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Fallbrook, CA 92028
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I had been dissatisfied with my aging face for quite sometime. Years spent basking in the California sunshine, smoking and drinking (too much) in my early to mid twenties, and a lifetime love affair with sugar had prematurely aged me. With the inevitable depletion of estrogen as menopause set in came more rapid deterioration and the year that passed between my 56th and 57th birthdays brought a marked increase in the overall decline of my skin. I needed to do something!
My sister had recently had a facelift done with Dr. Maurice Aceves in Mexicali and was impressed with his pedigree (he's board certified in both Mexico and the U.S., and speaks fluent English, Spanish and French), professionalism and the quality of his office/surgery. Believe me, my sister does not impress easily! Most importantly, she was happy with her results. She gave me his contact information and, after deliberating for a few days I decided to call.
I caught him on his way out. He was leaving for L.A. for a seminar. He told me to email him 3 photos, full front (see above) , left and right profile and that he'd get back to me when he returned.
September 25, 2017 – The Day Before
Arrived at Dr. Aceves clinic at 11:00. We had communicated via email up till now. I had sent him front and profile views of my face and told him my priorities:
Saggy neck and jowls.
Heavy upper lids.
Loss of fullness in upper face.
Overall tired appearance.
He had advised me which procedures would be needed to correct my concerns (lower face lift, upper blepharoplasty, and fat taken from my abdomen and injected into my cheeks) and quoted me a price of $5400.
In the office he went through my health questionnaire, examined my face, confirmed the procedures and told me I would need blood work, a chest x-ray and an EKG to confirm that I was healthy enough for the surgery.
His sister, Jackie, who is fluent in English, picked me up at his office and drove me to the various appointments. (We chose to stay at a hotel in town, but if a patient would rather stay on the American side, Jackie will take you back and forth across the border.)
Appointment 1, a chest x-ray, $92.
Appointment 2, blood draw and work up, $20. Although they were looking at other various things, the main thing they were after were the coagulation factors which would help them determine how much I might bleed and how quickly my body would be able to stop the bleeding.
Appointment 3, an EKG and a visit with a doctor who looked at all the test results, asked me health and lifestyle related questions and finally cleared me for surgery, $100.
September 26, 2017- The Day Of
I arrived at Dr. Aceves office at 9:00 a.m. Dr. Aceves took me back to the surgery and introduced me to the anesthesiologist. I changed into a gown and lay down on the surgical table. The anesthesiologist sat beside me and talked to me about prior experiences with anesthesia and any reactions I might have had while two nurses efficiently, but gently, worked on prepping me. At some point I fell asleep. I started to wake up just as the doctor was putting the last few stitches in. I felt a slight sting and someone reached out and held my hand which was quite comforting. A compression bandage was wrapped around my head and I was able to get dressed and walk out on my own. It was actually quite surprising that I was so clear headed so quickly. The doctor told me everything went well, that he had injected me with something for nausea, and that he would see me again at 9:00 a.m. the next morning. My sister, niece and her mother in law, Lupita, were waiting for me in reception. They collected my prescriptions, antibiotics and pain killers, my paper work and took me back to the hotel room. They helped me get situated, propped up in bed and then left me to try to rest. I was quite nauseous but not in too much pain at first. As the day progressed, I was not able to rest and the muscles in my neck from my shoulders to the back of my head ached quite a lot. After talking to the doctor, my niece picked me up a stronger prescription. The nausea remained until midnight, when I was given a sleeping pill to help me try to sleep which I had not been able to do yet. The pill did not help me sleep, however the nausea went away soon after taking it which helped a lot in how I felt. I ended up only sleeping 2 hours that night, which I believe may be a reaction to anesthesia as I have a son who has experienced the same problem.
September 27, 2017 – The Day After
I went to Dr. Aceves' office at 9:00 a.m. He removed the compression bandage and checked the wounds. Everything looked good so the nurse reapplied the bandages. They were quite uncomfortable so I asked the doctor when I could remove them. He told me that I could remove them when I got home. I asked him when I could wash the blood out of my hair (yuck!) He said I could wash my hair after removing the bandages and to wash the wounds with gentle soap and water, and to keep them dry.
I made an appointment for suture removal one week later and went home. Leaving Mexicali was interesting as there is a special medical lane that you can use if you get a pass from your doctor. At a point, the medical lane merges with the regular lanes and it is not the polite every other car lets someone in that we have in the states. People have been waiting in line a long time and are not about to let anyone ahead of them, so while your medical pass helps, don't expect to jump to the front of the line. As soon as I got home I removed the bandages and got in the shower. Afterward, drying the stitches behind my ears and in my scalp was tricky because, having to avoid any kind of heat, I couldn't use the blow dryer. Luckily, the weather was warm so my hair dried quickly. I did help it out a little by drying the ends with the low setting on my blow dryer. The rest of the day was uneventful. I had no appetite but knew I should eat so I made a smoothie and went to bed early. I slept propped up, using a wedge I keep in my treatment room for pregnant clients. I slept well enough, waking off and on in the night, at some point taking another pain killer.
Days 2 and 3
Days 4 and 5
Days 6 and 7
September 28th – October 2nd
The next 5 days were pretty much the same. I didn't have much energy so I mostly watched TV. I still didn't have much of an appetite and couldn't chew much with out my jaw aching so I drank a lot of smoothies and ate a lot of soup.. I iced my face 4 or 5 times a day and gradually the swelling began to subside. One of my earlobes started to feel hot and was much fatter than the other. I was afraid I might be getting an infection so I cleaned it well and treated it with Armour Gel which is a colloidal silver wound care gel. It took a couple of days, but it calmed back down Around October 2nd my face started peeling, probably from the swelling. I was still taking pain killers. When they would begin to wear off it was obvious I still needed them. The pain relievers were making me constipated, a known side effect. My son got me some Smooth Move herbal tea. I started sleeping in a recliner as it was much more comfortable than lying on my back in my bed.
October 3, 2017
OMG, never drink Smooth Move herbal tea if you can't stay home the next day! Constipation was no longer an issue! This was the first day I started to feel stronger. I was only taking over the counter acetaminophen by now and was able to eat some toast with my soup. My eyes started getting tired toward the afternoon and I canceled the one appointment I had that evening.
October 4, 2017
I was much stronger. I could tell because I suddenly could not stand to watch one more minute of TV and was able to do laundry and water the flowers outside (slathered in sunscreen of course)! I was able to eat half a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast if I chewed very slowly. I went back to Mexicali and had the sutures around my eyes removed. One eye was a bit uncomfortable, while the other just felt freaky as I could feel the suture sliding under the skin across my eye! I told Dr. Aceves about the earlobe and he examined it. He said that infection is very rare, only 1-2%. I had been hoping that all the stitches would be coming out but he said that if he took the rest out now the scars could widen and would be more visible. He told me I could have my own doctor remove the rest in a week if it would be easier on me. I opted to return and have him do it. I asked him when I could start sleeping on my side again. He said I could try it that night if I wanted. Sadly, the sutures made the cartilage in my ear feel like it was made out of hard plastic so I'm still sleeping in my recliner till they are removed.
October 5, 2017
I was able to work a full day today. Taking ibuprofen every 8 hours. Was tired by the end of the day. Have noticed the swelling is worse at night, probably due to my body being fatigued.
October 6 - 9th, 2017
Healing continues to go well. Still taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen every 8 hours. If it wears off, there's not a lot of pain but my whole face tingles and tightens and it can sometimes feel as though things are moving around under my skin. Doctor Aceves said that this happens as nerves regenerate. I'm still sleeping in a recliner, but I'm used to it now. My eyes look fantastic. Virtually no scar.
October 13, 2017
I went back to Mexicali to have the sutures removed. He left in a few centimeters above my left ear due to scabbing. I had leftover prescription painkillers that I took 1.5 hours before my appointment. Suture removal was uncomfortable, about a 4 on a scale of 1-10.
October 15, 2017
First day I was able to go without painkillers. Minimal swelling left. Noticed that when I smile there is more wrinkling around the temple area than there was before. Still have to sleep in a Lazyboy. Ears are numb and slightly tender.
October 24, 2017
Four weeks today. I put a little eyeliner on ( don't tell my doctor!) some mascara and lipstick and went out to lunch with my husband. Lining my eyes was a little bit uncomfortable, numb and tender at the same time. The bruise on my cheek is almost gone. Only taking painkillers once a day now. Behind my ears aches a little by the end of the day. My local doctor is going to remove the last few stitches for a very reasonable price so I don't have to drive back to Mexicali! Yay!
Me, at 57!