At 59, I decided it time for a new look. Everything on my face was headed south. I was particularly frustrated by the jowls I had developed and the furrows between my eyes, so I was looking to have a full face and neck lift done along my eyes and brow.

I knew I couldn’t afford to have the procedures done here in the US, so I started searching for surgeons in South America after I heard a news story on the radio talking about medical vacations in Columbia. I found a couple of doctors there that I felt comfortable with but decided to research Costa Rica also. Mainly because it’s closer to home, and I like the country, having visited there previously.

I decided on Dr. Lev mostly because of the excellent communication I received from Didi. Whenever I had a question about something, Didi was quick to respond….in incredible detail. It also helped that Dr. Lev seemed to be a very busy guy. I knew I wanted someone who had a steady stream of satisfied customers. I also like the fact that he had trained in Brazil.

Joe Before

Remembering that Didi recommended Casa De La Mariposa as a place to stay post surgery, I contacted them and made a somewhat unnerving transfer over to their retreat. Unnerving because I was having my surgery early the next day, and I still hadn’t had my EKG done yet. It turned out to be a great decision though. Mercedes, and her assistant Yazmin, really stepped up and took care of everything. They quickly got me to a hospital for the EKG and when I made the mistake of thinking that I could transfer money online from my Citibank account to Dr. Lev’s Citibank account to pay for the surgery, Mercedes made it work. When I tried to do the transfer to Dr. Lev’s account, I discovered there is a $2,000 per day limit on transfers. The total for my surgery was $6,650 and needs to be paid in full before the surgery. There’s a Citibank bank across the street from Dr. Lev’s office, so I went over to see if I could withdraw the cash. I got shot down there also. It seemed the only option left was to pay by credit card which would add another 3% on to the total and cause me to lose the cash discount. Dr. Lev very graciously offered to honor the cash discount. I felt it was my responsibility to pay the full amount since I’m the one who screwed up, but Dr. Lev insisted.

Mercedes offered to cut the doctor a check for the full amount if I could get the money to her Chase bank account. I also bank with Chase, so I tried that. Unfortunately, Chase has the same $2k limit on online transfers. I was almost ready to give up on the money transfer idea when I remembered Paypal does transfers. Fortunately, Mercedes already had a registered Paypal account. I was able to transfer the money (no fees), and everyone was happy.

I had my surgery done at the clinic. The place doesn’t look that great from the outside, but the operating room, from the brief memory I have of it, seemed to be well equipped. One thing I would suggest is to refuse the sedative they want to give you before you head into surgery unless they give it to you through the IV you’re already hooked up to. They gave me an injection in the butt that I developed a huge hematoma from. There’s absolutely no reason not to give it through the IV.

My surgery lasted about 6 hours. Once the swelling really kicked in, I felt like I was being strangled by the bandages. I kept pulling on it trying to loosen it up around my throat, but I didn’t get much relief. Really uncomfortable. I think the intense discomfort mainly comes from the neck muscles being pulled so tightly. Sleep for the first few days is very difficult. Snored like a bear.

Joe After

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the results. I wish I could have had the coronal procedure done instead of the direct approach brow lift, but my hairline is just too high.