Facing the future

EVER wondered what it's like to go through a facelift? What does it feel like when the bandages come off? We asked Suffolk mum Giselle Cooper to keep a diary of her experience.

By Tracey Sparling

EVER wondered what it's like to go through a facelift? What does it feel like when the bandages come off? We asked Suffolk mum Giselle Cooper to keep a diary of her experience. Features editor TRACEY SPARLING asks how it went.

SHE had been warned her face could be covered in bruises, yet when the bandages were unwound Giselle Cooper was pleasantly surprised.

There was no pain, and her face was swollen but not as black and blue as she expected.

“I'd had a big bandage over my head and under my chin, and pads on my ears so my head looked huge,” she said.

“But I was amazed when the bandages came off - it left me with just a bruise on my jaw and one on my cheek. It was nothing like as bad as I had feared. I thought there was going to be a lot of pain but all I've had is a couple of days of headache and that's nothing major - no more than I've had before.”

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She had the facelift at the BUPA Cambridge Lea Hospital and it cost nearly £7,000. The result has tightened her neck, defined her jawline and smoothed her nose-to-mouth lines. While she was there, she also had a dose of Botox to smooth her forehead.

The 47-year-old told in The Evening Star earlier this month how she had always been conscious of those lines, which deepened as she got older. She had also lost two stone in weight which didn't help.

The Evening Star territory sales manager had always planned to have cosmetic surgery, and said before the operation: “I remember when I was 25 I went to a cosmetic surgeon and said do him 'what can you do about these lines?' he said the only thing was a facelift or to put on a lot of weight - both of which I discounted at the age of 25!”

The operation cost £6,910, paid for by a savings bond which Giselle started in her 20s for that purpose.

As part of the facelift, she had fat from her thighs - so there's no allergic reaction - injected to reduce or eliminate aging wrinkles and crows' feet. The procedure tries to keep the extracted fat cells alive, so that blood supply can be established and results will last 100 times longer than collagen.

Today she is back at work with just small wounds behind her ears to show for it. She is delighted at the reaction from family, friends and colleagues.

She said: “I think it is a subtle change, and people have been telling me it looks very natural. You can tell the difference but it's not drastic. I think it shows most under my chin and on my neck.”

With just a check up to attend in February, she is now looking forward to the future with optimism.

She said: “Everything has been good and I'm really glad I had it done. I feel a lot more positive now.

“It's what I always wanted to do.”

Her advice is not to let fear or nerves sway you from undertaking such an operation if you want it, and to choose the surgeon carefully.

She said: “I considered going to a London hospital, but I do think it's important to have your family around you when you go through such an experience. It's all unknown, and you feel you don't know what's going to happen next. If you're sure you want to do it, pick the right person and go for it. My surgeon was simply the best.

“It's just a good job I haven't got any more money or I'd be planning my next operation already!”

Here's her facelift diary:

Thursday November 2

It's about 8.30-8.45pm and I have just been brought back to my room after leaving it at 1.30pm to have my facelift. I am in a semi-sitting position in my bed, and my head feels very heavy. I have lots of pads and bandages on. My main discomfort is a very sore throat.

Friday November 3

I haven't really slept through the night, had to keep having painkillers, antibiotics and my BP taken.

Per Hall, my surgeon, injected my face with local anaesthetic at the end of the op, so it would stay numb for a while. I was in a sitting position while Mr Hall did the facelift as he says this is the natural way the face is.

At 8am I was trying to eat something soft for my breakfast, this was not easy as I could hardly open my mouth due to bandages and being very swollen.

Mr Hall visited me and said the procedure went very well, all my observations were good and I could go home the next morning. He instructed the nurse she could remove my drains, as I had no big bleed. There were two tubes, which went into each end of my new scar in my hairline at the back of my head. They went around the front of my throat under the skin then into two bottles at each end to collect any bleeds.

The nurse first removed the bandages and pads, which felt great then the drains, not the most pleasant experience but not too bad. Next she puts on is some thin pads at the front and back of my ears where there are stitches and then a stretchy skull cap which covers my neck, chin and ears, only my face is showing.

I had a look in the mirror, I was very shocked too see no bruising at all but a very swollen face, especially around the mouth. It's not as bad as I expected. My biggest discomfort is still a sore throat, which I am told is due to the tubes down my throat during the op.

Saturday November 4

This morning I can go home, which I am very pleased about.

When my friends came to collect me from hospital, they offered me a blanket. I said I was not cold, but laughed when they said it was more to cover my bandages from view!

Sunday November 5

I had my first good night's sleep last night since the op, probably because I am home and in my own bed. I have come home in a skullcap, which I have to leave on until Thursday, when I have my first lot of stitches out.

There really is no pain at all, my face is swollen not bruised and today the sore throat is gone - hooray.

As the day wears on the swelling does get worse.

Monday November 6

Today there is a slight yellowing under my eyes and they are more swollen today.

My neck has a faint purple bruising; I can only see this by lifting the elastic skullcap so I decide to go for it and take a look at the stitches around my ears. My left ear doesn't look too bad but the right one is huge and black and blue. I cover that up again quick.

My surgeon told me I must rest while at home, not to bend over as this will make any swelling worse and not to lift anything heavy.

Tuesday November 7

I feel really good today, certainly don't feel as I have had major op only five days ago. The swelling under my eyes has gone down and it feels like the left side of my face has come back to life. I think this is because it is no as swollen as the right side. The stitches at the back of my head in my hair are now beginning to itch, but too sore to scratch.

Wednesday November 8

Woke up this morning feeling okay but by mid-morning I feel very light-headed and generally poorly. I have finished my medication and now just take paracetamol. The swelling about the same as yesterday, no bruising, a very slight ear-ache in my right ear. Early night tonight: 6.30pm.

Thursday November 9

I'm writing this at the hospital, waiting to see my surgeon Per Hall to take out some of my stitches.

When Mr Hall sees me he is shocked at how well I look, no bruising on my face and only a little swollen. His nurse takes the stitches out at the front of my ears but the ones behind my ears and going into my hair have to stay in another week as planned.

I don't have to wear the elastic skullcap anymore, and can now wash my hair.

Friday November 10

I have washed my hair in the bath as I was told; I think washing it in the shower could have been a little painful as I still have a lot of stitches. My face is more swollen on the right hand side but not enough to notice. My daughter saw me today for the first time without any bandages and say's my profile and neck look very different, she reckons the same as hers which can't be bad; she's only 21 years old.

Saturday November 11

Today is my first day of pain. The pain is in the right side of my head, behind my ear and down my neck, it is a stabbing pain, which I need painkillers every four hours.

Sunday November 12

Still taking painkillers every four hours. Now I don't have any bandages my neck does feel very tight and I can feel the stitches more than I have before. The only bruising I have is behind my ears; the swelling is now next to nothing.

I don't think there will be much to report between now and Thursday, when I go to have the remaining stitches out.

Thursday November 16

Mr Hall, my consultant has taken out the remaining stitches; my head now feels much better as the stitches were beginning to pull. I have bruising behind my ears, which will last about another month.

I don't have to go back to hospital now until February, for a three-month check.

I cannot praise Mr Hall enough, I didn't experience any bad pain, and any concerns I had about any part of my procedure he explained fully but with a bedside manner second to none.

I would like to say a big thank you to Mr Hall.