I should probably wait until AFTER my surgery to...
I should probably wait until AFTER my surgery to start this review, but I can't imagine choosing a better doctor.
It's our faces - right? We must be careful! We want to look like ourselves, but the best version possible.
I went to see three doctors - including an ocular facial plastic surgeon. The issue with the ocular surgeon was that she didn't do fat redistribution under the eyes, which is more artistic than "necessary." In the end, I think the plastics are more aesthetically attuned, and that is important along with safety of course.
I feel most comfortable with Dr. Gutowski, whose cost (for what it's worth) was in the middle of the quotes I received. He is also doing some other procedures while I'm in the recovery mode including some fat grafting and CO2 laser at no additional charge. He seems very generous that way - if he's there, and it doesn't increase cost of surgical center, he is happy to help. If it takes more time and costs more money for him, I must pay the difference. Seems more than fair to me.
Day Two and I feel great!
I have no idea what u will look like, but I suspect good. Advice I would give to others:
- I like the rectangular ice bag from the drugstore, but I liked it better after I used it a while. It got softer and more comfortable. You might want to use it a few times before surgery to get it pliable.
- I have no pain to speak of, so avoided the narcotic after the first night. I'm not sure I needed it then but I wanted to make sure I slept.
-I am sleeping on a recliner, it works great.
- you can use Long sleevea r-shirt to keep your ice bag in place. Just put the t shirt over the ice bag and tie the arms together to hold the bag in place.
- I couldn't close my right eye for the first day. Now I can. I'm told this is common.
- I had blurry eyes from the ointments. Even now it is hard to see sometimes. Excuse all typos.
48 hours post surgery
I am feeling, and looking, more like myself -albeit a swollen self. I am tired. I have no pain to speak of. I am not taking the narcotic that was prescribed. My doctor took some fat from my stomach for fat grafting, and that area is uncomfortable when touched. But overall I am shocked at the lack of pain. I have been icing continually, and I think I have very little bruising. It is the swelling that is annoying, and the blurry vision. My eyes sometimes can't shut because of the swelling. I am using ointment and drops - which protects the eye, but is the cause of the blurry vision.
I'm ready for this to be over now...
It is three days after surgery. My bruising seems to be resolving. I had some pain last night, enough that I took the narcotic that was prescribed. I think it was because I'd had so little pain that I hadn't taken anything, combined with the wearing off of surgical anesthesia. It wasn't bad. The ointment in my eyes that causes blurry vision bothers me the most. Also, I am SO tired. I am taking tons of naps AND sleeping at night. I'm not used to being so unproductive, I feel guilty. My face is swollen and feels "tight." Again, nothing terrible, it just feels like a waste of a beautiful summer Friday. Oh well. Finding a perfect time to do this is impossible.
I began looking normal -though not quite myself- at Day 10
I've had quite the week since my last update. My aunt died, and I ended up traveling out of state to her funeral on Day 6 after my procedure. Truth be told, it looked as though I'd been in a fight - and I wore shaded glasses inside and out. My stitches were removed that morning, and it was too soon to put make-up on around the eye region.
It is now Day 12, and I am planning to go to a baseball game this evening. I still don't look entirely like myself, but bruising is pretty much gone.
My issue is, and has been, swelling. My doctor used dissolvable sutures in the under area of my eye. These sutures dissolved in my left eye, but DID NOT PROPERLY DISSOLVE in my right eye. There was continual discomfort, and prolonged swelling. I don't know why it happened, but the stitches were manually removed on Day 9, and from then on healing and comfort was exponentially better. I also began warm compresses and lymphatic "massage" and there continues to be rapid improvement.
I had fat grafts in my nasiolabial wrinkes, and that caused my cheeks to swell like a chipmunk. I looked a lot like Alvin, but he had smaller cheeks. I hadn't paid any attention to that area and failed to ice my cheeks. I was concentrating on my eyes. I don't know if I had iced my cheeks if it would have helped, but if I was to do it over again - I would have at least tried. Even now, my cheeks are swollen. Though people who don't know me would not think I looked abnormal, my loved ones and I know that I am not quite there yet.
This said, in my brother's words, I look human now. But, when I was at a funeral on Day 7 and Day 8, that was just not good. I don't regret going, but I didn't look good -or normal.
If you're going to do this, I think you really need closer to three weeks before you're going to want to do something social.
Almost two weeks - looking "normal" but not looking like myself
I can absolutely go out in public and nobody would think anything was amiss. My eyes get a bit achy at times, but I have a tendency towards dry eye, and I think the overall ache is equal to or less than before because my upper lids aren't weighing heavily atop. I bought a wonderful warm compress which I like a lot - it has no rough edges and is designed for dry eyes.
Once the undissolved stitches were removed, my right eye continued to improve in leaps and bounds - so much so that it now seems less swollen than my left eye. My cheeks are terribly puffy. I've been told it looks like I have a toothache. If you didn't know me, you'd just say that's how I look.
But I can tell the difference, and it's like looking at someone not quite right in the mirror. My doctor has been wonderfully helpful and responsive. Communicating with me and/or setting up additional times for me to see him as I healed. Text photos are helpful. He assures me this is all normal, and that it is common for him to hear from patients at the two week mark who are a bit depressed about what they might have done - but only if they had work done above the neck.
I just need to keep reminding myself how much I hated my eye bags and puffy overhanging lids. The issue is that I felt more attractive BEFORE today than I do at the moment. And, now that I have almost zero discomfort of any kind, it's hard for me to remember this hasn't quite been two weeks yet. The healing I've had from the end of week one to the end of week two is near-close to miraculous, so I must remember that a lot can improve in a week.
My eyes look better when you don't see my cheeks.
I added photos. When I look only at my eyes, I see more progress than I did at the time. My puffy, swollen, cheeks, with marks from the grafting, bother me. I am getting better as I near week three, but it is the element of my face that most throws me off.
I think it may have something to do with too many changes at a time. The doctor said he hears the most concern from face lift patients. They wonder what they have done! I didn't have that, but I had enough of a change to my face that I didn't feel like my SELF.
I also learned that taking selfies is not the best way to gauge your progress. We all know we look bad in selfies, so why did I think it was the best way to capture progress? Only one of these photos was taken by someone else, and my eyes look much better. The cell phone has the lens at the side, so it is not the best way of monitoring symmetry.
One month today, and I am beginning to feel like "myself" again
I'm either "used to" my face, or some of the fat disappeared (as it usually does), and the swelling is much less than it was before - net, I don't feel as foreign as I did. I'm discovering what angles of selfies provide the best photos, and actually took a photo a couple nights ago with zero make-up that made me feel attractive again. Truth told, I had some moments where I felt I would never be as attractive as I was. Yet, my eyes are a TON better. And, my face is a toss-up. Was it better to have deeper lines? I'm not yet sure on that one.
I can honestly say I feel better than before - and am getting compliments.
It's all -finally- settling down. I posted a terrible "before" photo. My eyes did not always look that puffy, in fact was often told I was attractive -even beautiful. A comment was made by an acquaintance when I was at the funeral, not exactly in these words, "I didn't recognize you. You are usually so pretty." Multiple people said, in the early days, "you look different" but they didn't say it in a good way. In recent days (and I mean RECENT days) I've been hearing things like, "you look refreshed." Most important, they felt I looked like myself.
The early stages after plastic surgery are disfiguring! I knew that intellectually, but was not ready for it emotionally. I'm not sure why my cheeks puffed up dramatically - but they did. I decided to post my entire face - so you can see why I was concerned during the past weeks. The majority of swelling didn't come from the eyes (I don't think) but from the fat grafts.
My message is, "it takes time." It also takes patience, which I didn't have vis-a-vis my face, but fortunately Dr. Gutowski did, and he has been very encouraging and addressed my concerns throughout. He said he would/could fix any issues that remain after my tissues settled down. I had no discomfort after the undissolved stitches were removed.
You must have patience - but it is easier said than done
12 Aug 2016
2 months post
Things are beginning to resolve now. Most of the little asymmetries, oddities, are gone. I am still a bit swollen in some areas (after more than two months!) but I look better than before surgery - for sure.
It helps to know I can fix things that don't get resolved, or so I believed, but I'd rather not have to.
I have one final treatment in a month- CO2 laser for the fine wrinkles and a scar. I am also using a skin system that is shockingly evening out my skin tone, and helping to prevent hyper pigmentation. I can already see a big difference. The product line is Obagi.
Before & After
20 Sep 2016
3 months post
Dr. G sent me a copy of my pre-surgery photo vs. one taken after three months before a Fractional CO2 laser. I can't believe how unhappy/unpleasant I look in the before photo. I wasn't. I felt happy, and value kindness. I likely was worried though...
In any case, a Fractional CO2 was always part of the plan but it had to be delayed because of a death in my family.
For what it's worth, my eyes swelled up again with the laser. It is clear to me now that I will likely always swell more than I anticipate. I text a lot of "is this okay?" Photos to the doctor. He assures me I will be okay, and that if not he will fix it.
Truly, time is what is needed most. Not only does it take time to heal, you're going t look worse before you look better. The hardest part for me was when I didn't feel as though I looked like myself.
Now I do look like myself, just a better version. Yay!
6+ Months Post
So, to recap - an upper & lower blepharoplasty in June. It was supposed to be immediately followed by a Fractional CO2 laser to tighten and eliminate any scarring. I had to postpone the laser because of a funeral, and did it after Labor Day. Also in June, I had some fat injected in my marionette lines - which caused me the greatest issues (in my opinion.) I definitely have some asymmetries (as I did before surgery) and don't photograph the same (before surgery I looked better in smiling photos, worse in non-smiling photos) -- but, I am looking pretty darn good for a 56 year old.
I swelled up far more than I expected, and the puffiness in and around my eyes and cheeks and jaw took a long time to go away. I looked like a normal person fairly quickly, but it took much, much longer to look like myself.
My doctor, Dr. Karol Gutowski, was amazing. Very attentive, immediately responsive via text or email, and talked me down from angst more times than I can mention. His usual advice was to wait for healing, but if (issue of the moment) didn't get better --- he would fix it. I have no plans, at this point, to fix anything.
Would I do it again? The eyes in a heartbeat. The fat injections, I'm not sure - but I am content regardless.