Mini-Lift but Maximum Scars - South Africa

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I am in my mid-40’s and had a mini face lift...

I am in my mid-40’s and had a mini face lift performed by Professor Donald Hudson at Renaissance Surgical Clinic, Cape Town, South Africa.

During my consultation appointment:
At my consult I told Dr. Hudson that I wanted the most minimal of mini-lifts, simply to tighten slight jowls at my jawline and address a tiny turkey neck.

He assured me that I would look totally natural, just refreshed. Dr. Hudson said that he would use the most modern techniques and that my incisions would be hidden in my hair and ear anatomy such that they would be imperceptible when I needed to return in two weeks.

Nightmare surgery:
My surgery was literally a waking nightmare. I experienced anesthesia alertness. I awoke on the operating table, hearing and feeling everything, although I didn’t feel pain. I could not move or scream out. I have since learned that anesthesia alertness may be caused by improper anesthesia protocol.

After surgery:
Mr. Donald Hudson was to remove my bandages one week after my surgery. During that appointment, he peered beneath my bandages and quickly re-bandaged me before I could see my incisions. He said that the plan had changed and I would now leave the bandages on until I returned home.

A week later I was home alone and removed the bandages. I will never forget that moment. I looked in the mirror was near fainting as I saw the barbaric Frankenstein-style scars on my face. I felt shock, repulsion, and the darkest despair.

My surgical results:
- Dr. Hudson destroyed my natural hairline at my temples. Prior to surgery we had agreed that there would be a small incision hidden in my hair. Once I was anesthetized I guess he did what he wanted.
- Dr. Hudson placed wide ugly scars on some of the most visible parts of my face. His suturing on my FACE was like the suturing a medic might do to save a soldier’s life on the battlefield while under heavy fire. One would get better looking incisions in any emergency room surgery. These ugly red scars matured into ugly wide bright white scars at one-year post surgery.
- He removed too much skin on the left side of my face making later revision almost an impossible challenge – even for the top facial plastic surgeons in the world.
- Dr. Hudson put incisions prominently directly in front of my ears and did all that was possible to make them easily seen and closed under tension to cause hypertropic scarring.
- Just below my earlobes, Dr. Hudson simply “tacked back” vertical folds and pleats of my excess skin.
- I was left with chronic pain in both ears which competent surgeons later told me was caused by incorrectly placed deep anchoring sutures.
- Dr. Hudson convinced me to have a “very small amount of fat grafting.” He injected sausage-shaped rolls of fat below each of my eyes. He also injected fat into my lower nasio-labial folds which is well known, by competent surgeons, to cause a bottom-heavy facial appearance.
- I developed a hematoma on my left cheek following surgery. I told by the physician I saw on an emergency basis that I was lucky that I narrowly escaped skin necrosis which would have necessitated a skin graft on my face. Hematoma may be caused by rough and improper treatment of the delicate tissues during surgery.

How I was treated when I complained:
I had one single phone conversation with Dr. Hudson shortly after he disfigured me. I had emailed him detailed photos of each of my areas of complaint to look at during our phone conversation. Dr. Hudson, in a haughty and superior voice simply denied, one-by-one, each of my complaints.

I was stunned because I had never imagined that Dr. Hudson would be so irrational and brazen as to totally contradict the photographic evidence. Dr. Hudson insisted that I had a perfectly acceptable surgical result. Then Dr. Hudson said, in a boastful voice as if suggesting that my concerns were trivial, “I am hanging up now. I’m going to go operate on children.” And he hung up on me.

I reported my surgery to Julie Colman, the Renaissance Surgical Clinic Manager. I thought that she would want to know about what had happened to protect other patients and their clinic reputation. She couldn’t have shown less concern for me or my complaint. Julie Colman said that the clinic “merely offers a surgical facility” and bears no responsibility for physician standards of care.

Finally, I reported my surgery to Dr. Des Fernandez, the head physician at Renaissance Surgical Clinic, where Dr. Hudson performed my surgery. Mr. Des Fernandez looked at my photographs and stated that I had a perfectly acceptable surgical result. He sent me an email enthusiastically approving of the scars.

Consumers should be made aware of the substandard level of clinical care that is considered acceptable at Renaissance Surgical Clinic. Potential patients need to be forewarned about how they will be treated by Renaissance should they have the need to report a problem with the care received.

Revision surgery:
As I began to seek out surgeons for revision surgery, I came to understand that, because of the severe errors Dr. Hudson had made, only a handful of top facial plastic surgeons in the world with successful revision experience would be qualified to attempt to perform my surgery, and even for them it would be risky and challenging. I consulted in person with 15 surgeons in person and at least 6 more by phone. I heard the same comments over and over, along with expressions of sympathy:

“The scars border on medical malpractice.”
“You got an old fashioned facelift using out-of-date-techniques - performed poorly.”
“Everything he did to you made you look worse.”
“He calls this a mini-lift?!”
“Do you think that the surgeon who did this to you was fit to operate?”

I had revision surgery one-year after my surgery. My revision surgeon is well-known as one of the top facial plastic surgeons in the world. I am thankful for his great talent and for the professionalism and kindness of his entire team. Given the challenges my revision surgeon had to work with, my results are not perfect, but I know that all that could be done was done. The pain in my ears that I had suffered for an entire year was gone when I woke up from the revision surgery. I know I still have a tough road ahead, and my appearance will never be as it was, but I am lucky to even have the opportunity to rebuild my life.

The total cost of my revision surgery and a subsequent hair transplant to fix my hairline was approximately $30,000 USD; 269,295 ZAR; 18,829 GBP. These costs do not include what I paid Dr. Hudson for the surgery.

Giving back:
I hope that by sharing my story other potential patients are spared this physical and emotional pain and suffering and financial devastation.

I wanted to share a few very hard-earned tips for...

I wanted to share a few very hard-earned tips for investigating potential surgeons:

-- Start with a list of about the top dozen surgeons in your particular niche of surgical interest, not the top in your town, the top PERIOD. This is the #1 tip. Drill down from there. If you don’t know enough about this surgical niche to know the names of the top surgeons in this procedure, or if you think cannot afford them, then you are not ready to proceed. The best don’t necessarily cost more - - and there is NOTHING in the world more expensive than bad surgery. If necessary, wait. Continue studying. Save up more money.
-- Independently identify previous patients of the surgeon and contact them directly. Ideally meet them in person to see their results. Do not limit yourself to the referral list of patients supplied to you by the surgeon.
-- All the obvious stuff: check all professional titles/certifications/degrees, search court records, read every single on-line patient review...
-- Find examples of how the surgeon treats patients when things don’t go well. Even the most skilled surgeon has to deal with patient follow-up issues on a routine basis. How is a patient treated with he or she complains?
-- Study many before and after photos from any surgeon you are considering. Look at the photos with a critical eye - look for the incision sites/scars, does that patient actually look better to you, do you like the surgeon's aesthetic...?
-- Know that as a consumer, you are up against a huge marketing machine. In terms of Internet research, know that the level of online disinformation is high. There are fake-positive-reviews written by marketers. Actual real-negative reviews may be supressed and/or buried. There are companies that can be hired to assist businesses in this effort. Even so, the truth is out there! Be sure to connect with other actual consumers. There is power in numbers!
-- Try to find evidence of whether the surgeon is a decent human being. I know this is really challenging but, believe me, this will matter if anything goes wrong!*
* By digging around, I was able to find out that the revision surgeon I selected does charity work (but doesn’t promote this vs. all the PS's who use pro bono work as a marketing tool). Also, I found out that he did some extensive urgent surgery for one of his previous patients who developed an infection following surgery by another surgeon and he never billed her or her insurance. He did not take her type of insurance, and he never even mentioned it to her until she asked him about it much later. Learning these things about my revision surgeon helped so much in terms of being able to trust him after I had been treated so horribly, basically like a piece of garbage, by my original surgeon.

Here is something that I would like to share with...

Here is something that I would like to share with every patient who is considering a "Mini Lift:"
** There is no such thing as a "mini lift." **

What I mean is that, by clinical/medical standards, there is no procedure defined as a “mini-lift.” Mini-lift is primarily a marketing term. The physicians will all differ on what they define as a mini-lift. Many will go further and make up branded names for their own version of mini-lift.

If you get a botched so called "mini-lift" and go in to consult with top facial plastic surgeons to consult regarding a revision, you will quickly learn that you were sold a bill of goods. The "real" surgeons will roll their eyes at the term mini-lift. In the world of plastic surgery, you the ubiquitous botched mini-lift patient are almost a joke in terms of your gullibility.

The term "mini-lift" is, in essence, a meaningless moniker and I feel that it does patients a disservice. This term MINIMIZES the risk, the scarring, the recovery process. Nothing about what you are about to embark upon as a "mini-lift" patient is mini or minimal. The line between mini-lift, face-lift, mid-face-lift, lower-face-lift, etc. is just a blur.

Finally, please consider the scars. See photo number 4 that I have posted above. Regardless of the type of "mini-lift" you have, your PS will make these incisions at the ear (certainly not barbarically like in my photo, but still they must be made). Yes, an extremely small number of PS's will make these scars imperceptible on some patients. Even the top PS's cannot control the portion of scarring that is due to a patient's skin type - ex. forming keloids. Most patients WILL have some visible scarring. The party line among PS's is that most patients won't have visible scarring from a facelift or mini-lift - - That is just untrue. Try talking to other patients.

Please think long and hard about how you will feel about having obvious PS scars on your ears. Before you proceed with a mini-lift, you owe it to yourself to spend just one single day pretending that you had to hide your ears. Imagine needing to be conscious of your hair covering your ears at all times. Imagine needing to keep people at a certain distance. Imagine worrying about wind, light, etc.

All unscarred skin is beautiful. Natural aging faces are beautiful. Please think long and hard and consider EVERY alternative to surgery. If you do proceed do so only with the greatest caution.

I have received private messages asking my opinion...

I have received private messages asking my opinion regarding the other surgeons who work at Renaissance Surgical Clinic: Dr. Des Fernandes, founder of Environ Skin Care, Dr. Theo Rousseau, Dr. Stuart Geldenhuys and Dr. Nerina Wilkinson.

Here is my response:
- I do not have any first-hand knowledge regarding the clinical skill level of thes surgeons other than Dr. Hudson.

- After seeing my horrific photos, Dr. Fernandes, the principal owner physician of the clinic wrote this to me regarding Dr. Hudson: "I think his credential speak for themselves and there is no doubt that he qualifies to operate at the Renaissance Surgical Clinic." Is this the level of skill YOU are looking for in your surgeon?

- I emailed my complaint to every single one of the surgeons at Renaissance Surgical Clinic. Not ONE of these physicians replied to say they were sorry that this had happened to me or that this atrocity is not representative of their standards of care. They each chose to support {removed by RealSelf, please see community guidelines here before posting} rather demonstrating ethics and honor and standing up for a patient.

My question to you if you are considering one of the physicians at this clinic:
- Knowing my experience, do you want to take this risk with your health, appearance, emotional well-being, and finances?

- How will you be treated if something goes wrong with your procedure?

- The RealSelf forum gives patients the ability to learn the TRUTH about the real personality behind physicians and clinics. We now have the knowledge we need to reward skill and humanity in our physicans. With a botox seller on every corner, why reward this treatment with your hard earned money? Just say NO to those doctors who treat patients simply as a source of cash to be used and thrown out like garbage!

It has been a year since I last checked in here...

I haven’t looked at my review on this for about a year now. I posted my review since I felt it was my responsibility to help others avoid being victimized. Once my review was posted my focus needed to turn toward my own physical, emotional, and financial recovery. I am so grateful to everyone who posted well-wishes. Thank you all.

First, I want to say that I am saddened to hear of the other patients that have added comments about their own “nightmare” results from Renaissance Surgical Clinic. Thank you for your bravery in speaking up. I know how emotionally painful it is to re-open the wounds and share your story – but if only other patients before us had shared their horrible experiences at Renaissance then we could have been spared. If you have the strength, please consider posting your own reviews with photos to further document your experience.

It lifted my spirits to read the comment from “skinjazz” below who had actually been scheduled to see a physician at Renaissance and then found this review.

I want to update that during the months since my last post I have still never received any contact from Dr. Hudson, Dr. Fernandez, or any of the other surgeons or management of Renaissance Surgical Clinic. Never have any of them contacted me to apologize, investigate, inquire about my revision surgery, or to ask me whether they could help with reimbursement for my >$30,000 in revision surgery costs. AS OF TODAY, 3-10-14, I PLEDGE TO THE REALSELF COMMUNITY: If anyone from Renaissance ever reaches out to me to follow up on my horrific experience, behavior that would be expected from any responsible medical providers, then I will post an update to inform readers. If I do not post such an update then you can assume Renaissance took my payment, disfigured me, treated me like garbage when I complained, and they never even looked back! Keep that in mind when you are selecting a provider. How do YOU want to be treated if things go wrong?

I see that there are two posters, “Lynn Green” and “ugly like you,” that made comments illogically critical of me and enthusiastically supportive of Dr. Hudson, the surgeon who disfigured me. I clicked on these two usernames and saw that neither has ever posted anywhere else on RealSelf except on my review. Based on this, I am assuming that these fake posters are in all probability Dr. Hudson, or another physician or staff at Renaissance. Thank you to the poster “tweep” who is a voice of reason and logic and doesn’t let these fake posters get away with anything!

The potentially fake poster, “Lynn Green,” wrote this statement about Dr. Hudson: “This brilliant surgeon has done amazing work and he needs to be acknowledged for that.” When I read that it made my skin crawl. No way would anyone; including any other PS, ever refer to Dr. Donald Hudson a “brilliant surgeon.” That comment sounds so much like the verbiage that Dr. Hudson used to brag about his own brillance during my pre-surgical consultation with him. I suspect that this fake poster is Dr. Hudson. It is nauseating to think that Dr. Hudson may be on this site pathetically bragging about himself in the third person.

For everyone who has asked about how I’m doing… Well, I cannot say that I will ever be the same, but I am better. Life goes on and you either find a way to go on, or not. I am so extremely lucky to have found the talented and kind revision surgeon who gave me the ability to go on. My results from the revision were as good as could be expected considering what the surgeon had to overcome. I know that there are so many victims who could never afford the level of care I was able to receive and I count my lucky stars for this second chance.

What stays with me most from this experience, beyond the remaining physical scars, is the enduring visceral lesson in nature of evil. The net profit Dr. Hudson would have gained from my surgery would be perhaps equivalent to one mortgage payment, or the cost of a designer handbag. For that tiny bit of dirty money he would permanently disfigure someone and then treat them like garbage. What more apt example of “the banality of evil” could there be?

Good luck to you all! Be extremely careful out there!

"CRUCIFY" a "BRILLIANT" surgeon??!!

I do not check back to the site on a regular basis but just visited and noticed that the poster “Lynn Green” claims that my 100%-true-and-honest-fully-photo-documented-review attempts to “crucify” a “brilliant” surgeon. Wow! What a sad and sickening statement. Delusional much?

“Lynn Green” you said something else that is a huge RED FLAG. You wrote: “When I was in hospital, the patient in the bed next to me had a face lift performed by Professor Hudson and she too looked amazing.” So this patient you claim to have seen supposedly “looked amazing” while in the hospital immediately following facelift surgery? Hmm, well that seems pretty likely. Yeah, Lynn I guess Hudson must be extraordinarily “brilliant.”

Lynn Green, may I ask why are you wasting time writing on my post?

If you actually are scheduled for facial surgery with Dr. Hudson within weeks then PLEASE take this time now to focus on the simple pleasures that you are about to lose:

Stand with a friend, acquaintance, family member, partner, coworker, stranger in the wind blowing your hair in direct sunlight and just enjoy the wonderful sensation of the breeze and heat on your neck, ears, face. Feel absolutely no need to hide scars or be self-conscious.

Do you hair in any style that suits you a ponytail, chignon, bun… or just jump out of the shower, beach, or pool without any worry or stress. Feel no shame. Hide no scars.

Wear earrings!

Tuck your hair behind your ear without giving it a moment’s thought.

Dance carefree cheek to cheek with your partner. Let him/her whisper sweet nothings in your ear.

Go to the hairdresser without worry about the shocked eyes of the shampoo girl.

Ride in a convertible with the top down. Feel free!

Go out and spend the money you didn't have to use on revision surgery to do something nice for yourself.

At the end of the day experience deep gratitude that you did not waste a moment of time preoccupied with scars. Not a moment wasted hiding scars, worrying about scars, covering scars, regretting scars, or looking at scars.

If you are wasting time on my post because you are actually having second thoughts about this “surgeon,” despite your defensive bluster, then there is a very simple solution. There is not space in this forum for me to write out a lengthy essay on the questions for you to ask Dr. Hudson in consult. There are many clinical articles and book chapters on advanced/modern facelift (rhytidectomy) techniques and techniques for minimizing facelift stigmata that are written for a physician audience and available on the Internet.

Use the clinical articles to develop a list of questions to ask Dr. Hudson. Ask him point-by-point about each modern technique you read about (when I say “modern” I don’t mean cutting-edge, I refer to techniques used in this century). What he will say in response is that he does not need to use this-or-that modern technique because he gets such good results without it. That is code for, “I do not know how to do that technique.” To other questions he will respond, “Yes, I use that technique” (He boldly lied to me so I have no reason to doubt that he would lie again.). Your response to that can be to print out large copies of my photos and point to the area in question and ask, “Well, then can you tell me why you did not use that technique with this patient?” Dr. Hudson did NOT just make a “mistake” during my surgery. He did not just have a “bad day.” He systematically point-by-point failed to follow minimal proper accepted modern surgical techniques.

Lynn Green if you or another person you know really did have acceptable surgical results from Dr. Hudson then please create your own post with documenting photos. Why are you instead only writing on my review??

You know, it is the mark of a small mind and a small heart to blame the victim. As humans in an uncertain world we all share our vulnerability to being harmed. It does not make you any safer to attack me. You too are vulnerable. I have shared my 100% true and honest experience and posted fully documenting photos. I experience no personal gain from having to force myself through the emotional strain of openly sharing what has been a devastating personal experience.

If I were selecting a surgeon among the tens of thousands clamoring for cosmetic business I certainly would not select one that clearly has performed sub-par work and has treated a patient like trash. However, every individual has the freedom and the right to choose what is best for them. All we can do on this site is share our individual experiences and lend a voice to a tool that can be used to empower consumers with knowledge and education that has previously been hidden from view.

It is a good thing to learn caution from the misfortunes of others.
Publilius Syrus

And Lynn Green, all you have to say when someone graciously shares their misfortunes with you is, “Thank you.” Nothing more.

You’re welcome.
Donald Hudson

Professor Donald Hudson claims that he is the head of the department of plastic surgery at the University of Cape Town. He promotes himself as a pioneer in mini-facelift surgery. He claims that he taught his advanced surgical techniques to most all of the other plastic surgeons in town. During my pre-surgery consultation, Dr. Hudson pumped himself up and he even criticized another local plastic surgeon for his old-fashioned surgical techniques. I am sad to say that at the time I was naive. I was actually impressed by Dr. Hudson's monologue of his own accomplishments. I failed to grasp how inappropriate that behavior was. No truly competent plastic surgeon brags like that during a patient consultation. It was a sign that there was something very wrong with this person. I missed that red flag and I will regret this lapse in judgment for the rest of my life.

1 out of 5 stars Overall rating
1 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
1 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
1 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
1 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
1 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
1 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
1 out of 5 stars Payment process
1 out of 5 stars Wait times
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