Lifting the Veil Off of Cosmetic Surgery Part II - Ellen Dolgen

Lifting the Veil Off of Cosmetic Surgery Part II

As promised in my previous  MENOPAUSE MONDAYS® Blog Lifting the Veil Off of Cosmetic Surgery Part I, I am going to share my cosmetic face rejuvenation with you – the ups and downs and everything in between.

On Sept 28th, I woke up at 6:45 AM, jumped in the shower to scrub my body and hair with antibacterial soap as directed.   As I massaged the antibacterial soap into my scalp, I do believe that I heard my highlighted blonde hair screaming, “Ellen, what the F-CK are you doing?”

I had nothing to eat or drink from 1 AM the night before. At 6:30, as directed, I took an anti-nausea pill and an Ativan, and my husband David and I left for Dr. Karam’s surgery center at Carmel Valley Facial Plastic Surgery & Aesthetic Center. 

At 7:30 AM, I skipped into Dr. Karam’s office with delight, ready for my Vertical Restore™, upper and lower blepharoplasty, lower skin pinch, fat transfer, and TRL laser.

I felt empowered and fearless.  Once inside, I was engulfed in a sea of tender loving care and superior expertise. I immediately knew I had found my cosmetic family of choice.

I asked Dr. Karam to tell us what a Vertical Restore™ is and how it differs from other facelifts.  Here is what he said, “Simply put Vertical Restore™ is not a facelift in the traditional description of a facelift.  Vertical Restore™ is a unique surgical facial rejuvenation procedure designed to vertically reposition the aging soft tissues affecting the outer eyebrow/temple, midface, jawline and neck all in one fell swoop. It’s trademarked as a unique surgical procedure and it’s only done here.  Unlike a traditional facelift that pulls the face sideways, leaving the patient looking tight and stretched (we all know that look), Vertical Restore™ releases the ligaments in the deep plane and as a result allow the sagging tissues to be repositioned upwards as opposed to pulled sideways. This results in a soft natural look. Also by simultaneously addressing the neck and outer eyebrow region the harmony and balance is restored across the entire face.  In addition to being more comprehensive, and vertically oriented (which makes all the difference), the deep plane approach gives the outcomes 2-3 times the durability compared to traditional facelifts.  Vertical Restore™ results last 10-15 years.  Finally, the other big difference, is it’s done under local anesthesia with IV sedation making it extremely safe. 

So in summary, always natural looking, extremely long lasting, and safe. That’s the Vertical Restore™ difference. “

I hired the excellent Kelly Greytok RN (Private Nursing Care) to stay with me for several days for post-recovery care. Kelly’s tremendous expertise creates the most tranquil environment for healing.

David and Kelly picked me up from Dr. Karam’s surgery center at 12:30.

Once home, I remember getting into bed, eating a light, healthy snack to take my antibiotics, and falling asleep.  Dr. Karam provides very detailed before and after instructions that helped set me up for success. He recommends sleeping propped up.  Kelly also had lots of great tips to support his protocols for after-surgery care.  I followed every single one of them.  She suggested purchasing two sleep wedges for under my knees and behind my back to keep me elevated and comfortable. A pile of pillows simply doesn’t do the trick. These wedges were a Godsend!

For the first 24 hours, it is essential to ice your face throughout the day and night. In addition, Kelly put cold compresses on my eyes.  This diligent icing decreases inflammation. Keeping this inflammation down also helps manage pain.  I felt so good, I even walked around inside my condo 4 or 5 times in the first 24 hours.

I have two drains that I lovingly refer to as my “Vertical Restore™ necklace.” The purpose of this lovely necklace with bulbs hanging is to collect the fluid and increase healing.  These need stripping of the tubes to keep them unclogged and also emptying when they are half full.  Kelly is in charge of managing the beautiful necklace.

At my first post-op appointment, the dressing was removed from around my head.  Dr. Karam’s nurse removed half of my stitches, and the incisions were cleaned with hydrogen peroxide and then smothered with Aquaphor. We shall repeat this at home per Dr. Karam’s instructions.

As I had a TRL laser, I began distilled water and white vinegar washes followed by an Aquaphor application. The TRL laser reduces fine lines, wrinkles, and pigment irregularities. My face is swollen, red, and goopy because of the Aquaphor, but it is not painful. It feels like an intense sunburn without the tropical getaway. I am just taking extra-strength Tylenol to manage my discomfort.

To see videos and photos of my cosmetic surgery journey be sure to follow me on Instagram at  @Menopause_Mondays  and on Facebook

Stay tuned for more updates…………………time for a nap!

Remember:  Suffering in silence is OUT!  Reaching out is IN.

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* does not recommend, endorse, or make any representation about any tests, studies, practices, procedures, treatments, services, opinions, healthcare providers, physicians, or medical institutions that may be mentioned or referenced.


8 thoughts on “Lifting the Veil Off of Cosmetic Surgery Part II”

  1. Thank you Ellen for such a complete picture ( even without the photos) of your experience and explanation of Vertical Restore. This information will prove very helpful to anyone having a cosmetic surgery consult. The fact that you have been pretty much pain-free was good news!

    1. Thanks, Robin! I am excited to share my journey with the sisterhood. I would have loved to see the actual progress – day – day to help prepare myself for realistic expectations. Of course, every woman heals at a different pace. You can see all the photos @Menopause_Mondays on Instagram or @EllenDolgen on Facebook!

  2. It’s so wonderful that you are sharing your well thought out decision to proceed with cosmetic surgery. It is only a decision that is made by the individual having cosmetic work done. If surgery allows us to feel more upbeat, confident and healthy, I fully support anyone’s decision to move forward with a “newer look”. Happy healing Ellen.

    1. I agree, Jill. For me, this was a mental health decision. I did this for myself and no one else was involved in my decision. I am very fortunate that my husband and kids were so supportive of me doing what I felt was best for me. I am truly excited each day to see my progress. Stay tuned on Instagram Menoapuse_Mondays or Facebook @ellendolgen.

  3. I’m following your journey closely both here and on IG. My birthday is also in September and every year, I consider what I might do. When I turned 60, I did the erbium laser resurfacing and was very pleased with the results. Ever since, my neck has bothered me. Recently I had a consult about a lower face lift, but the cost kind of surprised me. I read about Dr. Karam’s vertical lift procedure and it’s got me thinking again. I would love to learn more specifics. I live in Orange County, CA so it’s a possibility that I could travel 2 hours to see him. Or maybe there is someone in my area that does his vertical lift procedure?
    I just want to thank you personally for being so open and honest with your audience. You and Dr. Miriam Greene (Sirius XM) have helped me in so many ways. I’m looking forward to all of your posts of the progress. You look amazing even in your “before” photos!!

    1. Cindi, your sweet comments made my morning! For the past 13+ years, I have been open and honest about my own journey with perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause. When we share we def help others. So, it seemed natural to share my cosmetic journey with the same passion for breaking down taboos and opening up the discussion – both physical and emotional. I love being on Dr. Radio with the AMAZING Dr. Miriam Greene.
      The Vertical Restore™ that Dr. Karam does is his unique, trademarked surgery. When and if you interview other surgeons, it’s very important to understand exactly what they are doing when they open you up as the results will be different for different techniques. There is no doubt that cosmetic surgery is costly.

      1. Thank you for your kind response. I think maybe a trip to San Diego is in order!
        A small request……when you post your final results, will you please show your “before” vs. “after” photos?

        1. I definitely would make an appointment. He can do the consult virtually. That is what I did. I will post the before and after……………as soon as I get to the after!!! Can’t wait!

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