A big shout out to all who have posted about this...
A big shout out to all who have posted about this procedure on this site. At 65, some would say the horse has left the barn and I should learn to live with my massive forehead. Which let's face it, I obviously have -- not happily, but I have. My Mom tried to convince me I needed a giant forehead "to make room for all your brains!" Gotta love Moms, right??
But now I'm entering Act III, and since I found out I don't HAVE to live with a forehead that sucks up more Botox than the USS Enterprise uses fuel, I'm going to see if this procedure will work for me. I have thin hair so this is an issue, so I hope I don't have "hair shock loss" and a scar, but I trust my surgeon and hope all will be well. I will be having a lower facelift at the same time (separate review) so I imagine the healing process will be substantial.
I am a veteran of the plastic surgery wars, having started at 38 with eyes and breasts. I am a believer in doing things before the revisions are noticeable, so I've managed to putt along with a lower facelift at 51 and another at 58. I have never had anything done to the upper part of my face, so I'm nervous because I believe the eyebrows/forehead area are the dead giveaways for having dad "work" done.
Had my consultation today and I'm so excited I can't see straight. He said he can easily lower my hairline 2 cm, although I really don't have a lot of skin laxity or forehead wrinkles. I thought he'd do a brow lift at the same time but apparently not -- just the hairline lowering will tighten my brows enough. Yay!
Will fix my hairline behind my ears from previous face lift scars, and then do the lower face. He said I won't need tons of work since I've had previous work over the years -- just a refresher. Surgery is Wednesday March 2 with a return visit Thursday and Friday. Thursday to take the helmet wrap off and check everything's OK, then Friday to remove that dressing at which point I won't be wearing any sort of dressing for the rest of the healing process.
Important Pre-Surgery Tip from a Surgeon
In reading pre-surgery instructions I noticed a surgeon himself noted that Colace (or another stool softener) would be your new best friend during surgical procedures. All the anesthesia and meds dehydrate the body/colon causing a lot of constipation -- something no one wants to deal with when held together by fresh stitches. So I started 3 days in advance with arnica, bromelain (for bruising) and Colace in prep for the big day tomorrow. I think sleep will be a foregone conclusion tonight. Hubby and I are staying in a hotel in Orem, Utah, about 25 miles south of Sandy, Utah where the surgery will take place. We traveled here for the surgery and will stay a month recuperating. This part of the country is incredibly beautiful and I'm enjoying the view of snow covered mountains right outside our window.
Pix of issues with hairlines
These pix capture how receded my hairline is at my temples (again, genetics). The plan is to "close the gap" so the receding "V" areas disappear. Wouldn't that be sweet? As to the hairline issues behind my ears, a previous facelift ended up removing a lot of scalp and taking the hair with it. When my hair is normal it's not a problem at all -- but I do have to warm hairdressers not to scream when they discover the "Bermuda Triangle."
TIP: I get really nauseous taking codeine but both Percocet and Vicodin have a codeine compound in them (which I found out from the pharmacist today). Sooooooo -- rather than wait to find out if they would make me sick I took a pill today at lunch to test drive it. All was well. If you're in doubt about your reaction to a painkiller take it a day in advance to find out before you end up throwing up after your surgery. That happened to me once and it's a special little seat in hell, let me tell you.
No good deed goes unpunished...
So much for the tip about taking pain medicine in advance to see how they ride. I got out of surgery and went home, all was fine, I took a Percocet and BAM! So nauseous, threw up all night. Had to go into the doc for an IV drip since I was so dehydrated. The pain of this procedure is doable but the nausea -- NO CAN DO.
The second night was better, only thew up once (yay progress!). Went into the doctors were I showed and go most of the goop out of my hair, they had a Galvanic facial -- some contraption that helps with speedier healing. Doctor took off all my wraps and said it looks wonderful, I'm healing nicely. Also all the stitches are dissolvable so I don't have to do anything with them, no moistening etc.
I look totally like Joan Rivers and if I hadn't seen so many other photos of women healing at this stage I would be panicking. Bruising isn't so bad, yet, but I imagine it'll come in soon. I don't have an incision under my chin but boy is my neck tight. And my eyes!
It's the dry eyes that are killing me. They are so swollen they don't shut all the way, so I keep tons of goopy dry eye medicine slathered on them, which allows them to open once in a while. I finally put a patch over the worst eye at night to keep it from blinking -- even blinking hurt and felt like a scratched cornea, which for those of you who have had one, they feel like ground glass in your eyes.
So today is Day Four and I'm starting to feel a semblance of myself.
End of Day Four -- Progress
Sleep is my new friend. I do one tiny thing, then stumble to bed and conk out. Heaven. The swelling is lessening and itching it already starting -- yeah -- that means healing. That weird sensation someone mentioned of water trickling over your forehead showed up, that is very trippy. My only concern are the eyes -- they look way too high but I've been assured they'll lower. They have lowered some already as swelling goes down. I'm sure the forehead will also release and that will help.
The bruising under the eye is front a fat transfer. Although Dr. Sonntag isn't a big fan (he says the results don't last and people get disappointed) he agreed to put fat in the hollows of my temples and in these two little divots next to my nose that appear when I smile. Sarah Jessica Parker has those same little areas (of course on her they're adorable, everything is adorable on SJP) but on me it was more like whaaaaaat????? So hopefully the fat will take, it's an attempt anyway. No one would ever put filler there because of the proximity to some major nerve that can paralyze your face so I took a pass on that.
Can't figure out how to blend the pix side by side but working on it.
Swelling going down a bit so the eyebrows are lowering (hallelujah!!) and my eyes are closing and I don't look like the "wind tunnel" so much today. Encouraging as swelling goes down there will be a good result. Attack of the itches last night along the stitches on the back of my hairline from being on a pillow so long I imagine. Cold compresses on forehead work wonders.
Finally remembered I had Arnica Oil I bought specifically for bruising so I'm dabbing it on the shiner under one eye to see if it makes a difference. I was able to eat yesterday for the first time so that really helped. Nothing like ripping your face off for an instant diet. LOL.
Incisions up close
Day 5 healing -- I'm amazed at how the incisions in front of my ears are healing so quickly. And the incisions run extensively in the back because as I said Dr. Sonntag repositioned my scalp to lower my hairline back to its original place from a previous facelift. It's very scary looking but even at Day 5 I can tell it will heal well. One thing to ponder, I think I'm going to have to get my ears repierced because my ears were previously attached to my head, and this time they aren't to better hide the scars -- and to avoid the dreaded "pixie ears."
Day 7 Update
Swelling slowly going down everywhere to the point I can see where this whole thing is going and I'm pleased. The only thing freaking me out is how high my brows are still -- but my doctor reassures me they will release and lower as swelling subsides on my forehead. My forehead is still really green and yellow and swollen, there are bumps along the stitches so I know there is a lot of "release" yet to take place.
I chant I must be patient. This is a big procedure and it all won't happen overnight. And I remember from my previous lower facelifts -- once the swelling goes down, then the terror of "oh no here come the wrinkles I remember!" and that whole train of thought that drives me totally batty.
So I'm not going down that road this time. (Ha! Ha!) But I really would like to see the eyebrows lower. The shiner is a little better, it might be the arnica oil I slather on it, but the right side of my face is way more green/yellow than the left. Odd I think, I wonder why that is.
The hairline scar is healing nicely. The stitches are all dissolvable and some of them have disappeared already. I didn't shower yesterday but will do so today and expect more of them to disappear.
The Mighty Brows Begin to Drop
One week from surgery.
Whew! The brows are loosening and beginning the migration back to somewhere other than the neighborhood of a lost Gabor sister. I'm able to close my eyes almost all the way at night. Tip for anyone having this procedure: I bought a humidifier and I'd hate to go through this without it. It's been a godsend in keeping skin/eyes moist during the healing process. My forehead is settling as well, and the "pleats" that show up next to the stitches from the swelling underneath are beginning to smooth out too, which will also release the brows a bit.
As to bruising, I am one of the ones that didn't have too much for the first four days and them BAM! Yellow and green like crazy, especially the forehead. Today it is much better and I am starting to feel like myself, although I can't stress enough how much this surgery has taken out of me. Out of the blue I will suddenly be exhausted and crawl back to bed. (Upside? Great excuse to clutch fashion magazines and bingewatch Netflix.)
Went into PS for follow-up visit yesterday. He was happy I was so ecstatic with the results. He told me he had used a portion of my removed forehead -- some of the tissue underneath the skin -- and sewn it into place over my temples where the hollowing was so bad. He also added a little fat, but said due to the tissue, even if the fat was reabsorbed by my body the tissue would not be. I was beyond happy about that! The whole purpose of this face lift is to get off the Voluma/juvederm/botox treadmill that costs a small fortune with not as good results.
The first pic is this morning at waking up, shiner still present (from fat injected under eye) and later covered up. My eyes don't sting and burn as badly so the brows are relaxing a touch, although in pix it doesn't look like much. He said they will continue to relax, and it was not odd that the right side of my face is taking way longer to heal than the left.
As to the hairline, he said he fought like hell to lower it as much as he did (about 2 cm). I had zero scalp laxity so I was really happy he got as much as he did. I feel like I still have a forehead, just not the giant tarmac I was dragging around all my life.
A good friend said, "You don't look much different, just a lot better!" Not THAT is high praise indeed!
PS -- Stumbled upon the best cover-up EVER recommended by my friend -- Maybelline Age Rewind. It has a sponge applicator and doesn't give overly heavy coverage but does the job.
Just wanted to post for those interested in what the scars look like up close -- this is Day 10. Some parts are still quite red while others are difficult to see. I also have a lot of bruising on my forehead still because I had a combination browlift/hairline lowering (seems redundant doesn't it?) which I think caused more bruising.
The Slump (also known as "attack of impatience")
Here I sit on Day 12 (post surgery) and a few thoughts: I am RESTLESS big time. I'm used to exercising a lot, Yin Yoga (deep stretching) and I miss it. I am still reluctant to lower my head at all for fear of swelling. The few nights I slide down on the pillows I notice my forehead has more swelling in the a.m.
Also a little caveat for those of us allergic to penicillin: I had to take Cipro due to the allergy, and after reading some of the warnings I almost had a heart attack. Apparently Cipro has been known to cause "tendon ruptures" especially the Achilles for a period up to 60 days after taking it -- particularly in people over 60. Oh joy!!! So of course I'm paranoid about any yoga/stretching because wouldn't that be the grande finale to all this -- one of those horrible boots after an Achilles rupture?
So just a warning to anyone else out there in case you missed that little side effect. The good news is this has garnered enough of my attention that I will DEFINITELY be heeding the post-op instructions to not lift anything over 10 pounds for 4 weeks, and only resume regular exercise after 6. I'm with many of my sisters on this site however who claim to be able to feel our muscle mass melting as the second hand of the clock ticks by.
My incisions are itchy and tight and I'm doing my best to keep from scratching or picking at them. I have all dissolvable stitches so there is no relief in sight until they dissolve on their own. Another thought I had about working out -- I recently got some weird arm rash at the gym, so going back I will ensure NO part of my head touches anything not protected by a towel. It would be too easy to get an infection and wouldn't that be a nightmare?
I'm going back to the PS today for a second Venus Legacy treatment on my forehead. They use the magnetic setting only (no heat) to help with wound healing and increase circulation. My hope is that will eventually lead to my eyebrows lowering a touch more. I don't need a lot, just a little!!
2 Weeks Today -- Pix Worth 1,000 Words
So while I get impatient I check out the pictures and realize there is still massive healing going on. I hope you can see from these pix how green/yellow I still am especially along the temples, which contributes to the high brows. This is the area where the Dr. transplanted tissue to fill in the hollows on my temples, and it is STILL very very swollen.
PS - I am not bed-ridden as suggested by these pix (LOL) but rather started to take pix first thing in the morning upon waking up so have kept with that routine. Also, we're in a hotel so this light actually gives the truest story.
Just Shy of 3 Weeks
Have my official 3 week visit with my surgeon tomorrow because we are leaving Utah and continuing cross country. Things are pretty settled now. I still have a little puckering along my hairline which I understand will flatten out in time. A little bruise from the fat transfer under my right eye remains, but the eyebrows have lowered enough to make me happy. I notice the fat transfers seem to take forever to heal totally -- not just me but other women as well.
I'm posting a few pix -- one right before surgery -- and one outside with my new forehead. It's not a giant change in dimensions, but it's just enough to thrill me. I just don't feel so freakish anymore -- even with the wind blowing!!!
I still have stitches in my head that haven't totally dissolved, and a little scarring in front of my ears and on the lobes needs to flatten out, but all in all I have nothing to complain about, and much to celebrate.
One Month Update - Several unforeseen bonuses of forehead lowering
So I'm one month out and decided to put up some pix for comparisons. These are straight out of the shower, not a lick of makeup (except all my permanents: lips, liner, brows).
Something unexpected happened from brow lowering -- 1) My hair used to grow up and back which made it harder to comb down over my forehead for camouflaging said acreage. BUT NOW, and I think this has to do with yanking hair follicles forward, my hair grows straight down over my forehead! Which means the other day I stood in the wind and my bangs didn't BUDGE, they stayed down on my forehead. Happy dance all around for sure. 2) I had a ridiculous cowlick on the crown of my head that made my hair swirl in a bizarre pattern and I had trouble styling the hair to go backwards instead of forwards. Well now it lays totally flat and goes back instead of forward -- again I think this is due to the stretching my scalp underwent.
Scars: I started massaging my scars except for the forehead scars. They are totally flat (except for a rogue stitch that created a scab) so I'm leaving them alone. But behind my ears, in front of my ears and up into my hairline I massage every night when I'm watching TV, using coconut oil in short upward strokes per instructions of my surgeon. He said massage helps healing. This is flattening the scars a lot. In front of my ears they are light pink but back in the hairline area they are still pretty frightening but I know all in good time. I am really picky about my ear lobes because one is a little thicker at the bottom than the other, but they're better with massage. Of course since I'm one of those all-or-nothing people I have to flog myself not to overdo it.
Swelling: As I have seen fellow sisters lament, the too-good-to-be-true tautness where my face had not a hint of a wrinkle or crow's feet has passed. Hence the pix showing under my chin where a touch of laxity has moved back into the hood. BUT compared to the two previous wind socks hanging down like air traffic controllers far be it from me to complain. As to the swelling on my temples from the fat/fascia grafting, it has come way down but is still a little bit yellow/green, and of course!!! one side is more swollen than the other. I asked the doctor to do a slight lip lift to my mouth corners to combat the RBF that snuck up on me. (Don't know about you but this part of aging was the most horrifying to me. I suddenly resembled every nun who ever beat me during elementary school.) Kidding!! (Sort of.) Anyway, one side went up, the other was kind of pulling down for the entire 4 weeks -- until today I looked in the mirror and both sides were gently tipping up. Totally awesome.
Brows: My absolute nightmare from the forehead reduction/brow lift was that my eyebrows would seriously be a foot above my eyes and never descend but that has not come to pass. But it took almost the full month to relax them enough that I think I don't look "done" so it really was a little nerve wracking along the way.
Eyes: Although I had no work done on them, the brow lift affected them and pulled the lids up so I had trouble closing them and suffered from dry eye for almost the entire month. Two words: HUMIDIFIER and DROPS are the only things that got me through, seriously. And the dry eyes make me extremely light sensitive, so I can't even think about going out without sunglasses. The good news is it is much better just in the last two days. At one point the lids had pulled up a tiny bit leaving a white line at my lash line which looked odd and I thought I was going to have to get a touch-up on my permanent eyeliner, but just today for the first time it went back to normal. So be prepared, if you have dry eye issues, you WILL need to plan for that during this surgery, but know it will pass. Making it worse was I had to stop the fish oil and evening primrose oil I take for dry eyes (they are miracle workers, believe me) 2 weeks before surgery, so that was a double-dog curse. But I've been back on the supplements for 2 weeks now so it is really helping.
Facial symmetry: As we all know our faces are not 100% exactly the same. You may REALLY notice this during the healing process, and you may even notice it for the first time EVER during the healing process. I realized one side of my hairline is higher than the other and that's just the way it is. Also, one side of my face just "crinkles" more when I smile and that too is just the way it is. Same for my mouth -- my lips don't move in the exact same direction when I smile (or even in repose for that matter) but for some reason when you're healing it all takes on Frankenstein-ish proportions.
So my bottom line philosophy on this whole plastic surgery thing is this: I am supremely thankful I am able to take advantage of the advances in science that help us stay the best we can be as we continue to live longer and healthier lives. And I work on remaining humble and grateful about the outcomes and results, and not harp on the tiny imperfections only I can see as I move through the healing process and prepare to have this PS adventure be another fond chapter I look back on years out.
And I do not kid myself. I will pass this way again. If I'm lucky enough not to drop dead any time soon -- oh yell YEAH I'll be back!
FYI re: scar healing from the forehead reduction surgery:
The front section has almost disappeared after one month. The temples are slower to heal which I believe is caused by the "tension" at those points. Although they look red and angry, I can cover with makeup. It also looks in one photo like a chunk of hair is missing, but that is not the case. I have had NO hair shock loss. My PS told me if it were to happen it would happen instantly and I'd have long known about it, so that is comforting.
Another thing my husband mentioned -- in a kind, loving way of course (LOL) -- is my age. He made note since I'm 65, what used to heal in a week now takes a month, so factor that into the equation.
Even taking into account the somewhat slower healing for my scar, I am still ecstatic and would do it again in a heartbeat. As to the facelift scars, they are healing much more quickly, especially around the front of my ears.
5 Week Update
5 weeks ago from surgery. The right side of my face is still more swollen than the left, from the hairline down to my cheek. I hope this resolves in time. The tissue on my face is "squishier" than on the left so it feels like there is more fluid retention happening.
I'm still a little unsure about how high my eyebrows are, they seem up there to me, but I guess this is something I have to get used to.
My scars are all covered with concealer and they are still pretty obvious when they're not. I will continue posting the hairline lowering scars monthly to chart the progress for anyone interested in having the procedure. It's really interesting to note how very differently we all heal, how we bruise, how we nitpick (LOL) as we recover.
This has been such a positive forum and I can't thank everyone enough for their support and encouragement. Good luck to all of you out there going through the process, debating the process, or just in horror of the process!!!
Week 5 Pix
As mentioned the crow's feet have returned under my eyes but I'm just going to go with it. I was desperate to get off the hamster wheel of injections, plumpers, freezers, you name it. Realistically I'll be headed back for something for that line above my lip which I am still trying to get rid of. And I'm going to Prisma Dental in Costa Rica in July to replace my veneers which I have had for 25 years (yikes!) so that'll help the smile.
So that review will follow over the summer.
Small Set Back -- late in healing process
About week 7 I realized I had a bump on my forehead near the incision that was quite tender. Everything up until now had been fine. I emailed a pic of the bump to my doc and he put me on antibiotics right away due to the bump and the obvious inflammation on the suture line.
Later in the day it was way worse with green ooze from the scab (sorry, TMI I know). So 10 days of antibiotics. I was definitely bummed out. It seemed others sailed through healing process and here I was with an infection. I had been very careful about the scar, but I think perhaps putting sunscreen and foundation on the scar to camouflage it caused the infection. Obviously the scar opened a bit from a totally unhealed suture and BANG! -- away I went.
So now I am totally paranoid about keeping the scar clean and making sure there are no pinpoint openings along the incision.
Prescription Scar Gel
Since I had my facelift in Utah (and my surgeon has been awesome about email follow-up care etc.) and am now in Florida, after the infection scare, I went to a dermatologist in Florida for a bit of botox on my crow's feet and to have him check the incision.
He said I'm healing great for 2 months out (although it still looks like raw hamburger to me) and instantly recommended a scar gel that he said would heal the scar in half the time. Apparently it's new -- Celacyn -- even the pharmacist was reading it over to educate himself. Anyway, if you decide to go this way it is expensive but if you google "celacyn coupons" you can find one that keeps the cost at under $45. I believe it retails at $117. I got my prescription filled at Walmart and it was $35 with all my other discounts.
I will do an update to see if this works or not -- hard to tell since I don't exactly have a control scar to compare to.
I think this stuff works
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. They have a point. The first picture is Tuesday of this week before I started the Celacyn scar gel. The next 2 are this morning Saturday, after using the gel for 4 days.
3 Month Update
I really couldn't be happier with my results -- both the forehead lowering and the facelift. I still wish my doc could have eked out a tiny bit more so my forehead would be even lower, BUT compared to what it used to be, I don't feel freakish anymore. The forehead scar is still visible and I'm still using the scar gel, but it is easily covered by concealer.
My other scars by my ears are fading well. Again, the left side is going much faster than the right, staying consistent with the healing process to date.
The next big milestone is going to get my hair cut and highlighted. I have to find someone who won't start screaming at all my scars thinking I've been scalped. LOL. I've let my hair grow so it's really raggedy but I wanted plenty of hair to hide the tell tale scars -- I think it's finally time to head on in.
The only healing left are bouts of intense itching on my forehead, but mercifully it doesn't last long. I haven't had any hair loss at all, and baby hairs are growing back into the scar, but it'll be a long time before it's enough to totally camouflage it.
6 Months Later
10 Sep 2016
6 months post
It's been just about 6 months and I'm still thrilled. Everything has healed nicely. I see a tiny difference in my eyes, when I smile one crinkles more than the other, but boy, if that's not a sign I have too much time on my hands to notice these things, I don't know what is!
I'm so HAPPY I did the forehead lowering especially. To not spend my entire life grabbing my bangs and trying to rearrange them (to no avail, I might add) -- well, it's just a little bit of heaven.
Someone asked to see the forehead scar at 6 months so here it is -- no makeup or concealer. My husband can't see it at all. The hair has totally grown in (as advertised) right through the scar so the baby hairs hide it naturally.
I am a happy camper!!!