Birth Certificate Says 55, But Feel More Like 40 - Going for Biltmore Lift & More!

Confession time right from the start ... my...

Confession time right from the start ... my profile photo is a Polaroid selfie from 34 years ago.

Don't I wish I still had that jawline. I must have been way more limber back then because I don't think I could manage to hold that clunky camera with one hand and press the shutter now. Thank goodness for innovation and self-timers because my back couldn't take it.

On the subject of photos, after a lot of back and forth in my head about privacy and wrinkly pics, I have decided to join some of the other women (and men) who've had Biltmore Lifts and More done by Dr Harley. Without their photos and recovery updates I would have just carried on moaning about how aging was making me look mean and angry when my inner self was humming a little tune and quite happy.

My Biltmore Lift (neck and lower face) along with an upper and lower bleph is scheduled for April 12 and I am seriously looking forward to it. I am not even worried about pain! Having gone three months with virtually no sugar, a bit of nip/tuck is going to be a breeze!

When I saw Dr Harley for my consult just before Christmas, I told him that I would not be seeing him again until I had lost at least 20 pounds. He was very gracious about this declaration from a 55 year-old woman with a rapidly spreading middle and backside and said in his quiet way that I could call Juanita when I felt ready. His easy going no judgement, no pressure manner confirmed I was making the right decision and the photos and reviews made me feel very comfortable with him as my surgeon.

I've followed the before and after photos of loads of his patients all of whom looked more youthful and lovely (and natural) than before and I'm hoping he can work some similar magic on my aging self.

I'll be posting some recent photos in a few days and for the record, I think nothing helps one lose unwanted pounds like the promise of a facelift.

I'm down 29 pounds so far and have lost over 30 inches from seven different places. So in addition to being a brilliant surgeon, I'm going to have to add " Unknowing Weight Loss Motivator " to Dr Harley's credit even though he never said a word about it.

Back in a bit with more!

Looking Back Photos 2002-2016 & Impact of Facial Bone Loss on Surgical Outcomes

As my date with Dr Harley is less than two weeks away, I thought I would post a little restrospective on the progression of changes in my face over the last 14 years. It was around that time that I began to see the changes that led to my extreme dissatisfaction with my look particularly over the last two years.

While I absolutely love and admire the courage of those who post after pictures and particularly their just before surgery pics too, ( mine will be gruesome ) I do wish more people would post some younger photos ( ten years or more ) so we can see just how far back the clock has been turned after recovery is complete.

I understand that as we age we experience bone loss with women being affected much earlier than men and that no one can ever look exactly as they once did? Most of the websites I researched agreed that this begins around age 41 for women and 65 or later for men.

Studies cite the obvious factors such genetics and things we can control like sun damage or nicotine use, but I wonder how much of an impact declining hormones in peri-menopausal ( 40s ) women (and later into full on menopause) may have to do with bone loss and facial changes.

I went through surgical menopause at 41 and have been on HRT since. I am 55 now and wonder if keeping my homone levels at a constant level for the last 14 may have deminished some of the normal bone loss one might expect to see with no HRT. My skin is certainly showing serious signs of change, but I do wonder how my facial bone structure has been affected.

I hope no one thinks that I am suggesting HRT for everyone because I'm not. It's down more to my tendency to think too much about ’ what if ' and I thought it might be interesting to consider and share.

Like my face, photography has changed a lot over the last 14 years so some the earlier scanned images from paper prints may not be a sharp as the later digital ones, but I think you'll be able to have a pretty clear idea of the impact of time.

I'm saving the most gruesome for next time. Hah!

(My photos don't look as if they will appear in the order I have selected, but I added a date in the caption )

Asheville Here I Come!

I'll be leaving for Asheville in the wee hours ( about 6 hours from now) to check in to my AirBnb and take care of any last minute details before my surgery on Tuesday. I will be following TxAnn into the surgical chair on the morning of the 12 th and have been alternating between excitement and a bit of trepidation. I am not really scared of pain, but I do worry a bit about not looking like myself afterwards and I absolutely hate being drugged!

I will be trying create the first of my videos with a little pre op rocking chair redo tomorrow so keep an eye out for it.

Here are the dreaded very recent " before " photos that I promised you.

Met Up With TxAnn - Tomorrow Is Our Day & We Are Okay To Go!

Just a quick update to share a photo of me with TxAnn taken after we picked up our meds a few minutes ago. Today feels like a crazy kind of day full of excitement and anticipation along with a little bit of anxiety, but it is so good to have a cheering section out there. Thanks so much for all the comments and support. ??

Ten Rounds in the Boxing Ring, But I am Still Here!

Day two post surgery and I feel better than I look. I had an uneventful surgery except I remember talking a few times and I also woke myself up slightly on two occasions with a loud snore or snort. I feel sure I probably apologized given my good girl southern upbringing. I could have dreamed all of that, but it sure felt real afterwards. Still, I was never scared in the surgical chair and the good folks at TLC took excellent care of me afterwards. I had two caregivers who split two 12 hours shifts and I felt very at ease with both Molina and Melanie. Susie came by the morning after and drove me to my big unveiling where I got a proper look at myself for the first time.

The best part of seeing myself post op was that I recognized the face in the mirror. My eyes are very swollen so I am following Dr Harley 's instructions for warm compresses and a night time ointment until they go down enough to chose completely. They are at about 80% now. I think they are going to look amazing when they go down because my lower eye area looks like it did in my 20s before the indentations developed and natural fat drifted away.

I had a mole removed from my eye area a couple of years ago and got a black eye afterwards so I am not surprised that I look as if I have been in the boxing ring after the extensive work done yesterday.

My fatigue level does not feel bad at all, but it crept up on me this afternoon when I thought I would shut my eyes for a minute and woke up about five hours later.

I have stayed well fed by eating the squeezable baby food packs suck as Ella's and others. Most are organic and have very limited or no salt in them and very limited suger. They have a round end like a large straw that makes it super easy to eat when you don't feel like chewing in the early days. Plus, they actually taste good.

I will post some of my swollen post op pictures so you can see what day two looks like. I noticed after I took them that I still have a bit of blood in my ears so look away if you are squeamish.

Also, I saw TxAnn this morning and she looks great! She had her eyes done too and she did not bruise like I did. She does not have access to the internet right now so you may not see her photos for a while, but wow o wow does she look way younger!

When You're Too Lazy to Ice ...

When you get tired of holding the ice bag post op and you know you need to chill those hard cheeks near your ears, you can do what I did and help yourself to a free umbrella bag offered in most stores near the entrance so you don't drip water all over their floors ( less slip and fall lawsuits that way ) anyway, I put my frozen peas in one tied it up so the length hits right at my cheek bones and sudden I am totally hands free to do other things. It's not pretty, but it works!

More Peas, please.

Most folks that know me well know that I barely sleep. I've always been that way for as long as I can remember. Five hours is a full night for me and I've been known to go for months on as little as 3.5 hours a night so it has been a big surprise to me how much snoozing I've been doing post surgery and that is without any pain meds other than Tylenol. I thought I would shut my eyes yesterday for a minute or two in the afternoon and woke five hours later, then I went to bed around 10:00 and slept until 5:30. As I write this I am feeling another nap coming on so I am getting some good icing in before I go down for the count.

Speaking of boxing terms, I know my eyes look a bit rough. I have been doing as Dr H said using warm compresses and also ice and I think they are shrinking a bit. They are a little tight and sore, but more like a bruised feeling than any big pain. If fact nothing really hurts much which surprises me.

I look so beat up under my eyes though that I thought about going out for coffee and talking my glasses off in hopes that someone might ask about my bruises. I'm just dying to say I had a little work done and then when I ask them to guess my age, I could say, " Shoot, honey I am 82 years-old, doesn't that Dr Harley do great work, all my girlfriends think he's a magician! " ????

Here are a few pics from this morning.

Day Four - AKA My Zombie Apocalypse Look

I don't want to speak too soon, but I have not experienced the blues that most people talk about feeling on day 3 or 4 post op. I will say at I am experiencing a lot of red, yellow and green today. My face is a patchwork of color that starts around my eyes and extends down my cheeks to my neck.

I feel pretty good with the exception of my stitches feeling a bit itchy and pinchy around my eyes. Speaking of eyes, mine are doing what I thought would scare me to death when I read about other folks whose eyes did not close all the way right after surgery. In fact that almost put me off having my eyes done, but I had a friend who experienced the same and she reassured me before hand that if it happened it would not likely take long to resolve. I can feel the swelling decreasing everyday especially around my eyes and I am following Dr Harley's directions until they close completely. He did not seem phased by it at all and seemed well pleased with my overall results when he saw me the day after my surgery so I am going to leave it to him and expect that I will be batting my eyes like Miss Scarlet before long.

I did take a photo of them closed today and they appear to be closing at about 80 to 90 %, but the photo seriously made me look a bit zombie-ish what with my mottled color and all. So that pic will remain with me and please don't let me sharing my experience put you off having your eyes done. I can already see how much younger mine are going to look when the swelling goes away.

Six Days Post Op Is Not the Time to Eat Your Pasta Al dente!

Who knew my favorite pasta made with garlic, basil, red chili pepper and olive oil could taste so good with NO salt in any of it! After six days without enough food to keep a baby full, I am finally feeling satisfied. I will say that even though I cooked it a bit longer than I prefer, it was still a little chewy for someone recovering from a facelift. Also, despite there being no salt in anything I ate, my face felt like it was swelling before I'd even finished my meal. It looks fine, but I've got some ice on it just in case.

The first set of photos are from this morning and the next group were taken just a few minutes ago. It looks like my swelling may finally be going as long as I stay salt free. I only have a hard spot on either side of my face near the top of my ear on my cheekbone. It's a space the size of a half dollar so I'm thinking my almost zero salt diet for the last six days has paid off. I have not had more than 120 grams of salt in total since my surgery and I think that helped my eyes in particular which were horribly swollen for at least the first four days.

Tomorrow my stitches come out so more photos to follow.

Not quite ready for my closeup, but here's a video anyway!

Video Chat on Day 11 Post Op
Hey hey everyone! Here's a video I made on day 11 post op. I hope you find something useful in my little attempt at video sharing. I think videos are an interesting way to see how everything works after surgery. Everything on my face is moving as it did before ( my husband is always having me do impromptu travel talks video moments so believe me, I know what before looked like as far as movement goes ). The only exception to this is that my eyelids are not closing completely yet. One seems to be there, but the other can't quite make it all the way. I feel like this is getting better, but the time involved in healing is a bit vexing for an impatient person. I am now 16 days out from my Biltmore Lift and an upper and lower bleph. My recovery from the Biltmore has been easy peasy, but my eyes are a bit of a pain in my tush still. I feel sure I am tracking as I should, but I am experiencing a good bit of dry eye still and I feel I may have overdone my eye exercises to aid in getting them to close completely as they are looking a big red and feel slightly raw on my lids. This red tenderness is new today and follows three days of crazy itchiness. Mercifully that seems to be over. I am using my Systane drops during the day and the gel at night. I have loads of photos and will post some later. I had to compress the video, I hope it works. Sorry for the length, ( I tend to be a bit verbose when speaking off the cuff ) but if you watch it to the end you may find useful info.

Updates at Day 20 or McKenzie Goes Shopping!

So I know you all may have been wondering "where has that chatty M woman been lately and why in the world is she so stingy about sharing when she was soooo open before her surgery? " Well let me tell you having lost a total of 37 lbs and having had some lovely work done by Dr Harley to turn back the clock, I have been doing something I thought I had lost interest in years ago. It's not rock climbing or kayaking or hiking because I'm always interested in those things.

It's shopping!

Yep, I may have hibernated with my fruit smoothies and ice packs for the first week after my surgery, but week two post op I was buying a new wardrobe because nothing fit me anymore. I marched about with my fading bruises and steri-strips all over and only one person was brave to ask " Did you have a little something done? "

Well, that was all I needed to have a little ' show and tell ' session and the next thing you know there was a gathering of mixed aged women circling round me asking question after question. I'll admit I was a bit big headed for about a half second from all the attention, but just as I was settling down to do some serious trying on of clothes, I slipped into a gorgeous top that fit me like the designer had me in mind as it slid over my size 4 jeans ( formerly a 12) and I took one look at the combination of jeans and top along with my new face and I swear I grabbed my big sunglasses, threw back the curtain to my dressing room and practically danced my 55 year-old self through the dressing room on my tip toes like I was walking the catwalk! I tell you truly, I was not acting lime myself at all, but it sure was fun and we all had a big laugh.

On a more serious note ... I can see better and better every day. My distance vision ( I have been near sighted since 35 ) has improved post op so much so that I can drive without my glasses, but my reading glasses are required for most closeup work when that was not the case prior to my surgery. I am hoping they will go back to what they were before my upper and lower bleph and kind of expect they will when the swelling is totally gone.

I barely need my dry eye drops now and I skipped the night eye gel last night for the first time. My eyes are closing loads better and it feels much easier to close them all the way. I have been doing my eye exercises as instructed and waiting. So don't get freaked out if you have similar issues, just trust that they will resolve.

The Biltmore Lift recovery has been a much easier recovery than the eyes, but I do still have some hard parts in front of my ears and a bit of swelling although no one seems to be able to really see it but me. I know it takes time so I am not stressing.

I am still on a very lo to no salt diet most of the time which is one reason that last seven pounds sort of fell off along the way post op. I am so pleased with my face and recovery and also the motivation to lose the weight that was making me feel old along with my jowls and saggy neck. If you've read my earlier posts you will know that I vowed that no weight loss of at least 20lbs would mean no facelift so I got very serious and did more than I could have imagined.

I wish you all could have been with me with I tried on a bathing suit that looked so good on me that I almost cried. It's going to look perfect under my wet suit when I am back in the UK and able to go sea kayaking. Happy does not begin to describe how I feel about having a face that looks like one I remember and a body I thought I had said goodbye to more than a few years ago. It's like a hand and glove improvement for me or we could say mind, body, spirit and don't even get me started on the health benefits.

My photos are mostly from last Saturday which was day 18 for me, but there is at least one from day 11. I will have more for you later and maybe another video chat.

Now if I can just find someone to hide my Amex for the rest of my trip, I might be okay. ;)

Day 28 Post Op - Itchy Eyes Surprise

I used to be one of those women who would not leave the house without makeup even though what little I usually wore was barely noticeable anyway. I've moved past that on RealSelf and once again I am giving you all a good look at my makeup free face although I do have some steri-strips hidden under my hair. I took the strips off my eyes for the photos and the next time I post I'll take some closeups of my incisions so you can see how nicely they have healed. About the worst thing I see on these photos is a woman who needs a haircut and a bit of color to cover the grey. This will have to wait until I return to the UK next week so while my face gets better my hair will get worse. :-) Seriously speaking, my recovery continues to go well. I can close my eyes completely now and I have what feels like normal to near normal feeling in most of my face with only a few places still somewhat numb. As my eyes have healed I have had a bit of dry eye, but that is improving daily. The worst thing has been itchy eyes. They don't itch all the time, but when they do it is maddening and it feels like I've been attacked by a mosquito colony! I don't really scratch or rub too hard even though i want to and it can go on for several days and then it's gone. I have had this experience three times with each time lasting off and on for about three days before things return to normal. Benadryl has been a big help along with warm to hot compresses and ice packs to sooth the eyes afterwards. Mind you it's not an all-day itch fest so do not freak out if you are having your eyes done. It may not even happen to you so don't let this put you off. After the third time which happened last night, I sent Dr Harley an email and bless him, he got right back to me and explained that the intense itching was due to nerve endings doing their thing as they healed. Okay, he did not actually use the words " Doing their thing " but you all know what I mean. He said, " The tiny nerves in the skin get severed and need time to grow back. " This is what he said causes the type of itching I've been experiencing. I will post again ( with makeup maybe ) as I get closer to my departure date.

Six weeks post surgery and I am back in the UK.

I know it's been a while, but I am still with the living! In fact, living as normally as possible has been my focus. I flew back to the UK last week and it has taken me a few days to get back into a nornal ( for me ) sleep pattern. I am still using my neck pillow and sleeping in a reclining position so no rippled bits or imprints in my face in the morning. I have not been as diligent with my Lo salt diet over the past few days and I can see and feel it in my face. It makes my eyes feel tight and my cheeks look a bit off size wise. No one can really see it unless they are looking for it which is a big temptation to eat more salt than I should. My dry eye issues and the dreaded itchy eyes are getting better all the time and the itchy bit is almost a non issue now. We are leaving for France tomorrow and will be away for ten days so imagine what a strain it will be to avoid the things I would do better without. I have been trying to get a few closeup photos and will get my husband to take some so you can see my progress at six weeks. It is still quite remarkable to me to see my changed face in the mirror or in photos taken by my husband. He was quite surprised when he saw me at the airport and could see my face for the first time since my surgery. I would not send him pictures during my recovery so he was totally surprised. His comment that I looked great and like myself only younger was just what I had hoped he would think. My biggest fear was he might think I looked too young as we have a sizable age difference between us already. Rest assured, he was not bothered by having an even younger looking wife than before. People who have seen me who don't know about the surgery are noticing the weight loss ( 38 lbs ) and my new haircut instead of my improved and refreshed face. I'll let you know if anyone guesses the truth. I am including a couple of photos taken during a walk near our home earlier today. We live in rural England not far from the coast surrounded by natural beauty and very little traffic. I will be back again in a bit and should send my next update from Brittany, France.

Two semi closeup photos from today! (See previous post from a minute ago for details )

I meant to add these photos so you could see my face a bit better than the scenic pics from earlier today. They are not the best for expression ( a bit puffy from salt) and not very sharp in exposure, but you can see my face a bit better than the other three more distant ones. The interior photo was taken the other day.
Asheville Facial Plastic Surgeon

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