I lost 80 pounds (good) but had a case of the droopies (bad). Into the rescue was Didi Carr Reuben and Dr. Alejandro Lev. I had a tummy tuck, face lift, and eye lift . I'm going back to Costa Rica to have a breast lift. I'm 53 years old.

The tummy tuck was a piece of cake. I was able to walk around as though I had no surgery the very next day. Amazing.

The first three days after the facelift were not easy (can you say torture?). I wasn't in any pain but I was very uncomfortable. My head was wrapped tightly from top to bottom and all around. It's a pretty claustrophobic feeling. But I slept a lot and just kept my eye on the prize (as Didi says). Once the head wrap was off it was a piece of cake. My recovery was excellent. Dr. Lev is fabulous. I never had to go to his office. He always came to the Villa Plenitud to examine me and to remove stitches. He would come about every other day. The Villa is wonderful. The caregivers, Meredith and Rob, are the best. They are so comforting and take care of your every need. The food is scrumptious. If you need to stay in bed, they bring your meals to you in your room. Otherwise, you eat in the salon with the other patients (who were all great -- we were like a bunch of sorority sisters). Maria makes all the meals for breakfast and lunch (you've got to try her pancakes--OMG). Rob and Meredith make dinner (they say it's simple but it was gourmet fare to me).

I had my surgery in the Cima Hospital. It's very modern and clean. Practically everyone spoke English. I had a private duty nurse that spent the night with me. I work at a large academic medical center in California so I know good patient care when I see it. This was on par with American hospitals and American medicine.

I ordered a hospital bed for my room at the Villa (only $5 a day). It helps to keep your head elevated when you're recovering. I also brought a travel pillow (the soft horseshoe style) so that I could keep my head propped correctly. I brought way too many clothes with me. I found myself pretty much wearing the same things everyday because I didn't go anywhere--I just stayed at the villa. The weather was warm so only light clothing like shorts or yoga pants were necessary. I brought tops that were light and could either be buttoned or pulled over my head widely (for when I had the head wrap on). For shoes I wore only flip flops. I couldn't look down to tie shoes after surgery so wanted something easy. Thank goodness I brought a laptop with a camera and microphone so that I could Skype family and friends everyday. It really made me feel as though I was with them. I found myself calling home a lot and it's free if you Skype. (The villa also lets you call home for free but you don't want to hog the phone line as they only have one line.) They have lots of books and DVD's there. We had three meals a day at the Villa, but I also brought some of my own snacks packed in my suitcase. (If Didi is there with you she will fill you up with tons of goodies.) I bought an ipod and used it ALL the time. I had LOTS of down time so I was glad I found ways to keep yourself amused. Plus I made lifelong friends when I was there.

My doctor prescribed Vicodin and a sleeping/anti-anxiety aide like lorazepam. Dr. Lev sent me home from the hospital with all my meds but I found the pills I brought from home gave me the added relief I needed (maybe that's why I never felt any pain).

The surgery and my recovery at the Villa were one of the best experiences of my life. The transformation both physically and emotionally were incredible (I guess that's why I'm going back. There were five of us at the Villa who had surgery with Dr. Lev when I was there and we all had the same fabulous experience. I would recommend Dr. Lev and the Villa to anyone who is considering cosmetic surgery. He is the best surgeon I've ever met. The Villa is the finest recovery retreat I can think of (it's not the Waldorf but it's clean, friendly, and caring). The inexpensive price is merely the icing on the cake.

If you decide to go, you won't regret it. I loved it so much that my sister is going and my brother and sister-in-law You can't get a better reference than that!!