52, Face Looks So Miserable and Tired Reflecting Tough Times, Maybe Facelift/lower Lid Lift/botox the Answer? - Belgium

I have a facelift etc booked with the...

I have a facelift etc booked with the straight-talking Dr Oelbrandt at the Singelberg Clinic, Belgium. I've had one consultation with him (after reading positive reviews of his work on various sites) - I liked him because he wasn't pushy at all, seemed (brutally) honest and suggested alternatives to surgery.

I'm still not 100% sure I'm brave enough to go through with a facelift but I must decide within about 10 days. I've had mixed opinions from friends and family, as expected. Several people saying, "You don't need it!" But I'm getting to hat looking in the mirror! It doesn't look like me anymore.

The reasons I'd like some lifting etc is that over the past year my ageing seems to have speeded up - it was jogging along harmlessly for a while like a fun-run jogger and then suddenly took off like Usain Bolt. I've been through a lot in the past few years, looking after my lovely mother who had dementia and then going through her end of life in September which was traumatising. The grief has deepened my lines, hollowed my eyes and generally sagged everything. The pictures were taken in a light which masks the worst of it, but you can see the jowls, eye hollows, bags and nose to mouth lines (plus the awful gaunt saltcellar neckline! - Dr O said I should put on some weight which would help I know). Yes, my nose could do with some work too, but not a priority at the moment! You can also see the improvement in my DIY facelift - we all do that, right??

So I know there are no guarantees with these procedures. Like shares and house prices - the value could go down as well as up! But I've been thinking about it for a long time. In fact, I've had an issue with my jawline for years - about 20 years ago an artist ex-bf said to me "The top half of your face is a lot better than the bottom half isn't it?" Hm. Talk about giving someone an instant hangup in one second flat! But I do see what he means - unfortunately I was blessed with my dad's lumpy jawline rather than mum's classic smooth one. Thanks dad!

It's said that people who have surgery are vain or shallow. Far from it - I've never had confidence in my looks (ever since my grandma said to me, at about 17 after a radical 70s crop cut "Only pretty girls can wear short hair MonicaApril". Anyone would think I made out I was Kate Moss's double or something!)
And I'm definitely not shallow. I was 42 when my parents fell ill. After 10 years if pretty much putting my life on hold, I'm slowly getting my identity and life back, maybe I'll change my career, do some travelling, get a social life - start living again as my parents would want me to. I need to make up for those lost years. And turning my facial clock back as well, I feel, will help me do that.

I was very clear that I don't want the stretched look and want to look as natural as possible. I was told that it will be tighter at first, and then would relax in time. I hope so. I declined fat transfer, having seen a fair amount of negative press about it on here. I have to say I'm pretty nervous about the nerve damage, it seems to vary greatly and obviously hope I get away with minimal damage. The unknowns are the scary part aren't they.

Anyway, I'll update with a final decision. I'm definitely gonna have some things done, just a question of what. Any constructive opinions very welcome!

All the best to everyone else who's going through this process at the moment or thinking about it - every one of us has valid reasons and I understand how emotional it is and how it's far deeper than skindeep!!

Short but useful Q&As

Hi, I expect most of us find that the more reviews and articles we read the more questions pop up. I ambushed my PS with a few today.

Q Is the lower lid lift technique you plan to use the transconjunctival blepharoplasty, as I've read that this carries less risk of skin pulling away from the eye?

A With a transconjunctival bleph, one only can remove fat , not lift.

Q Do you need to calculate some measurements/angles from my features or is that done from photographs? Will there be a more vertical vector re my lift so I don't look too pulled? [I'd been wondering if he did all the calculations beforehand or if he did it instinctively when he opens the patient up on the day!]

A This is done exactly as in the SMAS technique paper by Dan Baker, and is mainly a vertical lift.

Q Approximately how many SMAS facelifts have you carried out?

A 400

Q Because I've read of fat transfer complications such as uneven reabsorption leaving lopsided results and lumps and bumps, I asked if I could instead have Radiesse injected at the same time as the facelift. I'd read that many some surgeons overfill when using your own fat, to compensate for loss of volume when fat gets reabsorbed.

A He said Radiesse can be done at the same time, but prefers to use patient's own fat. He said he hasn't had problems.

This is all mostly reassuring. I hope some of these might help others, I expect to get some comments!

Concern re nerve damage

In my questions to my PS above, I forgot to mention the question I asked about my second main worry after looking totally different, and that was nerve damage. His answer was he's very careful. It's impossible to know how I'll be affected in that regard.

I took imagingboomer's advice and took a pic lying down, giving myself the reverse gravity facelift. Reminds me of a line from the fabulous Golden Girls sitcom, where I think it's Dorothy who advises Blanche to "never go on top"! Didn't quite understand what she meant at the time...

Second and final consultation

I talked with the doc and finalised all the procedures. I admit I'm a nervous patient and probably needlessly so, but I'm the one who has to live with the results and would rather have minimal surgery now and have more later if I need it.

So I'm having a facelift, temporal lift, botox for frown lines and that's it. If, after it's all settled, I still need something done to the undereye area, I'll look at filler options or have lower bleph later down the line. I feel a lot more relaxed now and looking forward to getting it done. No more thinking and agonising. The countdown begins!!

Oh FGS, I'm anemic!!

What a pain in the ass, got blood results back today and I'm pretty anemic, not that bad, but low enough to maybe have to postpone my surgery! So annoying. I got them through my regular doctor, he hasn't had a chance to advise me yet. Asked my PS whether I could go ahead or not, he said if I felt very tired or unwell I shouldn't do. Kind of left it up to me! I don't feel ill but do get puffed out easier than I used to. Will decide tomorrow I think. I don't want to waste my train fare to Belgium either! I've asked the doctors on RS for advice. I'll decide tomorrow. Apparently anemia can cause complications with surgery, like healing delays and more chance of infection. As well as depleting iron levels even more of course. I am on supplements but too scatty about taking them. Don't I regret that now! If anyone has any experience of surgery with anemia, please do shout. Many thanks all!!

All systems go!!

Thanks a million for your helpful and encouraging comments, much appreciated! Well, after a day of to-ing and fro-ing, the upshot is that my healing and infection risk wouldn't be impaired by the iron levels. That's good enough for me, must admit it would've taken a lot to scare me out of it, you know what it's like psyching yourself up for this. It's not the right choice for everyone with an iron deficiency, but I feel strong, had an hour's gym session today without ill effects and have only had one cold in over 3 years, I'm sure it'll be ok. I'll follow aftercare advice to the letter.

You know the feeling, that lots of things are on hold till "after the surgery". So it's the best result really. Next job, getting my hair done! Thanks for listening, hope I don't need to update again before Belgium - a week today I'll be there, yikes! It's feeling real now...

Well here I am

After a very early - 5am - start and 3 trains i'm now ensconced in my home for the next 3 days in a small town in Belgium.

I thought everyone would speak French, well they probably do, just not my pidgin kind!! But a very sweet girl in a posh perfumerie got her equally sweet manager/the owner to call a taxi for me (cos there was no sign of a taxi rank - or any taxis!) which was so nice of her.

On the journey over i saw 2 pairs of magpies. and a pink bike and a half pink train carriage whiich are all good signs for me, not that I'm superstitious of course!! :)

And I'm so happy to see Nacklyft's update, what a relief for you amd family. Oh yes and the hotel receptionist said her friend went to Dr O and was v happy, although judging by her age it can't have been a FL.

I might see the doc later at the hotel but if he has no time then tomorrow morning at the clinic! Must catch up on some sleep now. Hope to god I can sleep tonight as i've read om here that the first few nights post op are tough. I'll try my best to update tom. Only having twilight sedation. Any last minute tips are welcome, mamy thanks for all previous info, it's been invaluable. The PS has given adequate advice but I've learnt so much on here. Zzzzzz

THE day!

Thanks everyone for your good wishes! Well I survived obviously :) have been a bit sick from the sedation drugs (I assume). So was concerned I'm not retaining enough fluid but feel ok now so will make up for it.

I was glad to be first patient in this morning so no time to stress much. Dr O picked me up from the hotel for the 5 minute drive into town, probably thought I might be a no show! At the clinic he took the last before photos, then he marked me up with a purple felt tip and I said a mental goodbye to my before face hoping that my after will be better!

Chatted to the nurse Madeleine - yes in English! - while the w easy on the eye anaesthetic (Richard?) started drugging me up and I didn't wake up till nearly 5 hours later. Dr O came in, I asked if all went ok, he's a nd man of few words but reassured me. I was given some coke - the drink! - which I promptly threw up. Madeleine gave me some water through the iv. Richard came in and asked if I could raise my eyebrows. Didn't know at the time but my left one was paralysed but it's ok now, for anyone who'd be alarmed by that. I was! Probably the local anaesthetic.

Back in the hotel I'm, of course, swelling but didn't have far transfer or eyes just boot botox so maybe not as bad as others. I've got the cold packs on the go and will take paracetamol soon. Still feel woozy and got background nausea....

A couple of questions while I think of them, anyone know if I can put coconut oil on my cheeks to prevent drying out? And when did you do your first antiseptic clean of wounds? Hoping you'll say tomorrow as my antiseptic says not to use it on broken skin I've just realised!

Oh and I guess the main thing to say is that after being scared of being too pulled, I don't think I look any different! Or at least, I'll have to have something done to my eyes!! But a big plus is that I can smile. Thanks so much for your support, it helps so much especially being on my own here!!



Couple questions

Day 2 - up and down

Now I know what everyone means about this experience being a rollercoaster. The ups and downs! Trying to get comfortable last night in bed was impossible, and to hot, and I couldn't cover the red light on the tv as my coat isn't long enough, so that drove me crazy! The doc came to take my drains out this morning though, yay! But we found I had a couple of pulled dimples ohhh. But apparently they'll go in 4 weeks or he'll do a correction, yay! (I think). Had a shower - great! But couldn't get all the pen marks off and it hurt to antiseptic the incisions, ohh.

I feel so self-absorbed, looking out for every change and symptom, that looks red, that bit sticks out, do I feel shivers? The answer to the last one is yes but don't seem to have a fever. With my anaemia I guess I'm being a hypochondriac but better be safe than sorry, so waiting for the PS to get back to me.

As regards the actual FL, I'm happy with the outcome give or take the dents and bumps that should go. Think positive! I'm delighted to get a jawline back and the swelling isn't all that bad - yet. Oh the joy of cold packs!! They are bliss.

Did any of you girls get the chills on day 2?

Just quite shivery, not hot and cold I don't think and as I say I don't appear to have a high temp but the thermometer not probably the best! Thanks

Was prematurely smug about not swelling up...

Jeez my ears feel as if they're about to explode and blast off my head, it's like all the fluid's being directed to the far sides of my head. I can feel it in my neck too, so weird as nothing happened to my neck, I don't think. It's all those lymph nodes isn't it.

Slept a few more hours last night but still in big debit. Many thanks for your reassurances on shivery chills, it helped me sleep that bit more soundly...

Went to the clinic today, PS said no infection - I feel as if I've cried wolf now but as I'm leaving Belgium tom it'll be UK doctors I'd be pestering. The swelling does enhance ca facelift in that I look as if I've had my eyes done now. Unfortunately I know that in that regard I'm going to look a bit older again eventually. Dr O picked me up for the last time for my last check up as he does a consultation s 10 till 3 I think in Saturday's. It was packed with people of all ages, 16ish to 60. He got a facelift booking off the back of my outcome, I did warn them about how the swelling makes me look younger now, in the eyes especially but that I'll be looking more haggard in a couple of weeks. Said I'd send them an update photo. They weren't to be dissuaded! I should get commission! I asked the doc for more frown botox and he agreed he'd been light-handed with it on D

I'm now in Antwerp till tom afternoon but was too tired to sightsee today. It's a beautiful interesting port town apparently. The central station was vast and gorgeous and I've treated myself to a good deal at the Radisson right opposite it.

And sleep.

Apologies for the naughty autocorrect's awful grammar! :)

It really must try harder.

Home sweet home

Phew short update, just got home to a cold house - which is bliss for my swellings. Had enough of hot hotel rooms where the aircon's just a waft of less hot air.

Not looking so hot today, two black eyes, dimples and exhausted after patchy sleep and long journey. It's up from here!

I love Antwerp though, such a laid back vibe. Even the traffic is leisurely, anticipating you crossing the road and stopping in advance(!) rather than assuming straight for you. Or maybe they just thought I was on my way to Accident & Emergency! Rubens House was absolutely beautiful, could've stayed there forever. The Radisson right opposite the station was a fabulous balm for the walking wounded for a last night treat.

Stating the obvious, but i'd advise anyone going abroad for surgery to take someone with you, even if just to carry your bags or get tickets etc. Just as importantly, someone to calm you down when you're freaking out about stuff! I met some good people though.

Recliner chair for me tonight.

Day 5 - taking it easy - graphic photo content

I got 5-6 hours solid sleep and felt much better for it. However I woke to find my jaws locked together from the fluid pressure. Eased them into work with some porridge with raspberries, drank loads and got back under the duvet in the recliner. My body needs me to be lazy for now.

Had my first visitor, my friend of 30 years, Sally, who was relieved to find I was recognisable. We agreed that if someone didn't know about it, they wouldn't easily guess that I'd had something done.

I still feel sore and hot around the ears and still working the cold packs. My PS said they don't make any difference after 48-72 hours, but I know many on RS swear by them and no question they soothe like nothing else.

I followed imaging's example and took naps when I felt felt the need and comfortable enough to sleep; I do feel better for it.

I feel I'll heal better being more relaxed at home with the little comforts, healing food and minimal activity! Lost weight with all the drama and travelling.

Ooshhh a salad's made my ears burn up!

Thought I'd turned a corner today as woke late after a miraculous 7 hours sleep - woo hoo! - and a lot less discomfort. But as the day went on, after a bit of shopping and chatting to a neighbour I swelled right up again to resemble a bad case of mumps.

It wasn't helped by my choice of dinner - salad and tuna steak. The first time I'd attempted anything with such a high chew-rate. It was a shock for my poor ears and jaw and they were soon on fire! Cue another infection panic.

I've learned my lesson and will stick to mush tomorrow...

Day 6 pics - ouch - result of chewing marathon

Day 7

Apart from a fruitless search for my car keys today, I've had a better day. I had a record 9 hours' sleep and am much less swollen.

As we've mentioned on here though, the downside of reduced swelling is increased likelihood of looking older!!

Day 8 - recap

Well it's a week since I went under Dr Oelbrandt's scalpel so thought I'd recall my recovery so far.

I had facelift, temporal lift and botox for frown lines and a bit for crows' feet.

The first couple of days were all about the strangling hot bandages and trying to get comfortable enough to sleep. Virtually impossible when you have to half sit up. I read recently that that was the normal way to sleep in the middle ages, it was meant to help the body's system. it felt so unnatural. One essential thing is to drink plenty of water partly to flush out the anaesthetic and partly just because your body needs it, a lot of fluid is sent to swell your face!

I had mixed feelings when my bandages came off, I liked the new contours of my chin and jaw but was dismayed to see two indentations, one circular and on the other side a line. The doc said they'd go within 5 weeks and if not(?) they would have to go in again and correct. As I've had a pretty uncomfortable week I don't relish going back to day 1, but assume it'd be minor and easier healing! I also have a couple of bumps in my cheekbones which again should disappear.

Probably after the discomfort - especially with eating - the toughest thing to get used to is how the skin surface feels on the sides of your face, it feels like a rubber mask and I can hear the rasp of my fingers as they sweep over my skin, it also feels hot. Even looking down at a phone or something pulls at the tissues roun your jaw.

Despite all these concerns - which are pretty normal I'm assured - I'm very happy with the new shape of my face and lack of jowls. I feel more confident walking around and no longer fear the mirror (except for the dents and bumps!) .

I'm glad I refused the fat transfer and lower eye blepharoplasty as I'd like to see how it all settles then take a view as to what else is needed. Especially with being anemic, I didn't want my healing 'power' stretched too far.

My PS didn't give me that much detailed advice except no exercise, no chewing gum or massage for a while. And to use antiseptic on the cuts daily. So I'm so lucky to have found this site and benefit from everyone's priceless advice and tips! Thank you for getting m this far, I've learned so much and hope I can help other R$ members!

Day 10

Not much change the last couple of days, I feel slightly less inflamed and light chewing has been almost, dare I say it, comfortable!! So a big breakthrough there.

But I have experienced one agonizing pain from an area about an inch lower and back from my dimple on the right side. It's when I go to bite into (soft) bread, or pull my lips back to floss or yawn, if you know what I mean. It feels as if a stitch under there is tearing out. Anyone else? I suppose it's being yanked by the muscle. So I don't do those things any more! My puckered areas haven't relaxed at all but I realise it's early days...

Still got a bit of a black eye on the right side but it's fading.
Feel a bit gaunt as a result of the chewing difficulties and stocked up on Daim icecream and enjoyed a big stack of fries. Salad and tuna are off the menu for the foreseeable!

In other news, my body's adjusting to 'back sleeping' now thank God!

I told my 75 years young aunt about my SMAS lift yesterday thinking she'd say, 'are you crazy?' But no, she was happy to hear I'd done something for myself and confided that she'd had a consultation 20 odd years ago but never got round to booking one. It was good to have her support.

Day 18(?)

I'm still hanging in there...! Had a tough few days this last week but think I'm out the other side. I seemed to get a minor infection in the left ear area which up till then was the least troublesome side. Think it was my own doing after fiddling with stitches in and maybe interfered with a scab there, so contaminating an open wound? Sorry tmi.

Whatever, I had an annoying few days of soreness and bathing with salt water, wondering whether to just get antibiotics but was determined to avoid them at this late stage. And it took a while, but my white cells began to make beyond and win the battle and I'm now pain free apart from the usual swelling effects which are much reduced as well. So, all good - apart from the dents!

My discomfort was exacerbated by my lack of wheels - never found my car key so had to walk everywhere which made me swell up more. Luckily I'd been planning to get a new car as mine is 15 years old and was beginning to rebel against my neglect. I've actually traded it in for an older model - 18 year old Audi which I bought from.a sweet Polish guy in Greenwich. She's fire engine red with a touch of rust and some scuffs but runs perfectly and honestly doesn't look her age. It struck me that we're both a bit bashed up but between us have clocked up 70 years and don't look too bad on it!

My jaw pain has dramatically improved and in the last couple of days I've completely forgotten I've had the surgery, until of course I literally bite of more than I can chew! Many thanks for your advice on mouthcare and food everybody! It really helped.

Starting to think about make up... bare minerals sounds the way to go I gather...

Day 25 - getting back to some normality...

I've been out and about more this week since I feel more normal and, after an infected finger(!) cleared up, am now pain free. When I went to the doc's about my finger - at their request, I was just going to ask for an antibiotic cream prescription as Manuka honey wasn't working - I asked if it'd be too cheeky to ask for a nurse appointment to take out the stitches, the doc said you get a better result scar-wise if dissolvable stitches are left to dissolve/fall out.

I've returned to the gym for light sessions, with my hair tired back, well leaving wisps down by my ears. Went to a meeting on Friday, the subject of my mother etc came up, and the person said I didn't seem old enough to have such an elderly mother. I told her about the FL. I seem to have a compulsion to confess to all and sundry!

The good news is I believe my dents are flattening slowly, unless it's the summer light. Not such good news is that I feel a bit underoperated and I can still see slight jowls. I know it's easy to be hypercritical after a FL procedure but my resting face is looking a bit too similar to my before picture, feel I could've been pulled a bit more. Although I did say I didn't want to look stretched! Never satisfied eh. Maybe my skin wasn't easy to pull.

I've also seen another procedure I'd like - a lip lift! it could make my short noise look better without the ordeal of a nose job. I think I'll wait a while first though. Or maybe not!

autocorrect - nose not noise!!

.

5 weeks later

I'm glad to report that my ridge and dimpling have significantly improved since my last post - I no longer dread sudden gusts of wind blowing my hair off my face. Which is a relief, I can tell you.

However I still have jowls which make my face look square. I'm optimistic that these are exaggerated by remnants of fluid swelling my cheeks. I'm meant to be seeing my PS on Saturday. I read that the final outcome takes months, but as I had fairly limited surgery and I've healed ok and more feeling is returning, I shouldn't think my results will be much different to now. An happy to be corrected! I've been having some roofing work etc done at mum's house, and that's probably put years on me...

As I mentioned, just before I restart my life properly, I'm planning on having a liplift and some kind of lower eyelid procedure. I feel so self-indulgent wanting more done, but I'd only postponed my eyes before. And when it's all done I'll be much better equipped to contribute to society and have the confidence to be speak out for people like my mother and their carers.

And I know what you're thinking, and the answer is yes I did cut my own hair as I was fed up with greying curtains and couldn't get a salon appointment!! Don't worry I'll make sure I get a proper cut soon! My PS will probably be horrified.

Eye fillers at 7 weeks, that's it - for now!

I realised soon after that my last post was horribly sanctimonious, talking about how my new face was going to help me save the world and all that crap. My only excuse is it was about 2am when I'm prone to delirious late night ramblings; I must apologise. I'm not really up my own a**!

Since my last post I've seen my PS for a check up and then yesterday went to Mrs Shah-Desai in Harley Street for 1ml of Restylane for my undereye hollows. Mrs S-D said I needed 2ml really and she's right but I couldn't afford it right now. It's £350 for first mil then 250 per subsequent ones. Eventually I'll have fat transfers for that area but she doesn't do them. Lower bleph doesn't address eye hollows, she told me.

My PS said my result was excellent and when I asked about the remaining, admittedly reduced, jowls, he said, as Sminky had advised, it's due to your face shape and you wouldn't have had a totally smooth jawline 20 years ago, which is true. He also said a liplift was unnecessary and would look silly on me. It's good that he reins you back in I suppose - and easier on the bank account! :)

So I think for now the update photos are as good as it gets for me! Thank you to everyone who's encouraged me and given such valuable advice and there for me in the scary first few days. It's so reassuring to have that kind support when you don't know what to expect and are panicking over the smallest things - and are in a foreign country! Thank you x a million. Now I'll get on with my very ordinary life.

And good luck to all those about to embark on their own surgery journey' - only do what you feel comfortable doing and I believe you'll feel less anxious about it.

A bientot. Jude
London Plastic Surgeon

After having minor dealings with a couple of the big companies and their sales pitches, Dr Oelbrandt was refreshingly human, blunt and his approach seemed holistic. There was no hard sell, and in fact he suggested alternative courses of action. The consultation was more in-depth than I expected, eg the questions he asked me about my motives, history, all those details. He'svery receptive to further questions and generally responds to emails - when able to - extremely quickly.

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