Dr Van den Berge: Face, neck, brow, eyes & laughlines laser!
OMG!! I finally did it!! Now Iím 6 months out and staying in London for a bit for work and now no one here can ask me straight out if I had work done cosí theyíre all too nice here in England!!haha :)
Anyway, before I start, hereís the result, before and six months after from the front.
One of the big things I was wondering before the op was what to say when Iím back. Iíd though about saying Iíve been working out and taking loads of vitamins and green shakes and doing yoga and pilates and maybe also that Iíve been fasting and detoxing like mad over here cause the food in England is so bad! lol.
Now Iím six months post op and I know what itís really like. People who know you, they donít say anything, that youíre looking really good, they kind of just look, at least in my case. In the early days, like after two weeks, they said you can see it is going to be very beautiful, they didnít say yet, how beautiful but they said it is going to be really beautiful!
Hereís some more photos from before and six months after.
My husband works for a sports team and there are a lot of people who come there and after two weeks he needed someone to work so I worked there, behind the counter and the women, I mean, there was still swelling, I mean the people who didnít know me wouldnít see it but the people who know me, I thought theyíd ask me, what happened? And you know what? The women, they didnít ask a thing and one or two men who I knew really well came up to me and asked, what happened to you? This was after two weeks when the swelling was still there (but mostly gone).
In fact men in general always say, you look very well, in fact after the first two weeks when there was still swelling and it was a little bit blue, men I knew very well would say, itís going to look really good, men I didnít know didnít say anything. The men I knew and who I told Iíd had work done said, you can see itís going to be beautiful. J
You know with men, itís not just that you look younger, that was not my only goal. Iíll always tell people my age if they ask but also what I want is that people look at me and they say, you look very well.
Itís also that you feel more secure about yourself, you stand up straight and you look, well before the op, perhaps youíre a little bit shy or you hold yourself back and now afterwards, Iím there and feeling right and other people can just feel it. Iím not afraid to look at people, if youíre more secure about yourself then you dare to talk to people, or step into a room or speak to a group of people.
But, girls, Iím not in this cosí I wanna make my friends mad (well maybe a little ;) ). No this is for me and itís about making it right for me. I know men donít care what youíve done as long as you look great but I donít want to put my life on the line for any man so I knew it wasnít gonna be one of those deep plane SMAS lifts for me Ė no way Iím gonna end up paralysed for this Ė !! :-O
And you know, girls, I tried some fillers and some botox and after a while I realize they wonít work anymore. Natural or unnatural, they donít last. Iím not into going back every few months like Iím getting a refill on my coffee at Starbucks.
People said to me you have to do something more but I was always looking into the mirror into my own face straight on like that and I was thinking, oh, no, itís ok, itís like Iím 45, no problem but then one day they made a video of me for an interview and they took me from the side and when I saw that, I was like, NO!
I held my head in my hands. Iíd already had a few pictures from holidays which I didnít like and I used to just delete them and think, just a bad camera angle or the wrong picture or I wasnít feeling well, or I wasnít smiling in the picture but when I watched the video of that interview, I was thinking, no, thatís not my face anymore.
Itís really going fast now, over two years time I saw so many things happen in my face, I was thinking no.
So the neck is really important, eyes, brow, cheeks and, some filler where it needs to go. Not too risky like a SMAS and not gone after a few months like a filler. So an extended MACS lift is what I chose. Especially when I saw a friend that Dr Van Den Berge and Dr Vermeulen had treated, they did the new techniques with the MACS lift, I was thinking, this is something I have to know about.
I checked out doctors on the internet but a girlfriend told me sheíd had a MACS lift done by Dr Van Den Berge in Belgium and had a great result. I know Iíd seen her and thought WOW!! Those cheekbones, skin smooth, eyes perky Ė after sheíd had it done, sheíd kinda glowed afterwards and still does. A year and a bit later, sheís got the sound of wedding bells!! I was so happy for her!
For me, Iím married with a family and now at that age where life is settled but I spoke to her about it.
She told me that Dr Van Den Berge works in the place where they invented the MACS lift so they do the latest techniques. Her result was what got me and it kinda sealed the deal so I flew over to Belgium to see the guy. I googled Dr Van Den Berge with the word facelift and found him easily enough.
Turns out he works with another surgeon Dr Vermeulen. (Christian and Sean!! ;) )Two of them do everything together, they operate, they do the consultations, they even made tea and biscuits for me together Ė not bad having two plastic surgeons working on me at the same time, I thought.
The clinic is full of equipment, the staff all kitted out in neat little matching costumes, coffee and biscuits and little breakout rooms. They showed me the recovery room once the surgery is done, they showed me the operating theatre which has some kind of air purefier hhanging from the deck so no bad germs can get in Ė all sorts of bottles and microscopes.
When I first started looking into it, I only wanted to do the underside of my face, my neck and my jaw, because that was something that I hated about myself, and also the lines around my mouth, the laughter lines Ė they were not laughing any more! :(
But during the consultation, Dr Van Den Berge explained to me that he also wanted to do my eyes and I was pretty scared about having my eyes done, because I always thought that my eyes were beautiful, but I guess that was when I was 18 years old and to be honest after I look at the pictures and I look now at my own eyes after the facelift, I think that now I have got my eyes back from when I was very, very young :)
But in the first place, I was a little worried, like, no I donít want to do my eyes, because Iím happy about my eyes but he explained to me that I canít just do half of my face, if Iím going to do a facelift then Iíve got to do it completely.
He asked me to bring some photos when I was 20, 30, 40 andÖ. ;)Öto see how my face was when I was young and he used a picture, my wedding picture and he said, Ok, Iím going to work towards that picture and when I saw that picture again, I said, Yep! Do that!! :D
I think that was when I really decided and when Dr Van Den Berge and Dr Vermeulen were explaining what they were going to do and why they wanted to do it, I knew theyíre very good specialists so who am I to say no, you have to do it this way or that way. No, I trusted them completely and thatís necessary, if you give your face to someone, you have to trust him.
Long story, short, got back to London, thought about it, checked with some friends, did some soul-searching and decidedÖ go for it!!
\i stay at a hotel in the area the night before and I get to the clinc early, at eight in the morning. The nurses showed me my private room in the clinic with my ensuite bathroom and they explained what was gonna happen. I got to leave my clothes in a locker although Iíd left all my valuable stuff in the safe at the hotel the night before. Donít want any problems whilst Iím out, right? All safe in the hotel, friendly staff, everyone speaks English (and probably about eight other languages!). Felt safe.
After half an hour, Dr Van Den Berge and Dr Vermeulen came to see me and we talked through the whole thing again, about my wishes, what I want, what I could expect and how theyíre going to do it. Then they took some pictures and then they drew some lines on my face, with a few different colors, how theyíre going to do their jobÖand thatís when I panicked!! Iíd been fine up till then but he explained what he was going to do and did the drawings I had this feeling that he was going to make a monkey out of me! :-O
I suppose itís normal but I was feeling scared and I guess Dr Van Den Berge musta noticed cause he came over and held my hand whilst we were talking and told me how it was going to be fine and how theyíd hundreds of operations at the clinic and how the centre was the first in the world for MACS lifts and I knew it was the right decision. Itís wasnít like Iíd decided this morning that tomorrow Iím going to do a facelift. It took me months before I was so far that I was ready to do it. Iíd been thinking about it a long time and I knew you can trust Dr Van Den Berge and Dr Vermeulen.
Get my clothes for the operation, a red suit with the name of the clinic on it, a gown and some compression socks which were pretty tight to stop any blood clots after the operation. I think that]s the same with any surgery.
After we spoke, we walked togher to the operation room and they introduced me to the anaesethetist and the other people who were assisting thm, there were five people there, the two surgeons, the anaesthetist, a nurse who was helping the doctors on the table and there was another operation assistant who was helping with stuff around the table. Five people all working on my face! :)
Once I was in, the gown came off but I kept the red suit and the stockings on and then I lay down on the table. The anaesthesilogist came in and he started askng me some questions about whether I was healthy, whether there was anthing, like a disease in the family, if Iíd already had an anaesthtic before and how that went, how I woke up then.
Normally if I can do surgery without anaesthetic then I prefer that, because I feel sick afterwards and I told him that and he explained to me, I will give you something, and I will give you something so special that you wonít feel sick, you aint gonna have any problems after surgery, and you know what, he was right! I didnít puke, I didnít feel sick, I felt good after the surgery.
Then he hooked my up to a drip in my arm and then he told me to count to ten and I didnít get further than three! :-O
Next thing I remember I was in the recovery room, after surgery, must have been around half past one, they started at nine, nine thirty.
I didnít really know the time because I was pretty groggy, and there was a mask on my face. They put a cold mask on your face, which made me look like a hockey player! itís not that cold though, it has a temperature like most of your own body temperature and it helps with the swelling. Dr Van Den Berge told me later that he didnít like to have it too cold because then the circulation is not that good.
So apart from the mask, I didnít have any bandages on but I had two drains which I didnít even notice until the next day! They were behind my ears!
There was nothing on my face, everything was open to the air.
The minute I woke up, I felt like I was bit kind of trapped in my own body, not like panic, well maybe a little bit but it also had to do with the mask on my face. I couldnít speak very well but that had something to do with the laser, they did some laser on my face to remove the laugh lines, that felt very tight afterwards but no pain.
Dr Van Den Berge was there the first time I woke up, he said I did really well, the surgery went really well, he told me to take my time and go to sleep again
I feel asleep again for an hour or so. The nurses were checking me regularly, checking my blood pressure and sometimes they spoke to me to see if I was alert enough. They came back every hour or every half hour for my blood pressure. I stayed in the recovery room until later that afternoon, till four or five o clock, and then they took the mask off. I asked them to do it. The doctor said it was ok and then they took me off the drip and brought me back to my room.
I had my own hotel-like room in the clinic with the nurses on 24 hour watch. I could watch TV and make phone calls, the doctor had already called my husband to say that everything was ok. One thing I found was that it was difficult for me to talk in the first few hours because of the laser around my mouth.
It must have been about five o clock and they asked me if I wanted something to eat but I wasnít hungry and they gave me some yoghurt. Drinking water was a little tough because my face around my mouth was tight from the laser so I drank with a straw.
I went into my room and put on the TV , watched a bit of TV and then slept again. The nurses were coming in every half an hour, every hour, they came into the room a lot. They put a cream on my face but that was again because of the laser, to make it a little more smooth.
Dr Van Den Berge came in in the evening again at around 11 o clock. He doesnít live too far from the clinic so before he went to bed, he came by to see if everything was ok which was nice.
He said everything was ok and not to worry about how I looked now at that moment and that everything would be fine. He said heíd come to do another checkup in the morning before I went to my hotel and to see if everything was ok with me.
In the evening I went to go to the toilet and the nurses walked with me to go there, I was a little unsteady, and then I looked in the mirror and I saw my face for the first time after the operation. you donít look nice! You donít recognize your own face!
Then I went to bed and I went to sleep with no problem. The nurses came into the room at night a few times as well, checking I was ok, we spoke a little bit and then I went to sleep again.
In the morning she came to ask if I wanted something to eat, I had a croissant and some coffee then.
She helped me to go to have a shower and that was very nice beause your hair is still matted with fluid and thereís a little blood in it. She took out the drains. That was the first time that I noticed that there were drains! It didnít feel painful, nothing at all, only my eyes, they were not painful but they were swollen and I couldnít see very well.
So I rested during the day and I know that the swelling was going to really get going now but even then I looked at my face in the evening on the day after surgery again and I was thinking, Wow, it already looked so much better than just after the surgery!
I donít think people should look in the mirror just a few hours after the operation. Itís best to wait until the next day.
What looked strange was where the doctor had removed the lines around my mouth with the laser because it was all red and I looked a little bit like a Panda bear!
It was very red. For a few days, I couldnít move my lips so well. If I didnít have the lip lift, I would have recovered much faster but it was necessary to do because I had so many small lines around my mouth and in the consultation, Dr Van Den Berge said he wanted to make it perfect so before I went under the anaesthetic, I had told him, do whatever you want to do and his eyes had started tingling when I told him that :-D
Dr Van Den Berge and Dr Vermeulen come in during the morning and did some checks and we laugh a bit about me getting the frights and they told me what to do with the cream on my face for the next few days and they said I was ready to go to the hotel.
They gave me some painkillers but there was no pain, it was only tight, like Iím normally a very expressive person and in those first few days I just had one expression Ė not a smile! Even if Iíd wanted to, I couldnít smile, it was fine after a few days though.
Anyway the doctors let me go and also let me know that anytime I need them, I can call and theyíll send someone or theyíll come themselves cosí they live just around the hotel.
Thereís no rush though and I sleep for a few more hours. When Iím ready, the nurse cleans me up
I went home at about 2 pm that day with antibiotics, painkillers and creams. Iím due back in after six days to take out the stitches around my eyes. Iíve got no bandgages on, just plasters on my eyes.
I went home on the Saturday and on the Sunday I had a bit of a kind of depression, when I was at home and I looked in the mirror. I took a shower because it was very good to take a shower in those early days with the water over your face and I was sitting there by myself, thinking, jesus what did I do!
I was thinking things canít go well anymore but that was just a few hours and then I found something out, with my toothbrush, an electric one, I went inside my mouth, and it felt really good to make the skin around my mouth loosen, but I think that was probably only if youíd had the laser, without the laser I donít think I would have got depressed, maybe the only thing wouldíve been the eyes because I had upper and lower blephs done and my eyebrows were lifted and it was a bit difficult to open the eyes and I had some drops to put in, just to stop them getting too dry because you canít close your eyes that well in the first few days.
In the first three days, every hour, your face is changing. You can really see it getting better by the hour, and there was no problem with the ears or the brow, only with the eyes, they took a little longer to heal up.
It wasnít so bad that I stayed in the hotel like in a cave for two weeks. On the third day, my husband took me for a ride in the car, the operation was on a Friday, I came home on Saturday and on the Sunday he said, come on, weíll go for a drive in the car and drove around a little bit to see soemthing a little bit so so I put on some big sunglasses, wore a shawl over my head and nobody knows who I am when heís driving but if Iíd gone to a restaurant I think people would hav looked at me.
In those first few days, I lay around, watched TV, not too much because your eyes are tired and I slept. I walked around a little in the garden.
The fresh air didnít have any effect on my face, only on my self, it lifted my spirits.
Showering was great, I showerd twice a day, it felt really good, I washed my hair every time, I let the water fall over my face, it felt very good and after that I put the cream on, Vaseline around the laser area.
I went back to the clinic on the Thursday to take out the stitches on my eyes and after another week I went back to work so I stayed out of sight for about two weeks although I had to stay longer than most because of the laser, because it looks burnt so at first itís very, very red and then it becomes brown and then the skin starts to peel off so it was two weeks before I was happy to meet people.
On Day 6 when the stichtes were reomoved from my eyes, I felt a lot better. The plasters were removed from my eyes as well and then I felt more like, I could touch my eyes. Before you donít dare to do that because the plasters are on.
These plasters were there from the operation on top of the stitches.
Even once the plasters and stitches were out, when I actually touched my eyes, I didnít feel that much. In the beginning it takes a little while before you can feel your own face again. At the start it feels a little numb. You can feel it but itís like your face is a bit sleepy, itís numb.
To my fingers, my skin on my face felt very soft, much more soft than before. I think it was because of the fillers, they put fat under your skin so your skin becomes plump and soft and gets a boost like that Ė even in the first six days.
It took about three weeks for everything to go, because of the fillersĖ After seven days, I still looked bruised and that took the longest to go. There was no pain, only swelling.
So this is when I went home and I helped my husband out with his work that weekend. I felt ok to meet people and the redness from the laser was pretty much gone.
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