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San Clemente Journal

Teh Picture of Megan Gray

Aug 05, 2004 07:36PM ● By Don Kindred

by Pearl Mercury

    “I must have won first prize in trembling,” she whispered, looking the color of her name, “I was so nervous waiting in the operating room.” She drifted back to sleep. 

     My best friend was recovering from elective cosmetic surgery and looked nothing like she was yesterday and surely nothing like she would in a month.

    Not one to rush blindly into a decision, two years ago my friend started thinking about having surgery to tighten and refresh her sagging face. Sun damage, squinting and heredity had taken their tolls and no miracle cream or lotion was going to reverse her crinkling skin. She had spent countless hours researching doctors, procedures and patient experiences so was well informed and knew the risks, discomfort and what to expect of the ultimate reward.

    A month ago Megan set off for a consultation with Dr.B, highly recommended by friends who had experienced wonderful results. As expected, he suggested a rhytidectomy, commonly known as a lower face-lift. The result would be a new neckline and the deep furrows around her mouth would be smoothed out to remove the scowly look, but first, her skin must be prepared for surgery. 

    Using a combination of exfoliants, antioxidants, lighteners, moisturizers and sunscreen, all essential ingredients for the eventual healing process, the skin must be put in a healthy, moist condition. Foregoing her usual hasty slapdash cleansing, Megan took the time, morning and night to faithfully use the recommended products; cleanser, toner, something she called her secret sauce, moisturizer and sunscreen. They worked!

    Gradually, her complexion took on a luminescent quality and skin irregularities disappeared from view. Slowly and gently, the top layer sloughed off revealing a firmer, younger looking skin. Her “dewy-look”, she called it.

    Excitedly, Megan showed me the difference that just four weeks had made. “I’ll bet my ‘before’ photos are going to be grotesque. Look how those brown spots have faded and that red patch seems to have disappeared. Now I’m ready for the big day tomorrow, I’ve just had my hair colored and cut but I kept it a little on the long side to cover the incisions, I’m off aspirin and I’ve got slip-on clothes so I don’t have to put anything on over my head. Dr. B just called to discuss any last minute questions and I’m well hydrated. I’m ready.”

    Early that next morning we arrived at the surgical center. Wisely, she had decided to spend the night after surgery in a private room with a nursing staff to care for her. Paperwork complete, she disappeared with a ‘thumbs up’ sign to change into an elegant hospital gown and cozy booties then get the intravenous drip started. Lying on the gurney she was surprised to find herself fitted with pumping compression wraps around her legs – to prevent blood clots, she was told. Good precaution, she thought. The surgical team busied themselves in practiced procedures and although interesting to watch, this is when she started to feel nervous. Then the all-important anesthesiologist stopped by. 

    “Please, no nausea,” Megan whined, “Give me the best cocktail you’ve got.”

    She remembered no more. The surgery took about 2 ½ hours, then the recovery period and soon she was talking to me. Admittedly, her blue eyes were mismatched to her rapidly bruising, moon-shaped face and the bandage around her hairline did nothing to detract from the fact that she had undergone surgery. But she wasn’t nauseated and the injected numbing agent kept her from major discomfort.

Planning to take to her bed for several days after her discharge, the ugly duckling was surprised to find that she tolerated visitors well, ate ferociously and was able to spend time at the computer. Not surprisingly, for the next week she took frequent naps after tiring activities, hated taking antibiotics and pain pills, and kept the magnifying mirror handy to feed her vanity. 

    Upon close examination the incisions were delicately made around the ears and into the scalp, excess skin removed and then expertly stitched together. Not necessarily a pretty sight coupled with a puffy jaw and swollen chin. When the stitches were removed a week later, new healing began and by the third week just about all traces were gone. Meanwhile, Megan was able to shower and wash her hair, albeit gently, and carry on a normal life under the shade of a wide-brimmed hat. Trying to milk her recuperation beyond the first week didn’t wash with anyone.

    Did she hide away? No. Initially, a scarf and sunglasses gave her a mysterious look and she got a lot of mileage out of accusing her hubby of strangling her – hence the bruised neck. Did she keep it a big, dark secret? No. In today’s world, cosmetic surgery is commonplace and who cares if “she’s had some work done”. There’s nothing better than feeling good about oneself and not only women are seeking to look more youthful, men are quietly joining the ranks.

    Megan’s natural appearance is a testament to the skill of the surgeon and her friends are commenting on how well rested she looks. Gone are the lines around her mouth and the creepy neck has disappeared; yet no evidence of artificially stretched cheeks is apparent.

    Yes, she’s got the credit card bill coming (but also frequent flier miles). Yes, her ears are scabby and crusty and, yes, she’s anxiously awaiting a trip to the hairdresser. But, she’s growing into her grin and moves more freely as each day passes. 

    “What was the worst part”, I asked, “Was it the pain?”

    “No, that was manageable,” the swan replied, “It was sleeping in an upright position and not being able to get comfortable, however, they gave me wonderful sleeping pills and I was able to rest. The drains were only in place overnight and they were removed before I came home. I am so glad I plucked up courage to do this, pain is soon forgotten and look at me now!”

    I did. I hate her. I bet she has her “refreshed” picture all over the place now.