Juanita (his receptionist) can take a bit to get through to sometimes, but just stay persistent, they are very helpful and supportive, possibly just super busy? I'll follow-up with pictures as I go!
54, bye bye saggy neck, traveled out of state for the Biltmore Lift, life changing!
After a lot of research and consultation, I chose...
Juanita (his receptionist) can take a bit to get through to sometimes, but just stay persistent, they are very helpful and supportive, possibly just super busy? I'll follow-up with pictures as I go!
2 1/2 weeks away, panic then ok lol
If you're coming from out of state, be aware that Dr. Harley will want you to stay one week before he removes the stitches, so add your airfare, hotel (about $1k), car rental, and healthcare provider fees to the overall cost. My surgery is $6,400, but add another $2,500 for all the additional costs. Hope this helps someone else make the right decision!
A real budget
$300 Car rental & gas for one week (flying into Charlotte, driving to Asheville to save time)
$1,440 Hotel & AirBnB (I turned this into a vacation for myself, so a few nights at the Hilton)
$504 Healthcare provider to stay with me first 28 hours ($18/hr)
$50 Meds (approx. still yet to pickup)
$50 Other supplies (neck pillow, Arnica, ointments, etc).
$9,330 Total (still $4,000 less than a quote I received from a respected LA doctor)
9224 Total surgery
A pretty new haircut and leaving tomorrow!
It's funny, even a few years ago I was horrified at the idea of having my face cut for plastic surgery. Today, seeing aging kick in way too fast, and still feeling young inside, I want the outside to reflect it. I want to age gracefully, and I think a few nips and tucks will be a nice way for me to go down that path. I had never really worried much about my age until the neck thing started a few years ago. It got to be a psychological burden that I'm ready to get rid of.
I fly to North Carolina tomorrow, spend the night in Charlotte, and then drive to Asheville the following morning for my pre-op visit with Dr. Harley. I'm very excited at this point, and ready to get on with things.
Day Before & Pre-Op Visit
Pre-op Visit: Juanita and Dr. Harley are genuinely kind and good people. The office is lovely, upscale, and clean. Dr. Harley explained the procedure, I was able to ask questions, such as "Now that you see me in person, do you think I'm a good candidate?" etc., and the detail of his answers confirmed that I am doing the right thing for me with the right doctor! I asked about upper and lower eyelid surgery (which I want and he agreed I need), but need to save up for another day! I was there approximately 20-30 minutes, then free for the day. He looks younger in person that he does in his photos. I feel totally at ease and ready to go.
Nearby: His office is on a major highway with a lot of stores, shopping & restaurants nearby. Across the street is $33 Cosmic Massage (oh yes I did!), and it was fantastic. Next door is Comprehensive Chiropractic, and they were also able to fit me in the same day--I'm so glad because I had thrown out my neck and shoulder lugging bags through the airport. That doctor is amazing!! He massaged, aligned, and really worked deep tissue, and also gave the ice/heat electrical stimulation to my shoulder. I felt like a new person ready for the world ($98). Final two stops were at CiCi's Nails to get a quick manicure ($15), and The Fresh Market to pickup some organic food (and blueberries & pineapple recommended by doctor to heal bruising). Be sure your hotel of choice includes a refrigerator!!
Hotel: I'm stay at the Hilton in nearby Biltmore Park, a newer development of restaurants, hotels, condos, stores, off the higher. I feel pampered, and I'm enjoying my "vacation."
Susie from TLC arrives in the morning to pick me up and drive me to and from the surgery, and will stay with me the first 24 hours until I go back on day 2 to remove the bandages.
More to follow!
Surgery complete, now the healing begins
I slept day, and Melina did a great job making sure I had meds every four hours. She was an AWESOME caretaker.
Day 2: Melina woke me up early and took me back to the doctor. I was I very sleepy and out-of-it (no nausea yet!). Dr. removed bandages, and gave me a mirror. I'm still really grogged out and having a hard time even typing lol I could kind of tella difference from the front, but haven't seen my side view yet.
Day 2 (night): Got up to eat (buy small mushy food lol). Slept more.
Pain: Overall it doesn't hurt much, just a little at the base of my ears.. I slept sitting up, not so bad. I do have swelling in the left side of neck, and trying to use baggies filled with ice to decrease it. swelling.
Day 2 Post-Op
This is day 2 after my surgery. I've been sleeping most of the last 48 hours due to the Tylenol with codeine he prescribed for me (I'm very sensitive to drug btw). Last night I started with just regular Tylenol. I never did have any nausea, thank goodness, and didn't have to take any pills for it.
The most awkward part of the experience has been memory loss of what happened. I couldn't remember going back to take off the bandage, paying the doctor (but I found receipts for it), coming back to the hotel, etc. I kept asking Melina "What day is it today?" lol
I'm not in any real pain. I just feel a tight pulling under my neck from ear to ear. Eating is still hard, because I can't open my mouth very wide. One blueberry at a time, a nibble off a banana, etc. lol It's all fine, I'm not very hungry yet.
I don't have any bruising so far, but there's some swelling in the left side of my neck (and maybe overall a bit). I forgot to start icing yesterday, but I'm back on to the routine today...meds 2x day, ice 2x a day
So far, no regrets.
Day 3 Post Op
I feel more swollen in my neck today (not sure if I really am, but it feels sore). I look bad in these pics, but as soon as I take a shower and can do makeup, watch out world.
Daily routine: Cleanse with hydrogen pyroxide twice a day, then cover with Bacitrin cream. Keep areas iced every few hours. Take Tylenol as needed, and antibiotic (twice a day for me), and rest. I'm still very wobbly when I walk. Still hurts to chew a lot of food, so small or soft things are best.
Day 4 Post Op
Feeling like my normal self today. Swelling is definitely at its worst (worse on days 3-4 apparently). A stranger might not notice, but I do. The swollen areas are the sides of my face, and under my neck (and they are also numb, to be expected), so I'm really staying on top of the icing now. Overall, I don't have anxiety about anything, and I LOVE my new neckline.
PS TLC (the homecare providers) only take cash or check. I don't carry checks, and the local ATMs capped me at $200 per day. Susie was patient in letting me get money to her, but I wish I would have thought to carry a check or more cash.
Day 5 Post Op
I realized the "bruising" along my jawline was actually an allergic reaction to the adhesive used on the bandage that was on my face the first day. Starting about a year ago, my skin became allergic to bandages (weird), and it will literally eat the skin away if I leave them on too long.
PS The scarf has been a great solution to cover the stitches as my hair blows in the wind, etc. Wish I would have brought a few more.
PPS Wish I had the $$ to get my eyes done at the same time lol
Day 6 Post Op - ouch
I can't wait to get these stitches out. The ones behind your ears tend to dig in like thorns and irritate the skin. Wish I had some wax to cover the ends. :)
Physically I feel fine and like my normal self. It's just the sides of my face and neck that feel swollen and tender (careful on hugs and bending forward)! lol
Still LOVE my new profile and no jowls...I'm just taken by surprise that my face looks wider now due to swelling--not concerned and know this will go away over time. Still no regrets.
Oh, btw I've also noticed my skin color fluctuates where it's been pulled, it's blotchy now. Assuming this will all resolve over time, as well.
Day 7 - the little things
I love my new jawline, smooth neck, and cute little chin, but I didn't anticipate the hardness or swelling in my cheeks at all, making my face look wider and my eyes more inset into my face. After reading more, that aspect of getting a facelift seems to be common, and can take weeks or months to resolve. Now I'm icing throughout the day, cutting salt out of my diet, looking for foods that are diuretic and will be sleeping upright for awhile. If you didn't know me, you probably wouldn't even notice it, but it's something you feel in your face, a tight tension like you're ballooning up and stretching your skin. There are numb and hardened areas that take awhile to rebuild nerve endings. I may have overdone it today by being outside in the summer heat for several hours, I'm trying to be patient, accept the healing process, and keep cool as much as possible!
It's funny how little the stitches (or potential scars) bother me. This was my biggest fear before the surgery--having visible scars that showed the world I had a FACELIFT lol. I can already see them healing, and they are hidden mostly by my hair. I even forgot about the chin stitches a couple of times in my cleaning routine because they were so hidden.
It takes longer to get ready in the morning, so give yourself extra time. You have to be gentle blow drying hair, careful with makeup, clean your sutures, etc.
You will feel twinges of pain, tightness, or small lumps in different places...neck, ear lobes, face, etc., it seems to come and go. You might notice one side feels slightly tighter than the other, it can make you crazy lol
Stitches come out tomorrow and I fly home. Now I'm focusing on taking care of myself to heal, be healthy, and enjoy this amazing gift I've been able to give myself.
Day 8 - stitches out & flying home
Stitches were out very quickly and didn't hurt. It felt so good to get rid of the one behind my ears. My hair covers the scars fairly well, and you can see in the photo the chin scar is really almost invisible with the tape on it. When I compare this shot with the earlier one before the surgery, I'll deal with my chipmunk cheeks, swelling, and whatever other little annoyances come along! lol
Lump in/on throat? - Last night my throat hurt, it felt like a lump on the right side by adam's apple. It was the most pain I'd actually felt during the entire week. I mentioned it to the doctor, he saw the bruising on my neck, and really didn't think it was anything to be worried about. As soon as I left his office, I started feeling the lump inside my throat, like when I swallow, and my voice is starting to get horse. I'm not worried, just letting all these little things go their way as I heal, but I'm honestly wondering if I wasn't a building allergic reaction to either the Keflex (antibiotic he prescribes), the Tylenol, arnica or whatever. Normally, I don't take any medications, and I'm very sensitive to meds, so I'm just drinking lots of water, herbal tea and honey :) Done with all meds at this point, and he told me I can now use Aleve for anti-inflammatory, if wanted.
Day 9 - finally home and random markings
Once I was able to really see myself in my own surroundings, I noticed things more in-depth. Check out the picture of my chest that shows the yellow bruising from the center of my neck dropping down onto my chestbone in an upside down heart shape! It's even a little swollen. I was reading that the blood/fluid dropping down the body is common (thus why we sleep sitting up), and gets absorbed over time. I can feel it causing a little pressure in my chest, like indigestion, and it was probably the cause of that lumpy feeling in my throat!
Also notice the markings on the side of my face along the jawline. They are dried up now, but were created by the bandages being on too tight (or so the doctor thinks). I've been putting aloe on them and imagine it will fade in a week or two, but just another thing to cover with makeup! The scars actual look a lot less severe than the jawline irritation lol. I was told to wait a week until I start putting Vitamin E oil on scars and start rubbing them, but I'm testing some aloe (straight from a plant) on the back of my ears today. I've always had good results with aloe helping to heal my wounds.
I'll head out to the grocery store tomorrow. It feels good to just be home.
Day 10 - not quite there, but manageable
Good stuff - neck and jawline are amazing, youthful. I got what I paid for! btw I normally shade in cheekbones as part of my makeup routine, but it made me look weird now (like I had one of those pulled face lifts), so I removed it.
Dealing with it - one scar is still puckered, and sticks out visibly beyond my hairline. I have thin hair anyway, so it's hard to hide (putting makeup on it makes it look like a pimple, and I'm just using aloe vera right now to help the healing). Both scars at my temples have magnified my crow's feet, as you can see in the pictures. I feel most comfortable wearing a head scarf for now out in public.
Also, the right side of my face and lower jaw are more swollen and bruised than the left, so my appearance is a bit asymmetrical right now.
All in all, still glad I did it, but I'm surprised how it's changed my upper face appearance. The numbness is wearing off, and
Day 13 - Beauty...and the Beast
I've done a lot of fillers and botox, but this was my first plastic surgery. Every day seems to be an emotional and physical journey. On day 13, I woke up sooo swollen. My room was hot, and I had a headache. I immediately iced my face, turned on the AC, and everything was ok in about an hour. lol
Today I share pics without makeup, so you can see how things "appear" in photos vs. some of the real pain and/or anxiety people experience as they are healing. Tomorrow I'll share pics with hair and makeup done, so you can see how people can "look" fantastic after two weeks into a facelift, but in reality, there is still a lot of healing and some potential pain going on.
Pic 1 - frontal view: swelling down, no marks, I look like a refreshed version of my old self again!
Pics 2,3 & 4 - side views: surgical scars, abrasions caused by my bandage on day 1 (hurts like hell, think it might scar), bruising, numbness, tightness, etc all still healing. PS I have no idea what's happening behind my ears...weird lumps, etc...just letting it heal for now. It hurts to touch them. I put earrings back in a couple of days ago, big mistake.
2 week pics - Happy Happy Results are Here!!
I'm just using regular makeup on scars, and today feel comfortable for the first time to go out into public without self-consciousness :) Bruising is 98% gone, still a little bit of swelling on cheeks, and irritation behind ears, scars are still red, but covered with makeup appear minimal and can't really be seen. Yes, I still have numbness, blah blah blah, but today, I just feel PRETTY like I haven't in a really long time. It worked!
I'm so glad I went through this process and worked with Dr. Harley.
2 1/2 weeks - tingling, lightning, bumbs & other oddities
This morning I also woke up with a slight double chin on my left side (not what you want to see when you thought it was all downhill from here), I think it was swelling from laying on the side of my face for a couple of hours (I actually lay on my hand which is at the top of my head, so my face takes very little pressure). Trying to sleep upright as much as possible, but it's hard for a stomach sleeper!
Also, a few days ago, I had a hard bump appear on my left cheek, it's still there. A bit like a pimple, but more raised. I'm not sure if it's a suture or not. I'm giving it a few days to see what happens, trying not to touch it, not freak out...body is still healing, for sure!
On a positive note, scars are looking good, but ear lines are a little whacky now. Not really concerned about imperfections on the ear, to be honest. Big weird bumps behind both ears, and maybe an ear tag, this pointy thing that I wasn't sure if it was a suture or skin or what lol. I kept picking at it, not good.
Swelling is still an issue, like my buddy ParkPark, I look for low sodium foods, and don't use salt anymore. Sleep has been a little problematic, my face has been sore, and I can't seem to get comfortable. I sound whiney..it hasn't been that bad. Just thought I was past the annoying stuff. Not yet.
3 Weeks Before & After - Neck and lower facelift
Ladies, can I mention that men are checking me out again? I'm noticing lingering looks and smiles, like I haven't seen in years. Feels fun (I'm single)! Ramping myself up to start dating again, this is a huge ego booster.
Thanks again to all my lady (and male?) friends here on RealSelf. The people on this site have helped me navigate this process in so many ways. No regrets at all. TOTALLY WORTH IT.
Then I noticed several days later, while driving, everything looked blurry with my glasses on! I kept taking them on and off. I could actually see better farther away without them. In effect, it feels like my eyesight has changed from nearsighted to farsighted lol. I've never heard any other facelift patient discuss this problem (I didn't get my eyes done). I'll get a new prescription soon, but waiting to let swelling subside a bit more to see where everything settles in.
Almost 4 weeks post
Raised chin scar & treatment
I started with Scar Away, and then switched to this scar tape off Amazon (much thinner, almost invisible under my chin, and it sticks better): Mepitac 298300 Soft Silicone Tape, 3/4" x 118", $18. Within three days of use, the scar is already FLAT, lightening in color, and the itchiness is gone! I'll continue to wear it for a few more weeks to get permanent results. If I notice it coming back at all, back to the scar tape! What a great solution. I was pretty bummed that I had scars along my jawline from the bandages, and the bumpy chin scar really depressed me. Can't believe it was solved so quickly--whew!
Ear lobe shrunk after surgery - interesting
Not much new to report otherwise. The pain is non-existent at this point. I still have a little swelling here and there sometimes, and still feel tightness in the side of my face, cheeks and under my chin, but it's not painful or annoying anymore--just tight. My scars are somewhat visible, but not enough that I worry about them at all. I normally just do regular makeup and forget about them...for big events, I'll use a cover up cream with a small brush to paint out the light redness that's still there. That's it. I'm 3 months post and life is back to normal :)
2 months post neck and lower face lift
5 months post - try accupuncture for swelling and rebuilding collagen!
For several months, I had continued swelling in my lower jaw area, a slight puffiness. I started acupuncture treatment for some other issues, but as a result, the swelling in my ankles and face went away completely. My hairdresser saw me and said, "You've lost weight, your face looks thinner." It had only been a month since I had seen her last, and I haven't actually lost any weight. My acupuncturist also specializes in rebuilding collagen in the face, and I've just started treatments with her toward that end. Sooo much cheaper and safer than using fillers (I was just about ready to get Sculptra from my dermatologist). So now I confirmed believe in acupuncture and Chinese medicine, it's helped me with several issues in less than a month. Amazing.
I still have a very defined neckline (no solid line from my chin to my chest), but I have noticed the slightest loosening of skin around my neck. Still 1000% better than before, but not exactly as tight as it was immediately after the surgery.
5.5 months post - botox did the trick
6 months post - still lovin' it!
Scars are very minimal, only noticeable if I point them out and someone stares (meaning no one sees them). You can see I'm wearing my hair behind my ears in this picture, no one knows. Chin scar has healed up well...which I was nervous about because I had early bumpy and itchiness with it. The scar tape helped that problem.
Overall, I've healed up very, very nicely, and I'm still thrilled I did the surgery. Now...time for a new haircut! lol
6.5 months post - got the new haircut
Appx. 11 months post - it's all good!
My botox has worn off, time to go in again for another application :) Otherwise, face is still looking good. I have been experiencing some hair loss over the last year, but it seems all over my head, not specific to the surgery, so I can't put the blame there....god it sucks getting older! I did read an article about how facelifts can decrease blood supply to the head, but my scars were minimal, and didn't go into the back hairline.
All pictures taken in the last week. Will continue with botox for another year, then do eyes next summer. Getting a necklift/lower facelift was a lot more healing than I expected (but again, no regrets!). I want to take another year off before any more surgeries! :)
1 year post neck and lower face lift...it keeps getting better
This picture was a good day recently (you know those days where you seem to have it together?). Growing out my hair and taking it darker seems to help my overall look too. I moved to SoCal about a year ago and my hair and nails are growing in thicker now. Woohoo!
Biltmore lift two years later
As I continue to age, I do see a bit of laxity in the skin on the side of my neck, but it seems more related to continued aging than the lift failing in any way. Keep in mind the Biltmore lift is not a full facelift, and doesn't cut into the hairline behind the ear the way a full face/neck lift does, so the skin on the sides of your neck isn't pulled back tightly.
All in all, I'm still very, very pleased with the work, the cost effectiveness, low downtime of the surgery, and thankful it gives me a younger look in a very competitive field.
SEE MY PICS FOR ACTUAL RESULTS. Dr. Harley and his staff are perfection. Others have commented on his great bedside manner, he answers all questions so you are comfortable. What BLEW MY MIND was his offer to pay my airfare to fly back to North Carolina in the event I had any problems after I left town! He said he feels more comfortable with his patients being close so he can care for them in case something comes up, even though that's never been a problem to-date. The Biltmore Lift is his brand for his style of neck/lower face lift. He explained he excises fat under the neck (if needed) instead of using lipo to avoid getting lumps and to get better results. He also uses the SMAS technique on the muscle layer to create a long-term effect vs. just pulling skin tight. I have a new neck and jawline that I've never had in my life...very happy with Dr. Harley and his team!