53 and Still Believe in Miracles… - Asheville, NC

Let me start my story with a fairytale I read when...

Let me start my story with a fairytale I read when I was a girl.
A certain king grew old and his eyes began to fail. He heard that in the end of the Earth there was a kingdom with a magic garden. There were apples of youth and a well with the water of life. If an aged man ate one of those apples he would grow young and if a blind man’s eyes bathed with this water, he would see again…The long story short - even hundreds years ago people including males ? dreamed about being younger again…and I am not an exception!
In the XXI century those miracle apples and water of life are reality. Now we call it more casual as plastic surgeries and LASIK but nevertheless it is still miracles! Just a few years ago plastic surgeries were prerogatives of the rich and famous and now it’s available for most of us. There are hundreds of plastic surgeons offering facelifts and my job was to choose the best for me.
I narrowed my research to Dr. Harley in Asheville, NC. He is a Board Certified Surgeon who specializing only in facelifts. All his before and after photos look very natural and his patients are very happy with their results. And finally, Dr. Harley, Juanita, and Kelly are very attentive and caring people.
I had my surgery on April,13th at 1300, the next day after Txann and MMMcKenzie. I had a pleasure to meet both of them in the morning after their wrap was taken off. I saw their happy faces, which helped to lift my spirit greatly.
During consultation we discussed my wish list: neck and upper bleph. I asked if I needed a lower bleph and he said no but when I turned to talk to my husband he said he noticed “the crepes” at my eyes. It was agreed beforehand that if he felt it should be done that he would do it. It was done and it looks like he made an excellent decision
A few words about my surgery or whatever I remembered. After taking a “cocktail” of drugs, Dr. Harley drew his markings on my face, did a few anesthetics injections and started the procedure. I remember SoutherSister mention it was very painful for her but I could feel only pressure to my face but no pain or anxiety. I guess we all have different levels of pain tolerance. I remember answering questions about my kids and after that nothing.
When we came home about 5pm, my husband said that I look like mummy, I took another set of pain/antibiotic/nausea meds and slept happily till 11pm and then 5 am. The next morning I slept almost till noon and then we went to see Dr.Harley at 1pm to remove my head wrap after surgery. He was very pleased with results and I was surprised to see my neck the first time…I don’t remember having such a skinny chin ever! but cheeks like a chipmunk…I know it’s temporary, can’t wait till it gone
That evening I didn’t take a pain medication any more but only Tylenol.
On Saturday, we officially started our mini vacation and enjoyed the ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but this is going to be another story…

Day 4 after surgery

Here are some photos from days 1 and 2 which I forgot to include in the previous post, however they all came sideway. Sorry girls. Hopefully I can correct it shortly.

Day 2 and 3 were not remarkable. As I expected there were swelling and bruising but NO PAIN. What a great surprise! I felt like I hit a Jackpot. There was a short end of the suture in my left eye that kept poking me right in the corner of the eye and irritated me a lot. I got a small piece of silicone tape and attached it to the eye lead and it solved the problem. The whole face felt tight , hard, and warm, but not uncomfortable at all…just weird.

I am a side sleeper so I was afraid to go through withdrawal and not to be able to sleep at all. To solve this issue my husband tucked me in a lot of pillows on each side (so I can't turn) and one under my knees to keep it slightly bent. He asked me where do I want a pea? LOL This was my first experience of being a princess. I hope this trick would work for you too. I usually don't sleep well in a new place but the last three night I slept like a baby and woke up just once per night. Beds in this rental house are very comfy!

Today is day 4 and I don't see too many changes. My bruises are turning yellow in some places. I still have hard time to chew hard food and open my mouth wide enough. However, there are plenty of soft or liquid delicious and nutritious food out there. I cooked soup, cause I like it for lunch, and blend fruits and protein shakes for other meals. Jello and puddings are good for snacks.

Yesterday, my hubby and I went for a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway. (Of course, I brought all my meds and ice packs with me). According to Wikipedia it is a National Parkway and All-American Road in the United States, noted for its scenic beauty. The parkway, which is America's longest linear park, runs for 469 miles (755 km) through 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties, mostly along the Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains. We visited Mount Mitchell State Park, the highest point east of the Mississippi River, and returned back. I made a few pictures for my son and co-workers as an alibi of having a good time …which is totally true! It was a great day!
Today, my hubby has a mild migraine, so we stay home. I am going to seat on the porch and watch birds and wild turkeys. the property is located on 2 acres and is very private, so I don't need to worry about people bothering me here. If tomorrow he will feel better, we plan to visit Biltmore Estate. Yeah, almost forgot to tell you. Tomorrow, Txann and her friend are coming to see Dr. Harley to remove her stitches,so we are going to have girls night out :) Hopefully MMMcKenzie will joint us too for a celebrities photo shoot.

Detailed Cost

Kat1963 asked me about the detailed price of my expenses and here they are:
Neck and mid faced lift-$6400 (CC or checks are accepted)
Upper and lower blepharoplasty$2900 and $2600
Airfare form Salt Lake to Charlotte $408 or $430 to Asheville, we chose Charlotte because the overlay was 4hr
Rental car x 8 days approx. $500 (you could use Uber ( or taxi) on a day to day bases, it’s much cheaper, but my husband preferred a rental car to explore the area as it’s a mini vacation for us too)
No EKG, X-ray, blood work as you don’t have anesthesia therefore much less risks.
Garment is included
I didn’t hire TLC, which is approx. $500 ??? per the first 24 hr, as my husband took take of me. The second day you will not need any help at all
VRBO rental house $130/per night X 8 days
The house has two bedrooms and easily can be shared with another surgery buddy if someone would like to share the cost. I saw some studios for $95-105 but it was not private enough for us.
"Friendly" asked about Costa Rica as I did research on tat too. Here is the detailed cost in Costa Rica ( a quote from Lauradenaley1)
Doctor - $6500 (paid in cash)
Verdeza - $2080 (paid in full charge, 16 days@130)
Unibe clinic - approx $2000, can be charged
Misc expenses:
EKG - $100 cash at pre op visit
Chest X-ray - $90 cash at pre op
Blood work - $180 (insurance paid most)
Extra taxi rides- approx $100
Lymphatic massage therapy 5 visits @$55- $275
Garment - $60
Airfare from Newark - $500

Day 4 post-surgery pics

pics of eyes before op as requested

Days 5 and 6

The last two days I did feel well and didn't notice any changes in my face so I didn't bother to make any new photos, sorry. Plus I was extremely busy those last days exploring Asheville ( a half of the day we spent in Biltmore Estate) and the rest of the day hosting my surgery buddy Txann who came from Georgia with her friend to remove stitches. They stayed with us in the second bedroom and loved our rental house as well. Both are in agreement that it's roomier and more comfortable then a room in a hotel. We could sit on the porch, enjoy the warm Spring weather, and not worry about others giving us strange looks. No wonder we ended our conversation way after midnight. It's amazing how quickly we became good friends.
This morning Txann an MMMcKenzie had their stitches removed at 9:30 and 10:00 so I came along to spend more time with them and have a brunch together before they hit the road. We spent another three hours talking , sharing our life stories and photos. Finally, it was the time to say Good Bye…so sad but we still be keeping in touch through RS.
I came back to my place around 1pm. My husband and I decided to see the famous Antique Tobacco Barn…it's amazing! A few hours were spent there with a lot of fun. On the way home we stopped at a Fresh Market to buy my favorite desert. My husband was behind me a few steps and told me later that one of the salesmen was watching me carefully as I was picking organic veggies. I didn't wear a hat or a scarf or even sunglasses as it was dark outside already, so with my black eyes and Frankenstein stitches I looked like a hobo who is not trustworthy LOL. I wish he would have known that just a few days ago I wrote a check for almost $12k without hesitations.
Well, tomorrow is my last day in Asheville. It is time to remove my stitches . I am very thankful to Dr. Harley, Kelly, and Juanita for the good care of me. I am a very lucky woman, I never had any major surgeries, except wisdom teeth extractions, but this recovery after FL and Bleph was the easiest time for me ever. I will try to post pics after the removal and after that write a couple of words from Charlotte Airport.

7 days post op, stitches are out

I had 24 hours detour on the way home, it's very late and I am exhausted. Here are my 7 days post op pics but the story will follow tomorrow.

Day 9 Post Op Report

Yesterday night we made it home. Yeahh! The traveling to Asheville was worth every penni. Living in a state with colder and much dryer climate would make my recovery longer, especially eyes. I don't know any local person who would not be complain about their dry eyes and nasal congestion on a regular bases. It's like Brits complain about their weather. We do complain about weather daily too:) Today is 70F and very windy, but just a few days ago we had a foot of snow.
I posted a few new pics from today and go over everything one by one.

My scars in front of the ears are not bothering me at all even if I touch it during routine cleaning. the right side looks redder and it has one tender spot on the very top. Both earlobes are going to be taped for another week to keep it protected. The connection of earlobes with the face is tender too but only when I touch it.
There are still hard and numb spots in my cheeks and under the chin. But it's getting better every day. The swelling is going down and my face slowly transforms from a chipmunk like to more oval and recognizable. My left side is smoother than right one, however it is a normal healing process. I can open my mouth much wide now and chew hard fruits and veggies yet I cut them in smaller pieces to avoid damage to internal sutures.
I am very satisfied my jaw line and neck. The neck fat is gone for good. Maybe pics can't show you well, but genetically my Thyroid Cartilage is enlarged and there is nothing can be done to correct it. I am very realistic about that and happy with my neck results. As I mentioned before, I feel some tightness under the chin but it doesn't annoy me at all.

Eyes are my problem area for right now. They don't close completely yet, especially the right eye, as a result they get tired easily and blurred. I use eye drop during a day and ointment at night. I bought an eye patch to help the right eye to rest during the night. Another concern my vision is declined and I can't use computer without glasses at all. I did read the previous lady's review that it might happen after bleph, but could anybody tell me for how long it would persist before it gets better?

Well, my job is done for today and I am going to rest my eyes and listen an audio book. My next update I plan to do on day 14 and maybe review a rental house where we stayed for a week. However, I will be happy to answer any questions as soon as I can.

I am finally back after a week at work

Today is day 19 post op. I promised to post my 2-week update, however, working 11-hour shifts for the last 7 days with only one day off in the middle made it a good excuse. On the day off I tried to catch my breath and rest more. I had a full body massage and lymphatic massage for my face, the rest of the day I spent in bed. Well, I did my pics that day too as the light is better during mornings. All photos are from day 16 post op.
A few comments: in general, my left side is healing much better than the right side. I have a big scab right above my right ear, but I am not able to get a single good picture of that as I can't see it and navigate iPhone to the right area. I think it's not a big deal as no one will see it under my hair any way including me. The last week I was home by myself so no one to complain about my aches as my hubby was away from home on a business trip. I still have hard spots and numbness near the ears but it gets better every day. My neck is more flexible, but doesn’t extend much yet. I eat and chew solid food without any problems ( I hoped to loose a few pounds during recovery, but it didn’t work). However, long phone conversations at work remind me from time to time that I had a surgery recently. The lower part of the face feels sore and warmer. I usually use Ibuprofen at work to keep the inflammation down when I am home I feel ok without any meds.
My both right eye leads are more tender to touch and stiffer compare to the left eye. At night, one eye doesn't close completely, so I used eye ointment to keep it moist and protect from blowing heat. However, my eyes were still very blurry in the morning and it took me much longer to get ready for work. Even the first of couple of hours at work it was still blurry so I changed my strategy. Now I use a good amount of preservative free eye lubricant just before bed, tape eye scars with Mepitac silicon tape (Amazon $15) to make scars flatter and on top of that I put a self-adhesive eye patch (Walmart, approx. $2 for a dozen) or regular traveler mask to train the eye leads to be closed and relaxed. It worked, it saved me time in the morning and eyes felt refreshed and still moist. A few words about Mepitac tape, from a manufacturer website I read that tape is breathable, water proof, and can be re-applied again if necessary, doesn’t leave sticky residue, and less allergenic. My eyes are not irritated by it so far. Of course, you have to cut custom strips for eyes as it doesn’t stick to irregular surfaces easy, but for the chin and sides it fits well without customization. Steri strips work as well, but I purchased mine before surgery and still use it.
Tomorrow is my last day at work and I am going to have a long stretch of five days off in a row. I will drive about 5 hours to the boarder state to spend this weekend with my his band as he is not coming back for another two weeks. I hope to write another update as I get there.

Please, be the judge of my results

Three- week post op

Five hours of driving is not as bad as it sounds if your car is comfortable and the road is dry. After a busy week at work I finally had peace and quiet and time to explore my face in a rear view mirror. I thinks Dr. Harley did an excellent job. I don't remember my neck as good as this for years.

One month post op photos

Split Pics 1 month post

I couldn't believe there is such a dramatic difference between before and after pics. I still have some issues with my healing eyes but I could say now already it's totally worth it.

"One cannot refuse to eat just because ?there is a chance of being choked."?-- Chinese proverb

Today I would like to talk about something the most people on this site would avoid: complications. I received a couple of private messages with questions and concerns, in addition I have my own…so I did some research and put it up for you here. I know some people are terrified of surgeries and I am not trying to scare them away but only inform, cause we can’t ignore this subject…

The giant quote below is a part of the article “Blepharoplasty 101: The Essential Patient Reference” by Dr. Meronk who is a retired plastic surgeon. I found it very easy to understand and informative, however, the full article must be purchased for $29, which I chose not to do as I am almost done with my recovery.

“Despite the extensive list that appears below, blepharoplasty is a relatively safe and effective surgery when compared to many more plastic and reconstructive surgeries. Complications in blepharoplasty are uncommon and, when they occur, they are usually mild and transient.

Infection: Infection is a risk with any and all surgery. Because of the eyelid's good blood circulation, however, elective surgery performed under sterile conditions seldom results in serious infection.
• Bleeding: Continued bleeding after blepharoplasty may require reopening of the eyelid wound and either cauterization of the bleeding vessel and/or evacuation of the clot ("hematoma"). The most common sites of bleeding are the fat pockets and the orbicularis muscle.
• Wound separation: The edges of the eyelid skin closure may separate, especially in the first day or two after suture removal. A small separation may close spontaneously or with the help of supporting tape. A larger separation may require suturing. Generally, treated wound separations have minimal permanent effect on the final result.
• Suture cysts: Tiny white cysts (milia) may develop in the suture line. While most disappear without treatment, removal of a resistant cyst is simple and quick.
• Asymmetry: Eyelids that look good individually may not match as a pair, and such asymmetry introduced by surgery may be cosmetically disturbing. Asymmetries can involve the height and shape of the upper eyelid crease, excursion of the lower eyelid margin, residual skin or fat, and so on. If noticeable asymmetry persists past a reasonable waiting period of time (usually three to six months), your surgeon may suggest re-operation.
• Insufficient skin removal: While blepharoplasty undercorrection is always preferable to overcorrection, an objectionable amount of undercorrection may call for a "touch-up" operation. Be aware that what sometimes appears to be an undercorrection may, in fact, represent a basic and inherent limitation of blepharoplasty surgery in that particular patient. For instance, mild hooding of upper eyelid skin on the side closest the temple may be secondary to a mild downward droop of a patient's eyebrow. Likewise, skin excess in the medial canthus towards the nose may be more related more to a patient's forehead droop than an underaggressive blepharoplasty. Remember two things: (1) blepharoplasty is an operation on the eyelids alone and can accomplish only so much for the face, and (2) attempting to leave eyelid skin "bone tight" in either the upper or lower eyelids is courting disaster.
• Excessive skin removal: Excessive removal of upper eyelid skin may interfere with proper closure of the eyelids ("lagophthalmos") during blinking or especially when sleeping. Extreme shortage may distort the eyelid margin and create a widening of the palpebral fissure (opening between the eyelids) that is both cosmetically and functionally objectionable ("eyelid retraction"). Excessive removal of lower eyelid skin may cause the eyelid margin to pull away from the eye surface ("ectropion"). When mild, the main symptom may be overflow tearing due to the pulling away of the tear drain opening from the surface of the eye ("punctal eversion"). If more severe, the entire lid may be pulled downward. Problems resulting from skin overcorrection are annoying at best and dangerous at worst; almost all such complications require surgical intervention.
• Insufficient fat removal: When insufficient fat removal creates a noticeable or asymmetric blemish, further removal may be indicated.
• Excessive fat removal: Fat removal from the upper eyelid may create a lid crease that appears too high and deep ("superior sulcus defect"). Fat removal in the lower eyelids may create a hollowed-out appearance ("inferior sulcus defect"). Hollowness may develop either immediately or years after surgery.
• Excessive muscle removal: Aggressive removal of orbicularis muscle from the upper eyelid may hollow the superior sulcus and in the lower eyelid may lead to weakened eyelid closure and support.
• Excessive internal scarring: Internal scarring ("fibrosis") or shrinkage of the internal eyelid layers below the skin may cause distortion, limitation of movement, and retraction. Massage may help in mild cases, but surgery may be needed to improve appearance and function.
• Excessive external scarring: Visible scarring on the skin may be aggravated by poor healing in damaged or sensitive skin, suboptimal placement of incisions (too high in the upper eyelid; too low in the lower eyelid), delayed suture removal, prolonged fragility with laser incisions, failure to follow postoperative instructions, and other factors.
• Inappropriate crease: An upper crease placed too high tends to "feminize" the male eyelid. An overly high or arched upper crease in an Asian eyelid may "round the eye" and make it appear inconsistent with the rest of the face. Excessive upper skin removal and/or failure to fixate the crease during suture closure may allow the final scar to migrate higher and be visible.
• Rounding at the lateral commissure: Rounding of the acute angle where the outer upper and eyelids come together may be caused by excess skin and/or muscle resection or a result of canthoplasty - canthopexy. If subtle, the deformity is best ignored; if more noticeable, surgical revision may be undertaken.
• Drooping upper eyelid: Blepharoplasty may "unveil" a pre-existing but unrecognized drooping upper eyelid (that is, not a baggy lid but one that rides too low), a condition known as "ptosis". Less commonly, injury to the levator muscle and tendon (aponeurosis) may cause ptosis to appear in a previously healthy levator system. Mild ptosis after blepharoplasty is not rare and may persist for several weeks to months. If the condition does not resolve with time, exploratory surgery may be indicated.
• Fat necrosis: Due to surgical manipulation, pea-sized ares of fat may die over the first few weeks, turn hard or rubbery, and become tender to touch. Massage may hasten resolution but only if healing if far enough along and the manuever has been approved by your surgeon.
• Swelling on the eyeball surface: Collection of post-surgical inflammatory fluid (edema) or temporary disruption of lymphatic drainage (chemosis) may cause swelling on the eye surface that is uncomfortable and cosmetically frustrating. It is not rare and has been reported in over 10% of patients undergoing skin-incision lower blepharoplasty. Nearly all cases resolve within three weeks to three months. Chronic chemosis persisting six months or more may occur rarely and is of unknown cause. Lubrication, medicated eye drops, patching, and passing time are generally curative.
• Injury to the lacrimal system: If the main tear-producing gland is injured, prolonged swelling in the outer portion of upper eyelid may persist for several weeks. No additional surgery is required. Injury to the drainage canal ("canalicular laceration") is rare but requires immediate repair by an ophthalmologist.
• Double vision: If the muscles that move the eyeball are injured or scarring occurs in the fat surrounding the eye muscles, temporary or permanent double vision may result. The most vulnerable muscles are the superior and inferior oblique muscles and the inferior rectus muscle, all of which course within or near the fat of the eyelids. Attempt at correction of any resulting double vision ("diplopia") may require the services of an ophthalmologist specializing in eye muscle surgery ("strabismus surgery specialist")
• Loss of vision: Very mild reduction of vision following blepharoplasty is not uncommon and is usually due to swelling, excessive tearing and mucus production, and/or secondary to ointments or drops used after surgery. “

If you select a very well trained an experienced plastic surgeon and the procedure is performed in an accredited facility, you will greatly reduce the possibility of complications, but unfortunately cannot eliminate it completely. I don’t want to sound pessimistic but rather realistic. It is life. Everything in life has tradeoffs. You have to consider what you will gain and what you will loose. I personally, had to consider a possible dry eye complication, as at this time I was the most familiar of. Currently, I have dry eyes and incomplete eye closure. The first one is taken care with eye drops. The second…I waited for almost three weeks to contact Dr. H as I hoped it would have resolved bu itself and finally I emailed him about my issues. He called me back the very next day. We had a long conversation about my recovery and what should I do to improve it. One of the advices is massaging scars at least 5-10 min a couple of times daily in addition to slight stretching. Dr.H assured me that it is a transient complication and it will be resolved with time. I believe it’s just a matter of time… If you have any concerns, don't hesitate to contact Dr. H as he is a very caring person.
I will keep you posted about my progress. I am going to upload a few pics from my iPhone as well

The pics for the previous post

Complications are resolved

Hello everyone. I am very excited to share great news …I can close my eyes completely now. I am so happy! My road to recovery was a little bit bumpy in the beginning but the results are totally worth it. Dr. Harley was very supportive and encouraging during that difficult time for me and I appreciate it so much.

Let me share some observations I made during my healing process. Any surgical intervention can leave scars. The key is locating scars in a place that are least noticeable and Dr. Harley placed his incisions within natural creases and made precise wound closures. My job was to provide an excellent care and follow the post op instructions to minimize scars. Scarring is a natural part of the healing process… every scar heals differently so some areas may require more attention than other. The scar formation on my right eyelid was more intense pulling the skin inward and preventing it from complete closure. Dr. Harley recommended daily massage to make the scar tissue softer and eliminate tightness. On the eyes, every millimeter counts. Fortunately, the skin of the eyelids is very thin and flexible so my persistent work was finally paid off.

In June, my husband and I spent two weeks in England and Wales visiting friends and family. I am not big fan of rains at all but that GB high humidity cool weather was perfect for my eyes, hair and skin. The day we came back I noticed the difference. High altitude, constant wind, air conditioner, and computer are the main reason of my dry eyes. I also noticed that make up irritates my eyes as well so I try to minimize it as much as possible. However, I feel much more comfortable without make up now…just lipstick and eyebrow pencil most of the time yet look fresh and rested even when I am tired. Just before vacation I was going to have Botox or maybe a filler to lift my eyebrows but didn’t have time…now I think I am OK without it for some time, my eyes look softer and natural. I am happy with results.

At tree months post op, I still feel some weird sensation in my chin and around my ears, but it’s much softer now and doesn’t bother me at all. Even there are more scars on my face, the Biltmore Lift was much easier to recover than blepharoplasty (I had both upper and lower eyelids done). However, I made the right decision to combine those procedures, saved time on recovery and look much younger. Thanks Dr. Harley.
Asheville Facial Plastic Surgeon

I can't say enough good things about Dr. Harley, his nurse Kelly and Juanita. Dr. Harley has impeccable credentials: his education, skills and knowledge are amazing. He is very caring, empathetic and talented surgeon. I am very happy with my results and highly recommend Dr. Harley to everybody.

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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