The results of my surgery with Dr. Alejandro Lev are amazing. You can see from the pictures that my appearance was incredibly improved.
The whole facelift procedure no matter where or with whom it is done is a difficult one and should not be considered lightly. The healing process takes 3 to 6 months, and in some cases can take up to a year. But my experience was greatly enhanced by the expertise and professionalism of Dr. Lev, his staff and the kind people at the Che Tica Ranch (the recovery clinic).
It took me until my 61st birthday to decide, "Yes, I want a facelift." I could no longer recognize the woman staring back at me in the mirror. And since we were living in Costa Rica, a place where people come from all over the world for cosmetic surgery, I thought, "This is the time and the place."
Dr. Lev came highly recommended to me from another expat living in Costa Rica. I started communications with Didi, the liaison for Dr. Lev. She was great! She is professional, but very personable, and has a great sense of humor.
I made an appointment to meet with Dr. Lev. I liked him right away. He's a lovely person. He examined my face and we looked at before and after pictures. He said he would like to do my neck, jowls, eyes and a brow lift.
I was mostly concerned with my “turkey neck” and jowls so I left there confused about what I wanted to do. After about a week I called Dr. Lev and talked to him about my “confusion”. He encouraged me to come back to his office so he could answer all my questions and so that I could make an informed decision. On my return visit he was patient and kind; he wanted me to be comfortable with my choices.
I decided to have the full facelift.
Dr. Lev recommended a brow-lift procedure that involved two incisions over my eyebrows. He said that it was much less invasive than the coronal brow lift that involves an incision above the hairline. For my eyes there would be an incision in both my upper and lower lids. It was my choice to have the coronal brow lift. I didn’t want any more incisions on my face than I was already having.
My surgery was February 18, 2014.
I had the surgery at the Santa Lucia Clinic in the congested city of San Jose. The clinic itself is in an older building but if the building itself didn't appear new and modern, what was in it did. It seemed to have all the equipment and efficiency of what I might see in the States. The anesthesiologist and the nurses were very efficient and kind. Dr. Lev came in to see me and answer my questions and ease my mind over any last minute concerns.
The in the morning about 24 hours after surgery Dr. Lev came in to check on me. He again answered my questions and reviewed the important aspects of my recovery: what to do and what not to do.
I was then ready to go to the recovery clinic, Che Tica. It's a bit of a drive, maybe 1/2 hour, but all transportation is included in the stay.
I had met with another surgeon near San Jose before I met with Dr. Lev and he said that I would go home the day after my surgery. In hindsight, this would have been a huge mistake. Dr. Lev recommends at least a week in a recovery clinic and my one-week stay in the clinic was the smartest thing I could have done. It was invaluable! The staff, especially Francis, my nurse, was so tolerant of me. Lorena, the owner, who had had surgery two weeks prior and who looked great, was also wonderful.
I don't know at what point it was that I started having serious doubts about what I had done. Or what I had had done to me. From the start I don't remember being in any real pain, just uncomfortable in a major way. My face was bruised and swollen. I remember calling Lorena and asking her to come to my room to give me a pep talk. I remember trying not to cry. She came right away and I pretty much just asked her if I was going to be okay in the end. I just needed to hear it from someone who had been through it. She assured me I would be and I just needed to see her beautiful face to know that was true.
One thing that Lorena told me is that she has been in the business for 17 years: caring for and seeing the results of plastic-surgery patients. She knows many plastic surgeons and some offered her free facial surgery. But when it came time for her to have the surgery, she picked Dr. Lev out of them all. "He's an artist," she said.
It was around this time that I was taken to Dr. Lev's office to have some of my stitches taken out: my eyes and in front of my ears. I still had more stitches and little plastic staples that would come about 10 days post-op. I was still not looking myself then. My face was too round and flat, my chin was too big, and my earlobes looked weird. I just kept telling myself to be patient. I had the best surgeon around so just trust him, for God's sake! That was my mantra.
Three months after surgery the big questions are: Am I happy with it? Would I do it again? Would I recommend it to anyone?
Yes, I am completely happy with the results. I'm amazed at the change.
Would I do it again? Three months post-op I can say even knowing everything I went through, that, yes, I would do it again. I am that happy with the results. And without a doubt, Dr. Lev would be my surgeon.
Would I recommend anyone doing it? That I can't answer. It's too personal of a choice. All I can say is if you do decide a facelift is for you then go into it well informed with realistic expectations and Dr. Lev and his excellent staff will take good care of you.