I had my facial plastic surgery 15 days ago and had an appointment today to have my remaining sutures removed. So, I thought this was a good time for an update. (Well, to be honest, I am also working on a long weight loss related post but this was a very taxing day and I just don’t have the stamina to finish the other post today. I was originally going to do it today and this one tomorrow, but I’ll flip it).
I wanted to post a few pics of my current status and some of my thoughts on where I am now. One of the super cool things about getting all my sutures out is that I was cleared to wear makeup. I still have some bruising on the sside of my face and I just wanted to be able to see my progress with makeup on. I am not a big wearer of makeup, really. I don’t usually wear it around the house, for example, but it has been hard to not wear it at all.
Before I post pictures, I have to make a few caveats though. First, the light in my makeup mirror burnt out so the lighting I had to put on the makeup was not the best. The result is that the makeup is heavier than I really like to wear it. But, after having gone to the doctor’s to get sutures out today, it was just too tiring to take it off and start over. Second, I replaced all of my makeup before surgery. I thought it was a good opportunity to make sure I had fresh makeup as I didn’t want to risk any infection from makeup past its prime. So, I was in some cases using new products that have a bit of a learning curve (gel eye liner instead of pencil for example). Third, applying makeup was different. Most of that is because I still have areas of numbness. I have some feeling everywhere on my face, but it doesn’t feel like normal. Putting on mascara with tingling eyelids was interesting. And, applying makeup was different because part of my face is now shaped differently. For example, typically I haven’t been able to really see the lids on my eyes unless I closed my eyes. Now, I can see them. So, putting on eyeshadow is different. That is an adjustment as well.
All of which is a way of saying that that my makeup application was less than optimal. Another point I must make is that I still have a lot of swelling left. The rule of thumb I’ve read by some of the doctors at Realself is that 20% of the healing is done at 2 weeks. I have improved a lot during the last 2 weeks as you can see from the pictures I previously posted on my last update. But, the vast majority of the healing has not yet occurred. So, this is where I am basically 2 weeks into healing with makeup with about 80% of my healing left to do. Anyway, without further ado:
As you can see, I still have a lot of puffiness and swelling. And, to be honest, I still don’t really recognize myself entirely. It is better than it was, but it is still a little disconcerting. On the other hand, I have no turkey neck any more. I think that particular loose skin which was made so much worse by weight loss bothered me so much and, even now, I can see that is gone. No more turkey neck! Also, while my doctor noted today that I still have a lot of swelling in my eyes I don’t have that loose droopy skin that I hated. It was a major reason that I rarely posted photos here. I hated how my eyes looked. I can already tell that it is much better as that loose skin isn’t there any more.
In my last post, I compared a pre-surgery no makeup photo (upper left below) to a picture of me taken 4 days ago without makeup (lower right below).
One of the things that was so noticeable to me in the pre-surgery picture (upper left) is that I looked sad, tired and sort of angry. And, I wasn’t any of those things! But that was what my face was saying. In the bottom right photo (11 days post-surgery) I had bruises and lots of healing to go but I already felt that I looked better because I didn’t look like I was mad at the world.
But, what I really wanted to be able to do was a more fair comparison where I would compare a pre-surgery picture with makeup with one today with makeup. That said, such a picture also sort of an unfair comparison in a reverse way. The pre-surgery picture below is one from my birthday a month ago and I thought it was a particularly good photograph. The post-surgery photo is one where I still have a lot of swelling and miles to go before this will be a fair comparison to the birthday photo. Still, it shows where I am right now:
Given that I am only 2 weeks post-surgery I feel pretty good about the comparison. I can see clearly here how swollen I am, but I see the promise of the improvement that I expect to occur as the swelling recedes.
What I like about this comparison is it really shows the improvement in the two areas that I felt had the most loose skin and sagging. In the left photos you can see the drooping of my eyelids and the extra skin under the eyes. And, of course, the dreaded turkey neck. The new picture shows that even though I have swelling I don’t have that loose skin on the eyes or the turkey neck any more.
Anyway, just a few thoughts on surgery progress at this moment. Surgery was and recovery has been both easier and harder than I expected. Despite how I look in the photos in the first few days after surgery, the pain has not been terrible. I took pain pills for a week or so, but haven’t had much since then except when going to the doctor’s to have sutures removed. When I think of the extensive facial surgery I had done, it is really amazing to me that I am doing as well as I am doing. On the other hand, I had much more swelling of my eyes than I expected (I was warned in advance, but still didn’t adjust my expectations). I have also been more tired than I expected. The doctor says that will be better in about a week. This morning I got up, went to the doctor (I had taken pain meds so my husband drove), got sutures out and saw the doctor, came home, ate lunch and then put on makeup and had my husband take the pictures of me with makeup on. Afterwards, I was so shaky and exhausted I had to lay down for half an hour.
Part of the reason I am so exhausted is that I am not sleeping. I am supposed to sleep on my back with a neck pillow which is very difficult. Right after surgery, I took pain meds at night and still couldn’t sleep. My doctor had me back off a little on the pain meds and prescribed valium. That actually helped a lot. But, when I stopped the pain meds I stopped the valium and so I can’t sleep. Last night I was exhausted but didn’t get to sleep until after 5:00 AM. It is hard to heal without getting adequate sleep. The doctor is going to have me go back on the valium for a bit and if that doesn’t work will prescribe something else until I am cleared to sleep on my side in bed. Sleep is really important to healing.
Weight has been really interesting. The day before surgery, at home, I weighed 147.2 pounds (I had weighed at Weight Watchers less than that the day before but went out to eat that day). During all of this recovery, yes, I tracked what I ate. During the first week, I had my husband keep a written log for me and then I recorded it to Weight Watchers and MyFitnessPal after that. The first week after surgery I had a calorie deficit even though I was in bed most of the time. The day of surgery I ate nothing at all (I was allowed only water that night). The next few days I had no appetite and only ate as required to take medication that required being taken with food. My appetite got a little better toward the end of the week, but I had a calorie deficit despite earning about 1 FitPoint a day. On Sunday, May 14, I weighed for the first time since that 147.2 pound weigh in on May 7. Despite the calorie deficit, I weighed 148 pounds. I quickly realized this was due to swelling. The doctor had also warned me that sodium would really increase swelling, so I knew the 148 pounds wasn’t a “real weight.”
Since then, though, I’ve eaten a lot. I put myself on maintenance at Weight Watchers since I do not have a goal to lose weight right now. I was warned that healing requires adequate nutrition, particularly adequate protein. This is not the time to try to lose weight. Even putting myself on maintenance, however, last week I ate all my maintenance level SmartPoints and ended up with -109 Weekly SmartPoints! (I earned no FitPoints that I could eat as I didn’t earn more than 1 FitPoint on any day). So, I ate a lot of calories last week. From my MFP records I averaged 1593 calories a day when I usually eat about 1200 to 1250 calories a day in losing mode.
This morning I weighed at home at … 144.1 pounds! Now, on paper with the deficit the first week after surgery and the calorie surplus last week I should be up about half a pound overall. In reality, I am down 3.1 pounds. Now, honesty, I think that 147.2 pounds the day before surgery was a little bit due to water retention. But even if I use the previous day’s weigh in at home (145.9 pounds), I am still down quite a bit even though on paper I should be up a little.
Why is this? From what my doctor has said and what I read on realself, healing burns calories. Healing actually burns a lot of calories. So, I have been burning off all that food I’ve been eating despite my low activity level.
Right before surgery, my resting heart rate in the morning ranged from 55 to 58 bpm (according to my Fitbit). Since surgery, it has mostly been from 68 to 71 bpm. Just sitting around doing nothing, I’ve found that my heart rate this last two weeks has often been in the 70s which is about 10 bpm more than usual. I asked my doctor about it and it is the same thing. That is, evidence of the body’s working to heal me. I actually found that really interesting.
Alas, this effect doesn’t last forever and after the first couple of weeks I can’t really expect to lose 3 pounds or so while eating way above maintenance level SmartPoints. At this point, my plan is to stay on Maintenance Level SmartPoints for another few weeks and assess how I’m doing. If I’m staying within my maintenance range then all is good. If I start gaining above that, then I will cut back and will focus my eating on protein. Next Monday (3 weeks) after surgery I am cleared to walk slowly on the treadmill or to lightly use my exercise bike. I will do this cautiously, but try to slowly ramp up activity so long as it doesn’t tire me too much.
The swelling in my face and neck is really sort of interesting. Imagine putting your hands on the side of your lower face. Then, imagine that there is play doh stuffed just beneath the skin. That is sort of how my lower face and my chin and neck feel when I touch them. It is so odd. This is mostly swelling, coupled with how some of the muscles have been moved around. It honestly isn’t painful. But it really is just strange to feel. I used to read reviews at realself where people talked about the neck feeling “tight” after a necklift. I didn’t understand what they meant. Now, I do. It is like there is play doh wrapped around the neck. It doesn’t hurt me, but it sure feels odd.
I had read so much — and had been warned by my doctor — that it is common to feel depressed during recovery. Now, I haven’t actually felt depressed. I tend more to anxiety than depression to be honest. Still, I can now better understand why someone could feel depressed. You don’t look like yourself and you can’t really visualize how you will look. A common recommendation I have seen is to look back at photos from 10 to 15 years ago. That probably works fine for the person having facial plastic surgery just due to aging. But, for me, the loose skin from weight loss was a major part it. And, my pictures from 10 to 15 years ago show a me that weighs 50 to 65 pounds more than I weigh now. Looking at those pictures, gives me no comfort. So, I don’t look like me and I have nothing to really go by to know how I will look at 3 months after surgery (when I still won’t be fully healed, but will be much further along). I have faith this will all work out, so I’m not depressed. But, I can certainly see how some people could feel depressed.
Last thought. I am glad that I have decided that I don’t really care if anyone knows that I have had this surgery. Before I posted about it on this blog, my husband asked me if I was sure I wanted to do it. He knows that some people I know in real life such as people in my Weight Watchers meetings read this blog. So, if I posted here I was telling them and potentially everyone I know. I finally decided that I didn’t care. I don’t mind if they know and I don’t mind if they talk to me about it (if I know you in real life, feel free to ask away). It would just take too much energy to try to keep it a secret and I thought I would feel better just being open about it. While I probably won’t just announce it to everyone I meet, I don’t plan to avoid telling people either. It is just easier for me to be honest about having had the surgery (if that is something that would come up naturally in the conversation). Yesterday, I went out to eat for the first time after surgery. I couldn’t wear makeup yet and still had facial bruises. I did wear a hat and sunglasses since I wasn’t trying to be obvious about my bruises, but I decided that if someone noticed them I didn’t really care. I think I will just be happier being open about this, just like I am open about having lost weight.
So…that is where I am now. Oh, I plan to try to schedule my tummy tuck/breast lift for about 3 months after this surgery. The minimum waiting period is 6 weeks, but I can see that a little bit longer period is better. I don’t know exactly when yet as I will have to find out when the surgeon has an opening. I also still have to have the cholesterol deposits below my eyes removed (the upper ones were removed during surgery, but the rest have to wait so as to not compromise wound healing). That will be done about 3 months after surgery as well. And, my ears will be re-pierced probably around the same time.
On another note, I will be doing a weight loss related post tomorrow assuming I feel good and can finish writing it. If you have any questions about my facial plastic surgery, please feel free to ask in comments.