Written by Ramona Duoba
Deciding to have a surgical procedure often comes after a defining moment. You glance at your passport photo and can’t believe what’s happened to your looks during the last decade. You won’t go near the pool without meticulously wrapping a sarong over your swimsuit. You secretly pull back the skin on your face to see what you’d look like, minus the lines around your mouth, eyes or on your forehead. Penelope L.’s defining moment was a bit more dramatic. “When I did cardio exercise I had a sensation that lasted about a minute and then stopped suddenly. It wasn’t an ache or pain. It was something that was just different. It’s kind of hard to explain. The sensation was on my left side and probably had more to do with my breathing, but my breathing never stopped. The doctor recommended I have an EKG. On April 29, 2011, the same day as the Royal wedding, I checked in for an outpatient procedure. The last thing I remembered hearing was, ‘We’re taking you to the O.R.’ Fifty-year-old Penelope had three major heart blockages. “I was a walking time bomb,” she said.
How was a triple by-pass your defining moment?
Once I recovered I told myself I wasn’t putting off what I wanted to do. My jowls had to go. Sagging jowls run in my family. My mom is beautiful, but she has them.
When did you have the surgery and are you happy with the results?
I had a lower face-lift and neck lift surgery on December 14, 2012. I’m very, very happy with the results. I no longer walk around with my lower face sinking into my chest. Now I look more the age that I am and I really like that.
You are a practice administrator for a plastic surgeon, so you see patients and their results daily. What was the procedure like for you?
The lower face and neck lift were a breeze. I had I-V sedation, also known as a twilight. I just felt like I was having a really good sleep. Dr. Magassy pulled the neck back behind my ears and the lower face up in front of my ears. I came home with a wrap that looked like a helmet. The reason for this is to keep everything in place for the first 48-hours of healing. If you can imagine the wrap underneath your chin, pulling up, it helps with the contour. The wrap was the part that bugged me the most, but then again it was only 48-hours.
Did the procedure require liposuction?
Dr. Magassy always does a little lipo with this procedure. It’s called sub mental liposuction and it eliminates any fat that might be lying there.
Were you swollen?
Yes, but I didn’t bruise because I pre-medicated with Arnica Montana, a supplement to prevent bruising and swelling. The noticeable swelling lasted about two weeks.
How long was the recovery?
I had the surgery on a Friday and was back at work the following Tuesday. Since I work in a plastic surgeon’s office it wasn’t uncomfortable to be there with a swollen face. There was a little redness from the stitches, which lasted about three weeks. The area from the sutures is slightly raised so I use a silicone in a tube for scar management.
How did your friends and family react?
I went to have my nails done a couple of weeks after my surgery and the manicurist asked if I changed my hair color. When I told her I had a lower facelift she said, ‘You don’t look like you had surgery at all, you look well, like you had a vacation.’ No one asks if I had work done. Everyone thinks I look ‘well rested.’ I had the surgery just this past December and the friends I saw after Christmas just told me that I looked really good.
You’ve worked for Dr. Magassy for seven years. What do you like about him? Why did you choose him?
I’ve seen the results of many patients over the years and I liked them, so Dr. Magassy was an easy choice. He has the experience and I knew there would be a balance of the results I wanted and what he felt I needed. The results are subtle and natural. What you want may not be what you need.
How has this surgery changed your life?
It has enhanced how I feel about myself, the image I put forth in my job. I love telling people what I do for a living and what I’ve done to my face. I’m not hush-hush about it. I talk candidly about it. Getting natural results is the product of skilled hands. Don’t wait until it’s too late because once your skin becomes even more lax, you’re likely to look more pulled back after surgery. It’s harder to achieve a subtle result.
Are you considering other procedures?
Not now. Maybe I’ll have my eyes done, but I’ll let Mother Nature decide. When it’s time, I won’t think twice.
A note from Dr. Magassy:
Penelope was an excellent candidate for the lower face lift and neck lift surgery. Besides being motivated to do this surgery, she has nice bone structure. The surgery took about 2 1/2 to 3 hours under a local anesthesia. An incision is made in the hair line and the skin is raised. Penelope had sagging skin and it was very elastic, so her results are great. I see her every day and her attitude is terrific. I have seen this type of surgery make a big difference in a person’s life. They feel better about themselves. Much more confident. They feel as good as they look and vice-versa.