It’s funny, I'd always thought if I ever had...
It’s funny, I'd always thought if I ever had plastic surgery it would be for my breasts, I’m something like an A+ cup. In fact if you'd told me 10 years ago that I'd be having a FL this month I'd have laughed at you. Then I went through menopause, my skin changed and suddenly I developed this weird neck waddle. It's not even symmetrically weird, it's this asymmetric mess that makes me dread wearing my hair in a pony and windy days that leave it exposed. I started thinking about doing something about it about 4 years ago, obsessing over it maybe, and now here I am, scheduled for surgery in less than 2 weeks. Just thinking about it gives me a panic attack so I’m trying to stay busy. And, because that alone isn’t stressful enough, just a few days ago I came down with a killer sinus infection. Now, while I've got every plan in place for me to be gone from civilization for 2 weeks, it’s a race to see if I’m healthy and fully over the sinus infection by next week (go antibiotics go!), or if I’ll have to reschedule.
I’ll be having general anesthesia for my lower face lift and neck lift in Seattle, that’s about a 3 hour drive away from where I live. My awesome sister lives over there and will be taking care of me for a few days.
I told my PS that I’d rather be underdone than overdone, and that my biggest worry was the platysmaplasty because I've heard those are very difficult to revise once done. I don’t have a lot of fat under my neck to hide any lumps or bumps that may be left over after the skin is tightened. He was very reassuring when we spoke on the phone yesterday and I was feeling confident in my decision (again), but I’m like a yoyo with the feelings daily! I know, I know, we all go through this and I just need to chill. I'm trying.
I'm freaking out just a little bit because I'm still fairly sick and my surgery is in 10 days. If I can't get over this illness by Friday I'll have to reschedule. I've been on antibiotics for a sinus/upper respiratory infection for 4 days, I have 6 days of pills left. I don't know what I can be doing to get better faster. I'm eating right, getting rest, and I've eased way off at the gym. Anybody know any miracle cures?
Have to Reschedule Surgery, So Bummed
I just got off the phone with my PS. I've been trying everything to get better in time for the surgery next Thursday but it's just not coming together in time. I developed asthmatic bronchitis and I'm on an inhaler and Medrol dose pack to try to get the coughing under control. The Medrol is working wonders but the doctor says steroids before surgery is a no-no, so now I have no choice but to reschedule. All the pulling together of arrangements has now just unraveled and will have to be carefully sewn together on another date. In my mind I know it's the right thing to do, I'm not as healthy as I should be, but it's still a huge let-down. I'm trying to figure out my feelings so I can describe them...all I can say is I'm just completely wiped out from the stress and this stupid illness.
Nine Days Until Surgery - Can't Wait to be on The Other Side
I'm really nervous right now, about the surgery itself, how I'll look afterwards, the length of the recovery.... It's so hot here right now here I'm going to want to be pulling my hair up but won't be able to hide the scars if I do that. I sure wish I hadn't had to delay this for 3 months, I should be well done with the hardest parts by now. I suppose it's never a really great time, but in the heat of summer was probably not the best choice I've made.
Ninja Warrior Style
9 Jul 2015
Day of treatment
Pre-op appointment is done. Everything is ready. It's midnight, so all I have left to do it try to get a few hours of sleep, shower, then show up at 6:30 am. I'm staying with my sister while I'm recovering, we spent tonight watching Ninja Warrior, seemed appropriate.
Bruising down into my upper chest
9 Jul 2015
Day of treatment
So glad to be done with surgery but already have a concern. My doctor is trying hard to get me the neck I'm hoping for, so happy with that. About 6 hrs after surgery I noticed bruising down into my upper chest already. Then a few hours after that I noticed the blood/fluid was pooling in my lower neck where you usually have an indentation, and its jiggley, not a hard lump. Is that normal?? I feel pretty good, neck is quite painful and have headaches, but controllable with pain meds.
My New Neck
Had bandages changed today, could not be happier to meet my new old neck. My PS is amazing! Oh, and Arnica really does seem to work, the blue bruising in my upper chest area is almost gone.
Day 2 - Shower Day!
I got to clean up a bit today, feeling a lot better and I think it looks amazing with my hair hiding my ears. The ears are pretty scary looking right now but its nothing I wasn't expecting so far.
Day 3 - More comfortable with ear care today
Yesterday's cleaning routine had me feeling queasy, I did better today.
Day 4 - I overdid it yesterday
My sister and I did a lot of walking/shopping yesterday, and then we went to visit my niece at their new house on 5 acres. The shopping I was doing was for wound care, I needed more 4 x 4's or something similar, the doctor's office hadn't provided enough to change dressings twice a day. Also I wanted a shower mirror so I could see what I was doing when trying to clean my hair near the incisions, I'm planning on showering again in a day or two and it had been frustrating not being able to see. On top of that I was talking and eating more yesterday because I finally felt like I could open my mouth better. Soooo, last night and today I'm paying for all of that with a lot of pain and swelling behind my right ear and along my neck. I'm going to stay in bed today and not go anywhere. I'm also not eating anything larger or harder than a blueberry. If the swelling/pain doesn't improve by tonight I'll call the doctor. Lesson learned, if you're only at day 2 or 3 and feeling pretty good, still stick to soft foods and don't go marathon shopping, you will regret it.
Day 5 - Not sure if things could be going better
I quit the pain meds yesterday, doing fine. Have been trying to take it easy, I'm a compulsive cleaner so I'm not able to lay around much but I AM paying close attention to signals saying I need to rest. My sister is working today so I've just been doing little things around the house and yard for her. Got to shower again and that was heavenly! Hope everyone is doing great today. :)
Day 6 - Going out with the girls for dinner tonight
I'm sitting here in my PJ's trying to decide if I should go out with or without my omnipresent head wrap. My PS said he wants me to wear it 23 hrs a day for a week. Its almost been a week. And look at these ears, shouldn't I be showing off his fantastic work?
Day 8 - Last day at my sister's house - Stitches out yesterday
I've been recuperating at my awesome sister's house since the surgery in Seattle, it's going to be sad to go but I'm excited to get home.
Had a big day yesterday, stitches in front of my ears and under my chin came out! It's another 8 days until all the staples in my hair and stitches behind my ears come out (boo).
My sister had golf last night after work so I volunteered to drive a cart for her so I could join her. Would have loved to have golfed myself but can't turn my head that well yet, so I just had fun hanging out with a fun group of ladies. I told them why I wasn't playing and they were amazed to hear I was only a week from surgery, so that was a confidence booster. They were curious about it so I also showed them my before pictures, the 'why I did this' proof. One of them said she totally understood and would have done it too, which I really appreciated. Many of my well meaning friends have said they don't understand why I wanted to do this so badly, which didn't help to be honest!
Day 11 and 12 - Shopping, Work, and Neck Progress
Yesterday evening I was picking up groceries, decided to go through the self check-out line. I was also buying some alcohol and normally the checkers do an age verification bypass without even coming over. This time she comes over and looks at me. I wasn't sure what she wanted, so I asked her if she needed to see my ID. She gestured to the sign that said We Card Under 40, and said "well yeah, unless you want me to think you're over 40". So I handed her my ID and she hands it back muttering "holy cow, you do NOT look that old". Made. My. Day.
Yesterday was also my first day back to work, and by noon I was really tired. I'm still not sleeping very well, not sure if it's the upright position, the temperature of the room, wearing the stupid head wrap, probably all of the above. I wake up about hourly all night long with weird dreams. I was taking Ambien right after surgery for about 5 days because I knew my body really needed to rest, but ever since then I've been trying to go without but not having a lot of success. I've tried nothing, Melatonin, a prescription muscle relaxer, and Benadryl (not all at once). Anybody else having the same problems sleeping?
My chin incision is looking much better, when I had my stitches taken out last Thursday the PS noted that I had developed blisters on 2 of the stitches. He said this was pretty common, and I'm sure it was from wearing the head wrap 23 hours a day. Anytime I would try to eat with that on it caused painful rubbing on those chin stitches. Since then I've been using a tegederm-like bandaid with antibiotic ointment on it whenever I wear the head wrap and I never eat with the head wrap on. I'd like to be done with the head wrap entirely but due to the work on the platysma muscle my PS still wants me to wear it as often as possible while I'm healing to keep things in place. He also wants me to stretch my neck often during the day, by looking up as high as I can and really stretching that muscle that he repositioned, which is painful. It's still totally worth it when I see my neck now. Every day it's looking a little better to me, and FEELING a little better also.
Cannot wait until Friday when I can get these blasted staples out of my head!!!
Pictures of my chin - for Wellthissucks
Wellthissucks pointed out to me that I hadn't posted any pictures of my chin. It's not that I hadn't taken any, it's just that under your chin isn't an easy place to photograph so most of the pictures are a little dark so I didn't post them.
Day 13 - Side by side comparisons, before and now
I made an attempt tonight to get current photos with poses similar to my most hated before pictures, so I could put them side by side. There's still some swelling in my neck but the gobble gobble is gone.
Happy Day 14 Selfie
Daring to wear earrings to celebrate 2 weeks post op!
Day 18 - Life without staples, and starting to feel my cheeks again
My staples and the remainder of my stitches were removed 3 days ago. I have a happy head now, scabs and weird bumps are the only remaining visual evidence of trauma in my hairline and behind my ears. I had a perma-smile all day. Cheers to all my RS buddies who celebrated that milestone with me! :-D
At my staples appointment I was given the okay to sleep laying flat again, I think it's helping with the sleep situation. I'm still having some trouble sleeping but as long as I see improvements it's easier to keep positive about that. Unfortunately at that same appointment I was also told that I am not rid of the head wrap quite yet. In fact learned that I have to sleep with it on for another 4 weeks, which was disappointing because I think that's part of the remaining problem with sleeping now. One of the problems with the head wrap has been that it gets wrinkles in it where it goes under my chin. When I wake up with a wrinkled head wrap, I have weird lines in my neck where the wrap has made strange horizontal bulges in the swelling. The lines stay for most of the day and are hard to hide, so I find that I'm touching my neck all night long so I can readjust the wrap so it's flat again and so I don't wake up looking weird. I discovered last night that if I use BOTH of my head wraps at once (I have a spare), one on top of the other, there is enough fabric pressing down that it doesn't tend to wrinkle. If that works again tonight maybe I can sleep a little better. Looking at the bright side, the wrap goes over the ears so it muffles noises a bit so people like me who wake at every little sound maybe don't hear some of those little sounds. :)
I don't know if this is related to the surgery but I've had a very sore neck the past several days, almost like I pulled a bunch of neck muscles lifting things which of course I haven't, I can't do anything like that for over 3 more weeks yet. It could be the weird sleeping positions but I wondered if repositioning the muscles in the front of my neck could make the muscles in the back of my neck sore. I guess it could also just be doing computer work (my job) after a neck lift, who knows. The front of my neck remains numb and fairly painful to the touch, not much change there lately, except for looking AWESOME compared to before surgery.
I noticed today when I was putting on moisturizer that I'm getting more feeling in my cheeks, Yay! Pretty excited about that. By the way, like others have pointed out here, while the face heals and the nerves repair we'll occasionally experience shooting pains. In my case that's been true as well, I've been having them infrequently for maybe a week. Even when you know what they are they can startle you. I was in public this weekend and I had one of those lightening-strike pains in my face, I probably sounded like someone with Tourettes, blurting out holy **** before I could catch myself! They do hurt, but luckily are gone in an instant. I hope everyone is doing well today. :)
Day 21 - Three weeks!
Three weeks ago I was at my sister's house stressing out about bruising in my chest, with my head covered in bandages. Seems like so long ago. I feel so normal now. I feel well enough to workout but I was told to wait so I will a little longer, but I did shampoo my carpets and do a total clean of my house today after work. Anyway, thought I'd post my 3 week photos. I'm still just so happy I did this. :)
Day 21 - PS! My neck!
I'm getting phantom pains and lightning zaps to my neck! It's waking up! Started yesterday with feeling like something was rubbing my neck but when I reached up to move the collar, there was nothing there, so weird. But now its got that waking up from Novocain feeling so I think its just a little behind my face in the getting feeling again progress. Yay!
Something my friend said to me...
This weekend I was at a small get together with some friends and at the end of the evening I was chatting with one of them and my time away in Seattle came up...and I mentioned that I'd gone over there for surgery. I shouldn't have mentioned surgery because then he was concerned so I ended up telling him what it was. He was pretty curious so I showed him the before and after pictures on my phone. His response was pretty cool, he said that during the evening he'd noticed something was different about me but it wasn't my face, he said he noticed that I was smiling and talking more than I usually do, like I was really happy. I was really happy to hear him say that, I do smile more and that's what I was hoping people would notice. :)
With my face/neck looking better to me I've noticed that I'm wanting to take better care of my skin. I've had so many issues with acne over the years that until menopause I'd given up on all moisturizers because they would just cause me to break out. In fact I still get acne so I have to be careful with what I choose to use. Well, a few weeks ago I started using a skin care line from my PS office, so far so good there, and I saw my dermatologist this week and just started using a retinoid cream. I'm going to be adding vitamin C soon as well. This is all new stuff to someone who's previous regimen has consisted of washing her face once or twice a day and using minimal makeup!
Doctor Before and After pictures at 5 weeks
I haven't been on here very much lately, business travel and trips to visit my dad in the hospital have been taking a lot of time. I just received copies of my doctor's before and after photos today so I made some side by sides to share. I'm just astounded at the difference. Now that I've been living with my new face for 6 weeks I'm starting to forget how unhappy I was with my old appearance (yay). In the before pictures I can see someone not happy with her face/neck, and someone a little worried and unsure if she is doing the right thing. I'm so glad I finally did this.
At 6 weeks post my neck is still numb ear to ear above my adam's apple to the bottom of my chin. My cheeks are still numb from my ears toward my nose an inch or two on each side in the areas where you'd find sideburns on a guy. At my last appointment my doctor said the feeling would completely return in time so I'm not concerned but it is a strange feeling. The numbness is slightly better than right after surgery. The pain in my neck is essentially gone. It feels tight every morning so I stretch it out and then it feels normal. There is no more pain at any of the incisions and I'm able to aggressively massage the under chin scar now without pain.
Seeing these pictures today brought out a lot of different emotions for me. Mostly I'm thankful. I wore my hair in a pony tonight and really appreciated not having that old feeling of dread at showing my side profile to the world.
I hope all my RS buddies are doing great in their journeys. Hugs!