I wish I had known before I got a chance to expand

I can’t believe I’m speaking publicly about my change and millions of people now know how useless I am. But because I don’t believe in gatekeeperand this is not a decision I have taken lightly, I am embracing the power of transparency and information sharing.

Having worked in the beauty industry for many years as a make-up artist, beautician, author and brand founderBy the time I’m in my forties, I’ve tried them all: Botox, fillers, lasers, radio frequencyplatelet-rich plasma (PRP), LEAD TO, microneedlingand microcurrent therapy. Many of these procedures were effective, if not miraculous, and they helped smooth, tighten, and lift. But as I entered my fifties, I found these treatments were less and less effective and I was no longer getting the results I wanted. I was probably middle-aged when I started thinking about lifting, and I even scheduled surgery at one point, but to be honest I found myself too cocky to continue with it. After I hit 50 years old, I felt different. I’ve reached out to many of the plastic surgeons I’ve seen over the years to ask every question I could. I pored over the before and after photos with the intensity of a forensic scientist, and hunted down friends and acquaintances who had seen it.

I know a lot of people might think I’m crazy for having surgery at 53 (or for doing it), but according to New York facial plastic surgeon Andrew JacoboMD, the average age of a facelift patient during his practice was between 47 and 53. When I decided that Michael Byun, MD, in Chicago is the right plastic surgeon for me, and I feel prepared. Calm down, even. He is well known as a face “fixer”, known for putting things back in place. I scheduled a lower and mid-face lift, along with upper and lower eyelid blepharoplasty (lift) for my eyelids, for September 2021. The surgery was scheduled for five hours and I has a starting time of 7am.

The road to recovery did not go exactly as planned. Despite all my caution and my surgeon keeping me informed of what was to come, I’ve been hit with one surprise after another in real life. I wish I knew a few more things. So here are six thoughts to keep in mind if you think an innovation might happen in your future.

There may be unplanned complications

As I mentioned, I took samples from a disc of non-surgical procedures prior to surgery. What I didn’t expect was that some of these same precautions could complicate my surgery further. I’ve had conservative hyaluronic fillers injected into my nasolabial folds for many years and filled my cheeks once or twice when I was around 40. Byun says fillers “can stay and build up, especially in muscle and adipose tissue.” He had to have some amputated during surgery, as it can swell when you lift the muscle and skin.

I also had complications from my previous thread lift. According to Byun, most suture lifts today use absorbent sutures, but they will cause irregular scars when they disappear. He had to “fight” with an unusual scar during my surgery, which added an hour to my procedure (and one more unforeseen incision). This alarmed my husband, who was actively pacing back and forth in the waiting room.

It’s normal to feel regret

I have no pain after the surgery (meaning no). But the emotion of the surgery surprised me. Maybe it is unrecognizable face stared at me in the mirror and felt a nagging “Oh damn, what have I done?” But for the first time in my life, I had a panic attack, had to call the doctor in the middle of the night and prescribe Xanax. In fact, I was warned about this by my surgeon’s office, but I assume because I was therefore well informed and having done a lot of research, that would not have happened to me. But it did, and like my after-photo face, it’s not pretty.

Your face will transform

I learned that swelling resolves neither in a linear nor symmetrical way. For the first two weeks after surgery, I woke up every morning believing that I would look better each morning. But then two weeks went by, and boom, as I became more active and integrated with my life, my face still swelled and swelled in weird, uneven, and sometimes alarming. My surgeon calls the first month after surgery the “Baby Alien” phase. It’s aptly named because while you may look a little younger, you also look… out of the world. Byun explained to me that wound healing goes through four stages. The two ends (hemostasis and anti-inflammatory) are silent. Proliferation, the third phase, is “quite noisy, that’s why you see fluctuations after two to three weeks.” Wearing a mask is especially useful for anonymity purposes.

Your skin may feel really strange

There are many strange sensations on the face after surgery. My skin is so soft that I didn’t shower much water on it for a month, pouring all my heart into my skincare routine right away. It also numbs, the top of my head and also my scalp feel itchy and spongy. My head was itchy for months afterward. Byun says these reactions are “totally normal and to be expected” and even a “great sign” that the nerves are growing again.

Eating and sleeping will be different

My doctor told me not to eat anything other than soft foods for the first few weeks after surgery to limit the use of muscles in my lower face when chewing. Not only could I not get the fork into my mouth, but I couldn’t open it wide enough to fit my toothbrush. I ate a lot of oat milk ice cream and soup. The act of brushing, washing and rinsing messy in a funny way. Sleeping was a challenge, because my eyes wouldn’t close completely for months. I can manipulate my lashes to close them, but the muscles are so stretched that they won’t close. The doctor kept telling me it would work out, and of course it did, but it was incredibly painful.

You may want to change your phone’s security options

The facial recognition feature on my iPhone didn’t recognize me for several days. Fair enough, though, because neither am I.

Today, almost a year and dozens (okay, hundreds) of selfies later, I’m happy for a clearer jawline, taller cheeks, and smoother eyelids. However, it took me a long time to get to this point. For most of those months, I felt like my face looked odd, even though I was certainly my harshest critic.

I wish I could say definitively that I’ll get through it all again, but because of the emotional stress it’s caused me – and my poor, disgruntled husband – I can’t say for sure. . Outwardly, he was nothing but support and encouragement. Inside, I later discovered, he was concerned about my pain, my emotional anguish, and my appearance during my recovery. He stayed by his side with the fear that my face would never return to normal and that he would have to live with a miserable wife who made a face. Even now, in the “resolving” phase, which can take up to a year, I still occasionally have the thought, “Why do I have to go through this?” I suppose, as with childbirth, the memory of trauma fades, and when my jawline is certain to succumb to gravity again, I might rethink that. maybe is the word author.

This article appears in the August 2022 issue of ELLE.

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