Traveling out of State for Surgery - BA/BL, Tummy Tuck with Dr. Hedden, Birmingham, AL - Birmingham, AL

Where to begin? I'm a 49 year old mother of 3...

Where to begin? I'm a 49 year old mother of 3 children and grandchildren. My youngest is finishing high school this year and for the first time in 32 years, I will not be raising children. Given that I'll be 50 years old I decided it was time to treat myself to a breast augmentation and finally get my tummy back flat. I'm from Birmingham, AL and I love coming home to good old southern hospitality. I thought I would get better medical and customer care in Birmingham, versus New York, plus my mom still lives in Birmingham so I would have someone to help me after the surgery. Boy was I wrong about coming to Birmingham for surgery.

My initial consultation with Dr. Hedden was wonderful. The wait time was only about 15 minutes and he was very cordial and friendly, as was the entire staff. Things remained that way until "after" my surgery. But I digress....My initial consultation was for a tummy tuck, breast augmentation and liposuction on my buttocks and thighs with the hope that it would help my cellulite. Dr. Hedden said I also needed a breast lift, as my tiny breasts were sagging. I wasn't thrilled about the additional scar, but he said augmenting my breasts without a lift would leave them drooping. Dr. Hedden said he would not recommend cellulaze or liposuction for my buttocks and thighs, as neither would really help with the cellulite and would leave my skin loose and make things worse. He recommended a traditional buttock lift, but said his partner, Dr. Schaffer, would perform the surgery. I wanted to have everything done at the same time, but Dr. Hedden said he does not recommend doing the tummy tuck and buttock lift at the same time and would not charge an additional surgical center fee if I did the procedures separately. So, I scheduled the BA/BL and tummy tuck for 11/24 and the buttock lift for 12/30 with Dr. Schaffer. I requested Natrelle Gummy Bear silicone implants, 425cc.

The Friday before my scheduled surgery date I received a call from Nicole, informing me that my surgery was scheduled for 11AM and my balance was $6,000. I arrived at the surgery center at 10:45AM and signed in with Nicole (very efficient and friendly). I believe it was 1:30PM when I was taken into the operating room. To my knowledge, there were no complications with the surgery and my recovery was very easy. My first follow-up appointment was the day after surgery and Dr. Hedden said everything looked great.

As I was leaving the office one of the girls (I believe it was Nicole, but I'm not sure) handed me warranty information for my implants, as they forgot to give it to me the day of surgery. Imagine my surprise to learn that I had been implanted with Mentor High Profile Smooth Round implants. To this day, I still have no idea why I was not given the implants I requested because on my next follow up visit of Friday, Dec. 19th (I flew back to Bham just for that appointment) after waiting for over one hour after my scheduled appointment, Dr. Hedden ran into the room, ripped the tape off my tummy and breasts, said everything looked great and ran back out. I didn't have time to ask one single question. I was shocked. So I asked the nurse why there was a switch with the implants and she said she didn't know why he chose the high profile smooth for me, but that he really doesn't like to use the gummy bears because there can be problems with them if they don't slide into the pocket (whatever the heck that means).

After being in their office for over two hours I was just ready to leave and thought I would just ask Dr. Schaffer when I met with him. I know that the surgeon has to make the final call on what type and size implants so it wasn't that I was worried, I just wanted to know why the doctor put something different in me than I requested.

As do most of the ladies, I stalk this site, especially with a surgery scheduled in a matter of weeks. After the change in attitude from Dr. Hedden and his staff I thought I should do a little more research on the buttock lift and on Dr. Schaffer. In my research I learned that the buttock lift surgery is very painful, requires a long recovery and if the surgeon isn't extremely skilled it can leave you with a flat or odd shaped butt. Dr. Schaffer had a review stating that he left a patient in that exact condition--with a flat, oddly shaped butt!! I posted some pictures here and asked doctors if a traditional buttock lift would help with cellulite because sagging skin is not my big issue. Based on the responses, I decided I would prefer doing a combination of cellulaze, bbl, liposuction. I informed Dr. Hedden's office that I had changed my mind about the surgery, but would still like to meet with Dr. Schaffer to discuss alternatives. December 16, exactly two weeks prior to the scheduled surgery, I informed Dr. Hedden's of my decision to cancel the buttock lift surgery and asked if I would receive my deposit back. I was told that I was canceling within the timeframe to receive my deposit back but all deposit refunds have to be reviewed by the office manager. Given that all of this took place during the holidays I'm hoping that the reason I haven't received the refund is because the office manager has been on vacation? Later that day or maybe the next day, I called back to say that I would still like to have something done with my buttocks and thighs and asked if I could schedule an appointment with Dr. Schaffer and if Dec. 30th was still an available surgery date I would like to do the surgery on Dec. 30th. The person I spoke with said to just ask to speak with Dr. Schaffer while I was in the office for my follow up with Dr. Hedden. Well that was the day that I had already waited over one hour and when I asked about speaking with Dr. Schaffer that day, the nurse said he was in surgery and it would be at least 2 hours before he could see me and she offered to schedule an appointment.

So they schedule me to speak with Dr. Schaffer at 8AM on and I'm thinking that's great because surely he won't be running late at 8AM. After sitting in the lobby for over one hour and watching them call in patients who arrived after me, even seeing Dr. Schaffer himself come and get a patient, I informed the receptionist that I would just like to cancel the appointment as this was obviously a sign from God that I did not need to have surgery by Dr. Schaffer. The receptionist told me it was her fault, that she had skipped my name. She said they were so busy that sometimes it happens. Wow. She convinced me to not leave and took me to a room and said the doctor would be in soon. After half hour of waiting in the room I went back to the receptionist and told her it was okay--I definitely wasn't supposed to be there. I wasn't upset, I knew it was an omen because as I walked out of the room, there was Dr. Schaffer standing right there at the counter chatting with Dr. Hedden and a couple of nurses. I can only assume that they were not pleased with my decision to cancel the buttock lift surgery or maybe that's just the way they treat out of town patients after the surgery is complete.

While making sure the receptionist knew that I did not want to have surgery with Dr. Schaffer on Dec. 30th, she informed me that the surgery had already been cancelled and I was never put back on the schedule.

Was it worth it? NO! Six weeks post-op and I now have oozing from some of the incisions on my breasts, one of the incisions is crooked--seriously crooked, and the incision on my tummy tuck is uneven (one side is much higher than the other and it's also crooked). Even though I will be in Birmingham again soon, I haven't called to schedule an appointment about my breasts because I'm so disgusted with the way I was treated after my surgery. As I look at these crooked lines I know I will need revision surgery and that really does upset me. So the only thing I can do is warn you ladies to stop traveling out of state for surgery. It doesn't matter how much money you save or what the doctor's reputation is, there are always doctors closer to home.

Dr. Hedden has exceeded my expectations!

Cosmetic surgery is traumatic--emotionally and physically. It's even more traumatic when traveling far away from home to have surgery. I am extremely impressed with Dr. Hedden's surgical skill, bedside manner and post-surgical follow-up with his patients. I researched EVERY surgeon in Birmingham and a personal friend of Dr. Paul Howard referred me to him but Dr. Howard is on medical leave. Other surgeons researched were Dr. Grady Core, Dr. Grotting, Dr. Rousso and several surgeons in Houston, TX. I almost went with a surgeon in Houston but after meeting Dr. Hedden I stopped looking. I'll post updated pictures soon.

Tummy Tuck - incision too high to be covered by bikini

Not sure what happened but the incision on my right hip is much higher and not hidden by a bikini. If I can ever bring myself to go back to the office for a follow-up I would like to know what happened.

For Happy Wife--Belly button close up...

I think my belly button looks pretty good. I'm going to call Dr. Hedden's office tomorrow to see about the breast incisions. My awesome neighborhood pharmacist suggested I ask the doctor for a prescription for Mupirocin. Neighborhood pharmacists are so rare now--they know every patient by name and face. I never use CVS or Walgreens when I'm home.

Revisions Revisions Revisions--scars got worse

You know you're getting old when your body loses its healing powers. Less than 20 years ago I needed stitches for an on the job cut and went to one of those med-help places. I'm pretty sure those doctors aren't plastic surgeons and yet there is no scar from those stitches. I've had stitches several times by non-plastic surgeons and the incisions healed beautifully with no scar. Sadly, my body no longer possesses those amazing healing powers.

Breast augmentation/lift--revision on areolas 12 months later. I was meticulous with massaging, using scar cream and even silicone strips, but the areolas stretched so much that bras no longer covered them. The scars never lightened and even widened. I've read horror stories on this site about doctors who will tell patients unsightly scars look perfectly acceptable, simply to get out of doing revisions at a lower cost or maybe because they mistakenly believe that acknowledging a poor result isn't the same as admitting fault. I received nothing but compassion from Dr. Hedden and he performed the revision at a very minimal cost. Doctors have to pay their nurses and anestheologist so please understand that unless a poor result is undeniably the fault of the doctor, the patient will need to pay for revisions. Dr. Hedden also performed light liposuction on my flanks during the breast revision.

I would have loved the areolas to be even smaller but my implant size doesn't allow for further reduction. At any rate, I'm very pleased with the result and pray my breasts maintain this appearance. If the areolas stretch again or the scars widen I'll probably just have them removed or possibly go smaller and with saline.

Tummy tuck scar revision 15 months after the original surgery. Dr. Hedden offered to revise the tummy tuck scar during the breast revision but I declined because I had already placed a large deposit with a top NYC surgeon to perform a BBL and that surgeon had already agreed to revise the tummy tuck scar. I'll discuss the tummy tuck scar revision/BBL/liposuction in a new post as those surgeries were performed by Dr. Hedden's surgical partner--Dr. Schaffer. I forfeited my $1,600 deposit with the other surgeon to go with Dr. Schaffer after seeing the results of a BBL and breast revision surgery he performed on my sister.

I believe I was scheduled to arrive for surgery at 10am and waited a couple of hours after my scheduled time of arrival. Not ideal to have to wait for hours after not having food or water since before midnight, but it happens often with surgery no matter who the doctor, so be prepared.

After waking up in the recovery room, or being awakened by the amazing surgical nurse (Carol or Wynne or both) I was asked questions to make sure I was mentally stable to go home, given ice water because I indicated severe thirst (which is to be expected after no fluids since before midnight the day before, the anesthesiology and the liposuction). Carol and Wynne always make sure their patients go home with a bottle of gatorade and crackers so they can easily put something on their stomach. If you make he wise decision to have surgery with Dr. Hedden or Dr. Schaffer, pray that Wynne or Carol are the surgical nurses. There are two other fantastic nurses in the office-- Penny and I'm afraid I don't recall the name of the other young nurse. They are meticulous and miss nothing. Front office receptionists Sherry and Meredith are simply amazing, beautiful people. And Nicole, the surgical coordinator is phenomenal.

The evening was uneventful. I took the pain meds and slept through the night. Dr. Hedden always wants to see patients the next morning following surgery. I woke up with a severe burning pain in my side so getting dressed took a bit longer than expected, which caused me to run late for my 8am appointment. I called the office to let them know I was running late and the nurse told me not to worry, to take my time and Dr. Hedden would still see me quickly when I arrived.

At my two week follow-up Dr. Hedden very gently removed the tape from my breasts and I was thrilled with the result.

I'm happy to say that I just learned yesterday that several people have had surgery with Dr. Hedden based on my speaking so highly of him after my first surgery. I ran into a housekeeper at the hotel that I stayed in during that first surgery and she told me based on my urging her to do something for herself and telling her about Dr. Hedden she went to him and she's also been referring other people. She told me she had always wanted to get the tummy tuck and even though she knew other guests at the hotel were there because they were having surgery with Dr. Hedden she never considered him because she's African American and assumed he was only interested in affluent caucasian clients. If that were ever true it's certainly not the case now as I'm in Spa Greystone frequently and in his office waiting area often and I can honestly say that at least 40% of the people in the waiting area are not caucasian. I love seeing an Alabama surgeon with such a diverse clientele and look forward to sending more patients to his practice.

I will also be posting this update as a new review so if you happen to come across it again, that's the reason.

Regarding the new pics--unfortunately I no longer have photos of my breasts after the areolas became huge--new phone. But as evidenced in the photos below they're still larger than average so the spreading was quite significant.

Best of luck to all who take the journey. At 51 years of age I've never felt better.
Birmingham Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Hedden exceeded my expectations and I am changing my review. I must admit that the surgery has been an emotional rollercoaster and I initially gave a poor review, but it was based on my last two visits at the office, not on Dr. Hedden or his skill as a surgeon. Dr. Hedden is actually pretty darn awesome and I would travel again to have him perform any plastic surgery procedure. Yes, he's busy and you can feel rushed during a visit, but he does give every patient his cell phone number and he responds to EVERY message here on Real Self, which is pretty impressive. Dr. Hedden has excellent prices, especially for a top surgeon. Even with great prices he still gave me free liposuction of my inner thighs and knees and did something extra with my tummy tuck because I would be traveling. On one follow-up visit I asked for juve'derm and he threw in a free vial. He's very generous and doesn't try to sell you something you don't need, but quick to give his patients a little extra or even free product. I experienced no real pain in my tummy or breasts, just the typical random shooting pains as the nerves come alive. My surgery was the Monday before Thanksgiving and I experienced severe swelling of my ankles over the holiday weekend and Dr. Hedden was responsive to my questions, even during the holiday. I just wish his office manager exhibited the same level of concern for his patients and had taken the time to call me, as I requested. Dr. Hedden gets 5 stars. Office Manager (whoever that might be) not so sure. Most of his staff are superb. Carol and Winn (nurses), Ashley (reception), and Nicole (surgical intake) are outstanding and I can't thank them enough for their professionalism and excellent care. Cosmetic surgery is a major and traumatic event. Traveling out of state for the surgery makes it even more traumatic because you can't help but be a little worried about what happens if there are complications during or after surgery. I didn't travel to Birmingham to save money--I ended up spending a lot more money after paying for airfare (+$500), hotel for two weeks (+$1,600) aftercare nurse (+$400), rental car (+$200), food and miscellaneous ($300). I traveled to Birmingham because I know that Birmingham has some of the best doctors in the world and I wanted Southern hospitality before, during and after my surgery. I've lived in NYC for 10 years and there are great doctors right here in my neighborhood (UES), but I wanted Dr. Hedden and he really is the best.

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
4 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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