Well, I'm nearly a month out from having my...
Well, I'm nearly a month out from having my facelift. I am ready! I am 55 years old and a professional woman in a male dominated engineering firm. I felt pretty good about my looks but had a bad bout with diverticulitis in 2015 which really knocked me for a loop. I spent 4 days in the hospital and lost about 13 pounds in a week. It really took nearly 3 months to totally recover. With that said, my skin around my neck and jowls seemed more prominent since that episode. I look in the mirror and don't like what I see. I don't feel old, but others have described it as their face looks like it's melting! I feel it too!
So, it's time for me to make a change! To ready me for the procedure my Dr. recommended going through a series of 3 facial peels spread a month apart. I just finished my last one and now I'm ready for my surgery! Those peels have been amazing (I've post a review about them on here). My skin is glowing and I'm ready to go.
I'm not nervous about the procedure. My Dr. performs all of his surgery at the Outpatient Pavillion at the hospital and for my husband's sake I'm going to spend the night at the hospital when the surgery is completed. My Dr. also performed a breast reduction and tummy tuck on me Jan 2016. He did an incredible job on me and I feel great. Although I was ready for this facelift last year after the great results of my surgery he wanted me to wait for a year so I could fully recover from the other surgery. I appreciate that about him.
I'm posting a couple of before photos. I hate them! I really don't think I look this bad, but the camera must not lie! I really appreciate all the postings that others have shared on here and I want to give back with my story. I'll keep you posted. So far, I'm calm, cool and collected! We'll see as the time goes on...
Pre-Op Appointment Completed!
SURGERY: Standard Rhytidectomy (Full Facelift removing excess skin from my face, jowl & neck as well as tightening the underlying fascia and muscle) + Quad Blepharoplasty (Removal of excess skin and fat from my upper and lower eyelids)
I went to see my Doctor yesterday for my pre-op consultation! I'm a bit early in the process but I'll be on business travel for the next 2 weeks so they wanted to get me in before my trip. I'll be back on the 12th of May with my surgery scheduled for May 19. I'm sure that the time will fly!
After meeting with the Dr. we decided to go ahead and add the lower eye lift to the surgery. He said it wasn't really necessary and said we could do it at a later time but I decided to get it done now. I was so worried that I'd have regrets and wish I had it done at the same time, so we added it on.
After discussing the surgery, the Dr. went over all the possible complications and I signed all the required forms. He gave me a booklet that is prepared specifically for me and my procedures which outlines everything we discussed in my pre-op consultation. It's nice to have that for future reference. He also provided a shopping list and a bottle of anti-bacterial soap for use the 3 days prior to my surgery.
The surgery will take about six and a half hours. The actual cutting will only be about 2 hours and the remaining time will be suturing up the face. My surgery will begin at 7:30 am and I will have to be at the hospital at 5:45 am. The surgery will be performed in an operating room at the Outpatient Pavillion at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego. After the surgery I will go directly to the recovery room and then will be moved to a private hospital room. I've decided to spend the night at the hospital where they will monitor me and give me antibiotics intravenously until I'm discharged the next day. My husband and I discussed my staying at the hospital and both decided that it made sense. I want my husband to feel comfortable with the after care since I'll be relying on him exclusively. The private room for the night with around the clock care adds another $650 to the bill but hey, what's peace of mind cost? I'll be released mid day on Saturday with my head fully bandaged and 2 drains attached. My follow-up appointment at his office will be on the following Tuesday where he will remove the big bandage and the drains. I know that this seems a bit longer than most surgeons require but I will follow his instructions to the letter! It will be terrible having to wait that long to wash my hair!
My Dr. is very conservative when it comes to the healing process and I know from past experience that I had my drains in my stomach for nearly 2 weeks after my tummy tuck! I have absolutely no complaints on that one (I thought I was going to go crazy at the time) because my scarring is minimal and I had no tugging at the incision site due to excess fluid.
We also took the dreaded pictures yesterday (I have not seen them yet but assume they look as bad as my selfies in this thread!).
The best news is that he feels I'm set up for a very good outcome. I've done the 3 deep peels and been on a medical grade cleansing and moisturizing program for the last 3 months and it has made a big improvement in the texture and softness of my skin. I have officially done all I can to prep for this surgery and now it's up to him! Bring it on Dr. Pollack! I'm getting so excited!
One week out!
Just returned home from a 2 week business trip and my surgery is scheduled 1 week from today! I can't wait! It was tough looking in the mirror each morning on my trip and not liking what I saw. I kept reassuring myself that it will all change on May 19! That thought kept me going. I'm not sure if I'm extra tough on myself right now because I know the change is coming or what but I'm ready for a change.
This week will be busy getting everything together. There are a lot of things to do so I'll be able to just come home after surgery and heal. I know this week will go by quickly! I promise to post my journey!
I went and had my last haircut before surgery today. I'm not sure why but my stylist has the worst lighting and/or mirrors! As I sat there looking at my reflection in that awful mirror seeing each and every line, wrinkle, and imperfection I thought to myself "I will never see that woman again in this mirror"! I can't wait until next Friday morning when I look into my vanity mirror at 4:30 am before surgery and think that exact same thought!
My last day with my old face!
Well, I wake up tomorrow morning at 4:00 am to get ready to go to the hospital! It's finally here and it seems like the last 3 months have been a lifetime!
I did the last of the items on my list today including shaving my legs and painting my toe nails! I also got my medication and other necessities together in a basket so my husband will be able to easily locate everything for my care when I return home. I prepared my bed with clean sheets and my pillow system that will allow me to more easily sleep sitting up. I gathered the clothes I'll be wearing to and from the hospital and I can't think of one more thing I need to do.
I wish I could say I'm not nervous, but this is surgery after all! It is also something I really want to do so I'm ready! I'll post when I'm able. Please keep me in your thoughts...on to the other side!
It's been rough
I really thought I was prepared for this surgery. I sure did read a lot about it, reviewed everything on Real Self that I could find, and believed I was ready. I had no clue how painful this would end up being. I'm not sure what I missed. No one sugar-coated anything and I'm certainly aware of how painful surgery could be - heck, I had a breast reduction and tummy tuck at the same time a year ago and that was tough. Maybe that's what threw me off. I had that very painful surgery (especially the tummy tuck) that took many months to fully recuperate from so it's possible I didn't think this surgery could be that bad! Mentally I guess I was not prepared for that part of the scenario. Regardless, I'm on the other side and getting better each day. It's been difficult for me to see well because of the upper/lower bleph surgery so I haven't been able to post. I have, however had my husband photograph my progress and I'll catch you all up now!
I arrived at the hospital at 5:30 (the first one there) for my 7:30 surgery. The nurse took my vitals, gave me my designer garb, and let me sit back and relax a bit before the anesthesiologist came in to meet me. He was super nice and I felt very comfortable with him. Then my doctor came in, marked me up, and walked me through the procedures. I then walked to the operating room (they say it keeps the patient more calm to walk to the room rather than being wheeled there). I can't really say, I was pretty nervous!
When I got to the operating room everyone introduced themselves to me. One of the nurses explained that she would be with me throughout the surgery and would wash my hair and clean me up well before they applied the bandages. I was surprised about that but pleased that I didn't have to deal with the caked on blood that I've read about.
Seven hours later the surgery was over and I spent about an hour in the recovery room before being taken to my private room. Remember I was given the choice to go straight home or pay to stay in the hospital overnight. It was my husband that decided I should stay and I'm so grateful that I did. I'm not sure how I would have done at home that first night. I was in bad shape.
The worst part of coming out of the surgery was the pain in my eyes. I swear he added ground glass to my eyes! I couldn't really open them and when I tried they just gushed tears. Between the runny eyes and the runny nose I was a mess. It wasn't until hours of icing that I was finally able to see a bit when I opened my lids. They kept me on pain meds through the night and I really didn't feel my face at all. My eyes were the painful part that even the pain meds didn't seem to help.
I made it through that first night with little sleep - mainly just off and on dozing. The icing really helped soothe me and the nurses kept on bringing plenty of it.
In the morning the Dr. came by at about 7:30 to check on me. His exact words, "you may feel like a dollar right now, but you're going to look like a million bucks." I asked, "did it come out good?" He gave me a big smile and said, "I'm really excited." I'll take that as a yes!
I was released from the hospital just after lunch and my husband took me home with a bag full of plastic eye covers and some great eye ice bags. I ended up sleeping most of the time with the eye ice bags over my eyes so I didn't really use the plastic eye covers. The main thing is to make sure you don't scratch your eyes/stitches while you're sleeping. The ice bags kept me from doing that and they also really helped me sleep.
One of the other things that was annoying was the tightness of the bandage around my neck. There was a time Saturday night that I had to talk myself out of a panic attack. I kept thinking that I couldn't go to sleep because I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to breathe because the bandage was strangling me. I know it doesn't seem very logical but add pain meds and I think reality becomes quite blurred. I was able to doze on and off but didn't get any real rest until Sunday morning when I slept about 3 hours straight (3-6 am). So, I "watched" a lot of TV with my eye ice bags over my eyes and fell in and out of sleep when I could.
The difference between Sunday and Monday was about 100% improvement. It was still difficult to read because my eyes have been quite dry. I'm using Blink eye drops when needed and they seem to help.
I'll add some photos and another update. I'm sorry I wasn't able to post in real time but I hope this helps!
First Dr. Appointment after surgery
I had my first appointment with the Dr. after my surgery on Tues at 3:30 pm. He removed my "helmet" and drains which was such a fabulous feeling! I felt like I lost 20 pounds.
He also removed my stitches from my upper/lower lids and told me to be very careful with the area. He told me that the earlier the stitches are removed the less scarring will occur but they can still break open easily with scratching, etc. I keep my hands away from my face - the main reason is because my cat will not leave me alone and wants to sit on my lap almost constantly! Of course, I'm not in charge around here so I do a lot of hand washing! I do know that it is not a good idea to have your pets on you during recovery but he helps me with my moods! If you fail to follow this guideline remember to wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.
The Dr. says my stitches are healing nicely and there is no sign of infection. I also learned that I have no staples in my head - only stitches. I was surprised at this only because it seems like everyone has staples in the back of their head.
I have my next follow on appointment on Friday afternoon. He will remove the stitches from around my face and ears to ease any scarring. Next week I'll go back to have the stitches in my hairline removed and then it's on to healing!
This morning I was able to take my first shower and wash my hair. It was heavenly! I took a couple of photos to show you how I look without the bandage. You'll see that I still have some markings left on my face. I'm still very swollen and my neck is very tight. The Dr. is very pleased with his neck work! He didn't have to cut me under the chin and was able to pull my muscles and face back and up to get rid of the sag. He showed me in the mirror. Frankly, I don't see it yet but I attempted a smile and said i did! Right now I only see a football head and think I look very similar to "Stewie" the little cartoon character baby on TV!
Every day is getting better and easier. I'm blessed that I have my husband's support. He stayed home with me on Monday and Tuesday and went back to work today. I don't know how I would have done it without him - he's a saint.
I'll keep you all posted on how I'm doing. Thanks for sending good thoughts my way!
The pain is lessening in most areas but the ears are swollen and sore. Add the head bandage and they feel like they'll pop right off! I took another's idea and placed 2 small zip lock bags filled with crushed ice in socks. I rubber banded them together and placed them on my head to hang down over my ears to get some pain relief.
One of the best things I've stumbled on during my recovery is liberal use of ice on the back of my neck. I take a large zip lock bag and half fill it with crushed ice. I squeeze out all the air and then roll it into a hand towel and place it behind my neck. This helps support my neck like an airline pillow plus gives me the added comfort of the coolness against my neck. It really helps with the overall headachy feeling. It's been a lifesaver and I thought I'd share.
Day 6 and the swelling is improving but the ears are still swollen and sore.
A week out of surgery
I must be a bit behind the timeline. I hit my depression day today. I'm trying to stay perky since I have a Drs appt this afternoon to have my facial incisions removed. In light of that I had my hubby take some photos of the sutures.
The pain has subsided a lot and it's now mostly tight under my neck. This is more annoying than painful though and I do feel that he did a lot of work in this, my most troubled area!
We'll, I think I'm beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel! The pain is pretty much gone and there is just a bit of being uncomfortable- mostly at night trying to get into a good sitting up while I sleep position.
I feel tight all over my face but mainly in my under chin and neck area. I'm still icing my neck. I'm not sure if it helps or not but it is comforting. I find I can fall asleep much easier if I use ice on my neck.
My eyes are still quite dry. I'm going to try to be more diligent about keeping them hydrated with drops today to see if it helps.
I'm feeling a bit more positive today and am slowly climbing out of the doldrums! Each day seems to bring some improvement so I'll try to remain happy and positive with each new day. I must be patient!
Sutures behind ears
I'm posting some photos that show the remaining sutures located behind my ears. I have incisions right behind my ear and they then vertically in my hair line.
I've added some Bromelain tablets and Arnical gel to my healing based on suggestions from other posters. I did ask my Dr. about incorporating them into my healing plan and he told me he wasn't a big proponent (not convinced it really makes a difference) but if it makes me feel better go for it! So, I'm adding both with some fresh pineapple as well.
Sutures behind ears
Here are a couple of more photos of the sutures directly behind my ears (I pulled them out so you can see them) and the sutures in my hairline. All of these are due to be removed tomorrow afternoon.
Final stitch removal
Two days ago I had my follow up appointment with my Dr. to have the remaining sutures removed from behind my ears and in my hairline. The majority were removed but a few were encased in scabs and I'll have to return next Tues when the scabs heal and then any remaining stitches will be removed.
All in all, I'm progressing well although a little slower than I hoped! I guess I have to give myself some credit - surgery was just 2 weeks ago! My face is still swollen and my neck is still very tight. I keep waking up each morning hoping that today is the day when I see marked improvement...I'm still waiting!
The Dr. has me massaging my scars now with Bio-Oil. I love this stuff. I used it after my last surgery and it made a world of difference in the scarring (or lack of).
I'm still using just sensitive cleanser on my face and was advised that it will still be several weeks before I start back on my skin care regimen. I'm using just a bit of ReBalance moisturizer because my skin feels so dry. This is the same moisturizer that I use after my deep peels.
Another significant change is that I don't need to wear my head wrap unless I spend a lot of time on my feet or move about a lot. If I'm just watching tv or sleeping I can do without.
I'm still finding it difficult to get a comfortable nights sleep. I wake up with an aching neck and my ears feel so tight. I'm not using the $200 pillow system that I purchased because it just never felt right. I'm using stacked pillows and it seems to work better. I'd suggest skipping the investment in an expensive pillow set up!
The Dr. has also added some stretching exercises to loosen up the tightness in my neck. I simply look to the right and hold for a few seconds and then repeat on the left side. It really seems to help.
So physically I think I'm doing really well. Psychologically, I'm a bit blue. I think I need to get out of the house but I live in a small beach town where I know a lot of folks and I'd like to keep this under wraps! My husband wants to take me out to lunch tomorrow but I'm not sure I can pull that off yet. We'll see. Maybe tomorrow will be that day I've been waiting for!
When will "today be the day?"
I wake up each morning hoping that it will be the day that the swelling subsides and I begin to look at least similar to what I looked like a little over 2 weeks ago! OK, let's be real...I have no desire to get my "old" face (literally and figuratively) back. I do, however wish to recognize a glimmer of who I was!
Today I decided to put some makeup on this swollen mass that was once my face. To my surprise it doesn't look too bad. I don't have the proper concealer since I'm used to wearing only a tinted sunscreen/moisturizer in recent months and haven't needed one. It was the strangest feeling to put mascara on my lashes. I could feel it going on but was so weird!
The other major issue is the fact that my hair is no longer "me." For years I've worn it in a super short pixie cut but my Dr. suggested I grow it out for a while to hide my scars until they fade. It really skews my view (and my hubbys) of myself. So many changes!!!
I'm finally feeling more "normal" and I can honestly say I'm well on the mend. Although my husband and I skipped our lunch date last Friday since I wasn't quite ready for prime time perhaps we'll try for tomorrow after my next check up with the Dr. I have a few stitches to still remove and then I'll patiently wait for the swelling to disappear!
I'm hoping that I'll be presentable this weekend. I perform wedding ceremonies and I've got one scheduled for next Sunday. Wish me luck!
I really appreciate all your support. This community has been a true blessing! Thank you!
Each day brings an improvement!
I went to see the Dr. yesterday to have a few rogue stitches removed. I'm still a little sore around the ears with minimal scabbing. If not for waking up with sore ears and incisions in the hairline I'd say I'm feeling great! It takes about 20 minutes or so to shake off the aching feeling once I'm out of bed but considering where I've come from it doesn't feel so bad!
The Dr. is quite pleased with my results. He brought out the before photos (which were more flattering than my own) and I really look like a whole new person! My "big" eyes (always my best feature in younger years) are back after being hidden for years under heavy brows.
There is still a lot of swelling in my face but my jowls are gone as are the marionette lines! The majority of the swelling is located in my neck and there's a pouch under my chin that's plump with fluid. He said that with some walking and more activity it should begin to dissipate.
I'm still required to sleep in a sitting position to help with the swelling but I can slowly begin adding more activities. He also reminded me that there will still be good days and some days that swelling will pop up in new places. Patience is the key.
My husband took me to lunch after my appointment and no one looked at me like I've been in an accident so I felt pretty good. This morning I'm going out with a friend to do a little shopping.
So, it's taken me nearly 3 weeks to feel confident about being seen in public. I'm hoping it's just the beginning of feeling more confident and happy with my decision. I'm changing my review to give it a thumbs up as I can now begin to see the transformation that I was looking for.
Thanks for keeping tabs on me. I'll continue to post updates. All the best to you wonderful folks who have gone through this or are on your way!!
Three Weeks Today!
Today is the first day that I have to go out and see people who know me but don't know about my surgery. I purchased some Dermablend last night to cover the bruises that are moving up my cheeks. I thought they'd migrate downward not upward!
I'm still puffy and as the Dr. told me I see swelling in odd places. Yesterday I had swelling under my left eye which pulled down on my lower lid which drove me crazy! My eyes felt dry and it was annoying. It has gone away today so I'm happy about that.
I think I'll be fine officiating the wedding this weekend since no one knows me. With the new makeup I feel more confident about going out. I'm just not used to wearing foundation so it's strange.
Everything else is going well. I'll let you know if anyone asks me about my look this afternoon or if I can pull it off. Keeping my fingers crossed! TK
The wedding was a success!
It was on the bluff at the ocean and quite windy! I was hoping my scars wouldn't show too much when my hair blew around. I think I pulled it off!
The Eyes Have It!
Grace60 asked for a close up of the before and after photos of my eyes. I added an arrow to show where the heaviness was along the outer edges of my upper eyelids (although I don't think it was needed - they kind of speak for themselves!). Thanks Grace for asking for this because it really shows a marked improvement at just the 3 week anniversary. For those ladies still wondering if it will get better, I think you'll see that there WILL be improvement!
Four Weeks Post Op
Well, it's been a month since my surgery. Huh? Where did the time go? A month???
I'm very pleased with how things are progressing. I still have quite a bit of swelling in my lower face, under chin, and neck area. I tried sleeping with my bandage last night and it actually helped with the swelling under my chin so I'm going to try it for a few more nights.
My ears don't quite feel like they belong and the area along the outer edges of my face directly in front of my ears has very little feeling. The scars around my tragus still have some scarring and I'm ready to have those puppies healed! Other than those areas everything else has healed up nicely and I continue to massage with Bio-Oil.
My eyes are still sensitive and it's uncomfortable putting on, and taking off makeup so I'm trying to be gentle. When I push on my cheeks they are still a little sore so, as my GP always says "don't do that" - so I won't!
I'm attaching a couple of side by side photos. The left is one month pre-op and the right side is one month post-op. The right side is the right side!
I tried to sleep in my bed propped up by pillows last night. It was a mistake. I woke up with more swelling and discomfort. I guess I'll go back to sleeping in the recliner for awhile. I'm disappointed because yesterday I was feeling like the swelling was beginning to subside and I didn't feel like a stuffed sausage anymore! Well, my face feels like 10 lbs stuffed into a 5 lb sack again! I'm feeling a little low today but I'll do my walk and hopefully cheer up a bit.
Yesterday I took a photo with no concealer or makeup other than some mascara and my tinted moisturizer. You'll see that my eyes are still quite discolored and you can see the swelling and bruising on the left side of my face. Makeup sure does help! I know that I'll need laser resurfacing in the near future to smooth out my complexion but won't have the time until the Fall. Oh well, at least makeup covers the flaws!
Everyday is different - up one down, down the next. Part of the healing process...
5 Weeks Out
Another week has passed and it's gone fast! I still have swelling and the discolored bruises are still there. I'm still tight from the front of my ears down and around my neck - but it feels good! I still have the pouch of fluid under my neck and I'm trying to wear my bandage at night. I'm not really sure if it's working but it's the only thing I can think of to try to get the swelling down. As many on RS have noted, one side is more swollen than the other and for me it's my left side where I still have some discoloration. My right ear is no longer painful but the left one is still sore.
I'm posting some photos of me at 5 weeks post op without makeup and with makeup. If only the swelling would disappear completely! I will say I'm much more apt to look in the mirror now than I was prior to surgery. I now see the potential and it's getting better each day - that's truly exciting. Yes, it's not fast enough for me but I have nothing to do but be patient!
6 Weeks Post-Op
Where has the time gone?! I'm feeling better and better each day. I still have swelling and more on my left side than my right. I still have the same bruise on my lower left cheek and the fluid still gathers under my chin but is slowly subsiding. I still have the tight feeling from my ear and under my chin to the other ear. My left ear is still a little sore and if that will just go away I'd be feeling pretty darn good!
I had my checkup with the PS this week and he's very pleased with his work! I'm free to do whatever I like but he'd like me to spend a couple of more weeks sitting up to sleep. He noted that I still have a lot of swelling but I'm doing well and don't need to see him for another 6 weeks.
I'm feeling more comfortable being out and about with people who know me but don't know about he surgery. Most just tell me I look great. I'm pleased!
Some photos of the 6 week mark attached.
Eyes Wide Open or Medley of Eyes
grace60 requested a journey through 6 weeks of my eye journey. I wish I had thought of this early on because I would have used the same lighting, pose, etc. I'm really loving my big eyes! Even when the rest of the facelift brings me down, my eyes still are wide open! The only issue I've had is I still get some swelling right under my left eye which tugs at my lower lid and is a bit annoying. Other than that, I'm doing well.
Timeline from Post-Op to 6 Weeks
Another look at the progress thus far.
10 Jul 2017
2 months post
There have been some major changes from last week to this week. My left ear has finally stopped hurting and is no longer sore to the touch. I am so tired of sleeping in the chair so the last few nights I've tried sleeping in my bed propped up as much as possible. My face really swells so much more sleeping this way but I can't take it anymore!
So, the swelling is still around. Some days are better than others but at least I'm feeling more toward "normal" nowadays! I'm very pleased with how things are going. I have to travel on business next week which will be at the 2 month mark. I feel confident that I can do it.
2 Months Post Op
15 Jul 2017
2 months post
The time is flying by! No real major changes from last week. I am sleeping on less of an angle and on my side a bit more. I am sleeping with my jaw bra (I love that term!) which seems to help with my under chin and left cheek swelling. You'll also note from my side photos that there is still some discoloration that I still have to cover with makeup. The pain is completely gone with just a few fleeting phantom pains here and there.
All in all I'm doing great and I'm thrilled I chose to do this!