68 Years Old, Tired of Looking Like a Soviet-Era Bus Conductor - Asheville, NC

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I decided to write my review on Thanksgiving Day...

I decided to write my review on Thanksgiving Day because I am so very thankful this year that I am finally embarking on this long planned for journey. I've battled a weight problem (avg. 50-60 pounds overweight) virtually all of my adult life and I promised myself that once I was able to maintain a 50 pound weight loss for more than two years, I would reward myself with surgery that has become, due to the passage of time, more "reconstructive" than "cosmetic." I describe my chin as a full-term baby who lives under my chin; and my upper eyelids are so full of folds of fat they look like an origami project. The plastic surgeons who had been recommended to me in New York (where I live) did a lot of other procedures in addition to facelifts, i.e., rhinoplasty, ethnic rhinoplasty, tummy tucks, breast augmentations, butt lifts, etc., but I wanted a doctor who specialized in the kind of work I need done. When I saw the reviews on RS for Dr. Harley, particularly those reviews by women in my age range (rednaxelaennyl, dreddan611, texann), I felt that this was the best way I could reward myself for the accomplishment of having lost weight and, for the first time in my life, KEPT IT OFF! I am hoping that Dr. Harley can work his magic on me, as he has for so many others, by taking years off while they still maintained a natural appearance. My pre-op is on Dec. 5 with surgery (Biltmore Lift, upper bleph, although more might possibly be added) scheduled for Dec. 6. I will be going with a friend who will be driving and I've arranged for TLC for the first day.

Surgery Today

I had my pre-op yesterday afternoon. Dr. Harley decided I wasn't as much in need of a brow lift as my "immensely flattering" photos indicated, so it will be an upper bleph and Biltmore Lift. I'm staying at the Marriott Residence Inn which has suites - I am happy to say I've got 2 flat screens, which I guess is kind of like old school PIP. I started Bromelain last week and the Arnica pellets 2 days before surgery. Prescriptions can't be sent out of state, so I picked them up at CVS and was amazed that my health insurance provider didn't designate them as "fourth tier" (with a cost of hundreds of dollars), but they came out to a reasonable 9 bucks each. I hope to get my money's worth with a lovely drug induced "nap" during the procedure as I was to nervous to get much sleep tonight.

The Marriott held a party for guests last night and I looked longingly at the wine but settled for lemonade. Juanita said I could have alcohol again after the sutures are removed, so I envision myself whooping it up in the backseat while the long-suffering BFF stoicly drives us home to NY.

Juanita and Dr. Harley were wonderfully encouraging and filled me with a lot of confidence that the old, weary, joyless bus conductor face would be relegated to the dustbin of history. To be continued....

Worst part over

BFF and I spent yesterday a.m. visiting folk art center in Asheville. I liked things that either blew my budget or were NFS. My friend is going to retun Sat. (Sale starts) and I will go back with her if I'm up to it and buy souvenirs to remind myself of the last time I was out in public with my cringe worth face.

Surgery went very well except for the nurse Kelly's logarhia. Although I had zero pain, I could hear what was being said. Would have preferred her gossiping about people from my nabe rather than hers.

TLC gave me two aides who were great, Kim and Mikal. I absolutely needed them for bathroom breaks as My gait was like a bobble doll.

Zero pain. I slept great from 6 pm until a little after 4 am. Limited discomfiort around the chin and neck. So far this is better (way better) than I hoped for. Leaving soon with the wonderful Mikal to get drains and head wrapping removed.

2 days post-op

Almost no bruising anywhere except the eye region. I've been icing but the swelling in my lower face and cheeks makes me look like a triangle. I was blissfully pain free for yesterday morning and had headwrap and drains removed at Dr. Harley's. I remember nothing of what occurred post-surgery, but the TLC nurse, Mikal, told me I watched the news and apologized to her twice if the political leanings of my station of choice offended her. (The recent election has made me extra sensitive of how others react and I didn't want to get punched in the face, aggravating my already bruised face, for having supported the "wrong" candidate.

Dr. Harley and nurse Kelly were both very happy with my progress. In the afternoon my pain in erased to the point that I was staring at the clock until the 4 hours were up and I could take my pain meds again. Slept wonderfully last night and crept down to hotel lobby in pjs and robe (and sunglasses glasses) to grab some coffee incognito when I woke up. I was so wiped out of surgery Tuesday that I fell asleep in my clothes and went to my a.m. appointment with Dr. Harley wearing the same clothes as I had the day before -- my "walk of shame." Luckily no one noticed and I won't be ridiculed on "The Fashion Police."

I am posting two photos I took yesterday afternoon but can't figure out how to rotate them so please excuse the technological ineptitude. Today I will be able to take a shower and since the ultra fabulous Dr. Harley uses mepitac there are no massive clumps of bacitracin or neosporin to hinder the fresh, clean hair I hope to have.

Feel some itching and some tightness but no significant pain this a.m. May go with long-suffering BFF on the trolley tour and as long as I can keep my sunglasses on, hopefully no small children will scream at the sight of my swollen, bruised and battered face.

I iced the eye region and cheeks and neck yesterday but did not notice swelling going down. I did notice that Dr. Harley's magic made me look more youthful and not like a joyless old birdie.

Beat up teletubbie

Bad day yesterday. I had hard swelling and itching. I even called the doctor's office and emailed pix worried I had complications, but feeling better this a.m. Very little bruising except around the eyes. Swelling around mid-face extreme. Is a teletubbie more attractive than a Soviet-era bus conductor? Time will tell...

Off to lunch

After all my doom and gloom entries and pix thought this would be more uplifting to anyone considering the procedure.

Feeling Better and Ready to Give Advice

Dr. Harley tapes up face with Mepitac which has so much adhesive power it could pull a diesel train. All the stuff I brought with me, i.e., hydrogen peroxide, q-tips, cotton rounds, neosporin with pain relief, unneeded. Washed my hair with worst product on earth, Johnson's No More Tangles. Ha! Maybe I'd have fewer tangles if I rode in a convertible at 110 miles an hour in a hurricane! But eventually tangles were tamed. Stopped prescription pain meds 2 days ago and was finally rewarded with a functioning digestive system (not to be too indelicate). Had a nice lunch out with BFF yesterday with real food and not just scrambled eggs, applesauce, chocolate pudding and ensure. Have had a very limited attention span - more so than usual - so haven't gotten much reading done. I don't know if there's a recommended hotel near Dr. Harley that has a restaurant on-site but if I had to do this over I'd look for one.

Someone on RS had recommended a product called Ice Wraps which I found very helpful and I had an eye mask which I had bought at The Body Shop which helped with my eyes. I bought it a long time ago so I don't know if the still carry it.

Progress continues

Swelling has subsided somewhat so the sprightly alien look has been replaced with the poster woman for the Discovery ID channel (all true crime, all the time). Itching is not as bad as yesterday, but my eyes are tearing making it difficult to do anything even slightly constructive, but fine for tv watching. Yesterday BFF and I went to the folk arts fair and picked up souvenirs and gifts then took a long scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Highway. It was just spectacular and a reminder that no matter how much of a magician Dr. Harley is, the Creator wins first place in the awesomeness sweepstakes. (Well, it is Sunday....)

I've been sleeping very well and have even eliminated Tylenol. Every day does bring with it a (thankfully) minor discomfort whether it be itching or dry eyes, but I would do this again and would encourage anyone considering the procedure to proceed with joy and enthusiasm. The reason for my especially good mood may be due to having dreamt last night of having a romantic relationship with a 20-something soap opera actor. Aim high!!!

Thanks to all for the encouragement.

Swelling Down, Bruising Up; Pessimism Down, Optimism Up

Although bruising from Biltmore Lift is virtually unnoticeable, the under-eye bruising seems to be flourishing in a rainbow of color. The deep purplish-black of the weekend is now violet and chartreuse

I've been sleeping very well which is uncharacteristic, as insomnia has been my bete noir since adolescence. Sutures will be removed tomorrow first thing in the morning then it's Thelma and Louise's road trip part 2 back to the polar vortex and real life once again.

In the moment, it's all about dry eyes, bruising, tightness, and itching. I seemed to have already forgotten the despair I used to feel when I looked in the mirror in the morning, followed by the thought "it will only get worse." Today I can look in the mirror and believe, realistically, that it will get better. In a few weeks, I can put on makeup, flattering clothing, and no one (least of all me) will mutter, "there goes the Soviet-era bus conductor."


After a marathon day yesterday (sutures removed at 6:15 a.m.; BFF driving back to NY and in front door 14 hours later), I feel estranged from my customary habitat, and disoriented when a strange face looks back at me in my mirror. I was experiencing pain and discomfort until a little voice piped up, "you idiot, you are 'home', you are not 'healed.' There is a difference." I took Arnica pellets - a mainstay of my Asheville recovery and will take Bromelain as soon as I can find what I did with it. I started to ice again this a.m, (my mask and gel packs didn't get a chance to advance much past "luke cold" before I fell asleep last night) which helps.

I don't know why I expected to return home to "status quo ante" except with an entirely new face as if by magic as soon as the key turned in the door, so I would like to caution others if you are not feeling absolutely fabulous before leaving on a 14 hour road trip, the chances of your feeling that way when you arrive at your destination are minimal.

So I am becoming inured to intermittent sparks of energy to unpack, get mail, do Christmas cards, untangle my financial life (a week and a half without Quicken is a week and a half without sunshine!) and update my review.

Dr. Harley delivered on everything I had come to expect after reading the reviews of others on RS. My eyes are no longer slits surrounded by capacious folds of fat and my now-chiseled chin no longer holds the full-term baby lurking underneath.
In addition, he is enthusiastic about what he does and gratified to be able to give us the enhanced quality of life we can achieve when we no longer look like Soviet bus conductors.

The eye issues I was having 2 days ago were alleviated by the Systane gel drops Dr. Harley recommended and seem to have gone away once the sutures were removed.

Although I still have swelling and bruising (more minimal with time), I would encourage everyone considering this step to proceed. I hope people have found my review detailing the "good, the bad and the ugly" to be an honest testimonial of a difficult journey to a future where past misfortunes and mistakes are not etched so clearly and visibly on my face.

I will continue to update this page and post photos of my progress until the "hottie" part of my screen name is more appropriate than the "geezer" part. Thanks to all for the encouragement and support.

Stuck in Exit Ramp on Road to Recovery

I haven't witnessed much progress in the past few days. Or, I can blame it all on my iPad camera. I look in the mirror and can notice that my swelling in the cheek area seems to have subsided some, or the bruising has faded a little, at least on my right side. I am happy that I can post an optimistic entry on my review and hasten to document this little bit of progress via my iPad camera, and lo and behold, I look more like a Soviet bus conductor than ever! Someone asked for a profile shot and I tried my best to at least take a shot that hinted at the vast improvement in my chin. I'll ask some friends to take iPad photos as time goes on, and hope that they will be able to get profile shots (friends took the photos that accompanied my first entry).

I have to remind myself that everyone recovers at a different rate and that I have no bruising on my neck or chin. I did grocery shopping yesterday (in NY this involves walking, rather than driving, and it's a half mile to Trader Joe's from my apartment). As my additional errands added some additional walking, and it barely hit 20 degrees, I got a lot of "icing" accomplished, albeit in a Rube Goldberg-type way.

Lynn reminded me of TraceyAnn's recommendation of a humidifier, which has proven helpful with my eye irritation and I remembered reading another recommendation of chamomile teabags which have also given me some relief. Dr. Harley recommended Systane gel drops at night-time and Arnica gel for bruising.

I am hoping that Santa rescues me from my "getting stuckness" by Christmas which will enable me to spread much cheer on this site looking forward to the New Year. In the interim, it is a helpful reminder to me, and maybe others here on the site, that the difficulty of this journey doesn't end with surgery. Recovery may be beset with challenges as well as rewards, and the best way to get through it is to be patient.

Dr. Harley Allayed My Concerns

I've been anxious about the pace of my recovery, and sent a fairly pitiful email to Dr. Harley about my "trauma du jour" of proliferating hardness centers in my cheeks, the sides of my neck and under my chin. Dr. Harley explained that my tissues had undergone a lot of trauma because of all the bad stuff (fat) he had to remove and all the work he had done in tightening the muscles. But he assured me that I was healing well so I am going to choose to be happy and optimistic, even if I have to set back my man-chasing timetable.

A good friend sent me a gorgeous bouquet of flowers which I get to look at during my very self-indulgent convalescence. With the exception of sending out my end-of-year charitable contributions, I have done absolutely nothing constructive in the week I've been home while all of Dr. Harley's other patients have run marathons, cured cancer, and achieved world peace.

I did my hair today so I could attach some less gruesome pix.

Merry Christmas Update

Got the best Christmas present ever from Dr. Santa Harley--a new face! As the swelling has diminished and the bruising has faded, I am beginning to get a sense of what the new me will look like, and--although there may very well be some element of self-delusion in the mix--it bears little resemblance to the staggeringly unflattering iPad selfies attached to my updates.

As expected, after my foray grocery shopping on Thursday, I paid the price Friday. I could barely see when I woke up (think Mr. Magoo sans glasses). I took my dental retainer off but couldn't manage to replace it in its case. It fell to the floor and I couldn't find it on my floor for 20 minutes! I don't really understand why the consequences of "overdoing it," i.e., doing anything other than watching tv, should manifest in poor vision and eye issues the next day, but that is reality. It puts me in a negative space for the day, as I ponder whether this will be "the new normal," but optimism eventually wins out that the next day (assuming I don't venture out and do grocery shopping again) will be better. The next day was far better. For the first time since surgery two and a half weeks previously, I was able to read a book for an extensive period (180 pages!). I listened to my favorite Christmas music while reading which made for a very good day indeed.

I will be having Christmas dinner (at lunchtime) with friends today which will be my first social event since my return home. One very funny element of my recovery: for the first time since childhood I look best as soon as I wake up (swelling increases during the course of the day), in honor of which I have attached a photo of a smiling Geezer!

Best wishes to all for a very Merry Christmas and a new face in the new year to those contemplating cosmetic surgery. One last note: despite the very real difficulties I've faced and documented in my review during my post-surgery updates, I haven't experienced a nano second of regret.

4 weeks and 1 day

Bruising under left eye has faded enough where makeup makes it virtually unnoticeable. Given that my frustration with eye issues were most pronounced while reading, I put reading on hold for a while. I am now basically living the idealized life of a 5 year old -- unlimited television and no parental supervision!

As it is problematic trying to keep weight off with restricting exercise, I've been gradually adding some exercise, but no floor work or anything that would strain my neck. I was used to getting between 2 and 4 hours of exercise most days, which certainly helped with weight loss, but that won't be happening for awhile.

I'm seeing some friends tonight and will ask them to take profile shots as I have enough misery taking frontal pictures with my iPad camera (a/k/a "the uglifier") and have had even less luck with profile pix.

The swelling has subsided a great deal, and I wore eye makeup for the first time yesterday (light shadow and mascara) so I'm getting an idea of what my face will look like and it will be a huge difference from the joyless bus conductor look (cougar party girl?). I went to lunch with a friend yesterday who said if she didn't know me she would guess my age was in the upper fifties -- which would mean that I look 10 years younger. I won't get carded when I buy booze, but maybe I'll get carded when I demand a senior citizen discount!

Thanks for everyone's support and helpful suggestions.

Month Update

Not much to add since last update, but I was asked for profile pix and had friend take one 2 days ago. Also posted pix that shows the turquoise and hammered metal necklace I bought as a souvenir in Asheville. (I noticed that the ipad camera is not as much of an "uglifier" when someone else takes the pictures. Distance is my friend; up close and personal, not so much.)

I've been able to gradually incorporate more exercise into my daily routine which has helped most with the mental part of recovery. Did a little over 2 hours today which included cardio and resistance at home and a 50-minute walk outside in 28 degree weather, dodging ice and selfie-stick wielding tourists (I live in a very tourist-intensive area.).

Still am very sensitive to salt and face blew up this a.m. as a result of lunch yesterday (bought a "turkey" sandwich which turned out to be a "turkey and brie" sandwich -- of course I could have discarded the brie when I discovered it but that would have been no fun).

I keep running into people who do not compliment me! No one has asked if I've lost weight, or told me I look rested, or said anything the faintest bit flattering (except those who knew I had surgery who do say wonderful things). I wonder whether no one noticed I had the equivalent of a full-term baby under my chin or copious rolls of fat over my eyes, leaving only slits for my beady eyes to see from? I will post when (if) I get any "[wo]man in the street" unsolicited compliments as it was so motivational for me to read when about this in reviews prior to my undergoing cosmetic surgery.

6 week update

Recovery proceeds. My exercise routine is almost back to normal. It would be normal if I could remember what I read more accurately. I (incorrectly) "remembered" Dr. Harley's instructions as waiting 2 months past surgery before resuming vigorous exercise or yoga positions like the downward dog and not only curtailed my exercise accordingly but spread this disinformation ("fake news") to all and sundry on RealSelf, only to read the instructions yesterday and finding his suggestion to be one month and not two! A word of warning: when I give advice, trust but verify!

I finally received my first "innocent bystander" compliment from someone who was unaware I had cosmetic surgery. I ran into a woman who has a walking routine that coincides with mine. She said I looked different (this was not easy to see because I was wearing a hat, a hood over it and sunglasses). As she did not look horrified, I took off my sunglasses and told her that I had a facelift. She said I looked "fabulous" and "gorgeous" and said that we hadn't known each other when I was in my 20s or 30s but she could now see that youthful look that I would have had then. This was so gratifying as I had begun to fear that the cosmetic surgery had just not made enough of a difference to be noticeable to anyone who wasn't already aware that I had work done.

One more thing: several people have commented that I should change my hairdo and hair color. Could those of you who have made either or both suggestion pm me with photos, or if photos can't be attached to pm's, send me an email, so I can bring it to my stylist?

2 Month Plus Update

It's been a while since I've updated my review. I've been pre-occupied with a freelance editing project that took all my energy (if you can call intensive manual labor "backbreaking," this job was "brainbreaking"). It's done now, the authors were quite happy and it's off to the publisher. The job convinced me of one thing that was very good -- any issues I had with my eyes as a result of the bleph were over. I would say it took 2 months for the eye issue to resolve itself.

It also took almost 2 months before my energy level returned to normal. I am back to my usual 2-4 hour a day exercise routine which helps keep the weight off and the endorphins racing.

With Dr. Harley having taken care of my hideous neck, chin and upper eyes, I no longer need to practice mirror evasive strategies. The mirror is not the friend to me it was in my teens or twenties (although it is much friendlier when I wear makeup), , but is no longer the enemy.

I'm still experiencing hardness near my ears and some numbness, and there are times I feel like I have a feedback under my chin like a horse, but other than those relatively minor side effects, I feel fine.

3 months plus

After all my kvetching about not getting an appropriately gushing response from members of the public to my new look, I received an email from a friend (she didn't know about the ps) whom I hadn't seen for a while. I am excerpting this not to be boastful, but to demonstrate that sometimes we give up too soon: "It's been soooo long...I barely recognized you. You look fabulous! ...Whatever you're doing, keep doing it. It's working like gangbusters."

So I'm happy. It's one thing when I went through the rigors of surgery and recovery and saw a far more pleasing reflection in the mirror, but after time passed and so few people noticed, I begin to question my ability to see myself realistically and began to think that maybe I was operating out of a sense of self-delusion, only thinking I looked better because I didn't want to admit it was simply too late to make a difference, that I was doomed to resemble a Soviet-era bus conductor no matter how much weight I lost, no matter how much cosmetic surgery I had. If I have to take a long view, it is probably better that I saw this reaction in writing almost four months after surgery, because it's so much more meaningful to receive it after so much self-doubt.

I'm attaching some recent photos so people can see that I did take the advice of the "haters" here and cut my hair!
Asheville Facial Plastic Surgeon

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