Hi there people. I feel that I need to write this little "blogette" on our website for our own patients, prospective patients and even patients who are going to other plastic surgeons. I think it's important enough to post on the website because so many times I hear from the patients after they get home from Costa Rica complaining about post op symptoms that are persistent and very annoying/upsetting.
I'll get complaints like, "I'm still numb here and there" or "I have a stitch that has revealed itself as the swelling has gone down" or "the swelling isn't going down evenly. One side of my face is more swollen that the other side". Or "I still can see a bit of bruising under my eyes and it's already been three weeks since surgery" or "My lower lids seem more sunken after the face lift" or "I seem to have developed little bumps on my lower lids" or "I still have bags under my eyes but now they are lower on my face than before the face lift" ETC ETC ETC!!
So I would like to address these little "souvenirs of plastic surgery" as a whole under the heading of, well, how about "souvenirs of plastic surgery?" right here on the website so that the patients can read it before they travel to Costa Rica for surgery with Dr. Lev or any surgeon for that matter.
Let me start by saying this. I've had two face lifts with Dr. Lev. One when I was 48 (my first) and a second one when I was 58, also with Dr. Lev of course. I'm now 68 (I'm enclosing a photo of me at 68 that I took in front of my computer using the photo booth program that comes with the iMac desktop) and will probably not have another face lift but will do my best to maintain with Botox and occasional fillers (not to be overdone).
When you look at the photo I'm enclosing here, please note that I still have an area under my right ear that is numb. I'd say it's about an area of approx 3"X4". I never got the feeling back in that area. After all this time I've come to the realization that I'm never going to get the feeling back there. Period.
I could choose to be annoyed and upset by it or I could step back and take a look at the bigger picture. And then I need to ask myself. Would I still go ahead with the face lift had I known in advance that I would have a numb spot under my right ear that is about 3"X4" that would last for the rest of my life?
Then I look at the enclosed photo. I know darned well that without the face lifts by the gifted Dr. Lev I wouldn't look as good as I do for my age...not by a long shot. No one ever guesses that I'm 68. That alone trumps (pardon the expression) the way I feel about the numb spot under my right ear. I've learned to live with these little "plastic surgery annoying souvenirs". I wouldn't change a thing. I happily accept this as part of my physical being that I will have until the day I die. I'm good with it. I'm fine with it. Because compared to what I would be looking like had I not had any surgery at all, the numb spot under my right ear seems like a small price to pay for the benefits I've been enjoying for 20 years from Dr. Lev's gifted hands.
Most people start complaining about these little annoying souvenirs just three or four weeks post op after they get home. I ask them to get back to us when they've gone through their entire healing process which always takes the better part of six months.
At that time, if you're still experiencing discomfort or pain or numbness or something that feels wrong, we'll ask for you to send in photos and an explanation of the problem that has persisted and Dr. Lev will take a look and see if he feels there's something he can do to alleviate the problem. If he feels he can, he will repair it for no charge. The downside of this is that you would be faced with paying for another flight down to CR plus your stay at a recovery place again. That is one of the negatives of traveling to a foreign country for surgery. Fortunately people who have persisting issues that need to be fixed in the OR are few and far between.
Any major surgery has a healing process that takes at least that long. A face lift or tummy tuck or breast lift is no different than any other major surgery. A tummy tuck takes a year or more to heal and with a tummy tuck you will remain numb in your tummy area perhaps for years. Everyone is different. Some people heal rapidly. They have bodies that are great at healing. But most of us regular folks take a long time to heal and at the end of the healing process we may be left with something that lasts a lot longer than we would have liked.....if not forever.
I guess when you're going into this thing you have to take these annoying little souvenirs of plastic surgery into consideration when making a decision to go ahead with it. You have to go in assuming you will have a "little annoying souvenir" at the end of your healing process. What that is, no one knows until you go about your life and at the end of six months whatever still remains is your particular annoying little "souvenir" of plastic surgery.
We've had patients contact us two years after surgery to complain about something wrong with their face lift. Then we find out that that patient lost 25 pounds. Of course the face will be affected if the patient loses a lot of weight after the face lift. This is something that can't be fixed unless you get a new face lift. That's why we tell the patients to do their best to be at their optimum weight before undergoing surgery. It's ok to have your face lift done when you're not at your optimum weight as long as you don't plan to lose a lot of weight after the face lift. If you are planning on losing a lot of weight (25 pounds is a lot) then Dr. Lev wants you to wait until you've lost the weight before coming down for any plastic surgery procedure.
Well, this had become a lot longer than I wanted, but I always feel that you can't get too much information when you're thinking about having plastic surgery. And as far as I'm concerned, after working with Dr. Lev for 20 years this blogette needed to be written so that people can go into this amazing journey with their eyes wide open knowing that plastic surgery is not a perfect science. That if you have ten patients in a study group and Dr. Lev performs his same beautiful technique on each of the ten patients, you will see ten different results.
Plastic surgery is a marriage between the doctor's skills and the patients' age, skin type, ethnicity, coloring, skin tone, weight, body chemistry, fitness level, general health, medical history. That's why there are so many different results for different patients having the same surgery with the same surgeon.
Results also depend upon the way the patient behaves post op. Some patients think that after surgery they can tour the country and run around shopping or go home early before the recommended time and start right back at work or go on a long trip, etc. People who don't treat their surgery seriously pay the price one way or the other. It's easy to forget that plastic surgery is still major surgery performed under a general anesthesia. That it's as serious as say, a kidney transplant. But people think because they elected to do it, it's not that big of a deal. Trust me, folks, it's a very big deal.
Well, that's my blogette and I'm sticking to it!
All my very best to our patients and other doctors' patients who are reading this who are taking the plunge. Remember, if you go into this thing with realistic expectations you will not be disappointed. If you go in with Unrealistic expectations you WILL most certainly be disasppointed. The choice is yours to make. Make the wiser one. That's my advice to you!!