Heading to Colombia for Tummy Tuck, Breast Reduction and Lift, and Lipo. Cali, CO

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After years and years, I've decided to go ahead...

After years and years, I've decided to go ahead and have surgery. I am so scared that there will be a problem of some sort, and that I'm taking such a big risk when I have 3 little children depending upon me. Yet I feel if I'm going to do it, do it now when I'm 41, and have enough years ahead to make it worth it. My husband works in Latin American, he has sales reps in every country. One of those reps used to sell to the plastic surgeons and when I told her who I was going to go with, she told me no way. I had contacted a few doctors whose names I saw here on Real Self. But she said there are much better doctors. Then another Colombian employee has a first cousin who is a plastic surgeon in Cali. She reached out to him and asked him his thoughts on the doctors I have been talking to, and was advised that there are better doctors. I don't want to bash anyone, because I don't have personal experience with any of them, however I just want to inform you of what I heard, to not assume that since they ar being mentioned on here that they are the best, and encourage everyone who is looking to have surgery down there to make sure your doctor is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Also make sure that you see before and after pictures of THEIR work. Ok...so I decided to go with Dr. Zapata, not the cousin but the one who came highly recommended with no bias:) They also recommended Dr. Ortiz, and his before and after pictures are amazing (he has videos you can watch), and Dr. Velasco (who claims 80% of his clients come from NY. I wasn't crazy about his photos though). The lady who recommended Dr. Zapata says that he's a different level...that I will look around in his waiting room once I'm there and see a different type of clientele...that people who want the best go to him. His quote was $2,500 more than another doctor who I thought I was going to go with, but I think it's worth it. His recovery house charges are more too unfortunately. But I feel better going with someone who has recommended him and who knows the doctors down there. My appointment is on Dec 17th so we will find out if it's all hype or not! I can't relax. I'm so scared and nervous. I'm going to add my pictures later because my computer isn't cooperating and I don't have time. I may end up adding them when I'm in Cali and have more down time than I do now.

Heading out in 4 days

I'm posting a few pictures of my before. I don't have the nerve to post naked ones in case someone I know sees this. That's how bad my boobs are. I always joke that they are National Geographic boobs:) Anyway...I slouch pretty badly out of habit since I'm so self conscious about my enormous boobs. My goal is to have boobs that are small enough that I will feel very comfortable putting my shoulders back! And by belly looks like it has a smile just about my hoo ha. I'm so excited to have it off!

day 2 after surgery

So far so good. I can't take photos yet because I'm all bandaged up and can't even see my body myself but I can feel it's flat and my boobs feel like the right size. The pain is worse today then yesterday. I was dizzy and threw up twice and of course it's hard to move around but I was expecting all of that. I was so excited yesterday that it wasn't so painful but I didn't realize that the biggest of pains in yet to come. I can't really get comfortable and the language barrier has proven to be a big problem. I speak OK spanish...most people think I speak quiet well...but when it comes to things of this magnitude I don't. I would not advise a trip to Cali unless you speak decent Spanish. Also, I want to mention that I have friends in the United States who are from Cali and they asked around and say that Dr. Zapata is one of the best. I'll post pictures when I have them and you can decide for yourself:)

Tummy doesn't look very flat

I'll be so upset if this was all for nada. Any thoughts?

Review of my experience in Cali, Colombia

I figure I might as well take a few moments to tell you all a little bit about what it was like to come down as a Amercian to Colombia in case you are considering it.
Although I lived in Spain for a year, have lots of South American friends and also spent time once before in Chile, I was not prepared for it. I was picked up at the airport by the people who own the house, which was set up by my doctor. Although I had sent my itinerary ahead of time, they went to international arrivals instead of domestic as they must have assumed I didn't have a domestic lay over or realized how that works. It took us possibly 1.5 hours to leave the airport after the found me. For a city of 3 million people, you'd expect parking garages at an airport. There was no such thing. People, traffic standing still, and honking horns were everywhere. We walked a long way to a dirt parking lot and then came my first experience with their long lines. We had to wait in line to leave the dirt lot because there isn't an automated ticket system. It's two guys and a book and they record every car coming in and out with their pens into a book. The car the owners of my house were driving was filthy and without air conditioning, so the windows were down the 45 minute drive to their house with putrid smells coming in. I've travelled in Asia, Africa, all over Europe, South America, Australia and the US, and I wasn't prepared for the lack of efficiency and organization that permeated throughout the trip. Now let me surprise you by saying that in time, I really enjoyed my time here. I looked at it as lessons to be learned, an adventure to be had, and character gained. I'm still here now, and can't sleep, and haven't been able to sleep well the whole time, because their pillows absolutely and totally suck. Apparently that's a South American thing (so says my husband). Bring your pillow! In the end, I'm glad I came and got it here because they nurses and the house that I'm staying in tended to my every need whereas at home that would have been impossible. My physician seems to have done a great job. I'll post pictures later. I wrote before that I was so scared because I looked so fat coming out. I just figured they weren't able to help such a fatty like me:) I look much better almost 2 weeks out now. I will also share the phone number of the house I stayed at in case any of you want to reach out the house directly instead of going through the doctor's office, which takes a big cut. A couple words about language barriers and how it affected things. For me, if was a huge problem and I speak pretty OK Spanish. I can understand most things. And it was still an issue. If you don't speak Spanish, you absolutely must go with a doctor who speaks Spanish or has someone in their office who does. Also, look for a place to stay that has English speaking care takers. It's a big deal. Also, regarding the city selection. I came to Cali because Dr. Zapata is here. However, if you felt the physicians would be equally worked, I'd pick Bogota or Medellin over Cali. Cali has a high crime rate and the people here are extremely pre-cautious and it's pretty pervasive. I'm not talking a careful culture. I'm taking a paranoid culture, and perhaps for good reason. I'm not sure I'd pick cartagena although it's the most vacation-like. I wanted to be close to the areas that are known for high quality medicine in case of an emergency.

3 weeks AFTER!

It's been 3 weeks today. I remain very confident in Dr Zapata's work. He was almost twice the cost, but when you're talking Colombia, that's only a few thousand more and he has a fantastic reputation down there. I didn't like that his office takes a cut of my habitation expenses though. It's standard down there though, but I still don't like that. And, accommodations with other doctors were less expensive too. For that reason, if you contact the owner of the home that I stayed in directly, it will save you a lot of money. And...she gives amazing massages too. Better than the ones I got through the doctors office. The owner of the home is Elsa Giralda. There is a "nurse" there 24 hours a day with you. Disclaimer, the nurses are not real nurses. They may have studied for a year, if that. But..they know how to help you after you have surgery so that's most important. To call Elsa from the US dial +57 314 890 2194.
Dr. Jaime Zapata

I haven't met him yet. Just written back and forth with his assistant. She doesn't speak any English and I'm not sure he does either. They promised me they will have an English speaking person available to me at my consultation.

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