Costa Rica Face Lift – Trading Faces Under The Volcano.

How I Traveled to the Land of Pura Vida and Found My New Face Waiting.

I’d just turned 65, and had declared no national holiday. When I looked into the mirror, Yoda looked back. Who was that wrinkled old prune? Surely, not me, she who lives with the soul of a mischievous teenager.

I hated my face. My bottom jaw line was racing my chest for my knees, and my upper lip looked like corrugated metal. Eyes sunken in, the corners of my mouth drooping, I was scary.

I seldom wore makeup. It only settled in the wrinkles. And my mouth was so concave, lipstick never stayed on. I had to DO SOMETHING!

I write this for all you wrinklies who can’t stand the way you look, yet don’t have a lot of money to fix it.

I suggest that you consider Costa Rica. There, board-certified, US-trained plastic surgeons charge about one-fifth US prices.

I found my personal Michelangelo there in Dr. Rodrigo Araya. Recommended by my Costa Rican implant dentist (a whole other story I’ll get to next fall when the procedure is completed), US-trained Araya enjoys a reputation with his peers and patients as not just a skilled surgeon, but also as an artist, meticulous about never altering the essence of his patients.

It was when he gave me his personal cell phone number, telling me that I could call anytime, and asked me to be sure to give it to Frank as well, that I knew he was the guy for me. How many doctors do you know who are that concerned about patients reaching them?

I arrived in the land of sunshine and song on a Wednesday, received 13 dental implants along with two bone grafts on Thursday, and was in a deep sleep at San José’s first-class CIMA Hospital while Michelangelo’s metamorphosis took place on Friday, exactly 12 days after my 65th birthday.

Bright and early that morning, Dr. Araya marked my many lines and wrinkles. The last thing I remember is asking if he used permanent ink.

I awoke to four smiling nurses surrounding my hospital bed, chiming “Buenos Dias!”

I must reveal that I’ve had more than my share of hospital experience. Always noisy, impersonal, and memorable only for a lack of sympathetic nursing care, good meals, and timely painkillers, to me hospitals are best forgotten.

Until CIMA. The quiet was profound. Whenever I rang for a nurse, no less than two appeared. Any discomfort was relieved immediately. I slept soundly, ate well, and was treated like a queen.

My only discomfort came when I asked for a mirror. Oh, God! I saw this creature with tiny slits that once were eyes, nose flattened across my face, and a set of lips only a Ubangi could love.

“Hi, Beautiful!” Dr. Araya smiled. “I just got rid of 80 percent of your wrinkles. I can’t wait to see you all healed up.”

Born in 1941 Nah! 1961!

I stayed in Costa Rica another 12 days, recovering at a lovely spot under the volcano in the rain forest just outside San José.

Today, exactly one month after the surgery, I have no incision on my head, just a tiny scar, invisible to everyone but my hairdresser. The disfiguring wrinkles are gone. Incisions are tastefully tucked behind my ears, not in front of them. The tiny incision in my neck is completely healed.

My now big brown eyes are sparking, sags and bags gone, and my lips are sexy and kissable. My dimples remain. Swans envy my neck.

Magically, my profile has shed a couple of decades.

So drastic is the change that when my Frank, who loved old prune-face, spotted me at the airport, he stopped, jaw dropping, and stared. My darling Capricorn does not handle change well, but he is gradually getting used to the new me.

The healing process takes about three months. Each day the swelling decreases. Flakes of dead skin fall away. My mirror smiles back.

I’m considering revising my birth year to 1961. Say, maybe I will declare that national holiday after all.

The Nip & Tuck Of It All:

COST – My total for surgery with the surgeon was $4,779. Total hospital costs: $2,125. Recovery at surgical retreat including meals and nursing care: $1,349. Miscellaneous charges (taxis, etc.): $60. Total, not including airfare (about $150 from Miami): $8,313.

Copyright © 2006 – Frank Kaiser

Our thanks to Carolyn and Frank Kaiser of Suddenly Senior for this wonderful article. Suddenly Senior is for everyone over 50 who feels way too young to be old.

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