I've been lurking for months, learning so much...
I've been lurking for months, learning so much that I felt compelled to write my own story.
Why facial work?
A bad picture. It happened at X-mas time; my sisters met me at the airport; one dressed as Santa Claus and the other holding a camera. I laughed uproariously at my sister's 'Ho Ho' dance, but later when I saw the pics the scene wasn't so funny: When did those heavy jowels set in?
Great, a facelift. But with who?
I threw open the flood gate. Getting work done in the Bay is EXPENSIVE, and for awhile I envisioned going over seas or heading back to the Midwest. In the end, I found a surgeon that really spoke to my soul and made me feel comfortable, so after 4 days of contemplating I put down a deposit.
Perfect: a date! But what to choose from the menu?
All surgeons I met with recommended a brow lift, fat graft and facelift. I went with none of those. Instead I opted for the mini lift. I'm 45 years old in December, and I've had chubby cheeks all my life, so I not ready physically or mentally for some big production. The mini is a gentle introduction to an altered look.
I recently had botox to the '11s', a salicylic acid peel and juvederm to the 'frownies'. Botox I loved. The peel was good but I aggravated it by doing a lactic acid home peel (11%) too soon. It took a trip to the Russian Bath house to get my skin breathing again and to stop over producing oil. Juvederm is too soon to tell; more to come.
Alright then... I'm now off to a week of no wine :-( little sugar :( and no dairy :-( All to get my body in shape to heal quickly. Thanks for reading!
68 hours to go...
I'm in that very nervous phase of preparing for surgery. I keep alternating between feeling sad that I don't like my face as is, and feeling excited at looking better. Most of all I'm afraid that after all this expense, time off, and care taken to heal that life will go on as it has been, with no real change to self confidence or how people interact with me. So what I'm doing this weekend is making this decision work for me, spiritually and emotionally, and for me alone.
I read that you can change your behavior by changing your posture. Standing straight, shoulders back, palms visible is a different vibe than a slouching, hands in pocket stance. So perhaps lifting the face from a jowl induced frown into a plumped cheek, relaxed smile will have a similar effect. We'll see.
Earthquake during surgery
19 Oct 2015
Day of treatment
And this is why California isn't the best place for facial work :-) It was a 3.5, which is not damaging, but it was very close to the hospital. All of the nursing staff and doctors felt it; they said it was like atruck hitting the building. Oi. that is just my luck.
But anyhow- here is my 'mark up' pic. I asked the nurse, "When does surgery start?" and she said, "You're done." I still can't believe it, I remember being wheeled away, but I don't remember ever seeing the surgery room. I had trouble getting the drip line inserted because my veins are very tiny. I had to 'bake' under a warming blanket for awhile. I was developing a headache from dehydration, so was happy when the nurse finally found an 'opening'.
Right now I am getting ready for bed. I don't like the draining pouches hanging from my head. Ugh. They are filling with blood and ooze, and if possible I'll return tomorrow to have them pulled. I know these help considerably with swelling, so I'll leave them in as long as I can. I"m also sore in the tummy area where the fat was pulled. I told him to take as much as he liked, more even! But alas, you don't need much fat in the face for grafting.
Alright then, I'm now in the 'post op' picture category! Woohoo!!
Day Two From Hell: No one writes enough about this day
Today I'm really hating this, and I don't think enough is written about 'Day Two'.
-I only took three pain pills, stopping last night. I don't know if I'm having withdrawals or what but I am cold and achey
-Constipation. Actually, it's 'impaction', which means you need to do something to get things moving again, like an enema. I doubt a laxative alone will help. I have never had this problem in my life so it's a bit anxiety provoking. yes, I'm drinking a lot of water and eating fruits.
-Chewing. No go. My face is so swollen I can't even wear my glasses, let alone chew. I'm having fruit smoothies, yogurt and pea soup. Yum!
-Throat. the tube they stick down your throat during surgery is painful. My throat is so sore I can barely talk and it is extremely difficult to swallow what food I can have. I'm drinking lots of warm water with lemon and having throat lozenges.
-Drains. Hate them. They are itchy, irritating and annoying to deal with. Plus you can't wash while they are in.
-Emotions. Expect to be irritable and moody. Now that I'm off pain meds, Its also hard to focus. not fun.
Alright, so this is likely the worst day. I can't even bring myself to post a pic; I'm just bloated with oily hair and drainage tubes hanging out. Please get better soon, body!
48 hours after surgery
This is the worst picture I will ever take if myself....I'm at the height of swollen ness
Day Three- The 'I can do this' Day
First up: get the drainage tubes pulled. I was so happy at that! Also, it was my first post op apt with my surgeon. He said he was pleased with my healing, calling it better than most. Yip yip! Comments on today:
-I'm still not back to normal bowel functions; anesthesia really does a number on the gut.
-I've not taken any pain meds since 2 days ago. I do have bouts of achiness, but nothing unmanageable.
-I'm tired and just feel like resting most of the day. Even driving to the clinic was taxing.
-My face is starting to feel tight and dry; first signs of yellowing.
I'm using Marula oil and arnica cream on my face every day. I 'm drinking dandelion tea instead of taking laxatives. I continue with my anti-inflammation diet of fruits, veggies, greek yogurt and lentils. I also do self healing (reiki) on my self. I'm a California tree hugger, what can I say.
But today is MUCH better than day 2. Whew.
4 days post- Losing weight from immovable cheeks
I'm feeling much better, but a trip to Safeway this morning left me exhausted and chilly. My body still just wants to sit. But today is a big day: I got to wash my hair! First I washed with Dawn dishwashing detergent, then gentle shampoo. It didn't get all the gunk out, but at least I can tolerate my scalp.
I'm having a hard time talking (still have a scratchy throat) and my cheeks are so swollen and sore that I can barely open my mouth. Bonus: losing weight! Always a silver lining.
I also find I'm very sensitive to stimulation. The trip to the grocery store was taxing; as is making myself lunch. I really just want to sit and be still. discomfort level is low when I'm still; high when I move about. I have bouts of 'head tightening' throughout the day. I've switched to warming pads for my cheeks now; as I have the beginning signs of bruising.
Thanks for following my progress; I hope to follow yours too!
Reconnecting with body; another thing not mentioned much
I had a "mini" lift and fat graft, so surgery was 4-4.5 hours. I've often wondered: where does the soul/consciousness go during this time? It certainly goes 'somewhere', we are never 'not present'.
Today I tried to answer that question. I basically did recovery medication free (stopping 36 hours after wakeup). Nevertheless, I've been spaced out ever since and I felt I needed to reground myself. So I covered up my ears and went for a 3 mile walk on my favorite lake trail.
I haven't been able to breathe deeply all week, so I took care to take belly breaths. I also stopped to connect with old trees, feeling a real lift in the heart chakra from this. It was like a heavy sadness was set free. Don't underestimate the trauma the body goes through in surgery; its very real and I highly recommend a spiritual practice of some sort to get back on track.
-Per the scale, I'm down 3 pounds.
-Initial signs of bruising under left eye/chin area.
-Digestive system is 100% restored
-Soreness in tummy from fat removal is healing nicely; puffiness down 50%
-I can open my mouth enough to take a bite of banana, woohoo!
-tiredness is down considerably, as is achiness
Thanks for reading! Leave me a comment on how you reconnect with self/soul/nature if you'd like. This is a big part of my healing practice.
Day 7- Happy talkin'
I have a sister who has a very tell tale sign of when she's exceeded her rum and coke limit: she starts talking out the side of her mouth. The left corner droops and is the only side of her mouth to move.
I"m very happy she isn't here to see me right now. I just stood in front of the mirror and said the alphabet, and holy crap- I look just like her! One side of my face is clearly tighter than the other; the left side shows teeth when I say 'A, C, H' etc. The other side: nada. Yikes, I'm having an asymmetrical healing. I saw this with the drainage tubes too. The right side consistently had 5ml output, the left, 3ml.
Notes for today:
-redness, itchiness and slight inflammation in right earlobe. Monitoring.
-Bruising that appeared yesterday is already clearing
-Feel great, but still unable to resume normal activities. The body wants to sit and rest.
-Tentatively touching my cheeks now, first signs that feeling is returning
-Neck area is the most swollen its been since surgery (I was told this was coming)
Thanks for following, best wishes to everyone who is about to embark on this journey.
Day 9: In hindsight I would have...
I have a daily ritual. I walk in the house, my Hahns macaw says 'Hello Baby, how are you? MUA!" I then make a big kiss kiss sound to him.
Today was the first time I could purse my lips together enough to make a big ol' smooch noise. Up until now, I could only give lame air kisses. For the first time since I rolled out of surgery I feel like I'm gaining momentum. Looking back on week one, here is what I would have done differently:
-Ate nothing but fruits and veggies the two days before surgery. Instead I had chicken/rice dish, which proved to be too harsh.
-Hired a maid. Being cooped up in the house really makes you want to clean; which I did. I really wish I had a maid come over on Day 3.
-Boarded the pets. It's just too much work to feed, clean and care for pets when your face is throbbing. This was not the best choice to keep them here.
-Had a better pillow set up. My head got sore from holding the same position night after night; plus they were lumpy.
-Stocked up on more citrus. I really craved lemons and oranges while down for the count.
Here is a pic of me; I'm still swollen but today I was able to turn my head more easily; the swelling in my neck is definitely down. Onward ho!
Week 2: No funny business
I'm really disliking not being able to smile. I've been going into the office this week, and let's just say I work with a bunch of sarcastic funnymen. I'm not used to pursing my lips and chuckling at their comments.
One coworker did say that I look a lot better than I did on Monday, so great news! (He said I now look like myself, just with fat face. Really now.) So I'm slowly but surely seeing swelling go down. Fat grafting is not for the impatient, (Or for those who like to laugh). My cheeks are sore from the pressure and I do feel like I ran into a wall. But, I'm glad I did it.
Picture forthcoming this weekend; there isn't much change yet.
Day 13: My lovely lady lumps
I hope my PS isn't reading this because I just broke his guidance. I did a 7 mile hike with elevation gain. I couldn't help myself; I've been cooped up for weeks. But if felt great! And here is a pic post hike, with swelling up a bit (but not much). You can see how the fat grafting is taking shape; I should be 20-25% healed at this point, so my cheeks are a little 'lumpy' and uneven. They are still too sore to massage and I don't have full movement yet (still can't smile). I hope things settle with time; right now this is too much definition. I realize a certain percentage of fat 'dies' and gets reabsorbed, so I am being patient with myself. Yet as I close on week 2, I am very pleased with my healing and progress.
Day 15: Deflating faster than a Patriot's football
So, things are moving more quickly. The swelling, while still felt, is down visibly. I know this because this morning at work my male coworker slapped his thighs and said, 'Oh my God! You look like your old self again; just much younger!"
I"m now showing 6 teeth when I smile. I can move my cheeks more, and I'm no longer feeling the 'tight mask on face' sensation. At night, and when I"m tired, these feelings come back, but nothing like 2 days ago.
Privately, I think it was the hike :-) It got the blood moving and that is what I needed. My neck is still puffy and the bottom of my jowels; i"d say I"m 40% healed. But today is a good day. I can't believe it was 2 weeks ago this evening that I woke up from my surgery. Wow.
3 weeks post: My Prime Time debut
This was a big week; we had a team meeting so I was with people who haven't seen me in awhile. Nobody noticed anything, which was great. However, I still have ugly, red scars behind my ears, so I've took to wearing scarves. My coworkers thought I was being 'stylish', but little did they know, hehe.
I have about 50% of my cheek usage; I still can't make 'big smile' but I've progressed beyond the tight lipped grin. I continue to have 'tightness' and slight soreness, but the swelling has gone down and things are better than they were a week ago. I do think face work requires a good 2 months or so to recover from.
Here are three pics of me at week 3
Four weeks already?
I've dropped to one post per week. At this point, I"m just waiting for the swelling to go down and for the stitches to heal. My ears are still red and irritated. My face still has 'on off' days; sometimes I"m tight, sometimes not. Little by little I regain full movement of my cheeks, but I"m still not there yet. I also continue to have a 'fullness' in my face as I wait for some of the fat to die off and be reabsorbed into the body.
I completely resumed my old lifestyle this past week (week 3 post surgery). This means circuit training 3X a week, jogging in the park and hiking. all is going well. My first workout made the muscles in my neck throb, but after a day this feeling went away and hasn't returned. I am carefully treading back in to workouts, I might add.
My face has settled :-)
21 Dec 2015
2 months post
At this point I will see any further changes in my face . To me, I look more refreshed less tired and cross. I do notice people reacting to me differently, more favorably. So yes this was worth it. Good luck to everyone embarking on this journey!