Facelift with Dr. Lev - Costa Rica
I am headed to Costa Rica in May for a facelift...
The dreaded before pictures
I actually found a fairly inexpensive way to get the labs done here without having to go in to see the physician. You all may have known about it, but I didn't. They actually have places on the internet where you can order whatever tests you want without a physician's order, then you go to a designate lab and have the blood drawn or UA taken. They have your results in a couple of days. So, I have that scheduled next week.
So, I thought I would post a picture of me with makeup and hair did... so I can compare the same post procedure. I will keep everyone updated as I go along!
I HAVE ARRIVED......
A note about Dr. Levs office. I read somewhere that there someone complained about Dr. Lev's office. I honestly don't know why. His office is very nice. It is clean and looks very professional. His receptionist called me by name as soon as I walked in. Someone made a comment about his blinds being yellow....that's because they ARE yellow..... as in the color yellow. Anyway, I don't know what that was about. But I have had a great experience so far....but it is just the beginning. I am going to CIMA in the morning at 5:30 am. I will post pictures as soon as I am able. Headed down to eat dinner.
Day 3 and 4
Looking a little more normal
post op day 6
Post op day 9
Post op day 10
Post op day 11
Back in Texas
Thank you all again for all of your support. This website has been everything to me and continues to help me answer questions I have on a daily basis. I am going to continue to post my healing process over the next year so that everyone can see changes, complications and final outcome. I also want to post something specifically about Dr. Lev and the surgical process when I get a chance...just so others considering Dr. Lev may know. Thank you all!
My surgical experience.....CIMA Hospitao, Dr. Lev, Dr. Greenwood
I had a consultation with Dr. Lev the day I arrived in Costa Rica. I went to his office which happens to be in a nice 2 or 3 story shopping center, comparable to our malls, but smaller. There was a post somewhere that indicated Dr. Lev's office was dirty with yellowing, broken blinds and a dirty coffee pot. That is not true. His blinds are yellow/gold because that is the color they are meant to be. They are vertical blinds that cover large interior windows and are cloth covered. They were not dirty, broken or in anyway tacky. I sat directly beside the coffee pot. It was perfectly clean - if fact I couldn't tell it had ever been used. The office is clean in every way. I posted a picture of his office. So... there you go.
His office manager knew who I was immediately and was very warm and welcoming. I went in immediately and talked with Dr. Lev. He listened to what I wanted, answered questions and we decided upon a plan. Dr. Lev is personable, patient and just a nice man.
The next morning I went to CIMA hospital at 6:00 a.m. CIMA is a Joint Commission accredited hospital. The Joint Commission develops performance standards for hospitals in the United States. In order to be accredited, the hospital must meet these standards. I got there at about 5:30. The admission person spoke perfect English, paperwork was signed. I paid a 1,000.00 deposit with a credit card (they do not take cash or checks), gave him my cell phone, credit cards and cash and he sealed it in a bag and locked it up. By 6:00 am I was headed back to pre-op. A nurse came and got me. She spoke better English than I did. She had me get into a gown and asked all the medical history, medication questions, etc that you get when you go into a hospital in the US. Then, another physician came by and introduced herself, again in perfect English, and asked some of the same questions. She told me Dr. Greenwood and Dr. Lev would be by to see me prior to surgery.
Dr. Greenwood came by first. He is hilarious. He had me laughing and I completely forgot about any nerves I may have had. He explained everything to me. He started an IV. He said he would be administering an anti-inflammatory and pain medication through the IV prior to surgery so that those two things would be better controlled after surgery. He said he would administer an anti-nausea medication prior to my waking to control any nausea. I told him I previously had terrible nausea after anesthesia and he said not to worry because he will administer the same medication given to cancer patients who had nausea. He said he would be in the room with me throughout the surgery that he would not leave my side even to go to the bathroom. He discussed pain and pain management and assured me they would not let me suffer with pain after the surgery. He went through the medications available from NSAIDS to morphine. He said most people have a pain level at 2-3 after surgery. He told me a catheter would be put in after I was asleep. He continued making me and everyone else laugh and told me the nurse would give me a pill that would help maintain my blood pressure and a shot in the butt that would relax me and help him to initiate anesthesia. He answered all my questions, then kissed me on the forehead before he left. I can't say enough about him and his bedside manner and his calm approach. I had complete confidence in him and zero nerves after meeting him.
Dr. Lev came in and we went through everything again. He asked about my comfort and offered to get me a warm blanket. Again, just a nice person. He reassured me that all would be well and told me the surgery would be about 4 hours.
The nurse came and gave me the pill and the shot in the butt (that hurt a little). I remember lying there thinking "that was an IM injection, so it should take effect in about 20 mintues"......and I was out. I have no memory of being transferred to the OR or anything else until I woke up in recovery.
This is the most important part of the story to me.....when I had surgery in Mexico I woke up so nauseated, I immediately asked for something to throw up in. I never threw up, but for a few hours I was on the verge.....I had the bucket handy and it was overwhelming. In Mexico I also woke up FREEZING!!!!....rigors and all. They immediately gave me warm blankets, but I though I would never get warm again!!!!
In Costa Rica I woke up with ABSOLUTELY NO nausea. Not even a twinge.
Also, I was wrapped in a warming device that had puffy air bags that felt like warm clouds. I was so comfortable that I was annoyed by the nurse asking me if I had pain. I was like.."no, go away and let me enjoy my fluffy warm clouds". Hopefully I didn't say that, but that is how I felt.
I was asked several times about pain, but I honestly didn't have any. I was taken to a large, private room in the hospital and the nurses started putting the cool packs on my eyes. Again, everyone spoke English. I was given a call light and instructed to call if I needed anything. I requested my cell phone and it, along with everything else was brought to me by security. He looked scarred to death to see me and said he hoped I felt better soon (so sweet). Before long the nurse that Dr. Lev hired came and she took complete control. She was on top of everything and by the book. The only time the hospital nurses came in after she arrived was to take my vital signs and that was every 4 hours. At around 7PM she said I needed to get up and walk. She instructed me on exactly what to do and how to do it.....which is exactly how I would have managed my own patient. We walked the hall, then back to bed. If I moved, she was right there to see if I needed anything. If I uncovered, she turned up the AC. If I repositioned my head, she was up making suggestions to get me more comfortable. She had me back up in the morning walking again. In short, she was awesome. Also, I am an oncology nurse so hand hygiene is super important to me. This nurse religiously washed her hands before and after touching me....which doesn't even happen as it should in the US. Dr. Lev called her sometime in the night to check on me. I did not request any pain medication while I was in the hospital. I just didn't have that much pain. Just a little uncomfortable at times, but no real pain. The nurse left the next morning around 8am, and the hospital nurses took over. I didn't need them, but I accidentally hit the call light a couple of times and they were there quickly. Someone from the kitchen called and asked me what I wanted for breakfast and I had some breakfast. At some time in the morning a nurse removed the catheter, then Dr. Lev came, checked me over and discharged me. The nurses called the recovery facility and let them know I was being discharged. I went downstairs to admissions, paid my remaining bill and I was back at the recovery center by 11:00 am.
The hospital was modern and clean. State of the art equipment, excellent nursing care that met all US standards from what I saw....and yes...everyone speaks English. It was very quiet and I asked my nurse about how calm and quiet it was on the floor. She said it is a private hospital and only people with insurance or money to pay out of pocket come to the hospital. She said the public hospital is more crazy. That explains it..... I work at a county hospital!!
I have posted elsewhere that having surgery at CIMA is more expensive than having it at the clinic. Since I wasn't sure about everything, I opted to go to CIMA. If I went back for more surgery and I continue to be in the good health that I am now, I would be completely comfortable with having surgery at the clinic. I have that much confidence in Dr. Lev and Dr. Greenwood. However, if you are a smoker or have other health problems, I would recommend CIMA. You will get the care you need there.
So, I think that is every thing from start to finish regarding the actual surgery. It was a great experience and I felt like it was top notch care. If you have any questions I will be glad to answer them if I can.
Post-op day 19
4 Weeks post-op
11 weeks and 4 days post op
5 months post
6 months post
My experience with Dr. Lev was exceptional. I know how nice a physician is has no bearing on his work, but you just can't describe Dr. Lev without alluding to his gentle, caring nature. He is a caring, compassionate human being. In addition to that, he is a skilled, legitimate, extraordinary surgeon. Every interaction with him was professional and like talking to a good friend at the same time. His anesthesiologist Dr. Greenwood is equally skilled, professional and a caring human being. My experience was positive from beginning to end.