“I didn’t used to have much aging in my face. It just sort of happened in the past few years.”
Karen, 63, is a mother of three grown children, ages 40, 28, and 26, and is a retired computer programming analyst and apparel retailer. She wanted to have her “crooked” nose straightened for a number of years. When her gynecologist referred her to Dr. Rondi Walker of Washington, DC, Karen knew she’d found her surgeon. “I just trusted my doctor.” Pleased with the results from the October 2012 septorhinoplasty (“basically, she rebuilt my nose),” Karen and Dr. Walker discussed a facelift at one of their follow-up appointments, when Karen noticed her jowls “just looked awful.”
Dr. Walker thought the best procedure for Karen would be a facelift, including upper and lower eyelid lifts (blepharoplasties) and fat transfer to the cheeks. Her facelift was about three months later, in January 2013.
Where do you live?
Have you wanted plastic surgery for a long time?
I’d been having Botox for 10 years. The wrinkling between my eyes made me look angry!
Why did you wait so long to have the surgery if your nose had been bothering you?
Because of the expense, mainly. Even though our financial situation didn’t change that much, I talked to my husband and just decided to do it. It was just looking worse and worse the older I got. Dr. Walker did some reshaping, too. She found that maybe I had broken my nose at some point. [The surgery took 3 hours.]
What was the recovery like?
I had a cast, so I didn’t see it as it was healing. It was like a mold right on the surface. I think it was more for protection, or providing stability to the nose. It was uncomfortable because I couldn’t breathe very well.
How did you decide on a facelift after your nose surgery?
I realized that I wanted to bring some youth back into my face. I left it up to Dr. Walker, and her suggestions sounded perfect. My eyelids were drooping down over my eyelashes. This closed everything down so much and I thought it was unattractive. The jowl line needed to be lifted a bit. That’s why we decided to do that. Fat was transferred to my cheeks [from her abdomen and hip] to create definition in my face.
What was the preparation like for the facelift?
I started Arnica Montana* a week or two before both surgeries. On the days of surgery, I went to the hospital at 5:30 or 6 am. It was done under general anesthesia and took 5 hours.
*Arnica Montana is an herbal medicine to decrease bruising.
Facelift, including upper and lower eyelid lifts, and fat transfer to the cheeks, by Dr. Walker.
What was the recovery like for the facelift?
I had a wrap all the way around my head, and two drains behind my ears, which stayed in for several days. The wrap caused a lot of itching, so I removed it after almost a week. Although that was sooner than I was instructed, I didn’t have any problems. I also used eye drops, and kept cold, wet compresses on my eyes.
How long were you out of commission?
At least a month, but it took two months before I felt completely comfortable doing things, mainly because of the way I looked. I wasn’t in pain.
Aside from the obvious, how did the recovery from the facelift differ from your first surgery?
Psychologically, it was a completely different experience than the nose. With this, I could see the swelling and how everything was progressing.
What did you family think of your surgeries before and after?
My husband says I look as young as I did when we married almost 20 years ago. My girls had kind of a hard time with it, with their mom making any changes. My son was really worried about me going into the hospital. Now, they’re all fine with it.
Why do you want to share your plastic surgery story with other women?
I just think it’s a wonderful thing that this is available to us. I know it’s expensive and not everybody can do this, but from what I’ve seen, a lot of women try to hide plastic surgery. I just think it’s important to share it. I can’t do much about the aches and pains, but I can do something about the other parts!
How did it change you, not just physically, but mentally?
I don’t think it changed me mentally. I love it. I think my face looks more like I feel on the inside.
A note from Dr. Walker:
Nasal injuries in youth may lead to chronic nasal obstuction, breathing difficulties and nasal deformities that become more apparent with time. Difficulty with breathing is what led sixty-three year old Karen to my office for a rhinoplasty. The complexity of her septal deviation and nasal deformity required treatment via an open rhinoplasty (where an external incision is made). After the surgery, she could breathe easier and her nose was straight. At her follow-up appointments, she noticed some other areas of her face that she wanted to improve. She had a healthy attitude and was over all pleased with her looks. However, she felt if she could restore a more youthful appearance on her face, she would feel more like her youthful inner self!
After extensive consultations following her first procedure, we agreed that she would benefit from a full meloplasty (face lift) to treat her sagging skin, particularly in the jowls. The fat augmentation would address the loss of volume in her face. In addition, upper and lower eyelid surgery would address those droopy eyelids we always hear about! Just four months out of surgery, she was pleased with her results and has volunteered to speak with many of my patients about her surgical experience. With each of my surgical patients, I tailor the surgery specifically to his or her specific anatomy, expectations, and lifestyle.