Submitted by Sue Teague, Retired RN, CosMed Patient & Guest Blogger
PART 1 in a series of blog posts by an actual patient who had plastic surgery in Mexico.
Some girls dream of marrying rich or becoming a movie star. Not me—I had no career or marriage ambitions. I’m no Barbie but, I knew from about the age of 35, that I would one day have a face lift.
Almost 30 years later, here I am recuperating from a full facelift performed by Dr. Quiroz at CosMed and blogging about it!
Come with me on this blog as I share some experiences on the way to my facelift surgery and beyond!
Though my resolve to have a facelift was made almost 30 years ago, the triggering events preceding my surgery are significant. One does not surrender their most unique physical identity—one’s face—to the medical system without serious examination.
Fortunately, I was a fairly youthful-looking woman into my 50’s even with significant sun damage to my skin. As I began to see evidence that my face was structurally changing, I told myself that other people my age were much worse off and it was not yet time for a facelift.
Life changed drastically when the doctor informed my husband and me in 2007 that he had a terminal cancer with a remaining lifespan of “around two years” with aggressive management. Thus, began the disintegration of my life…and my face. For, during the next two years, all my physical and emotional resources as wife, friend, nurse, patient advocate would be subjected to unimaginable demands.
What the doctors did not warn me about was the toll that these years would take on my mind, body and spirit. During that heartbreaking period, I gained about 20 lbs. and my face fell– along with my hope for the future.
My husband died in 2009—days after my 62nd birthday– and I concentrated on reconstructing my life as a single, elderly woman. By that time, I was in Women’s clothes sizes and barely glanced at myself in a mirror.
I restarted my previous lifestyle, begun with my late husband, as an RV’er and traveled across the country with my little dog. I happily embraced the challenges of travel alone as I visited friends and family across the country. I did not linger too long at the mirror and avoided being “up front and close” in photos.
Then one day, I saw a photo of myself that stopped me in my tire tracks. My head was lowered and I had a second rogue chin under my real chin! And, although my face was in a “neutral” expression, I looked angry!
I began to really look at my face, as I had not done in many years. I googled “aging face” and learned the inescapable truth about deteriorating facial muscle structures and how that muscle laxity was unpredictable but inevitable. I also learned my two- year caregiving experience had negative consequences, causing elevated hormone production, prolonged inflammation and adverse impact on the immune system. I came to better understand why I was looking at a face that looked as if it had aged a decade in just two years! I think of this as the end of the Phase 1 of my facelift—the breakthrough of denial of the damage that age and circumstances had dealt to my face and acceptance that now was the time for my facelift!
How I found my Plastic Surgeon — Product/Service, Science, Experience
Phase 2 began with my computer as my helper. I keystroked through the cosmetic marketing hype and bookmarked information, weeding out the derivative, broker-mediated websites. I looked for inconsistencies, errors and carelessness on the websites and eliminated these out of hand. I found the Top 5 primary cosmetic clinics and targeted them for intense scrutiny.
I learned all I could about the different kinds of facelifts–and there are many! I learned that the “deep plane” facelift was the gold standard and expected to last 10-15 years. I then began to research the surgeons and costs in my area and in Mexico.
I submitted a set of photos for a virtual consultation to my Top 5 clinics in Tijuana for opinions and pricing. I visited one cosmetic surgeon in my local area.
Research became my new full-time retirement job. I continued to search the doctors in Mexico who were doing facelift surgeries. I read everything I could find in TV and magazine media about surgery in Mexico. I googled medical journal sites to see who was doing research and writing about it. I visited forums devoted to cosmetic surgery.
I finally chose CosMed and Dr. Quiroz after about a month of the Phase 2 “fact-gathering” process. One cannot research and read forever and, at some point, must take the information at hand and decide to act—or not. The selection started in the fact-finding, objective mode, but in the end, it is subjective based on a myriad of impressions. There are many objective reasons I chose Dr. Quiroz and CosMed, but ultimately, it was a “feel” that sealed the deal!
After selection, the mechanics of making arrangements was simple. It one of the goals of CosMed to create an experience for their clientele that minimizes apprehension and inconvenience. Joyce is a reassuring and down-to-earth facilitator and made it all Easy Peasy!
The first step is to make your deposit and schedule your surgery date. If you are near a Wells Fargo Bank (and who isn’t?), it is simple to make a direct deposit and Joyce emailed all detailed instructions.
The second step is to get your “medicals” done. Knowing that I would need a full blood test (because of my medical training), I delayed my usual annual blood work so most of the specific, surgery-related cost would be absorbed by medical insurance coverage and minimize my out-of-pocket cost.
The surgeon required a Complete Blood Panel (CBC), a Complete Metabolic Panel (CMC), an EKG, a blood-clotting test (PTT) and HIV screening. (Additionally, if you are of childbearing age, you will need pregnancy clearance tests.) My primary care physician cooperated when I showed him Dr. Quiroz’s written request for these tests. I got copies of all test results, scanned them into my computer, and emailed them to CosMed.
Last, I completed my travel itinerary and emailed that to CosMed. With each step, I received a telephone confirmation that my correspondence had been received.
On Saturday, the day prior to my departure, I got a phone call from the transportation agent who would be picking me up at the airport. On Sunday, the day before my scheduled surgery, I arrived at San Diego Airport and, with a phone call describing my exact location, watched the ground transportation agent drive up about 15 minutes later. Our SUV zipped over the border without slowing down during the 20-minute trip. All the vehicle’s occupants chattered excitedly about their upcoming procedures!
I was delivered to the entrance of the new CosMed clinic and entered an impressive lobby reception area where I was asked to sign in. Though I was unable to read or understand a word of the sign in process, it was quickly accomplished and I was taken upstairs to a security-coded entry door into the Recovery Boutique. There, I was checked in by the reception staff and taken to a tastefully-designed private room. I noted with surprise that the hospital bed had a bed skirt on it—something I have never seen or even knew existed! However, this underscored the attention to detail by the designer and effort to reduce the appearance of a clinical setting and minimize the cues that create apprehension.
Almost as soon as I sat down on my bed with a sigh of relief, the staff asked if I wanted something to eat and brought me a tray with some delicious food, which appeared to be “home-cooked.” I later found out that all the food was prepared by caterer off-premises.
The next morning, an attendant came to me and asked me to check-in upstairs in the surgical suite in 5 minutes. Holy Excitement! It’s totally real now and I’m on my way!