See Beladie’s Before & After Plastic Surgery Pictures Album.
Since her college days, 39 year old Beladie (friendname: beladie) has always known that she would get plastic surgery as soon as it became affordable. She lost 75 lbs through her hard work at the gym and her self-confidence was at an all time high. When she realized that she could afford plastic surgery, Beladie began her search for the right plastic surgeon and starting reading articles about abdominoplasty, breast lifts, and liposuction. After finding pictures on Make Me Heal, Beladie put together a photobook of Do’s and Don’ts for her plastic surgeon so that he knew exactly what she wanted. Beladie chose Dr. Orlando Figueroa Cerpa in Tijuana, Mexico for his knowledge, compassion, and professionalism. In December of 2007, Beladie went through 3 days of surgery to get the body she wanted. She first got liposuction to remove 2000 cc’s in her chin, neck, abdomen, flanks, upper and lower back, and inner thighs. Then through fat grafting, 450cc’s were added to each buttock. After a full tummy tuck, Beladie also increased her breasts from 40As to 38Cs through a breast augmentation and lift inserting 350 cc’s of silicone. Beladie is thrilled with her results and has slimmed down to a size 10-12. Her journey continues this month, when she is going to have additional liposuction and fat grafting to the buttocks.
Beladie’s advice for anyone contemplating plastic surgery is:
“Be realistic. Go to the gym. Your surgeon is not a magician. The body is imperfect, and so is plastic surgery. If you look for reasons to be unhappy, you will be. So, don’t look. Take a step back and view the overall picture. Do you like what you see? Congratulations, your mission was a success!”
Please join us for an interview with Beladie:
Make Me Heal: When did you first have the idea to have your procedure(s)?
Beladie: I first thought about plastic surgery while in college. I used to say to myself, “If I ever come into money, I am going to spend it all on plastic surgery.” For the next twenty years, I fell prey to the belief that self-esteem is synonymous with body acceptance. This, however, never truly made sense to me. Why is it socially acceptable to wear braces or to repair facial deformities but undergoing plastic surgery is often viewed as self-indulgent? I liked myself just fine. What bothered me were my genetic liabilities: tubular breasts, flat buttocks, and the excess fat that remained despite my hard work. Like teeth, the technology was available to remedy my dislikes. I had lost 75 lbs. I was physically fit. My confidence was at an all time high. Unexpectedly, I came into some money, so I said, “Let’s fix these things.”
Make Me Heal: What were your motivations (physical, emotional, social, etc.) behind your decision to have the procedure(s)?
Beladie: It took me 1 1/2 years to lose the weight. I poured sweat and gritted my teeth in the gym to improve my overall fitness level. In dance class, I became dissatisfied with the excess skin and fat that ruined my lines. In my abdominal class, I had trouble connecting with my lower abs because the excess bulges inhibited my range of motion. Until I abandoned my old shell, I knew I would never evolve.
Make Me Heal: How long did it take you to make a decision and was it an easy or difficult one to make?
Beladie: My decision was made as soon as the funds became available. Making the decision was easy because I intuitively knew it was time. The difficulty lay in the search. Where do I begin? How do I find information? Whom do I seek?
Make Me Heal: Did your family, friends, and any other people in your close circle give you support, opposition, or did you make this decision without considering them?
Beladie: The decision was mine to make, and I made it without considering my friends or family. This is my body, and I am the captain of my vessel. Most of those I told were supportive but slightly nervous. A few thought I was crazy to take on this much surgery and even crazier for going to Mexico. I knew they expressed concern out of love, but I was also keenly aware that most of their words were fear based and spoken out of ignorance. I simply smiled and said, “Thanks, I’ll be careful.” I avoided the negative and uneducated, for when I felt vulnerable, their words could negate my self-trust. I was particularly insulted by those who made erroneous comments about the quality of medicine and care in Mexico. It’s amazing to me how one outlier brought to life on a daytime talkshow can define popular opinion. I heard nonsense like, “They will butcher you,” “It’s dirty and dangerous in Tijuana,” “I heard doctors can practice medicine without a license,” and “I met this one woman who knew this girl who said her cousin…(blah blah blah).” I feel a sense of obligation to dispel such notions.
Make Me Heal: How did you research the procedure and come to decide on this particular procedure?
Beladie: I started on the internet. I read everything I could about abdominoplasty, breast lifts and breast augmentation. Rather than word of mouth, I prefer to get procedure information from reliable sources such as articles written by actual plastic surgeons. In terms of recovery, I read articles by plastic surgeons but found it more helpful to actually talk to those who had had the surgeries. As my research developed, I became interested in fat grafting, so I read everything I could about it. I went on consultations in the U.S. and asked many questions. At this point, I was still contemplating my breasts; I was in the, “Can I live with this?” phase. It wasn’t until I finished my consultation with Dr. Figueroa that I knew I had to go for it all. Anything less than achieving my vision would be selling myself out.
Make Me Heal: Please discuss if you used any of Make Me Heal’s resources such as the message boards, pictures library, doctor directory and doctor reviews, and any recovery and preparation products that you used.
Beladie: I came across Make Me Heal when I was looking for pictures. I put together a photobook of DOs and DON’Ts for my surgeon. In it I included hip to hip incision placement, belly button shape and placement, breast size and shape as well as before and after pictures that impressed me. My main question was, “Are my expectations realistic?” Dr. Figueroa thanked me for putting the photobook together. He said that seeing my vision helped him to transform his plan into my desired results.
Make Me Heal: How did you come to choose your doctor?
Beladie: I went on three consultations before I found my doctor. I found the surgeons to be informative and courteous, but I felt as though I were being pushed to the finance person. The cost of my surgeries was more than I could ever afford. I turned to Mexico. It started with a Google search: “plastic surgery Mexico”. I have lost track of how many websites I viewed, but I soon realized that I didn’t want to be too far from home. I narrowed it down to Tijuana. Again, I think I looked at every website, but I kept coming back to Dr. Figueroa. Not only was I impressed with his philosophy, but I found his work to be artistic and sublime. In person, he is professional, humble, knowledgeable, and compassionate. He explained that the liposuction with fat grafting, the tummy tuck, and the breast lift with augmentation would take three days, but to achieve my ultimate goal would take another phase of surgery 7 months later. I am returning in July for additional liposuction to target my upper abdomen and to shape my torso. I will also have more fat grafting to the buttocks. We discussed the risks and benefits of multiple procedures. After evaluating my physical, mental and emotional health, and after I promised to store my blood in a bank (to help with my recovery), Dr. Figueroa decided I was an appropriate candidate. My consultation lasted three hours, but at the moment I shook his hand, I knew he was the one.
Make Me Heal: Please discuss if you have any role in deciding the type of technique used for your surgery by the doctor, incision placements, implant brand, anesthesia type, etc.
Beladie: I deferred to Dr. Figueroa on most matters simply because I trusted that he had my best interests in mind. We did, however, spend a lot of time taking pictures and discussing my tummy tuck scar. One of the reasons I chose him is because most of his scars are V-shaped and don’t cut across the belly. I really wanted a low scar, and I wanted to shorten it as much as possible. He thought about it for awhile and said he would do liposuction first to eliminate the maximum amount of fat. This would shorten the scar and reduce the risk of “dog ears”.
Another reason I chose him is because I like his belly buttons. He said he tries to make them heart shaped. My breasts were a big concern to me too. I knew I needed a lift, but I was opposed to the vertical scar. They were small but tubular. He said he wouldn’t know for sure until he got in there, but he would do everything he could to create good results with a circumareolar lift. I was told, however, that there was a possibility they would not sit as high as I might like. “I trust your judgment,” I said. “If they don’t look right, then I will accept the vertical incisions.” As it turned out, the circumaerolar lift produced natural-looking results. Sacrificing a little more lift was a trade I was willing to make to avoid the scars. It paid off.
Make Me Heal: How did you prepare for the surgery?
Beladie: Preparation is crucial to recovery. In advance, I designated a contact person to email my friends and family to inform them that I was ok. I also gave my contact the hotel information, so my loved ones could call. I came packed with chapstick, lotion, Arnica (both internal and external),Band-aids, sterile pads, Maxi-pads (they are great for absorbing drainage), hard candy, Benadryl, Immodium, enemas, booties and knit gloves (it’s cold in the surgery room), portable DVD and CD players with music and movies, and of course, my compression garments which were hand me downs from friends and family. The tummy tuck really inhibited my movement. I brought two things that were crucial to my independence.
The first was a walking stick. It helped me to get out of bed as well as walk. I used it for the first 4 days. The second was the bladder from my Camelback. I was so thirsty for the first few days, and it was hard for me to sit up to drink. I simply had my friend fill it with water, and I kept the tube near my mouth at all times.
Make Me Heal: How were you feeling the night before the surgery and on the moments before the surgery itself?
Beladie: I was putting my life in the hands of strangers. The night before surgery was like any other night. I knew I was facing three days of battle, and to avoid a meltdown, I knew I had to stay in the moment. Instead of thinking about it, I focused on steps. Go to sleep. Wake up. Shower. Drive. Cross the border. Check into the hotel. Go to the office. I even used this technique while preparing for surgery. Sign release forms. Put on gown. Mark body. This worked well until I lay upon the operating table. As the anesthesiologist put in the IV, tears rolled down the sides of my cheeks. He wiped them, held my hand, and stroked my forehead until Dr. Figueroa was ready to begin. Then I fell asleep. The details of next three days are foggy.
Make Me Heal: How was the recovery process? Please discuss what side effects you experienced? What were the worse parts of the recovery? Did anyone help you during the recovery?
Beladie: A good friend picked me up from the recovery room the day after my last surgery. Until then Patricia, the nurse, had taken excellent care of me. My friend stayed with me at the hotel for three days, and then my sister took over for the next four. I am so grateful to them because I underestimated the amount of help I would need. I did as much as I could on my own, but I cried a few times, asking myself what I had done. I couldn’t sleep because of the pain meds. I weaned myself off them, afraid of trading pain management for sleep (I found that a mix of Tylenol and Advil work pretty well). Again, I focused on increments of time to keep from going insane. My world revolved around medicine doses and dressing changes and visits from the doctor. My caretakers reminded me several times a day of the little improvements I had made. I was told I would need to stay in Tijuana for two weeks.
One week after surgery, I cried after my check up and begged my doctor for clearance to go to L.A. for 5 days. I explained that if I didn’t see my friends and have some sort of normalcy, I would lose my mind. I asked if I could celebrate New Year’s Eve. Dr. Figueroa smiled. “I will write you a prescription,” he said. “Fix your hair, put on make-up, hide your compression garments with a loose dress, and go to the party with your friends. Have fun, but don’t overdo it!”
Make Me Heal: Please discuss the pain or discomfort you experienced during the recovery?
Beladie: I hear that liposuction and fat grafting are uncomfortable. I hear that breast lifts and augmentation are painful. I wouldn’t know. The tummy tuck was so excruciating that I couldn’t focus on anything else. Coughing, laughing, and sneezing were unbearable. Getting up from the bed the first 36 hours required assistance. It hadn’t occurred to me that I would be afraid to have a bowel movement. (Good news,though: with an enema and the strength of the sphincter, the abdominals don’t really engage!) The tummy tuck recovery took the longest. 6 months later, I still feel tight, although I am happy to report that I am able to arch my back. I will slowly return to normal in 4-6 months.
Make Me Heal: How well prepared were you for the recovery from physical, emotional, and mental respects? Did you do any research (i.e. online, books, message boards, etc.) to make your recovery smoother?
Beladie: I felt very well prepared for the emotional recovery. My expectations were realistic, I had watched friends recover from liposuction and breast lifts with augmentation, and I read a lot about tummy tuck recovery as well as the healing process of scars. I knew that I would cry a lot, feel scared that my results would be horrible, and also feel happy with the new image in the mirror. I was not as well prepared for the physical recovery. I grew up a serious athlete and had trained at a high level to prepare for surgery. How silly of me to think I would be back in the saddle so soon! After two weeks, I returned to work. I couldn’t make it through the day with out a nap. This lasted for almost 2 weeks. I was out of the gym a total of 4 weeks, and when I returned, I was exhausted after 6 minutes on the treadmill…at the slowest speed! Little by little, I improved, proud of how quickly I bounced back. I am in full swing now, having exceeded my previous fitness level.
Make Me Heal: What are your top recovery tips to other patients?
Beladie: You will look and feel your worst right after surgery. This is temporary. Focus on the little improvements you make daily. If you needed help yesterday but got out of bed on your own today, celebrate that. It counts as improvement and one step closer to feeling normal again. Expect to ask yourself, “What was I thinking?” when the pain is at its zenith. This is a good time to call on supportive friends and family. Ask them to remind you why you did this in the first place.
Make Me Heal: How long did you take off from work? What did you tell your co-workers about taking this time off? Did anyone notice your cosmetic procedures at work and what did you tell them if they asked about it?
Beladie: Fortunately, I am self-employed and took time off during winter, for most people are focused on the holidays. When I returned, I made sure to wear sweatshirts and loose clothing to hide my appearance. Everyone knew I lost weight and spent a lot of time at the gym. I figured that by the time I debuted my new body in the late Spring, nobody would question my changes. I was right. A few glanced at my breasts but didn’t inquire. Mostly, others told me how great I look and congratulated me on my hard work.
Make Me Heal: How happy are you with the results?
Beladie: Happy is an understatement. I am ELATED and so grateful to Dr. Figueroa!
Make Me Heal: How has your makeover impacted your life from personal, social, career, and other respects?
Beladie: My makeover has impacted my life in several ways. Shopping is easier now that my proportions are more suited to off-the-rack clothing.
Working out is more fun because my body is so much tighter. Sexually, I am much more free because I no longer position my body to hide the excess. My favorite thing to do in the morning is to look at myself in the mirror and smile. I love what I see.
Make Me Heal: Would you have done anything differently if you had the chance?
Beladie: Look at my 4-month picture. Do you see the excess fat in the upper abdomen and around the armpits? This is what happens when you gain weight after liposuction. Because I couldn’t exercise at full speed for about 14 weeks, I was not burning the calories to which I had become accustomed. I allowed myself to slip into denial about my food intake, and before I knew it, I put on 13 pounds. I wish I hadn’t done that. I have since lost 10 lbs and intend to lose 10 more before my surgery in July. I will not allow this to happen again.
Make Me Heal: What is your final word of advice to other people considering the procedure(s) you had?
Beladie: Be realistic. Go to the gym. Your surgeon is not a magician. The body is imperfect, and so is plastic surgery. If you look for reasons to be unhappy, you will be. So, don’t look. Take a step back and view the overall picture. Do you like what you see? Congratulations, your mission was a success!
Make Me Heal: Was Make Me Heal beneficial to you along your journey?
Beladie: My journey is not over. Make Me Heal has opened my eyes to other possibilities. I enjoy reading the message boards to find out about procedures regarding skin care. Once my body is done, I will focus on my face. One thing that has been really wonderful about MMH is the private messages I receive from people. I love that I can help others with questions about my procedures or offer tips on traveling to Tijuana. I often get inquiries about those who are considering my surgeon, and I am always happy to recommend him.
See Beladie’s Before & After Plastic Surgery Pictures Album.none