day 5 (Tuesday)

I am sorry I have not updated sooner, I have been in hotels with spotty service for my cell phone. I have also been sleeping A LOT! This procedure took more out of me than I anticipated, but that isn't as bad as it sounds. I have needed to take a break for a while and this surgery has turned into a mini vacay of sorts for me. My boyfriend has my meds and incision site cleanings on a schedule, as well as my arnica and pineapple and blueberries and stuff, so I basically just sleep and watch Netflix and get my feet rubbed and heal. Not a bad gig! I have experienced a lot of bruising around one of my eyes, but Dr Harley looked at it and said that it just sometimes happens and it is no big deal. I have some general soreness in my neck and that is it, I was able to very effectively manage any pain or discomfort with the pain meds. I have been in good hands, right from the start, and I am very pleased with the results I am seeing as I heal. I want to say, though, that I was very lucky that I did not need to go right back into an office or anything after the surgery. I know some reviewers on here have had a different experience than I have, but for me it would have been very hard to jump right back into a work routine. I am really wiped out. That having been said, I do not regret this AT ALL and am thrilled that I got it done. I will post more pictures very soon. I have taken tons of them. To anyone about to have this done: Be BRAVE! You will not regret it at all and you will not be in pain! Dr Harley and staff will be there for you 100% of the way. To anyone considering this procedure: PLEASE do yourself a favor and schedule a consultation with this doctor. You will not regret it I SWEAR.

more after pics

I get my stitches out tomorrow. I still have bruising under one eye and broken vessels in that eye and swelling I'm uncomfortable with at my cheek bones. I guess I need to get used to this new face. It's not what I expected, to be honest.

Night Before Stitches Come Out

More after sx pics (day 9)...still healing and feeling unsure of new face...I'm not sure of results...this is not a reflection on the Dr's work, Dr Harley did his job. I just dislike the new proportions of my face.

11 days post surgery (sx 01/08/2016)

Hello to all of the new friends and supportive souls I've been lucky enthusiasts to "meet" on this site who have been following and helping my through this process. I'm headed, with my little dog, down to my home in S Florida today. I'll be driving myself and breaking the 12 he drove up with a stay in a hotel tonight, a nod to this recent surgery, as I usually just push through and do it in one shot. For those of you who have followed my journey with my face/neck lift & upper bleph, you know that, despite unshaken confidence in Dr Harley, I had some doubts about my own face and how my results looked 2 nights ago. I want to be honest and say those doubts creeper up on my slowly as I saw my results and early -stage healing and built up to full blown doubt a couple nights ago. That only lasted for an evening, and thanks to time, the ppl on this site and reassurances from Dr Harley, the doubts are gone. I want to be clear that the skill that was obvious in my surgery was NEVER in question to me, as just looking at the stitches and the minimal trauma to my face made that skill obvious. I also never doubted that I should have gone through the surgery, because I made very sure in my own mind that I felt it was important enough to undergo this surgery before I did it. I was just feeling "ugly " and wondering if it had all been for naught, if maybe I wouldn't dislike my post sx face just as much, just for different reasons. Add wonderful as it is to have surgery as an option, it's still hard to face that you have aged to the point that your "natural looks " have betrayed you to the point that you feel the need to do something as drastic as a face lift of any kind. I don't know if that's facing you mortality or just plain vanity or a combination of the 2, but it snuck into the mix for me and gave me the blues. I want to say, that's GONE. I got my stitches out, the swelling went down a great deal, and I'm feeling positive again. I want to say to all of you about to get surgery, please be sure your expectations are realistic...and that should include realistic expectations for how you will FEEL afterwards while you heal. I know many women in this site retort 100% joy and no doubts from the day of sx on, that was not my experience...if it turns out that it's not yours either but that you freak with some doubt while you heal, PLEASE don't despair! Take heart, trust in the decision making that brought you to your place in the process, and please reach out and share to the ppl around you or in this site. Just doing so helped me A LOT. I need to also say I hope you all are as lucky to have a Dr as gifted and caring and devoted to aftercare as Dr Harley in Asheville. Without him and his staff in the mix, this would never have been the same for me and I'm more grateful to them than I can say. Only a couple pics, and they aren't great, bc they are of the hat I bought to "hide " my face from my ppl in S Florida...I'll post more that show the healing I'm doing and my results very soon. Wish me luck on my drive!

suture site pics. 2 days after stitches out. day 12 aftersx

Please keep in mind,before I took these pics at 5 this morning, I packed up my whole car and my dog myself after a night of almost no sleep...then drove for 6 hrs, got to an over heated hotel AMF had to work from my computer for several hours...and after an upper bleph, the dry eye is really bad. Eyes swell up and get really pink if you're using them a long time and can't rest them or apply compresses or drops...I've been up for 20 hrs in these pics. My hair is filthy. I just cleaned the sites and had to scrub them a bit bc something dark had gotten onto whatever is still sticky on them...not dirt but it looked dirty, so they are much pinker in this fluorescent hotel bathroom light than they really look. It's really early in the morning, so excuse the shots of me and just look at the sites. I feel I could really hide them easily with makeup and strategic hair styling if I tried, which I haven't had to do yet. There's also a couple pics from tonight, after another day of losing my car and unloading it and 6 more hrs of driving and sweating and unpacking luggage and everything else. I look bedraggled and I am obviously still healing, and I'm wearing my camouflage hat, which is not just hiding my surgery sites but my nasty hair at this point, so it isn't coming off until after tonight's shower...So i look ROUGH, folks, and i KNOW IT, but I technically just turned 44 a few minutes ago and I wanted to post a happy, post- surgery b-day pic or 3! Because I am very happy with my decision to do these surgeries with Dr Harley!

Birthday Morning and I can't sleep!

My crazy schedule has totally messed up my ability to sleep on my normal schedule...I'm still up even though I'm exhausted. I wanted to post some pics of my (dirty) hair up, so no one thinks that wearing that silly hat is the only option almost 2 weeks after surgery. Now, you can still see my messed up eyes that are healing and the bruising I did have, especially with the hair up, but later today in thinking of trying hair up with some makeup to see how that looks...also, during the day day, my great, big sunglasses would hide a lot too!

Birthday Pics...13 days post

Had to go to the dentist so I used that as an excuse to try some makeup. I used only a very sheer Korean BB cream and white, non tinted Laura Mercier pressed powder applied with a brush. Then some lip gloss. That's it. I don't every do more than that, except liner and mascara on eyes, and my eyes are a ways away from being able to handle /need any attention drawn to them. I'm very, very happy with the results. Are they perfect? No. Am I still healing? Yes. Was this the right decision? Absolutely. No question. I was very honest with my all female neuro dental/esthetic dental team that are reconstructing my mouth with crowns and orthotics. They were amazingly positive, and a couple got Dr Harley's contact info. These women are very honest and I have a very bonded relationship with them. They were all genuinely supportive and very happy about my appearance. I was lucky to get to see them today. Life is funny, when's the last time a 3 hr dentist appointment sounded like an ideal birthday gift? But it sure was for me this year!

Day 14...early morning, no make up

Healing. Took the last of the tape off (under chin and at tips of earlobes) ...lots of bruising gone and burst capillary in eye almost healed. Eyes still very dry, lids still not covering eyeball correctly and swollen. Sutures next to eyes very well healed. Lots of swelling gone in temples. Still have the feeling of tenderness and muscle tightness under my chin at top of neck. A little sore there, feels weird to sneeze or do anything that strains that area. Nothing is painful at all. The dry eyes are the biggest challenge. I did not realize how challenging that would be. It's not an impossible hurdle but it's an issue.

sorry, forgot to add photos for my update...here they are

Updated photos Day 14, earthy am, no make up. Healing.

Under chin pic

Had a request for a picture of under my chin. That's harder to take with your phone than it sounds, at night, in a house with mostly lamps for lighting. Here is the best I can do. This pic has the bb cream on the incision site. I will post another of the chin tonight after I wash my face.

More pics. Day 14. Some w makeup.

Here's a few more pics. Some have makeup. Korean bb cream. Translucent pressed powder, w no tint. Lip gloss. Little brow liner, I think.

15 Days Post: Random Angle: car side view mirror!

This is a shot of me, tonight, 15 days after surgery. All I have on is a very sheer Korean bb cream and some colorless pressed powder applied with a brush. I just mentioned to a Real Self friend that the thing that started me down this road was the view I got off my neck, every morning, in my car side -view mirror at the Starbucks drive thru window. The sagging cheeks and neck -flap always depressed me at that angle! I just tried to recreate that...unfortunately it's night and I had to use my flash. I'm posting it because I'm so thrilled that THE FLAP IS GONE! I'll do a better shot tomorrow, in the light!

Night 15...my Big Saturday Night

It's been 2 weeks and the healing is still happening. I'm happy with my results, although I know I will continue to lose "volume ", which is really just swelling and to be perfectly honest that is a bit disappointing to me. Please don't get me wrong, I'm still very pleased that I did this. Without this procedure the sagging would have never been addressed. But part of what I craved for my face was the volume I lost to the fat atrophy ...and that's gone forever. After years of filler, I know that while some targeted and temporary volumization can happen, the overall, healthy volume I loved about my face for years is not coming back. This is not me being negative, even if it sounds that way.
I am having to come to terms with what this surgery can and can not do for me, and I'm having to breathe in some acceptance. That's the reality of plastic surgery, and I'm grateful for the fact that I had such a great surgeon, such great results, and such real expectations going into it. I'm very satisfied this Saturday night, spending my big weekend in, and alone, in my pj's with my "new" face!

Day 16

It is just over 2 weeks after my surgery with Dr Harley up in Asheville NC. While I am thrilled with my decision to have this procedure with this Dr, those of you who have followed my progress thus far know I've had some bittersweet moments. There was the night I began to doubt that I would like the new proportions of my face. (That moment of doubt came and went, relatively quickly, in no small part from the help and support I got both from the women on this site and Dr Harley) I've also shared about how it is somewhat difficult for me to watch all my swelling go down since volume is one thing I lack in my face and wish I could fully restore. I would like to say, once again, that at no point in time did I ever doubt this decision was right for me, I've only had to adjust my mind to be realistic about my results. Today was a very good and busy day. If you guys are like me, in the days before my surgery I became very myopic: everything was about the upcoming procedure. And of course, in the days immediately following it, while I still had stitches in or bruising/swelling I was very focused on my heading and my results. In the last year I've become a selfie "junkie", taking endless photos of myself, spending hours in the mirror pulling and tugging at my face with my fingers, spending hours in the mirror checking out my incisions. My swelling. My jaw line. My eyelids...I said to someone recently that it becomes is own personality disorder, endlessly documenting and scrutinizing my own face. Today life intervened a bit more, as life trends to do, and I had to live life in my face instead of live my life criticizing my face. It was a welcome change. I had other days when I had to do other things because I had to drive myself down here to S FL, but frankly, that was miserable. Today was a great, busy day where I got to JUST "BE" more and think about things less. Today was a gift. My face is still healing and settling. I went shopping and ran errands and caught glimpses of myself that both delighted me and surprised me. Mostly good. Not all good. But mostly. I went to a store where I was called "the girl in the dressing room on the end" instead of "the lady in the dressing room in the end"...and it felt like a tiny victory! Stupid, maybe, but I'll take it. The woman at Ulta told me I'd "understand when I turned 40"...and I just smiled. I wanted to shout "I AM 44!!!" but decided to say nothing because I didn't wavy her to feel bad about herself and in the context of that short conversation, I think it might have. I still sometimes don't feel as pretty as I think I should, but I strongly suspect that's a self esteem issue that no survey is likely to fix. Other times today I had to remind myself "Hey, hotshot? There's no way you're as good looking add you think you are right now."...I've done yoga for 10 years, so this isn't the first time is occurred to me that life is all about balance. I'm still learning to manage my post-surgery equilibrium, but in the grand scheme of things this day was easier on my ego than some have been in the past 2 weeks. I'm posting pics taken at random times. The shots of the sides of my face have bb cream over the invisible sites. Everything wise is random. (Including my new hat!) Oh! Also, I need to mention that I wore a turtleneck today. I haven't been able to do that for 4 years. Turtlenecks or anything with a high neck line seemed to draw the eye right to the neck-flappy place where my face joined my neck. That is G.O.N.E. and I'm back in a turtleneck! Again, it's no walk on the moon but it was a victory for me!

Day 16: Update Follow Up

For those of you following my dry eye progress, I wanted to mention that it has gotten better. It is still an issue. My eyelids are still misshappen, so if they swell at all at night (which they do ) I start out with some eye mucus and dry eyes. It's hard to keep them lubricated and they get tired quickly during the day, I'm not sure why this makes my eyes tired but it does. They close involuntarily less often and they water copiously way less frequently, but both things still happen. I don't have corrected vision, but there is no doubt in my mind that, if I did, I would be a ways away from putting contacts back in.
The soreness under my neck is a bit better, but only a bit. I only really notice it, though, if I sneeze, yawn, or try to look in the mirror at my incision under my chin. I've yet to be able to tip my head back that far...but then again I have a really long chin! LOL! The bruise under my eye has diminished a lot but is still there. It sounds weird, but I wish it would stay a bit longer. There is still something "off" about my face, my eyes in particular. The story I'm going with, if I'm asked or if I can inject it into a conversation pre-emptively, is that I had a "sinus procedure" done. I feel like the bruise under my eye lends credence to that lie, and it satisfies people's eye. Without it, I feel like they will keep searching my face for the answer to "what's off about her " and be more likely to notice the incisions at the sides of my face or at my eyelids, which are obviously not caused by anything sinus related. I feel like that bruise is a good diversion, so I'm sorry to see it go just yet! Crazy.

Also, I am putting up a before /after comparison. I LOVE looking at these on other people's reviews, so it occurred to me I should do one!

Day 17: Running out on errands

Quick update: It's Day 17...need to run out on a few errands. My hair, which isn't my best feature on a good day, is a mess. I'm throwing on my Walmart hat and putting a ponytail in! For the first time in a long time I can put my hair in a ponytail and not feel really self conscious about exposing my neck and my jawline! I continue to be delighted by small surprises like this one : little everyday moments when I feel like this surgery is helping me to baby step my way back to some confidence about how my face looks to others. And that feels great. I've done a lot of talking lately about "acceptance " and "growth", and I've meant every word. But I wanted to post these pics of me, no makeup and just a ponytail/hat to say that there is a MUCH LESS-DEEP upside to having this surgery than the " personal growth" and "searching for a better self " that I've been discussing with some of you. ...before empowerment or acceptance there's I FEEL A BIT PRETTY AGAIN! I'm not going to pretend that's not a big deal to me because it ABSOLUTELY IS. It also feels like Sweet Freedom to be able to throw my hair up in a ponytail and run out of the house without feeling like i just hung a neon sign on the features that made me feel the most ugly! Thank you, Dr Harley!!!

Day 17: Thoughts on makeup & covering scars

Another quick update on Day 17: The pics I have posted are either without makeup or with makeup that is very minimal. I am talking a very sheer Korean BB cream ( I find the Korean brands to be a lot lighter and more sheer, that's why I chose them) and a Laura Mercier pressed powder that is completely without tint that I apply with a brush...this powder is meant to "blur" imperfections instead of cover them. I have the luxury of not needing to go into an office or "fool" anyone. I have longer hair I can use to cover some things and a lie about a sinus procedure to cover what my hair cannot. In part because of that lie about the sinus procedure, I have decided not to invest in Dermablend or the Bobbi Brown cover stick or any of the other more "serious" makeup options I have learned about from Dr Harley's office or on this site. I feel that, since I wear very little makeup in my everyday life, it would ring untrue to the people who know me that I would go out and get heavy makeup of any kind...who invests that kind of time and energy in covering up the vestiges of a sinus procedure if they work from their computer at home? I wouldn't, and the people who know me know that. If I needed to, however, I want to tell you guys that I could very easily camouflage the scars and bruises much better. My bruise under my eye, which not everybody gets in the first place so you should not expect to need to deal with it, is the only bruising left to speak of. The incisions are well-placed in the curves of my ear and my hairline. Its not invisible and even with proper makeup it would not be invisible. But someone with a decent makeup stick and a blending tool and some powder could really cover this up quite convincingly. Please do not loose heart if you are looking at me and thinking that this is the best one can do at masking all traces of the surgery, it IS NOT. I want you all to know that this is the route I have chosen to go because it works best for me in my situation. If you are considering this surgery or are going to have it soon, please know that you can hide the "evidence" much better than I have!

Pics before bed on the morning of Day 19

Getting ready for bed. About to wash my face and put on some silicone strips. Lots of gratitude for my healing. The bruise under my eye is mostly gone. My eyes are still healing. The dry eye issue is there, but getting better every day. Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of me. I'm very thankful. I will post better pics of the incision sites after I wake up.

the above pics are from today, Jan 27...which is day 19

The above pics are from today, Jan 27...which is day 19, not day 17. Sorry!

Eyes Right After Waking Up : Day 19

For those of you who are following the healing with my eyes, this is a shot of my eyes, JUST after I woke up a couple hours ago. If you compare them to the pics posted just before I went to bed, you can see the swelling in the lids that I have talked about. The eye "mucous" is much better this morning...but the swelling to the lower lid is still there. This resolves pretty quickly once I'm upright for a little while and exorbitant if I do some icing or self massage!

Before Vs 20 Days After

This before /after update is for Mom2gandj...and is in answer to the question "Can Dr Harley do subtle and effective work "...I think the answer is "YES"...the before pic is a pic taken in my FL office, on Dec 23, about a month ago. The after is from today, 20 days after my surgery. Please keep in mind that, in the before pic, I have eye makeup on and in the after I have none (since my eyes are still a bit swollen and healing.) Also, I'm smiling/pursing my lips in the before pic in a very definite way that I used to have...a technique I employed to "lift up " the sagging and remove the laxity in my lower face for pictures. None of that in the after pic...Dr Harley did it permanently. Not just for pics but all the time! I'm very grateful today!

Incisions/Random/before&afters

I had a request for pics of my incisions. I am posting them, as is, with no makeup...the ones behind the ear are really hard to see, under normal circumstances, because they are RIGHT up against effete the ear meets the head...the way my ears are connected to my head makes those incisions so hard to see that in order to get the pic I had to fold my ear completely forward, which makes the incision seem redder than it is and, either way, you cat see the incision site there at all unless you move the rear around, so I'm not worried about it! I also posted some pics with make up on the sites only, my the rest of the face. I don't usually wear much makeup, so I like that I can cover the sites with a tinted moisturizer or a bb cream and a dusting of powder and get decent coverage. I don't even have to put makeup on the rest of my face when I do that if I don't want to. Since I'm sharing the house with my ex (and best friend ) at the moment, this technique is key...he'd notice something was up if I went to the plant nursery or vacuumed the house in full makeup, since I rarely wear full makeup at all! DrHarley did such a great job though, that even right it if the shower with wet hair or with my hair up at the farmers market, my ex hasn't noticed. I try to use my hair to my advantage by pulling the tendrils down over the the site and that had helped, too.
I still have some some swelling in my lower eyelids and some soreness under my chin/at the top of my neck, but it's not worrisome. I am surprised at how much feeling I have in my face ...I have slight numbness in front of my ears and a tiny bit on the jaw line at my chin. Even if I never got any more feeling back this would be pretty close to normal. I've only had a few "lightening bolts" of shock as the nerves reconnect, though, so maybe there is a lot more to come. My dry eye issue is much, much better. Dr Harley called me last week (how is that for after care, folks? When's the last time you heard of a surgeon calling you on his private phone to give you some tips on dealing with DRY EYES?!)....and he advised me to do more self massage on the incision sites on my eyelids. That has helped the issue a great deal.
My bruising is totally gone. I had almost no bruising in my face and none on my neck from the lift, and what little I had resolved in about 2/3 days. Swelling lasted longer, but I avoided salt totally and was lucky with swelling. The only really graphic evidence I had , immediately procedure, was a burst vessel in my eye and a dark bruise just under the same eye. It is my understanding that was from the upper bleph. It is also my understanding that big were totally anecdotal...either can occur but I've seen lots of reviews where the patient didn't get either and if you are considering getting this procedure you do not need to expect this to happen to you. It was only ugly, not painful ! In my case, because I told a fib about having a "sinus procedure" done in order to keep my surgery a secret, the bruising in this area of my face actually played into my cover story! If you are going to keep your procedure a secret from some or all of the ppl in your own world, I highly recommend having a story of your own ready to explain away any incidental bruising or swelling in case anyone notices. That having been said, I wish I had not told such an elaborate lie to everyone about my sinus procedure and gone into hiding in hotels/houses out of state for almost 2 weeks. There is NO SHAME in doing something for yourself to maintain your appearance and to help you feel more confident about the face you present to the world. That's easy to say in hindsight, I realize, but I really mean it. I am saving to have a lower bleph with Dr Harley and when I have that procedure done I will not make up any excuses or lies to anyone. At the end of the day, I'm accountable only to me for the way I chose to care for myself.

pictures from earlier update

Sorry, the site failed to load the pictures!

more pics from earlier update

More pics that didn't upload before: 3 weeks

here are the before and afters that failed to load

These before we're a week before surgery...the afters are at 23 days (today)

still trying to load

Before and Afters. ..I hope. The site keeps refusing to load them

before/after

1 week before /23 days after (sorry, the uploading is being very difficult)

8th Sobriety Birthday Pics

My ex and I went out to celebrate my 8th year sober birthday! He didn't notice any evidence from the surgery, but only said again that I looked "healthy. "...some of the pics were taken in a mirror because my "reverse camera" just stopped working...it was probably exhausted from taking so many selfies and went on strike! LOL! It felt really good to be able to erase some years of bad living from my face and see a person in the mirror that is more reflective of the new, better life I try to lead now.

Day 25: Eyes still healing

Hello to everyone on the night of my 25 day post sx...another busy day and, as always, these busy days are a blessing because I have to focus more on my life and less in my face, which feels really good! I continue to have little moments where I realize that people in general think I'm just a bit younger than they used to think I was...I ran into the mall on the way home from my office today, which usually depresses me way more than it did today, mostly because I get confronted with sh*tty lighting and odd glimpses of my reflection at terrible angles, READ: a mirror down on a display case angled up to catch a glimpse from below of neck flap...in florescent lighting! That doesn't happen anymore, so the mall is less of a minefield of potential esteem killers, but it's still not my favorite place. I had to run into a very "young " store, a Free People store, which has a hip-bohemian vibe and definitely skews to a younger crowd, because I had it on good authority they would have a sky blue camisole /body suit I need to go under a blouse...Anyway, I've gone in there a couple times before and been ma'am-ed to death...this is my first time in for about 6 months or more, and post sx, it was a whole different story. The sales girls didn't ma'am me once, and they took the time to show me things, things "that would look really cute to wear out? Like to a club? Like with a chunky heel...only you have to wear a slip underneath because I have this and I find its REALLY sheer..." No possible way they ever talked to me like that before. Seriously. It was hilarious to me. But it was also really awesome. Again, I didn't do this to impress salespeople or make strangers think I was younger than my mid 40s, I did it because looking on the mirror made me cringe a little...but moments when you realize you are being treated like a younger person DON'T SUCK! I'll take it! And if that's vanity, so be it. Lol!
In terms of healing, my eyes continue to be a bit swollen when I wake up especially, even though I'm sleeping on 2 pillows still. Especially the eye I had the bruising with. The dry eyes issue, though, is IMMENSELY BETTER. I know my eyelids still don't close all the way, though, because even if I close then in the shower, water still gets in! So the seal isn't perfect yet, and that's OK. I feel like the scars are doing really well, and I find they are really soft if I use silicone strip on then all night, so I'm doing that and I think it's helping me.
I'm going to upload some pictures and hour I have more much than the last time I tried. I'm including a closeup of my "problem " eye, although it looks more red in the picture than it does in the mirror. Also, I have a Real Self friend who had her Biltmore Lift/upper bleph less than a week ago, and I mentioned to her that since she is up where it is winter time, and the heat is on and the air is dry as a result, she should use a humidifier in the room where she sleeps. I want to mention this to other women who may be about to do eyelid surgery as well. I was in very dry hotel rooms for the first 11 days after surgery, and having a humidifier going, 24/7, was a BIG HELP to my dry eye issues. Now I'm down here in S Fl, a couple blocks from the beach, and all the windows are open and there's a lovely ocean breeze, and I know that's helped my dry eye and I have no need of a humidifier because the air is, well, humid. But if you are up north, in the winter, having eye surgery, please consider getting a humidifier and keeping the air moist in your room at night. It helped me a lot. My boyfriend got a room humidifier at Walmart and we kept it on the nightstand. Those of you going to Tropical Paradises to get your surgery (Vee, I'm looking at you! ) shouldn't have to worry about it, because the air is nice and humid there, too. But if you have any sensitivity to the ├╝ber dry air in all the forced -air heated environments during the winter like I do, and you are getting any work done that will effect your eyelids, please consider a humidifier. Just my 2 cents.
Also, I don't want to get all "Michael Jackson " here and start talking about all the other changes I see that is like to make to my face (i do need the lower bleph still, and how I'd love to change the tip of my nose!), But seriously, I need advice about evening skin tone and the large pores. I've done the Skin Medical peels in the past and the Vi peel, and I don't think the results are all that great on me. I've also done skin pen 2x. I use 50+ sunscreen religiously, and about half the time I use retina A. I also use SKII essence and the SKII Vitamin C serum...I cleanse with a Korean non foaming cleanser I LOVE, Acwell 5.5, which balances ph. Anyone who wants to toss in suggestions, please feel free. Just know I'm VERY LEERY of lasers. I know they do have value in certain applications and in the right hands, but it's the hands I worry about! Is love to hear feedback, though!
Thanks again to all of you for your support and encouragement! I am so grateful for this community!

One month Post Surgery!

Well, it's been exactly one month since my procedures were done. I spent this "anniversary" of that big day driving back up to the Carolinas from South Florida. My ex actually drove my car up to Atlanta, which is about 7 hours of the trip, so that i wouldn't have dry eye issues while driving , and he flew back to South Florida. I stayed in Atlanta for the night at the Hilton and then continued on alone with my little dog! It's been an absolutely hectic month of traveling and hotels and dentist appointments and worrying my ex would say something, but this is the first time I will be HOME around my friends and family since the surgery. Since none of them knew I got anything done, it will be interesting to see if any of them notice...my ex didn't, but my ex is a man. Women tend to notice more, and so I'm waiting to see what my mom and my brother's girlfriend and my weightlifting partner do: will they notice? Will they ask questions? Bruises and swelling could be explained away by the "sinus procedure " I claimed to have done, but what about scars? Nope, scars cant be explained that way. Not scars along my hairline or my ears or under my chin! I'm very lucky: I had a gifted surgeon (Dr Harley) so my incisions are well placed, and so far I'm pleased with my healing. My scars are thin and soft and that smooth texture allows me to cover them with light makeup fairy effectively. Still...it will be interesting to see if anyone calls me out! I'm posting some pics now, although they were taken early this morning when I woke up at the hotel. I'll post more tomorrow, in the actual daylight, so those of you asking questions about the scars (and yes, the one under my chin! ) can get a really good feel for what to expect around the 1 month mark! Thank you all for your support. And to my Real Self friend who is still healing from her very recent surgery: hang in there! You can do this and you are going to LOVE YOUR RESULTS. Please remember, if you are about to have this procedure or if you have recently had it and are in the early stages of healing, to not lose heart or let the post-surgery blues get you down! If you get them, you aren't alone, I got them, too...but I was told they would pass AND THEY DID! They DO. You gotta LIVE THROUGH the PROCESS if you wanna LOVE THE RESULTS!

Day 31

Hi, I know I said I would post some "one month after surgery " pictures today in the daylight, so those of you asking about the healing process could really see how I'm progressing in the natural light, but it was SO COLD today that I stayed inside most of the day...and also I forgot! But here are some shots that show my neck, jawline and my eyes as I'm laying here ready for bed. I'll do the daylight tomorrow, I promise! This is just bedside table light, so it's way more forgiving...but I must say that even in the natural light, while my face is still lopsided and goofy as it ever was, my bags and flaps are totally GONE and Dr Harley's skilled technique has blessed me with some amazing healing at well placed incision sites. I'm really grateful for that! Also, "thanks" to all of you who have private messaged me about A) my new-found desire to change my nose and B) your great suggestions about skin care for my concerns about my skin. This community continues to be such a blessing to me, even a month into my healing. I'm very grateful to you all for your input and your support!

Day 31 "PS."

PS...Update for those of you following the question of whether or not my family will notice that i had surgery : I saw my mom only briefly this evening and I spent 3 hours tonight at my brother's place with his wonderful girlfriend. Their place is a charming little apartment downtown in a beautiful renovated old historic home, lit entirely by vintage lamps...so it wasn't exactly an "acid test " of whether anyone will notice...but neither of them did! So far, so good, although there is talk of a family dinner later this week and that will be a greater challenge! Cross your fingers! (I have included a better photo of the eyelids as well. )

One Month + after Surgery : No One Suspects!

Well, I've been home 3 nights now and seen 3 people on my family /inner circle, and so far no one has noticed anything! My mom said "you look so pretty in that hat!" but that's probably only because I haven't worn a hat since what feels like maybe back in elementary school, due to how they seemed to somehow manage to accentuate both my baggy upper lids AND my neck flap (let's face it, rain boots and toe rings even seemed to accentuate that HATED NECK FLAP...) As I mentioned, there was talk of a family dinner, but work schedules have changed and someone got sick, so that had been postponed...and with the freezing temps and my family and friends all busy, traveling, recovering from colds and, in one case, nursing a broken tibia, it really MIGHT be Summer before I even have to seriously confront the "what will my family say?" issue! Of course, I could also get "busted" at any moment ...so to all of you out there in Real Self land crossing your fingers for me, PLS KEEP 'EM CROSSED.
I keep promising to go out in the natural light and take pics of my incision sites without makeup, and I swear I'll do it tomorrow. I forgot again and put the BB cream& powder on before I ran out for coffee. I did take some pics in the natural light (in the car ) though ...I'm also wearing mascara...this is only like, the 2nd or 3rd time I've tried mascara...before it was because my eyes watered, and then it was because my eyelashes are WEIRD! Has anyone else with an upper bleph noticed this? My eyelashes fit on my eyelid different...I'm not sure how to describe it. They aren't thinner or anything, they didn't fall out, but it's like they're coming out at a different angle than they used to or something...if anyone else has experienced this and can tell me I'm not crazy, I'll appreciate hearing your feedback! As always, thank you ALL for the amazing support! There are some amazing ladies (& men!) headed to Asheville (& Costa Rica) in the next couple months, and I hope they get the kind of really fabulous support that I have gotten and that they themselves have already offered to others on this site. And to those of you still healing (M2GaJ) hang in there! The results reveal themselves, more and more each day!

4 weeks+ After Biltmore Lift: Facing an Old Enemy

Well, today I found myself face to face with an old enemy the 8th door down the line in the Marshal's fitting room. Unlike the nice boutiques downtown, where they are civilized enough to invest in some soft, indirect lighting, Marshal's passes its savings on to the customers by using harsh harsh fluorescent lighting to illuminate the dressing rooms. For 4 years or so now, going to Marshal's has been very hard for me, and it was a visit to Marshal's just before Christmas 2014 that sent me into such a tailspin about my face and neck that I didn't leave my house for a month, and I am not kidding. I went to Marshal's today to look for some sleeveless stuff for my upcoming trip back down to Florida... and I realized that I was in the exact same dressing room that I was in one week before my surgery, when I had gone in for winter clothes that zipped up the front to wear while I recovered during the first 10 days after my procedure! This was a true test: same lighting, same cubicle, same everything, except a new face and neck. The verdict? I guess this makes me shallow, but I haven't felt better about anything in a long time. Everything I hated so much about my face back in just December... and for so many years leading up to December... is gone. In its place are the lines and curves of a face that I hoped might be beneath the sagging skin and the laxity. I am not perfect! It is perfectly okay that I am not perfect. This was never about perfection. This was about me redefining my terms with what looked back at me when I looked into the mirror. I am a bit of a clothes horse, and I have spent some big money in some high-end stores on some beautiful clothes before. But I have never felt better in a dressing room that I did today, picking out a $7.99 t-shirt from an overstock department store. Today I faced the dressing room mirror... and I WON.

I forgot to say...THANK YOU DR DAVID HARLEY FOR YOUR BILTMORE LIFT!!!!

THANK YOU DR DAVID HARLEY FOR YOUR BILTMORE LIFT!!!

5 weeks: before & after: no more bags

Week 5! No one has noticed yet, but it continues to be freezing cold and i continue to rock the hat down over my ears and keep my hair placed strategically around most incisions...so the weather may be what is buying me time! I included before and after pics that really shows the baggy eyelids, sagging face and the neck flap...and how they are now GONE thanks to Dr Harley. I'm still so pleased and continue to be grateful for the results every day I heal.. Thank you all for your positive comments! I really appreciate everything you all have added to this process for me.

week 6 : dreaded shot, face handing over phone but nothing hanging from face! yay, Dr Harley!

week 6 : Florida & a ridiculous bedtime story...

So, I drove all night to make it 12 hours to my dentist appointment. Getting excited because new bottom crowns go in mid next month...the reconstruction marches on...I am now getting ready for bed at 3 in the morning because my schedule is way, way off, but I needed to share this. It's a silly, shallow thing but...so: many of you know that I share this home in S Florida, which we bought in 2014, with my ex fiancee. He is my oldest, dearest friend and we were together, as a couple, since I was 20 and he was 21... for 15 years. He has stood by me throughout my battle with and recovery from alcoholism. He is also my boss and business partner. We've known each other for 23 years but have not been romantically involved for going on 8 years now . We both have dated other people. We both have lived with other people. I have a wonderful 25 year old boyfriend who I celebrated a 2 year anniversary with today (yay!). My ex has been involved for almost 2 years himself with a girl in her early 30s who works on Wall Street. My point is, while we are integral to each others lives, and we share this home at different times during the year, we are both in committed relationships with other people and are only platonic friends. More like family, really. I'm lucky in that my current boyfriend totally accepts my ex's important, if unorthodox, role in my life. It is my impression, although it has never been explicitly expressed to me, that my ex's girlfriend is somewhat less accepting of my role in his life. I guess I understand that. She wants to be Queen Bee and I don't blame her for that...anyway, they spent the past 2 weeks at the house and recently flew back to NYC. I rolled in today. I was getting out of my car and the neighbor walked over. Most of the people who live in this neighborhood are a lot older that my ex and i. It's not a retirement community or anything, but it's a very desirable neighborhood and most of the people who live here have achieved a certain...social station, maybe? ...and they are more mature and are a bit confused by the situation here at this house. So the neighbor says hello to me and we chat and she says she talked to my ex and the girlfriend yesterday and says "My, isn't He so lucky to share his life with 2 such beautiful, younger women " and I was like, " Umm, Mary, I don't mean to contradict you, but Bruce and I are just old family friends..." and she goes, "oh, I realize that now! But he's so lucky! So many guys would envy him the company of 2 women so pretty and so much younger than him..." and I had the EXTREME PLEASURE of telling Mary that Bruce and I are THE SAME AGE and that I wasn't sure exactly how old the girlfriend was now, but I was at least 10-12 years OLDER than her. And she just stared at me and stared at me and after a beat or 2 said "Honestly, I could have sworn you and she were the exact same age. If anything, I would have put her a year or two AHEAD OF YOU."...And I could tell by the baffled look on her face that she was not just blowing sunshine up my skirt! Lol! Now. I realize that a grown a$$, well adjusted, 44 year old woman should not have derived the GLEE out of that moment that I derived out of that moment ...but I must admit, it would have been worth the 12 hr drive JUST TO HEAR THAT. I'm ridiculous!
Anyway, these are some week 6 pics from tonight, getting ready to go bed with the little dog, So glad to be back in FL and so thankful for all my Real Self friends! Who ends could I gloat to?? LOL! I'm kidding. All jokes and immature, mental fist-pumping aside... i am very , very grateful for all of you... without you this whole process would be so lonely and would be no where near as rewarding!
One of these shots I am posting, btw, is me wearing the new, temporary orthotic I have to wear to bed. It's hilarious!

Still Week 6 : Florida, Fresh Fruit and the Botox Question

I'm trying to get my schedule back in track after the trip down to Florida. I actually woke up yesterday at 5 pm...not cool. I had to run out to the Farmers Market before they closed...and was able to throw my hair in a point tail and GO...something that I never could have done and felt confident doing only 6 short weeks ago. I wasn't able to sleep last night, couldn't even attempt it, I was wide awake. I guess I'm going to make a fruit smoothie for breakfast this morning and try to lay down for a nap. We have some fruit trees on our beautiful little urban lot here in Ft Lauderdale, my ex has done an amazing job with the jungle yard we got when we bought this little mid century modern gem. It's awesome because he planted all native trees and super fruits, so it's a smoothie lovers paradise! My eyes are feeling so much better in the moist air, and even the swelling in the lower lids seems to have gone down. Switching gears, I got a text message from my small med spa here, they are having a botox special...I think I'm going to get some. I haven't had botox since sometime before July...maybe June? Maybe May. Dr Harley is great, but even his Biltmore lift can't fix a wrinkled forehead! LOL!!! I'm not sure yet, though. I'm kind of liking the idea of no more needless -to -the -face for a little while longer! I'll see how I feel post nap.

Week 7 (?) Sx Date 1/08

It's Saturday night and it's been a wild week in Florida...all night drive, a crazy dentist appointment with my awesome dentist & her staff, my first trip to Victoria's Secret post surgery, working on a new business venture with my ex, getting the flu and deciding to get some botox...the week has flown by! I did go get some botox today from the woman who has been doing my injections in S Florida for the past couple years. She knows my face well. She was really excited about my results. It was nice to have another "live and in person " woman to show my results to. She assured me she could laser my incision scars into oblivion, but I'm really gun shy about lasers, and I told her we would see ...she did a little botox in my forehead and in my crows feet. One syringe or whatever, however they do it. I know it's supposed to take a week, but I always feel life I can see it start to work in a couple of hours. I know that's just in my mind, though. I took some shots of my post botox, and a couple of my ear. I tried different light. One has the incision with no bb cream, the other had the cream. This is NOT the liquid under eye concealer from Lancome, when I use that you seriously cant see anything much at all, but I accidentally left that at the other house. The eye shot, if you look close, is my dry eye. When I pen my eyes big, you cab see how much whiter my whites are under the lid. The rest of my eye all stays a tad pink. I'm still very much healing in my eyes. Again, Dr Harley said everyone is different, but I want people preparing for the upper bleph to know that there is a dry eye factor and that it could possibly take a while to heal, so do plan for that possibility. I'm so grateful to be in Florida and out of the forced air heat up in chilly South Carolina! The pic of me in the dressing room is me trying in brass fit the first time in Victoria's Secret without tears in a LONG TIME. The bra buying process is just as frustrating, since there aren't many viable choices for me, and that's hard enough. But for the past 4 years or so, I also had to contend with the image of the neck flap and the baggy lids and the saggy cheeks. For the first time in a long time, I felt confident enough to agree to get a proper fitting. As a result, I found out I needed a different size than I came prepared to buy and therefore am now wearing the most comfortable bra of my adult life. I'm getting more bang for my Biltmore bucks than I ever could have anticipated! I'm thinking of Red tonight, hoping she made it back to Oregon safely, and of melissarenee, who is on her way to have her own Biltmore moment in the 1st...and of Vee-who-got-her-Groove-back, and of the gorgeous Southern Sister and the beautiful fflower , who are always so supportive and honest ...and of the age-defying adirondackmimi...I'm thinking of all my Real Self buddies, at all different stages of their journeys...with all different doctors in all different locations. I would have walked this path almost entirely alone were it not for you ALL. Thank you very much for being there for me. It means the world.

Week 7-ish (I'm bad at Math.)

Busy Sunday. Went to the Farmers Market, and once I was back in the car I realized the sun was at a prefect angle to highlight JUST my jawline and neck... (because doesn't everybody who gets back in their car think about the exact moment that the sun's path across the sky will provide the perfect selfie lighting for their jaw? LOL! I am totally ridiculous.) I took some photos that really show the work that Sr. Harley did on my jaw and neck. I also took a shot of my ear with light BB cream on it in the full Sun. in my travels today I also ran into a three way mirror and took a pic of an angle of my jaw and neck line that I never ordinarily see. I caught a glimpse of myself today and noticed my scarf... Not my neck flap, not my jowls, but my scarf. They are tiny, daily victories, but they add up. I am back at home with the little dog, feeling very grateful tonight.
This is a big week coming up! This is a big month coming up! lots of our friends going to have their procedures done up in Asheville and Costa Rica and everywhere else it seems! we need to all have our positive energy antenna set on high! Anyone who wants to private message me should feel free to do so...I would be happy to share any aspect of my personal experience with this these procedures with any one of you (Biltmore lift/ upper bleph.) I think I've made it clear by now that I love to "share"!!! Lol! Let's all have a great week!

Week 7

Well, I'm almost at week 8 and it hardly seems possible! it seems like just yesterday that the Biltmore lift was just this potential save your on the horizon... Could it be the thing that saved my face and my self esteem? Could this procedure, but the surgery itself And the long shot of making it happen, be the thing that turned it all around for me? after feeling, for so long, that the years of self neglect still showed on my face, even after getting sober... after countless hours in the mirror spend tugging my loose skin backwards and trying to "lift it" with my fingers... after hundreds of selfies, taken at every conceivable angle, trying to figure out "Is this how I really look now?" or "Maybe it's not so bad if I just do THIS. " After crying about how I looked...and feeling shame and despair about how I looked... and being ASHAMED for feeling despair about how I look because " hey, wouldn't it be better or more noble to work on acceptance?" And then feeling ashamed because I couldn't just work on acceptance...AFTER ALL OF THAT, could this surgery really turn it all around? Could it make a big enough difference on my image in the bathroom mirror that it would change my self-image in the reflection of my mind? Could I do this? Could I make it happen? What if I lost the face I had known for almost 44 years? What if I hated in my "new face"? Turmoil? Oh yes. So much turmoil! I thought about it as a hobby, until I could have gone pro thinking about it will stop planning it. Saving for it. Plotting and scheming for it even. Almost two months have gone by, but all of that seems like just yesterday. And yet, it is starting, very slowly, to seem like "the past." I did do it! I planned and saved and plotted and I made it to Biltmore plastic surgery on January 8th! it took every last extra cent I had earned and every ounce of courage I could sum up. It didn't take courage to have the surgery, but it took courage to have hope, I found. And on the other side of that surgery, I learned that the new face was very much like the old one, minus the neck flap and the bags and gels and loose skin. It was the exact same face, only somehow, the years of addiction were gone from it. somehow, the things about middle age that I so fear had been erased, too. those memories and fears are still here, inside me. They haven't gone away. but I realize now: if I can win the struggle with The Past in the battle for my face, then what's to stop me from beating The Past in the war for my future? why can't I work as hard and be as successful at being happy as I did at tricking Middle Age and looking a little younger? do I have the courage to hope that I can be a better me the same way I had the courage to hope I could have a better neck? I pray that I do... it feels amazing to have a jawline that I love. it feels amazing to have eyes on marred by sagging lids. But I know that life is not about holding your face at funny angles in your camera phone to see what other people see. Life isn't about just being pretty. because you can't be pretty forever, and even now, I am still aging. there is no surgery that can stop that process. So. Did I only just manage to replace the battle scars of a past life/middle age with the incision scars of a facelift? or does the change go much deeper? In the end, will the Biltmore lift be just the beginning? I don't know yet. that story is still being written. But for the first time in maybe my whole adult life, I like my odds.

thank you each of you for being a part of this time in my life. I have said it before, but it bears repeating: without you, this would be a very lonely road.

week 7 :update pics

These are the week 7 photos for the above review. Please excuse the typos in that review, I tried to dictate it, ironically, to improve accuracy. If it doesn't make sense, sound it out and that might help! Thanks!

Week 7 : Every bowl of cherries has pits.

Today was...a challenge. I feel like I've been riding on a cloud for a few days, loving my results, very happy with the botox I put in my crows feet last week, happy about that decision and about the way my face has healed . Then, today, the reality of my upcoming trip back to see some old friends hit me. For too many reasons for even me to name (so you know that's a lot of reasons! LOL!) the idea of the trip put me in an emotional tailspin about my General Appearance. Suffice it to say I felt a bit sorry for myself, like "I had to get surgery just to catch up to looking middle aged instead of even older. Boo hoo." That's basically how I felt all day...on top of ALSO feeling like a fraud for not telling my best friend about the procedures. I don't know if my mind is testing me or not, but I just wrote to a RS friend that it felt a little like Survivors Guilt, like "did I deserve to get this done? " and "was it all pointless because the REST of my face and body is also in need of a surgical -grade overhaul? " ...but just when it looked like the night might get swallowed up with these thoughts as I sit here alone with the Little Dog and Netflix, I saw that I had 2 private messages. One from a beautiful woman who just needed a little advice and to be told that everything would be OK (and it will ) and one from another beautiful friend, reaching out, just to check on me and be sure I'm OK...and all at once, things in my head started turning around. Being able to both help someone else through a tough time and to have someone reach out to me while I struggled with my own doubts CHANGED EVERYTHING. That's Real Self in a nutshell, isn't it? The messages I received/saw tonight from all you guys changed my night. Someone else needing me to shed a little light on her own situation changed my night. Being contacted by someone who took the time from her own life just to check on me, that changed my night. I'm no longer feeling sorry for myself. I'm feeling a lot stronger, calmer and more at ease. Tonight, what you all did for me tonight, is Real Self AT ITS BEST. I am beyond grateful to you all! Thank you.

Still Week 7...But it FEELS different.

I'm not sure what happened this weekend, I started out feeling really positive but it went South fairly quickly, and I am not 100% sure why. I'm feeling a bit insecure about how thin my face is, which is ridiculous, I mean, I never believed this surgery was going to add and significant volume, no one told me it would and I never expected it to, and my post-surgical swelling has been gone for a while. I like my cheeks OK still, but I feel so gaunt everywhere else. I guess that these are the "same old issues ", so feeling them has me a little down, because I was going to feel 100% different about my face. I know that isn't realistic, I'm not sure when I developed that expectation, but I guess I did. I'm trying to stay really positive, trying to communicate with my Real Self friends and stay engaged in this community because I find that helps me keep a positive attitude. I'm also trying to not be such a brat: I have to keep going back to the mirror and reminding myself that no matter what I do, NO MATTER HOW I TRY, no matter what funny angle I hold my head at, there is no NECK FLAP. I am "flapless", and I know I need to keep my focus on that and on the bags that are no longer over my eyes and the jowling skin that no longer is making my jawline soft and saggy. I know I have to focus on those things Dr Harley said he could correct, and not obsess on a lower face that is still too gaunt for my liking. The Brazilian Butt Lift girls talk about "fluffing", which I understand is when the butt regains some volume that's lost after the swelling goes down...if there can be butt fluffing, how lame is it to hope for Face Fluffing? Lol! Oh well. I know the answer to that one! I guess I'll take the advice I keep giving everyone else and just "hang in there." I'm hoping I'll get some of the optimism back that I was feeling just this past Friday. Thanks, everyone, for being there for me. And a shout out to Vee1028, who is ON HER WAY! Look out, Costa Rica!

2 month update day : Dental Appointment

Today was the original date of my 2 month "check up " with Biltmore Plastic Surgery. Unfortunately, Dr Harley is ill, and his office called to cancel the appointment. I hope with all my heart that he is feeling better soon...Sending him my thoughts. I would not have been able to go in for my appointment today, anyway, however, as I'm still in South Florida. Today was the next round in my ongoing mouth reconstruction. After 4.5 hours of drilling, I'm finally home with temporary crowns on my bottom teeth. I want to go on record here as saying the Biltmore lift was WAY easier to tolerate than the appointment I just had. The recovery process may be different, but as I said to Red just the other day, nobody gives me the Magic Pill Cocktail for these dental appointments the way they did for my Lift. High anxiety for over 4 hours! Lol! I'm mostly just exhausted from 4 hours of holding my body rigid and trying to breathe calmly...and I'm very thankful to be one step closer to the end of this 2 year long SAGA with my mouth. I wanted to let everyone that wished me well today know that I'm through the appointment and that I felt all your good energy...it helped me to be brave! You guys are the best.

2+ Months

Well it's about 2 months and 10 days after my surgery. My scars are still pink, and I'm a very pale girl, but I think they are fading and in pleased with my progress in that area. I'm focused on them today because I'm going to leave on my trip back to visit some "old " friends in the Panhandle of Florida either later today (Sunday) or the next day and my people there know nothing about the surgery and I'm hoping my scars can be covered so they don't give me away. I've been in Ft Lauderdale for the past 3 weeks, dealing with the dental reconstruction, and I have the house hear to myself so I haven't had to worry about being "found out" at all. I don't really know anyone here other than my dental team of AMAZING women, who have all been very supportive of my ps journey, and the girl who does my micro extensions. In preparation for my upcoming visit back to Pensacola, I went to get a fill in my extensions today. The girl who does them for me and I have become pretty close over the past 2 years, I got the full head done a couple weeks before my surgery...and she was the only other person besides my boyfriend that new I was having the Lift. I saw her today for the first time since the surgery and she was VERY excited for me. I could tell that she meant it when she said she was so worried about how she would react if she hated my results, because she's a horrible liar. I could tell she was sincerely relieved that she she could be honest about liking my outcome. That felt really good to me. Some of you know this, but for those that don't, my trip back to Pensacola has become an emotionally-loaded proposition for me. I went to rehab in the area and built a life for myself there the first 4 years of my sobriety. This is where and when the "medically related weight loss " happened that I refer to in my first post of this review. So my friends and acquaintances there are used to me being at least 20 lbs thinner, having a very, very gaunt face and constantly wearing a wig (I lost almost all of my hair: not being bald and having enough of my own hair to wear extensions is another huge victory for me. ) One would think that with the healthier weight, my new neck and jawline, the HAIR, the new teeth and no baggy eyelids, not to mention 8 years now of sobriety, I would feel like the conquering hero rolling back into town...but somehow the exact opposite is happening. I'm confronting some "icky" emotions and, despite all the positive changes, feeling ugly and sickly again. I almost scrapped the whole trip, except Red basically tough-talked me into sticking with it. Those of you who know Red know how even-keel she is and how non aggressive she normally is about passing on her pearls of wisdom. Not this time! She basically told me in no uncertain terms that I needed to get my a$$ to Pensacola, no matter what,to face these feelings down. I'm not always able to figure out the right thing to do on my own, but I can tell when I'm getting good advice...so I'm going, ready or not. I have a lot of practical-type chores to do between now and my estimated time of departure...but instead of doing anything on my list, I spent the day getting a waxing, getting more hair, buying a new dress and drinking too much latte. So I may not show up in Pensacola until Monday, but due to an unforeseen family obligation, that's my hard ETA. I need to be there on Tuesday now, no matter what, so I'm very, very grateful to Red for kicking my butt and not letting me abandon my plans for this trip. Otherwise, I would really be scrambling now, trying to get ready to go.
Wish me luck, guys, I'm probably going to need it. My BFF has no clue that I've had sx, and if she finds out it could get...weird. I'm trying not to feel anxious or like a fraud, but it's hard. They're a crazy bunch, my friends there, and I don't know what I'm in for exactly.
I've posted some pics of me today, running all the non- errands I ran instead of doing all the other chores I really needed to do to be able to leave. Let's hope I can bust a $$ in the next several hours and get everything done! Thanks to you all and a shout out to all the girls and "hubby" recovering from their lifts! Healing energy, white light and positive thoughts to you all!
PS. I'm going to try to upload a pic of me, in a wig, 20 lbs skinnier, from 4 years ago. I had completely lost my boobs and had to fill my bra with wads of duct tape and then arrange the skin of my deflated boobs over then to simulate breasts (I'm not kidding. I did that for over 4 years. Thank GOD my breasts came back when I was able to gain the weight back!)

3+ Mos and a Trip Down Memory Lane Later...

Well, due to some great advice from my friend Red and a pressing family matter, I ended up taking that trip back to the Panhandle of Florida. For those of you familiar with my story, going back there meant going back to see a group of people who remember me as more sickly, quite a bit more unattractively thin and wearing a wig. I had a great deal of anxiety about going back, but after some tough talk from Red and a call from my family to help admit a brother into the same rehab facility I was in 8 years ago, back I went! It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life, and, Red, I will forever be in your debt because you challenged me to face my fears and go so I was prepared to do just that when the call from my family came. The trip was wonderful. On one hand, I got to be there to watch my brother make a decision to get help for his addiction to alcohol and hopefully change his life, for the better, forever. On the other, also wonderful hand, I got to reconnect with some special people that matter a great deal to me. Everyone was BLOWN AWAY by how I looked, but you have to remember I was over 20 lbs skinnier, almost bald, and had jacked teeth when I was there before...it's not hard to raise that bar! No one guessed at the surgery at all, but I think that was primarily because SO MUCH about me was changed it was hard to pick out one thing. I had my real boobs back, some healthy weight on my cheeks and even on my tiny, "white-girl" butt (Lol!), real hair on my head (with the help of my awesome micro extensions!) and the crowns on my teeth (still have temporaries on my lower teeth that are killing me, bu that's another saga!lol!) Sure, my jawline is tight and there is no more neck flap and no baggy upper eyelids, but when you add that to all the OTHER stuff, the surgery stuff is hard to pinpoint! I honestly got more compliments on how my legs look (they were long, shapeless sticks before the weight gain and Olympic weight lifting ) and on my skin (I think when your whole face looks better, people just say "your skin looks great " because they aren't quite sure what, exactly, it is that looks better.) My best friend, who is smart and observant, squinted at me a lot and asked me what I had done. I told her Id been doing Botox for 4 years now (which is true ). That satisfied her...and before I left she made a Botox appointment for herself! Mostly, though, I was happy to go back to see the people that I love and care about and to let them see me, happier and healthier than I've ever been before in my adult life. They were happy for me. They are also all doing AWESOME themselves, and it was good to see that, first hand, and to know that, for the most part, we are all rising, together. They met me when my life was in a tailspin after rehab, and I wanted them to see how much their loving support meant, what they had contributed to, to the happy and hopefully person that they helped to create. Going back was a really great decision, and most days I forgot I had surgery at all. I was there for just shy of 3 weeks, though, and there were definitely a few times when I said "Thank you, Dr David Harley" under my breath... a few times when I ran into exes, and one time (some of you ladies will know what I mean ) when I was viewed at a certain angle that can make all your loose bits look saggy, unless you've had a very skilled surgeon address those loose bits, so they aren't loose anymore! We'll leave it at that, but that moment alone was worth the 9 grand! LOL! I'm posting some pics from the past 3 weeks, with a focus on the jawline and neck. I'm really pleased with my Harley Honey jawline, and I think it's done wonders for my cheekbones. I think about the things I was worried about, pre-surgery, and I know one of them was the jawline looking "unnatural"...I think Dr Harley did a really good job of keeping things natural with my jaw, and I want those of you contemplating this survey to see just how sharp BUT natural the results can be... I apologize that most of these pictures are of me just after I woke up, or as I'm laying down for a nap with the little dog. Sleeping was a horrible issue involving an air mattress that I won't get into. In a few, I posted pics of me with a spider bite on my EYELID...just because they happen to be good jaw pics and show how the eyelid scar is healing from my upper bleph.
Thank you, to Red (of course ) and to all of you who encouraged me to go on the trip and to be proud and to hold my head high. I did! My brother is now out of rehab and starting his own new, sober life. I'm so blessed to have been able to help facilitate that! I also want to apologize to some of you who I was following before I left on my trip. I found it very difficult to try to log into Real self at my friends house, my connectivity on my phone there was horrible, and it was a crazy busy time. I know many of you had surgeries and were recovering during these past 3+ weeks and i was not able to follow you and to support you as i would have liked to...i trust our awesome community was there for you the way they were for me! I'm trying to get caught up on everyone's progress now! I hope you all are being kind to yourselves and being patient with your recovery! Remember that it takes some time for your full results to emerge! In the meantime, heal well!

3+ Months Post Surgery : No Need For Perfect

Well almost, but not quite,4 months have gone by since my procedure in early January. I've passed the "co-habitation with my ex" test, the "2+ weeks with my mom" test and now the "3+ weeks with my BFF and assorted other people from my past " tests. No one has detected my surgery AT ALL. My best friend came the closest, I think, when she kept squinting at me and then outright asked me if I was "doing something, like fillers?" because I was "somehow ageing in reverse"...but no one who knows me would dream that I could pull of a facelift in secret(Big Mouth! LOL!)...so I think that is the biggest key to KEEPING the secret!
I'm really very happy with my jawline...and I'm thrilled that I decided to go ahead and do the upper bleph, I think I was so focused on my neck flap that I had totally missed how much my upper eyelids were ageing my face. While the upper bleph was by far the toughest part of my recovery and while it was the most obvious sign that I'd had "work done ", I realize now that without it my results would be no where as satisfactory to me if I hadn't had the eyes done. If you're considering the upper bleph procedure in conjunction with the lower face /neck lift, consider it SERIOUSLY.
My mouth reconstruction continues, and it continues to be more painful, heart wrenching and expensive than the Biltmore Lift even began to be! I was "back in the chair" again this week after a week of dealing with an allergic reaction IN MY MOUTH to the new temporary crowns. Nasty. Everything is back on track now, though, thank goodness! I continue, everyday, to be reminded in little ways that I have a "new face and neck "...whether it be taking a selfie to send to a boyfriend or waking up in the morning and stumbling to the bathroom and catching a glimpse in the mirror...Don't get me wrong, I still see a dozen things in my reflection that I'd love to change...but I honestly still feel a sense of genuine gratitude and relief when I see the "new me. " Still. It hasn't gotten old. I'm still a little surprised to look in the mirror and mostly like the face looking back! She's no beauty queen, but that's OK! The bags and sags and flappy bits I found so shameful are gone. That was my deepest hope, that I could just get rid of them, and they're gone! I still feel like "nothing I want that bad every turns out this good "...but I'm almost to the place where I accept that it HAS, in fact, turned out like I had dreamed it might. It's still a wonderful feeling. And it's still worth every single penny I scraped together. There is absolutely nothing that I went without in that year of scrimping and saving that could have ever made me feel as good as the Biltmore Lift has. I'm very pleased, also, with how my my scars are healing. I don't use anything "extra" at all on them at this point, other than what I use on the rest of my face. Anyone who is shying away from having the Biltmore lift because they are worried about scars should know that, in my experience at least, by almost month 4 post-procedure, scars are a non-issue.
My aesthetician has offered to put filler under my eyes... she's VERY good at what she does and I've seen tons of her "afters" for under eyes. She is an artist and get results are great... I've decided, however, not to risk it. Klauderb has been a huge inspiration to me, her posts have helped me immensely, and she recently had the filler under her eyes dissolved...we have such similar facial types that I'm going to use RealSelf the way it was intended, benefit from her experience, and skip the under eye filler. I've found that I'm pretty happy with my face with just the Biltmore Lift, the upper bleph and some Botox. I say "just ", which is ironic, because that's definitely not the recipe for natural beauty...what I mean, though, is that I realize now that I'm not chasing perfection. I'm OK with some hollowness under my eyes. That is a relief to me, since right after my procedure I went through a period of time when I was positive that the top of my nose HAD TO BE refined and my lower eyes MUST be addressed...I was afraid maybe I'd never be happy. But that was just a phase and probably the result of too many selfies scrutinized during the early stages of healing! I'm in no rush to jump back into plastic surgery again any time soon. I think I'm pretty OK with the situating under my eyes for now. (But don't hold me to it! Lol!)
I'm posting some new pics and a side my side before and after, having finally figured out how to make one on my phone. Anyone who doubts I needed a facelift at 43/44 need only check out that "before & after" to see that I made the right decision!
To all of my sisters healing right now, I'm sending you white light, good energy, and the words of wisdom from Adirondackmimi's Dr: "healing is measured in months, not days "... And to all of you contemplating a procedure or waiting for your procedure date to arrive, I hope with all my heart that your decision, whatever it may be, brings you as much joy and satisfaction as mine has brought me. Be well.

6+ mos post surgery

Thought I would update now that I am a bit past the 6 month mark. I am still very happy with my results, although I do wonder if my neck is tight enough. It seems a little lax now that all the swelling has gone down. That having been said, comparing my before and afters I am still thrilled that the sagging that was really starting to destroy my self esteem is gone. I've had done botox since my surgery, no big surprise as a lower face lift isn't going to address crows feet or forehead issues! Dr Harley is good but no one is THAT good, LOL! I also had a little bit of filler around my mouth and chin and I broke down and did a little bit under my eyes as well. I knew I would still need to do fillers after surgery, Dr Harley was very clear with me that the surgery would not be a cure-all for my volume loss. That having been said, the very talented woman who does my injections told me that I needed none in my cheeks anymore, and that's exciting to me. I haven't had fillerser in my cheeks done for almost 2 years now, and the way I metabolize filler, that means I have NO filler in my cheeks now, so the lift was able to get me good and tight and make the most of the facial structure I have and that's all a girl can ask for! What's happened is that now I can use fillers here and there to add volume, as opposed to how I was using them before surgery, which was to try to lift up my face and fill up the baggy skin. Those attempts never really worked all the way, the little bit of success I had didn't last long and the whole half-a$$ed process was heart breaking, less than natural and REALLY EXPENSIVE. I urge anyone who continually is fighting nature with a "liquid facelift" and feeling frustrated to break down what they are spending every year on injectable fillers and look at the results they are getting. Then compare that to the cost of the Biltmore lift and the results of some of the women on this site who have had it done. I'd like to reiterate that I also had an upper bleph, which was almost an afterthought for me when I was in the planning stages of my surgery. Thank GOD I did it, though, as I feel it really took some major mileage off my face visually! My upper bleph with Dr Harley was $2,600...I've dropped more than that on injectable fillers in one pop. If you aren't ready or financially able to get the lift, but want to brighten and "open" up your face in an important way and take off some years, the upper bleph is a good option. Just know that, in my experience, the upper bleph was the procedure that I found it the hardest to heal from. The Biltmore lift was a snap!
Those of you who have followed my crazy journey know that I have also been doing a total mouth reconstruction in parallel to all this, and I completed my final appointment for that last week. So, new teeth, new jawline, new neck, new eyelids! New me? Well, no. Same old me. And that's OK. I find that I still struggle with some of the same insecurities. But I do so with a bit more confidence now, and a bit more optimism. The future is still uncertain and I'm still an unmarried, 44 year old recovering alcoholic facing it with some doubts and fears. The difference is that I'm doing it with a renewed sense that I have far more personal power to shape what's to come than I thought I had before this surgery. I conquered my neck flap, what can't I conquer, right? LOL! I hope everyone out there that has had their procedure is healing well and I wish everyone out there still waiting on their surgeries or contemplating what to do to take charge of their own destinies all the best luck along the way.
Asheville Facial Plastic Surgeon

Dr Harley, his nurse Kelly and Juanita were all truly wonderful. They are consummate professionals who were able to answer all my questions, to arrange all 3 of my consultation/visits to the office (on top of fielding several anxious phone calls} and to provide me very realistic expectations of what my outcome would be. I felt no pain at all during the procedure, and Dr Harley has made himself available to answer all my questions and concerns. This is a clean, calm, beautifully appointed office. The procedure was quick and painless. The Doctor and staff are genuine and talented and so far I am THRILLED with my results. if you want to make permanent changes for a more refreshed and youthful face, please consider this doctor and this procedure YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT.

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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