I’m having a facelift because frankly, I do not want to end up looking like my Mum, who is 67. She has had a hard life and without wishing to be rude, it shows in her face.
My face has sagged, I don’t like the wrinkles around my eyes. When I look in the mirror I see a woman of nearly 50. I want to be able to see a woman in her 30s. I’m still lively and dynamic at work and I want that to be reflected in my appearance.
During my 20s and 30s, I was very career focused and together with bringing up my two children I’ve had no social life for the past ten years. Now I’m in the position where I can start to have a life and I want to make the most of it.
Because I’m so young at heart, most of my friends are in their 20s or 30s. If I’m asked my age by guys we meet I usually say I’m 36. But recently one said to me: ‘Are you sure you’re 36?’ That was a wake-up call. I’ve never been married and I’m certainly not doing this face lift to get a man – I’m not exactly short of offers already!
I’m doing this for me – I want my face to match the person I feel inside. I want to get ten years back.
I’m wary of having a traditional facelift because of the possibility of nerve damage and the long recovery time which would be impossible for me to take off work. So I plucked up the courage to tell my two gorgeous children that Mummy would come out of hospital looking prettier- they were very excited for me – so I’m going for it.
Pre Op – Day 1
Packing my bag for hospital, I feel excited and positive but in the back of my mind I’m worrying about my children. I’ve been thinking this over for about a year and a couple of times I’ve had second thoughts – any operation is dangerous, suppose something goes wrong, am I being incredibly selfish? At the same time I don’t want to turn back.
I was recommended to Adrian Richards by a friend – he was lovely and kind. He introduces me to his Anaesthetist and assisting nurse, then marks up my face with lines to show where he is going to cut.
Before being taken down to the operating theatre I don’t feel fearful, but as the theatre doors swing open, I get a sudden guilty pang thinking ‘you don’t need this op, you have chosen it’. Then I go under. Five hours later I am wheeled back to my room.
The day after. I woke up in the night to find heavy pressure bandages across my face, eyes and ears and an oxygen mask over my nose and mouth. I am convinced someone is suffocating me. I suffer from claustrophobia and start having a panic attack until the nurse sitting beside my bed manages to calm me down.
I then drift in and out of consciousness until Adrian checks me over at 7 a.m. He removes my bandages and he is pleased with his handywork. He brings a mirror over. At first I reel back in shock. It looks as if he’s shrunk my head, my face looks so much smaller.
Then I realise it’s because I no longer have the drooping jowls that made my face appear long. Even though my face, eyes and ears are deeply bruised, I can see that my profile is different and feel a rush of pleasure. All the things Adrian had said he would do – smooth my forehead, re-define my eyelids, get rid of the lines under my eyes and give me back my perky little cheeks – he’s done. What a relief!
By the afternoon the heavy bandages are off my eyes and the drains behind my ears have been taken out. I’m sitting up in bed having had a shower, my hair washed and a pedicure.
Total recovery, though, seems a long way off. If I turn my head my skin feels very tight, the back of my neck is deeply bruised, and my eyes are sore and weepy.
I’ve got to wear a light facial support to help keep the swelling down and to give my face a little support. I look like The Curse of the Mummy – my children would be terrified!
I can’t believe I’m being discharged! It feels odd going back into normal life again.
I still can’t move my head and I’ve hidden my bruised eyes behind sunglasses. I take a cab to collect the children from the childminder. They’re thrilled to see me. Georgia says “You look beautiful Mum, even with the stitches in.” This cheers me up no end.
Back home I ache all over – it’s a combination of the operation, stress and anxiety. I didn’t sleep very much last night as I’ve got to sit upright to minimize the bruising and swelling and am only able to snooze off occasionally. I’m uncomfortable, but it’s bearable because I’m taking pain killers, using eye drops and wearing a light pressure bandage on my face.
I can’t wait to look at myself in my bathroom mirror. Carefully removing the bandage, I’m disappointed – I look much more swollen than I thought initially and the bruises look far worse. I tell myself that it’s early days and surely things can only get better.
My face feels very tight from all the stitches and I still can’t move by head. I’ve got black panda eyes, swelling on my face and my bruises are going an appalling shade of yellow.
But I can now see the face I used to have. I’m back to how I looked in my early 30s even though I feel utterly exhausted and more like someone who’s 80. My forehead is unlined, my eyes are wrinkle free and there are no drapes or folds around my chin. A bath eases the pain.
I shampoo my hair and rub Arnica gel on my skin to speed up the healing of the bruising. Then I put in my antibiotic eye drops to keep my eyes lubricated and to guard against infection before smoothing ointment over my wounds. Treating this performance like a beauty routine makes me feel better. In the afternoon I do some work, ringing a few people and catching up on e-mails – I can’t believe I can do this so soon after the operation.
It still feels odd sleeping propped up, but I’m getting a bit of rest. I was going to go out today, but my face and head ached so much I didn’t feel up to it. I feel horrible, but try reminding myself that it’s still early days. One of my cheeks looks very lumpy so I massage more Arnica gel into my face which Adrian says will help my skin to settle.
A really bad headache sets in all day. My face is now dull yellow which is good because it means the bruising will fade soon. My eyes look long and slit, but they feel better. I will be relieved, though, when the stitches are taken out from my eyes tomorrow. I go out for a walk (my first!) and do some gentle Pilates exercises. A few people stare at my bruises, but I hide behind my sunglasses – I must look like a battered wife!
Day 7 – Stitches out!
Back to see Adrian at the hospital. My face is still full of tender places and my eyes are sensitive. He tells me to use Bio-oil – a natural remedy which helps to reduce scarring. He carefully takes out the stitches and I feel much better. Have noisy lunch out with the children. I still look very yellow, have an awful headache and wish I hadn’t come off the painkillers. Back home, I am about to take tablets for migraine when it suddenly clears itself.
I put on a little make-up to cover my bruises and add a touch of mascara to my eyes which makes me feel much better.
Returning to the mirror, I’m thrilled to find that I look even better than I did in my 20s – the surgery has enhanced my naturally good bone structure. I relish the fact that I’ve now got grown-up confidence and maturity plus a young face to go with it – an unbeatable combination with which to enter the rest of my life.
There are a lot of numb areas in my face and I’ve been warned by Adrian that it will take months before I feel completely normal. Then sharp pains start shooting up my nose, it’s like the nerves are doing a little dance. But I haven’t taken any painkillers today – that’s a milestone. To the outside world I probably now look as if I’ve almost recovered from the op, but my face feels extraordinarily tight, it’s as if I’m trapped in my own skin.
The raised lump on the back of my head still feels awful, it’s like there are two flat ridges where the stitches are – I’m told they’ll dissolve by themselves in time. Finally I feel as if I’m coming out of my chrysalis – I’ve survived the operation and am back in control.
I have the rest of the stitches round my temple and my ears taken out. Feel excited and notice that where there were red scars on my face two days ago, now there are white lines.
The nurse fills in a few tiny lines on my face with Botox® , but it stings like crazy because I’m still fragile. My face starts really hurting again. It is a bit of a blow, really wearing me down just when I was feeling better.
I improve when I use the Arnica gel and a couple of hours later my face looks fantastic having put on a little make-up, lipstick and mascara.
This is the first night since the operation that I’ve slept right through and I am much more positive about everything. I put on a bit of make-up and I like what I see, except for a few bruises.
My best friend drops in to see me and her reaction is everything I hoped for. She says I look brilliant and that my profile has changed completely I now have a defined jaw line and cheeks.
I go shopping, but my face feels very tight and uncomfortable. My eyes are highly sensitive and I don’t feel as good as I was hoping. I can’t concentrate.
In the evening I go round to my friends house, she opens the door and says ‘Wow! You look just like you – but younger!’ We open a bottle of wine which tastes even better than I remembered.
I go shopping with the children and feel completely different. I walk with my shoulders back, my head up and smile because I’m beautiful.
The operation has completely changed the way I feel about myself. When I catch my reflection in a store mirror, I see what I expect to see. I’ve lost 10 years and look like the person I feel inside!
To celebrate the new me, I’m going out tonight to have fun. I feel confident about stepping out socially because I know I look good.
Also, I’m looking forward to seeing the reaction of some of the people who see me regularly!
I had a lovely time. I started off the evening with dreadful earache, but soon forgot about it once I was back in the swing of things. I received loads of compliments, with men saying things like, ‘I never realised before how gorgeous you are’. I felt really good too.
When I looked in the mirror behind the bar I saw this glamorous 35 year old not a sagging-faced 45 year old. It’s smashing to be like this again. I’m scared of going back to the office tomorrow because I know everyone will have huge expectations.
Still, its exciting too as I think I will get a true reaction on my new face from my colleagues.
Back to work!
I enter my office at 7am with a pounding heart. My face still bears some light bruising and red marks on my hair-line from the stitches but it’s all easily covered by my foundation. As soon as colleagues arrive, they swoop on me to inspect my face.
My boss likes my eyes best, others think it’s my profile that’s most improved. They say my profile is still recognisably mine, but my chin is firm and my cheek-bones look sharper. I don’t feel in the least embarrassed about everybody knowing I’ve had cosmetic surgery – why should I? It’s my face and I can do what I want with it!
But by 4.30pm I’m tired out and my heart sinks at the thought that I’ve got to return tomorrow at full throttle. The trouble is I look so fit and healthy that people naturally expect me to match my appearance.
However, the operation has fully lived up to my expectations and has given me at least ten years back. I’ve regained as much youth as is humanly possible!
Roll on the next 10 years and lots of hard work plus plenty of fun. After gravity takes its toll again, I promise to age naturally unless, of course, some other wonderful new face lift technique has appeared.