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TRADING FACES UNDER THE VOLCANO

~ OR~

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

By Carolyn Kaiser

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! (See photo>>)

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 1961!

I stayed in Costa Rica another 12 days, recovering at the "Can't Do Enough For You" Chetica Ranch, 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.

Copyright © 2006 - Frank Kaiser

For others in this series, "The Real Truth About Getting Old," go to http://www.suddenlysenior.com/healthissues.html

THE NIP & TUCK OF IT ALL

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

IF YOU GO - Dr. Araya does all types of reconstruction including breast augmentation, tummy tucks, tightening loose skin on any part of the body and laser resurfacing. He specializes in tummy tucks following gastric bypass surgery. Rodrigo Araya, M.D. P.O. Box 12088 - 1000 San José, Costa Rica. Tel: 011 (506) 297-0390. Fax: 011 (506) 283-4296. Website: http://www.a-plastic-surgeon.com/

CIMA HOSPITAL Affiliated with Baylor University in Dallas Tel: 011 (506) 208-1000. Fax: 011 (506) 208-1001. E-mail: cima@hospitalcima.com Website: http://www.hospitalsanjose.net/

CHETICA RANCH MEDICAL RECOVERY CENTER Only 15 minutes from San José, in the clear, clean, and cooler mountain air. E-mail: chetica@racsa.co.cr Website: http://cheticaranch.com/

If you are seriously considering any type of plastic surgery, and have found US prices prohibitive, do not hesitate to write me at carolyn.kaiser@gmail.com or 2431 Canadian Way, Ste. 21, Clearwater FL 33763. Please include your phone number.

As with all medical and dental procedures, the services offered carry risk, and by engaging such services the patient must understand, accept and acknowledge that the web page were they found the link or information do not have  and does not accept liability for such risks, nor for the treatments, services and procedures to be received.

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From radio I learned that hard work, discipline and stick-to-itiveness were essential to marital bliss.

It wasn't much on looks. It had more miles on it than God. The clutch slipped, the rear shocks didn't work, and inside it smelled like someone died. But that '39 Studebaker was my first car, my first true love.

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I was not smitten, just embarrassed. Naomi's glass eye glittered, eager for my attention. And as the girl already had well-developed breasts, I had nowhere to look except at our feet or the ceiling.



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