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Picture your favorite outfit. The one you always reach for when you need to look and feel your best. Whether it’s a pair of worn-in jeans or a designer dress, odds are you take care of it. You wash it when it gets dirty. You press it when it gets wrinkled. You repair it if a button falls off or a stitch comes loose. You do what it takes to preserve the things you value.

Elizabeth uses this analogy to describe her plastic surgery journey. A long-time patient of Dr. Sharma, Elizabeth sees plastic surgery as an act of appreciation for her body. She decided to undergo a facelift in 2019 after becoming self-conscious about the excess skin on her neck. Today she says that facial rejuvenation surgery allowed her to live more fully and freely, with a revitalized appearance that matches her youthful personality.

RED LIGHT REVELATIONS

Elizabeth was stopped at a traffic light the first time she saw it. She glanced in the rearview mirror and there it was: excess skin beginning to accumulate around her throat.

“Around 2011, I remember being at a stoplight near our house,” she says. “I just so happened to look up into the rearview mirror — I was messing with my hair or putting on lipstick or something — and I noticed when I turned a certain way that my throat had a little extra skin. I was like, ‘What in the hell is that?’ I didn’t like that at all. That was the first time I noticed something I didn’t like.”

Years passed, and the condition did not improve. The skin continued to loosen and descend, giving Elizabeth’s neck an “elongated” appearance that was uncomfortably familiar.

“It reminded me of what I saw in my dad and my grandfather. My grandfather looked like he had a goiter, and he didn’t. By the time my dad got to a certain age, it was like, from his chin down, it just sloped. There was no definition underneath his chin and his jaw. He grew a beard that hid it.”

With no way to hide her own changing neck, Elizabeth grew increasingly self-conscious and withdrawn. She avoided social gatherings with friends and felt flustered around strangers. Outings were charged with the potential for anxiety.

“I was embarrassed to be seen. I didn’t want friends seeing me if they hadn’t seen me in a while. I remember sometimes being at a stoplight, and if somebody pulled up next to me, I’d try to swallow — when you swallow but you don’t quite finish it, it kind of pulls those muscles up — so if they looked over, they didn’t see Miss No-Neck over there. I was truly embarrassed of the way I looked.”

EASY DECISIONS

After years of discomfort, Elizabeth finally sought out a solution. She knew right away that surgery was her best option — no skincare product or nonsurgical treatment could give her the results she was looking for.

“I didn’t try anything else on my neck. I’m not in the medical field, but my parents kind of both were. My dad used to sell pharmaceuticals and my mom’s a retired nurse. I understand the human body and I’m very interested in it. Looking at my neck, it was obvious there wasn’t a cream or an injectable that was going to work.”

Plastic surgery wasn’t an intimidating prospect for Elizabeth. In fact, it was exhilarating.

“Growing up, I remember thinking there was nothing wrong with plastic surgery. I always wondered why women hid it. I won’t hide it. I’ll wear a shirt that says ‘Hey, I Had a Facelift — How About You?’ I don’t care! I was just so excited to do it.”

Elizabeth’s excitement came from experience. She’d had a tummy tuck and breast reduction in 2008, upper eyelid surgery in 2009 and a lip enhancement procedure around 2011. Not only did she have a history of successful procedures to reassure her, she already had a surgeon in mind.

“I met Dr. Sharma in 2008 because he did a breast reduction and a tummy tuck on me. I found him because somebody suggested I ask different doctors I knew, ‘If your spouse was going to get surgery, or if you were, who would you recommend?’ I got four or five names, and through going to see people, I chose Dr. Sharma.”

Elizabeth was so thrilled with the results of the breast reduction and tummy tuck that she returned to Dr. Sharma for all of her subsequent procedures. She didn’t hesitate when it came time to plan her facelift.

“I never considered seeing someone else.”

SURGERY AS SELF-CARE

Elizabeth’s positive experiences with plastic surgery have given her a unique perspective on what it means to care for yourself and celebrate your body.

“I see a psychiatrist because I have ADD, and I described it to her. I said, “Well, it’s like this — if you have an outfit that you really like, but it’s got stains on it, or it’s wrinkled, or it doesn’t smell too good, or some buttons are missing — you want to take care of it and fix it up. You want to replace those buttons, or hem it a little bit, or iron it.”

She draws a similar comparison to owning a much-loved car.

“You wash your car and wax it, and maybe have it repainted, because you really like it and you don’t want to get rid of it. That’s the way I thought of [cosmetic surgery]. It’s something you value and you want to take care of it.”

In 2017, six years after first noticing her changing neck in the rearview mirror, Elizabeth was ready. She met with Dr. Sharma to plan her surgery and paid her deposit. That night, she lay in bed feeling ecstatic that her long wait was nearly over.

“I had been wanting to do this forever!”

Then she felt a strange lump in her left breast.

Continue Elizabeth’s Journey: Taking Action (Part 2)

Coming Soon.

If you’re interested in learning more about facelifts or would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Sharma at Plastic Surgery Austin, please give us a call at (512) 324-2765 today!

HELP IS AVAILABLE

Contact our office to schedule a private consultation with Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, Sanjay K. Sharma, M.D., F.A.C.S.