One of the primary reasons for our retirement in Costa Rica was the excellent and affordable health care. While cosmetic surgery is not covered under any insurance plan, it is very affordable.

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The savings you will enjoy will depend on the surgical procedure but my surgery in Costa Rica was about 30% of the cost in the U.S.A., or a 70% savings using Dr. Oscar at Hospital CIMA.

I began my research into cosmetic surgery over a year ago. Costa Rica has a long history of excellent medical care and cosmetic surgery. Medical tourism is one of the main reasons people over 60 years of age visit Costa Rica.

At age 64, I did not like the way I had aged and I wanted to rid myself of the facial wrinkles. Rhytidectomy, or a face-lift, was the procedure I selected to improve the visible signs of aging around my face and neck. Sagging cheeks, jowls, face lines, eyelids and a drooping neck were the areas that needed attention. In other words, everything face related!

First, I researched the Internet to understand the surgery and how to select the surgeon. The true skill of the surgeon may not be seen until 7 years after the surgery. A face-lift can last 7 years or 15 years, depending on the skill of the surgeon.

Selecting the right surgeon is the first step to a long-term successful outcome. There are several highly acclaimed cosmetic surgeons in Costa Rica that I felt would give me the desired outcome, I selected the team of Dr. Oscar.

First, Dr. Oscar Suarez is a great communicator. Dr. Oscar and Dra. Solano walked me through the procedure. I was prepared for each phase, from the pre-operation instructions through every step of the surgical process and recovery.

After the six hour procedure, I spent one night in Hospital CIMA, for observation. If there is a problem after surgery, it is usually known within the first 24 hours.

Having a spouse or friend spend the first night with you at CIMA is a good idea. There is a fold out bed where someone may spend the night in your room. For the next few weeks your instructions are: rest, rest, and more rest.

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Resting, head elevated in your bed, will help the healing process greatly. I read more books and watched more movies than I thought humanly possible in the first few weeks. Resting time is time well spent.

The day after surgery, I was able to return home and sleep “2 pillows elevated” for a couple of weeks. During this time, the swelling was greatly reduced but there was still some bruising under the eyes. After 4 weeks, I was ready to leave the home and enter the public without reservations.

I witnessed more than a few “dropped jaws” when friends, for the first time, viewed me after surgery. I would give Dr. Oscar and his team the highest rating possible for my procedure.

A benefit I did not expect was the improvement of my self-image. I have always been very outgoing, but now I feel more alive. I can’t overstate the psychological aspects of my procedure. I not only look younger, I feel younger.

A small change on the outside can produce extraordinary results on the inside. Becoming more self-confident and having a strong, positive self-image is one of the side benefits I did not expect. The results can be dramatic so be prepared for the difference.

Are You A Candidate For Cosmetic Surgery?
Be honest with yourself. What are your goals and why do you want the surgery? Never have surgery to please someone else, do it for you.

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There are two candidate groups for cosmetic surgery. Group one is for those that have a good self esteem, but would like improvement in their physical appearance. The second group has a physical defect or a cosmetic flaw that requires attention. These candidates may require more time to recover emotionally if they lacked self-esteem before the operation.

Be informed and do your research.

Each country has different Internet groups, like, where one can ask questions from residents or locals. Join the group and ask for recommendations. You will receive real answers from real people that have had the procedure performed.


After you receive the recommendations for the surgeons, make an appointment to discuss the procedure with each surgeon and learn of their approach. Each surgeon charges about $50 for the 30 minute to one-hour consultation. Have each surgeon explain the procedure and what you should expect.

Each surgeon should ask you how you feel about yourself; your appearance and how you believe other people view you. Then they question you about how you want to be viewed by others, be honest. They will ask very personal questions to learn of any stress or emotional problems in your life that could hinder recovery. Be honest with your answers.

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Discuss your entire medical history and any physical/medical problems you may have. Your list of prescriptions and supplements is required. Blood thinners and some pain relief medications must be avoided prior to surgery. Each surgeon should give you a list of “dos and do nots” for preparation for your procedure.

If you are a smoker, stop smoking or reduce your smoking to less than three cigarettes per day prior to surgery.

Be sure your goals are achievable and don’t expect to enter the surgery looking 65 and exit the surgery looking 18. Discuss the risks and benefits of any cosmetic surgery. Also, this is surgery and there is a healing time required. After 4 to 6 weeks, the swelling and bruising will mostly disappear. At this time, you will see the true results of the procedure.

There are some patients that consult with surgeon after surgeon to seek the answers they wish to hear. They may be seeking an answer to a question that is not physical in nature, but mental. Be honest with yourself and your surgeon. Those wishing to have lips or a nose like an actor/actress or public figure are not good candidates. Never have surgery to become someone else.

Support! Support! Support!
The fastest road to recovery is rest and support. Even if you are the most independent person on earth, you will need support during the recovery time, physical and emotionally. Short periods of depression are normal during recovery. Any person that was against your decision to have surgery is not a support candidate. When you are swollen, bruised and uncomfortable, the last person you want is a critic.

Four to six weeks after surgery, life will begin to be normal again. At this time, prepare to see the “jaw dropping” looks and compliments you will receive from friends and after having the procedure, I would not hesitate to repeat the procedure again. I love the new me!

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Written by Nancy Riley who lives with her husband Steve Riley in the beautiful Orosi Valley area of Costa Rica.


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