The Big Reveal

Monday, February 8

Three FOF friends and I meet in Times Square, where CBS will be taping a segment on FOF. Between takes, I remove my scarf and show my pals my jowl-less face. Susan looks at me closely and says, “I’ve got to get the name of your doctor.” Ditto Cathy. They want the lowdown on the procedures. I share it all.

“How soon after the work did you show your face?” Susan asks.

“Two days,” I answer. “I looked like I went a few rounds with Mohammed Ali but I felt fine.”

Tuesday, February 9

I return to Dr. Giese’s office. She is pleased by the progress and explains any little lumps and bumps I see or feel will smooth out over the next few weeks. One of three nerves on the left side of my mouth hasn’t improved. “It may only come back 85 percent,” Dr. Giese cautions. It’s so much better than it was two weeks ago, so I am not terribly concerned. It feels a bit numb, but is not affecting me.

I also see Nathalie for another magic-fingers facial. Every time I have a treatment, I can see an improvement in the tone and texture of my skin.  I worry how I’m going to live without them. Will I have to go to facial rehab?

Thursday, February 11

My ex and I
Another kind of face... Artist: Doug Brin

I’m at an art opening featuring the work of my former-husband, Douglas.  Marge and Nancy, whom I haven’t seen in decades, tell me I look great.  I reveal what I had done. I don’t hide my age.  Why hide this?

February 14, 2010 The launch party is four days away and, of course, I have nothing to wear. I go to Saks to buy something new (I have been to Bergdorf Goodman and Barney’s, but wouldn’t wear anything they had, even if they gave it to me for free.) A lovely Issey Miyake long blouse/short dress immediately catches my uplifted eyes.  I grab it.

At a Valentine’s Day buffet dinner party I get a few more good reviews on my refreshed face.

Wednesday, February 17

Nathalie sees me for one last facial. She calls it the Madonna Facial.  I don’t really care to look like Madonna, but it still feels grrrrreat.

Thursday, February 18

We race around the office preparing for the FOF launch event, which starts at 7 p.m. Francis from Butterfly Studio Salon comes to do my makeup. I throw on my new shirt over my new pantyhose and away we go.

PRE: JANUARY 15, 2010
POST: David and I at the FOF launch, February 18

I compare my before and after photos and I believe the difference is dramatic. I didn’t think I looked too bad before. But now I think I look fresher and more vibrant. Let me put it this way: My outer self better matches my inner self.



Ed note: UPDATE: November 2011

Almost two-full years from the original “Natural Lift” surgery, we couldn’t help but post Geri’s updated “after.” (Now featuring a totally new hairstyle, courtesy of LeMetric.)

Thanks to my FOF friends who think I’m brave and like the results. Let me hear from you, no matter what you think!

Love, Geri

from →  ,

Flaboverfifty, Part V

Scroll down to read parts I-IV

Thursday, January 28

The swelling is noticeably less.

Friday, January 29

I am sitting at the beauty salon waiting for Tara to mix the color for my hair. When she starts to apply it, I can tell she’s looking at me differently. I say, “I’ve had some work done on my face.” She says, “I was trying to figure out what was different. I was looking for stitches, but didn’t see any.”

Tara’s reaction is totally cool. I feel that I don’t look that much younger, but I do look fresher and more vibrant. I don’t have any more confidence than I had.  I feel a little like a kid though.

Saturday, January 30

Ready for Shelley's FOF b-day dinner

It’s back to Nathalie for the third post surgery facial. My middle sister turns sixty today and we’re giving her a surprise dinner. My youngest sister hasn’t seen me since I had the surgery.  She can’t get over how I look. She’s a tough critic so her reaction means a lot.

Sunday, January 31

David and I are buying food at Russ & Daughters, along with scores of others who love their mouthwatering herrings, smoked salmon, bagels, homemade soups, blintzes, egg salad, and more.

I swear people are looking at me differently. Am I being superficial? Does it matter if I am?

Tuesday, February 2

Working away, preparing for the launch of FOF in 18 days. Chin feels pretty good.


from →  ,

Flaboverfifty, Part IV

Note: Scroll down to see installments I,II & III

Wednesday, January 20

Back to Dr. Giese. She removes the stitches and examines my face. She says she’s pleased with my progress, although I have a slight nerve paralysis on the left side of my lip. Full feeling should return within two weeks. I trust her when she says it’s not permanent.

She says the swelling will take a few more weeks to completely dissipate, and when it does, I will love the results.

I have an appointment to return next Tuesday for another follow up. Dr. Giese says she’d like to inject a wrinkle filler, called Radiesse, at the temples and in the folds between the sides of my nose and my mouth (they’re called nasolabial folds.) It supposedly stimulates our body to produce our own natural collagen. “Sure,” I say.

Thursday, January 21

Healing continues. I feel most discomfort in my chin, but can easily function with it. My FOF friend Catherine meets me at the office before our dinner date. The minute she looks at me, she says: “Wow!”

This is so much fun, I think.

Friday, January 22

Every day is a little adventure when I look in the mirror.

Saturday, January 23

I return to Nathalie for another “post-surgery facial.”  While I’m there, I decide to have a bikini laser treatment. Nathalie tells me that after three treatments, I will no longer have to do bikini waxing.  The laser is slightly uncomfortable, but I figure “no pain, no gain.”

Monday, January 25

My faces gets better and better every day. I continue to wear the bandage most of the day to keep the skin close to the neck and jaw line.  More feeling is returning to the left side of my lip.

Tuesday, January 26

I am back at Dr. Giese’s office. She is delighted with the results so far. “It’s only been 12 days since the surgery and you look great,” she says. She is especially pleased that feeling is returning to my lip so soon. It will take another month before all the swelling on my face disappears. Honestly, I’d be happy if nothing more changed.

The Radiesse injections go well.  I see immediate results. Dr. Giese squirts a bit of the Radiesse on her finger and shows me that it has the consistency of toothpaste and tells me the results could last over a year, compared to Restylane filler, which is thinner. We shall see.

I no longer need to wear the bandage. It isn’t my most flattering look anyway.

To Be Continued…


from →  ,

Flaboverfifty, Part III

Thursday, January 14, 2010

As instructed, I arrive at Dr. Giese’s office at 9:15 a.m. The operating room suite is located here, too. This is no hospital. It’s more inviting than most luxury spas I’ve visited.

Dr. Giese comes in to mark the spots on my face where she’d be operating. The surgery will take about  2 2.5 with anesthesia) hours and then I’ll be in the recovery room for about one hour. The anesthesiologist comes in next, moves me to a wheel chair and starts the IV.

I wake up in the recovery room in a modest daze, not remembering a moment beyond the IV. A removable, ace-type bandage sling is wrapped around my head and chin. I’m supposed to keep it on as much as possible, day and night.

My sister, Shelley, arrives to escort me home and off we go.

It looks worse than it feels

Armed with icepacks for my eyes, painkillers and attended by a caring sister, I spend the rest of the day in patient mode. I take a photo of my swollen face. I sleep fairly well and don’t need pain medication stronger than Tylenol for the discomfort. There’s no bleeding or unusual redness.

Friday, January 15

Discomfort is most pronounced in my chin, where Dr. Giese had implanted a rubber device. It’s hard to open my mouth, but overall, I feel okay.

I call the doctor’s office in the afternoon, when the swelling seems to increase. Dr. Giese’s PA tells me it’s normal.

Saturday, January 16

I went out like this. Call me crazy

I shower, remove the bandage and apply a little makeup. I meet my former husband for lunch. He tells me I look great. Douglas is pretty droll. I definitely don’t look great. I look like a truck—a Mack truck—ran me over, but that’s not going to keep me home.

Nathalie Dinoia working her post-surgery magic

I have a (recommended) post-surgical facial to help reduce the swelling with charming Nathalie Dinoia at Yasmine Djerradine spa.  Nathalie uses a sophisticated Biologique Recherche machine from Paris that is designed to stimulate the lymphatic system to get rid of excess fluid, hydrate, lift and sculpt, exfoliate, promote circulation and help smooth out the skin which has been traumatized by the surgery. The machine is supposed to increase the efficiency of the Biologique Recherch products that Nathalie is using.

Natalie also wraps my feet, legs and upper thighs in a contraption that makes me look like a partial Michelin man. This is a computer controlled, compression system utilizing pumps that inflate around the limbs to move the venous and lymph flow.

I return home feeling pretty good and spend the rest of the day relaxing even more.

Sunday, January 17

Swelling seems to be decreasing and I start to see stitches dangling from my eyelids and the corners of my mouth. Lovely.

I am doing the laundry in the basement of my apartment building and two FOF women neighbors ask why my face is swollen. I tell them what I’ve done and they’re fascinated. Ronnie says to me: “I’m going to save my money to do it, too.”

David and I are out to dinner with Lois and Eliot Hess, who own the PR agency that is handling FOF, and Shirley Wexner, owner of Joseph, the magnificent store in Memphis, TN.

Out to dinner with friends

Jamie Dimon, the handsome chairman of JP Morgan Chase, waves to me from another table (I’m not dropping names; a relative works for him). I go to his table to say hello and explain why I look like I do.  “You look beautiful,” he says. He’s a brilliant businessman and a bad liar.

Monday, January 18

Repeat of Sunday, but my mouth looks a little lopsided and is a bit numb on the left side. For some reason, I’m not concerned.

To Be Continued

Flaboverfifty, Part II

Face Lift v. the natural lift

The blue background really brings out those jowls

After taking frontal and profile photos of my FOF face and downloading them to the computer, Dr. Giese reemphasizes my flaws (what fun!).  “A facelift would take care of everything,” she says, “and most surgeons wouldn’t touch your face otherwise.”

But facelifts are expensive (think $20,000) and intimidating (none of us is especially interested in looking like Joan Rivers) so Dr. Giese created what she calls the natural lift, the aging solution for modern women.

“Patients want to look natural as they age.  I’ve spent the last decade developing a number of surgical and non-surgical subtle procedures, so no one has to have an extreme makeover to look fresher and brighter,” Dr. Giese explains.

A full facelift is literally that. The surgeon cuts into the skin around the perimeter of the face, trims the excess skin, then lifts and stretches the remaining skin over the bone and muscle. The entire face is made over.

Rather than a full frontal attack, Dr. Giese offers patients a “treatment plan” of strategic mini procedures that can be performed all at once or over months, even years. The patient also decides whether she wants the whole menu or just the main course, depending on her budget and recovery time.

The “main course” of her natural lift starts with two tiny incisions behind the earlobes and corners of the mouth. Dr. Giese uses a probe and micro-ultrasound to melt the fat under the sagging jowl skin and neck, and then suctions it out through a tube. Think of it as liposuction of the jowl. The process stimulates the collagen under the skin and, as a scar tissue band forms on the inside, the skin contracts closer to the muscle. While both the full facelift and the natural lift are considered surgical, the facelift is more extensive and invasive and takes longer to heal.

How much, literally and figuratively?

The words "chin implant" were music to my face.

Besides recommending the core procedure to contour my jaw line, Dr. Giese also suggests: Upper and lower eye lifts (overlapping skin could be surgically eliminated on my upper eyes and filler injections would take care of the concavities beneath the eyes), a modest chin implant along with the jowl job and a slight amount of hyluronic acid, added to my lips to make them fuller (not Angelina Jolie fuller, just a tad fuller.)

So there I have the whole menu of options.

Typically, the price for these procedures is about $15,000. (With a basic facelift and extras, the price maybe twice that.)

It takes me about 12 seconds to decide I want to order the whole menu (sans facelift). I’m a bit of an adventurous soul (my nephew Max calls me ‘wacky’) and I figure I’ll have great information to share with all my FOF friends on the site. I also trust Dr. Giese’s competency and moderate approach. The jowl work interests me most because that’s where my aging shows most. But I’d love to go for the whole shebang.  My business partner thinks I’m a little crazy but agrees to pay for the costs since “it will make an amazing story.”

Besides, I am a sucker for a good salesperson. Dr. Giese is a good salesperson.  She doesn’t push. Her voice is mellow. But she’s sure of herself and her talents.

Of course, I ask numerous times whether I could die. As with any surgery, there is risk of a complication developing, such as pulmonary embolism or a heart attack, even within two weeks of the surgery. Dr. Giese says. Although the chance of having a complication is rare, there’s a risk, nevertheless.  I’ve never experienced adverse reactions to four prior surgeries, so I’m not worried (well, at least not too worried.)

I schedule the surgery for eight days later.  Dr. Giese wants me to look great for the launch party five weeks away on February 18. (WE’RE LIVE NOW!)  First, I need to have a complete physical and eye exam to get medical clearance. It’s time for my annual physical anyway.

to be continued….


[Ed’s note: In January 2010, right before officially launched, founder Geri Brin got the “Natural Lift,”–a much-buzzed-about cosmetic surgery developed by Dr. Sharon Giese. (It has since been called “the plastic surgery of the future” by Dr. Oz).  Read about Geri’s experience in her own words, and check out her updated before-and-after photos, at the bottom of this series.]

I did something I swore I’d never do. I had “surgery light” on my face. I call it “light” because I did not have a facelift. I swear. Read on to see what I did, why I did it and whether it was worth it.

When my friend, Meryl, told guests about FOF at a dinner party, Dr. Sharon Giese said she wanted to meet me. “She thinks FOF women will be interested in a new technique she’s developed,” Meryl said.

Dr. Giese is a plastic surgeon. I called to set up a meeting.

January 6, 2010

A Tour of My Face

I haven't held a mirror this close to my face in years
Now it's Dr. Giese's turn to look at me

Dr. Giese and I decide the best way for her to explain her procedure, which she calls the natural lift by dr. Sharon, will be to point out what she’d do on my face. I sit on a high chair in front of this soft-spoken and beautiful plastic surgeon. She instructs me to look into a hand mirror as she examines my face, top to bottom.

“You don’t have a great deal of excess skin on the upper eyelids, but your eyes would look brighter and wider if some of it was removed. The lower lids could definitely use a lift,” she begins. When the cheek skin loses elasticity and sags, a cavernous look forms under the eyes and creates dark circles, Dr. Giese explains. “All the concealer in the world won’t camouflage them.”

Moving south, she comments that the laugh lines surrounding my mouth “aren’t too bad.” I reveal that “I recently had filler injections.”

Then Dr. Giese comes to my lovely chin, jaw and jowls. Pointing out the sagging cheek skin and the little pouch of excess tissue hiding a jaw line, she says this area is hit hardest as we age. “Jowls are the single biggest giveaway to an aging face. Yours make the bottom half of your face look older than 62,” she says bluntly.  I don’t disagree, but feel compelled to ask: “Why do most people think I look younger than 62?”

The jowls only a mother could love

“You have great style,” Dr. Giese says. “No one is concentrating on every inch of your face.”

Hmm. Now I was.

to be continued tomorrow…