NOTE- This is a step by step checklist that (hopefully) will guide you through the entire ¨getting ready to go to Costa Rica¨ process. Do not begin the "getting ready" process until you have secured a date for surgery with Didi. In addition please please make sure you understand all the costs involved in your trip. You don't want to go through all the getting ready stuff only to figure out in the end that it's going to cost more than you had thought. Check with Didi to make sure you understand all the costs. She can give you an approximate estimate so there are no surprises in the end.
Release Form and Waiver
Please be sure to read both the waiver that releases Didi Carr Reuben, Dr. Lev's Patient Coordinator from any responsibility for the outcome of your surgery and the list of Possible Complications when having surgery. You will be asked on the doctor's questionnaire if you read and understand the waiver and the List of Possible Complications, so it's a good idea to read both before you fill out the doctor's questionnaire.
You will need a passport to enter Costa Rica. Check to make sure that your passport is in order. If it is going to expire within 3 months of your trip, you need to renew it or you may have problems entering Costa Rica.
- Important to note: Patients will need to take an antibiotic called Cephalexin 500 mg after surgery. One pill every 12 hours for 7 days. So 14 pills in total. At your consultation appt with the doctor the day before surgery, he will write you a prescription for the antibiotic and also for pain meds. The medications, especially the Cephalexin are very expensive in Costa Rica so if you can get your doctor to prescribe this for you so that you could get it in the states or Canada for up to half of what it costs in CR, you should do it. Also have your doctor, if he or she will do it for you, prescribe pain meds and sleeping meds as well as muscle relaxers to bring with you to Costa Rica. The prescription Dr. Lev writes for you at your consultation for the Cephalexin and the pain meds will cost you about $200 and can be filled right after your appointment, downstairs in the shopping center where Dr. Lev's office is located. But it's better and cheaper if you can get these meds in the states or Canada and bring them with you.
Cephalexin 500 mg after surgery.
- Before your surgery, it is strongly advised that you make an appointment with a dermatologist and have your facial skin checked out for signs of skin cancer. If there is skin cancer on the face, Dr. Lev cannot proceed with the surgery. It's a good idea not to take chances and have that checkup by a dermatologist.
Make An Appointment With A Dermatologist
Pre Operation Required Testing
For L.A. people, if you don't have a regular doctor, you can use Dr. Laurie Musto in Pacific Palisades (310) 454-1212. Dr. Musto is familiar with the "drill" for people going to see Dr. Lev in Costa Rica. Please note that Dr. Lev suggests that you may want to bring your own meds with you so ask Dr. Musto or whatever doctor you see for your pre-op tests to give you prescriptions for pain, sleep and relaxation before you leave their office.
If your doctor prefers not to prescribe meds for you to take with you, don't worry. Dr. Lev will prescribe meds for you for pain and sleep upon request. You will actually automatically get pain meds in your little "take home packet" when you leave the hospital to be brought back to the recovery facility.
Your pre-op medical tests are usually not covered by insurance and can cost anywhere between $350 and $500 however there have been a number of Kaiser patients who have had most of their preop tests covered under their Kaiser plan. Also, ask the doctors if it's possible to get any of your visit covered under insurance.
Dr. Lev requires that the preop tests be taken within ONE month of your scheduled surgery date.
Please make sure that you or your doctor scan and send your test results to Didi at email@example.com as soon as possible. Add a little note to the tests that state your name, surgery date and the type of surgery you will be having.
Please ask your doctor to read your tests and determine whether or not he or she feels you are okay to go ahead with surgery. If something shows up that precludes you from having surgery it's best to find this out before you get to Costa Rica.
If you are willing to take a chance and have your medical tests done in Costa Rica, ask the people at your recovery retreat of choice if they would kindly arrange for your tests to be done when you arrive. Both recovery places we recommend have labs they use for this purpose. The only downside to having the tests done down there is that should something come up in the test results that preclude you from having surgery Dr. Lev won't do the surgery until the situation is remedied. But if you do have the tests done down there when you arrive, the results will be ready in a couple of hours and sent over directly to Dr. Lev by the time you have your consultation appointment in the afternoon.
Important Phone Numbers
Click here for important numbers to carry with you in your purse when you go to Costa Rica. Print out and clip these numbers and put them in your purse. Keep them handy the whole time you're there....just in case.
Please remember that you must book your own recovery retreat, Didi does not do this for you. She will be most happy to help you and answer your questions.
Please choose one of the recovery places we recommend. There are descriptions of each place. See which one "speaks to you" and fill out the easy form at the end of each description. We feel that these facilities are excellent, experienced in plastic surgery after-care and offer the patients a great deal for the money.
One quick important note about money and recovery retreats. When you book a room at any of the recovery retreats in Costa Rica, the policy is that you pay in advance for all the days you are booking and if you should decide to leave earlier than your booking checkout date, you will NOT get a refund on the unused days. Just like you wouldn't get back your rent money on an apartment if you decided to move out a week earlier than originally planned. In essence you are "renting" the room at the recovery retreat and the time you rent it for is yours and yours alone. You are free to leave earlier, but you still pay for those unused days. Sorry to be repetitive, but it's important that before you book and pay in advance for your recovery place, you know the policy about money.
Make your airline reservations as early as possible to get the best fare. Although the fares change all the time so hopefully you will get lucky with a lower fare if you call on the right day.
Required Length of Stay
Facelift and breast reduction/lift patients need to stay a full two weeks after their surgery. Patients having a tummy tuck need to stay three weeks after surgery. If you are having two surgeries, you'll need to extend your postop stay accordingly.
In some rare instances a tummy tuck patient will need to go home with the drain still in place even after three weeks and so tummy tuck patients are encouraged to arrange in advance someone in your local area at home who will agree to see you postop "just in case" to remove the drain. Of course, if you can be flexible with your return home, you might want to just extend your stay at the recovery facility in Costa Rica until Dr. Lev can safely remove the drain.
Other minor surgeries, like nose, eyes, ears, breast implants need to stay for ten or twelve days after surgery. Of course, Dr. Lev says that the longer you can stay after your surgery, the better it will be for you in the long run. The healing process for any procedure no matter how extensive takes a full six months even though you will most likely look presentable after just a couple of weeks.
Deposit for Your Surgery Date
As soon as you book a date for surgery with Didi, you have two weeks to pay a deposit of $1000. You need to take the following information to your bank and they will know what to do. IMPORTANT - please read this notice about your deposit.
ALEJANDRO LEV SCHTIRBUBank Of America
ACCOUNT NUMBER 488056625491
SWIFT CODE: BOFAUS6S (For foreign wires in foreign currency
SWIFT CODE: BOFAUS3N (For foreign wires in U.S dollars)
1900 E HEBRON PKWY
CARROLLTON TX 75007
Account Owner's Address:
ALEJANDRO LEV SCHTIRBU
URBANIZACIÓN RIO ORO DE SANTA ANA
AVENIDA 23, CALLE 58
SAN JOSÉ, COSTA RICA
Please note: Since many patients don't feel comfortable traveling with a lot of cash on them when they go down to Costa Rica for surgery, what they do to alleviate this problem is to deposit most of the remainder of what they owe to Dr. Lev into his US bank account a few days before they travel to Costa Rica. It should be done a few days before traveling because it takes two or three days to the bank in Costa Rica to post the deposits to Dr. Lev's US bank account.
If you would like an appointment with the dentist, Dra. Telma Rubinstein, for a checkup, laser whitening or any other dental work, please let Didi know well in advance of your trip so she can set up an appointment for you for the day you arrive.
If you decide to have dental work done that requires preparation, like crowns, veneers, bridge work, etc., Dra. Rubinstein or her husband/partner, Dr. Josef Cordero can do the prep work the day before your surgery with Dr. Lev and then a couple of days before you leave Costa Rica you will go back to have all the finished work installed.
For your convenience you can click here and fill out this quick form and with the simple click of the "send now" button, your inquiry will be sent directly to Dra. Rubinsteins's office. Someone will get back to you within a week of receiving your form. This is a quicker way to get a response to your questions and check on availability.
Once you've set a date and time for your dental appointment, please notify Didi as to the time of your appointment so she can put it in with your file and in the schedule book as a backup.
Patients with breast implants please note: It is VERY important to note that if you have any sort of implants (facial, breast, etc.) you must consult with your dentist to see if you will need to "premedicate" before you have any invasive dental work done, including cleanings.
Want to brush up on your Spanish?
If you want to do a little brushing up on your Spanish with the help of some wonderful people I know in San Jose who run a language school there, you can log on to www.conversaconmigo.com and do a little studying on line with them. It might be fun to learn a little Spanish while you're at it, although everyone on our team down there speaks English so you won't "need" to know Spanish at all. But it is an opportunity if you'd be interested in giving Spanish a try. My friends David and Andy Kaufman over at Conversa School will be happy to help you. They'll even chat with you on line if you want. Just log on to www.conversaconmigo.com