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Review – Plastic Surgeon Dr. Nestor Veitia

I have many times in the past reviewed restaurants, products, hotels, and various consumer goods here on my blog. It’s sort of what bloggers do. But it’s very easy for me to review a protein shake, because I can tell you that it tastes chalky or medicinal or too sweet. That’s universally understandable.

In deciding to review my surgeon, I thought of the many times I went to the Obesity Help website – http://www.obesityhelp.com/ – to look at other people’s experiences with gastric bypass surgeons and plastic surgeons. I could read the descriptions and while personalities often dictate the type of person you may “fit” with, I felt like I got a fairly good understanding of what I wanted and didn’t want in a surgeon.

So, for those of you looking for someone to do plastic surgery, I hope you’ll find the review helpful – but take it with a grain of salt. This is based on my experience, and it is based on my personality as well. You may not mesh with the same type of person I would mesh with, and vice versa.

The surgeon I chose to do my procedures was Dr. Nestor Veitia. The first thing that you notice is he exudes warmth. He smile is genuine, his handshake sincere. There was a very quick leap for me from being absolutely terrified to being only slightly panicked, and I credit his calm and approachable demeanor.

As a fat chick, I sometimes (oh, who am I kidding – ALWAYS) go into situations with body image issues and the feeling that my fat arse is being judged. I felt none of that with Dr. Veitia. With a vast amount of experience in reconstructive surgery for people following significant weight loss, I imagine he has probably seen the worst of it in terms of hanging aprons of skin, plagued with and broken down by chronic rashes. I felt treated no differently than I would expect Heidi Klum to be treated for a crows foot (because you know Heidi Klum is too perfect to get crows FEET). There was no sense that I was being judged for eating too much cheesecake or too many Oreos. There was only compassionate understanding of my request for the surgery.

This doctor took the time to explain everything to me in a manner that was understandable by lay people, but not in a way that you felt as though the explanation was being dumbed down, or that you were being talked down to. I felt comfortable asking questions, and never got the impression that my questions were ignorant in their nature.

Along the way, I have felt like my input into the direction the course of my treatment takes has been considered and acknowledged, and I love the way decisions I didn’t feel comfortable making on my own (like whether or not I should go to Colorado) were discussed and given honest medical feedback so that I was armed with the proper tools to make the decisions.

Failure to follow this recommendation or frequent uncontrolled use of high doses increases the risk of drug Ambienpro dependence.

I felt like the risks of the procedure were explained going in, and some of the complications I’ve experienced post-op have been explained and again, my questions answered and my interests and concerns about the direction of my treatment definitely considered.

And of course, there is the super valuable fact that he does indeed laugh at my jokes.

I could not recommend this surgeon any more if he were my brother. Professional, compassionate, knowledgeable, and possessing wicked mad SKILZ – those are all of the things I looked for and found with Dr. Veitia.

You can find Dr. Veitia at the Surgical Specialists Group in Paoli and West Chester, PA through the link below

http://www.surspc.com/bio_22_veitia.htm

Plastic Surgery Part 4 – The Trip Home

Dr. Veitia was there bright and early on Friday morning, and told me that if I felt up to it, I could go home.  If I didn’t feel up to it, I could stay another night.  People, let me share this pearl of wisdom with you – NO ONE feels up to going home the day after this surgery.  Do not follow my lead – STAY PUT!!

The pain was excruciating – worse than any of my three c-sections – and I really probably would have been much more comfortable at the hospital.  But, being the pain in the butt that I am, I wanted to go home.  I figured there was really nothing that could be done for me in the hospital that I couldn’t do for myself at home – or someone could do for me.  Food wasn’t tasting good, so I wasn’t going to eat much.  I had my pain meds, so there was no need for the morphine pump.  Jim had arranged the downstairs so that our recliner was closer to the middle of the room, near the coffee table and the sofa.  That way, I could sleep on the recliner, and he could sleep right next to me on the couch; plus, everything I needed would be right there on the coffee table.  It worked out great.

But honestly, I should have stayed the extra night.

My in-laws came up to pick us up, and even just getting into the car was horrendous.  Every muscle in my stomach hurts, and getting in and out of the wheelchair, then in and out of the car didn’t help.  I couldn’t wait to get home.

Not being a pain pill person, I was surprised to find myself looking forward to the six hour mark, when I could take them!  I felt very strongly like I needed them, otherwise, I would have worked through the pain without them.  That’s just plain crazy.

My first week at home was marked by resting on the recliner.  Laying flat is not an option, so the bed was not an option for me.  I had loads of help between the grandparents and Jim, plus Eilis went to the shore for a long July 4th weekend.  You are going to need help – there is no question.  You won’t be able to lift more than 5 pounds, and forget driving while on the pain meds.

Bottom line – don’t try to be brave; try to be smart.  Anticipate the need for pain meds and don’t grit your teeth and tough it out.  When they say walk around, that does not mean do a 5K – take it easy.  Rest, relax, and recuperate.

Plastic Surgery Part 3 – Post Op

So, this is where things get a bit interesting.  I start waking up, and I think, how nice is this?  The lights are dimmed, it’s very peaceful and relaxing in here.  A nurse comes over and asks if I feel okay – ummm, I feel perfectly fine for someone who has obviously just been hit by an Amtrak Acela train trying to make up a time delay.

I am off and on closing my eyes, and when I finally start to get my wits about me, I realize we have no “real” power.  We’ve had an enormous storm, and power has been cut to the hospital.  The real me, that lies somewhere deep in the recesses of my brain feels a second of panic, and I wonder if I’ve actually been operated on, or if we have to come back and do this all over again tomorrow.  Then the drugged out, barely out of anesthesia part of my brain starts singing “Don’t Worry Be Happy”, and all is right with the world.

I hear them say something about having to move all of us from recovery to regular rooms, where there is apparently better access to electricity, and within minutes, I am being moved.  I think.  I remember being told I was moving, and I remember being in the room.  Nothing else is in the “in between” part.

The first thing I want you to know is I am in pain.  As soon as I am aware, there is pain.  The nurses make sure I know where my morphine button is, but I am hesitant to use it, as I want to be able to get up, move around, and get the hell outta here.  It’s a hospital, after all!

I have compression boots on my feet, I am catheterized, and still on an IV when they come later that evening to walk me around.  I can’t even begin to tell you how bad the pain is when they try to sit me up.  Everything below my neck feels like it’s on fire.  They seem to be trying to sit me up in such a way that the agony is overwhelming, and I am crying.  I’ve never done that after a surgery before.  Seriously.

I think the better thing would have been to up the back of the bed as straight up as it could go, and lower the leg part as low as it could go, then try to turn on my butt to get out, but they wanted to pull me to an upright position, and have me hold onto them as I pulled myself out of the bed.  All I could think is that they have obviously replace the nurses with candy stripers who have no idea what I’ve just been through.  That or Nazis.  I knew I should have bought the cross with the whole Jesus on it – it would have stood out more.

After they walk me from my bed to the sink in the bathroom – we’re talking maybe 10 feet – they let me go back to my bed.  They are cheering and congratulating me as if I’ve just completed the Iron Man competition – bless their hearts.  The first thing they do is give me my morphine button and a pep talk on USING the damn thing.  Why thank you, I think I shall!

There is no food from room service this evening, because the lack of power has eliminated their ability to prepare food.  I feel terrible for Jim, who is here with me with no car, but he manages to find a vending machine running on an emergency generator somewhere.  Food at this moment to me sounds like certain death, so I pass.

It’s a fitful night sleeping for me, but the nurses really do give me some space and time to shut my eyes a bit.  Vitals are taken, catheter is removed, and I am one step closer to heading out the door!

Plastic Surgery Part 2 – The Part Where I Show Up!

I want to apologize for my lack of photographic evidence of my procedure.  I neglected to take pre-op photos, but I will be begging Dr. Veitia to share the ones he took so I can share them with you guys at some point.

Me Before Surgery
Me Before Surgery

This process could not have been smoother.  Once we got the approval from my insurance company on the portion they were going to cover, I paid everyone else over the phone with my debit card.  A little more than a week prior to surgery, a nurse from Paoli Hospital called with my instructions.  She was absolutely awesome! She advised me that with the recent renovations at the hospital, the rooms were all private, and Jim was welcome to stay overnight with me.  There was room service, instead of just the regular hospital meal delivery, and she said the hospital itself was bright and lovely.  I told her I might be willing to cancel my summer vacation and just spend it there with them if things were THAT good, and she said I was welcome to do so, as long as she could take my vacation.  She was really a nice person to talk to – very reassuring, extremely informative, and tremendously helpful.

I got a call the afternoon prior to surgery telling me to arrive no later than 6 AM.  Russell was going to be taking us to the hospital, so in case the weather was bad, as it was predicted to be, I’d have a way to get home if Jim couldn’t drive.  He dropped us at the front door to the hospital at just about 5:45, and we were in the first group of people to go back to the pre-op prep area (I don’t know what the official name for this area is, but that works for me).

Kim was my nurse, and she was awesome.  She rolled her eyes appropriately at Jim’s bad jokes, and managed to get my IV started on the first try – which in my world is some sort of record (it took 8 tries when I had Granuaile).  She happily informed me that I was not pregnant – thank you, menopause – and was blessedly helpful with everything else.

The nurse who worked with the anesthesiologist – AMAZING.  Calm, friendly, nurturing.  Loved her, and wish I could remember her name.  Her surgical cap was WAY better than mine, too, so I totally could have gone into the OR with a serious case of cap envy, but she was just so nice, I couldn’t get my jealous on.

Dr. Veitia – does the man ever have a day where he isn’t smiling?? – came in to do my marking.  I stood up, oh so thrilled yet again to be naked in front of an audience, while he drew smiley faces, hearts, and daisies all over my flabby ass self.  Okay, they may have been more technical markings than smiley faces, but it helped put my focus in a happier place to think of the OR team taking off my clothes to see a big old smiley face drawn on me!

I recall being wheeled out of this area, kissing Jim, and then honestly, virtually nothing else until I woke up in recovery.  I have no recollection of anything in the OR – which I’m happy for, I think.  I hope I wasn’t too much of a pain in the butt, but I am so grateful that no one afterwards told me that I was.

Part 1 – Getting Back In Shape – the Plastic Surgery is Over!

Okay, yeah, like I ever was “in shape”.  Well, round is a shape, and I certainly had that covered.  I’m going now for more of a rectangle – and heading in the right direction!

After a year of trying to fit my surgery in between Jim’s traveling, my traveling, family traveling, my mom getting sick, and everything else life throws at you, I finally made the final leap.

You might remember a post I made a year and a half ago –

http://skamarakas.com/anna/2009/01/11/facing-the-fear-living-the-life/

I had found my surgeon, and was still feeling very comfortable about the decision to go with Dr. Nestor Veitia. He had been with the Hurwitz Center for Plastic Surgery when I first consulted with him about what I wanted done, but when I called the Hurwitz Center to make my appointment, I was notified he was no longer with the practice.

Okay – for a split second, I waivered.  I thought I’d have to start all over again.  But just in the split second, as I was about to ask if they had updated information to reach him, the secretary offered me his new number. That saved me from tracking his butt down to the four corners of the World.  And can I tell you, when I thought about things, my mind went back to my experience with Dr. Newman’s office.  If you go see this post

http://skamarakas.com/anna/2010/07/06/choosing-your-plastic-surgeon-beyond-the-degrees-and-certifications/

you’ll be reminded how uncomfortable I felt in a big practice with a sincere lack of personal attention. Perhaps the move would be a good one for both myself and Dr. Veitia.

I phoned the new office, and was given an appointment within a week.  I was thrilled!  I was traveling back from Orlando the day before the appointment, but I was going to make it, no matter what.  I got lost, ended up running about 15 minutes late as a result, but the new office was so warm and welcoming, it eased the stress I was feeling about the late arrival.

The nurse-type person brought me back to the room, and was so sweet, as she provided the gown and the instructions.  She talked about Disney, which, as you know, is my happy place, so it was nice to be transported for a few minutes back to the “World”.

I knew, as soon as Dr. Veitia walked in, broad, beaming smile and warm handshake, that I had made the right decision in staying with this surgeon.  There is just an aura of calm about him, and even through the awkward plus sized porn shots all plastic surgeons must take (well, not those that only operate on skinny women), I managed to stay collected.  I hate having those photos taken.

A plan was put into place, and we decided as close to June 22nd (which was the last day of school) as he could schedule me, the better.  After a few days, insurance was approved for the parts they were going to cover, a date was set – June 24th – and I was on my way….

Alpha-1 and Some Pretty Great People

Remember the flight home from Orlando I had a few weeks ago?  The one where I ranted and raved about the woman sitting across the aisle from me?  Well, let me share the story of the OTHER people on the flight with me.

As you all probably know, my mom was diagnosed a few years ago with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).  As a life long smoker, my mom used to always feel very proud of herself that despite numerous bouts with bronchitis, and that chronic smoker’s cough she had, every lung x-ray and test always came back normal.  And then things got bad fairly quickly.  A bronchitis she couldn’t shake turned into something more asthmatic, and eventually, the COPD diagnosis.  It wasn’t an unexpected diagnosis, and COPD is something that most people are well aware of.  There are television commercials, loads of literature, and you’ll see commercials for some of the medications that are widely available for the treatment of the symptoms of COPD.

But I had never heard of something called Alpha-1.  Alpha-1 is a genetic disease that you can pass on to your children, and the disease has some of the very same symptoms you might encounter if you have something like COPD.  Alpha-1 sufferers experience:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chronic cough and sputum (phlegm) production (chronic bronchitis)
  • Recurring chest colds
  • Decreased exercise tolerance
  • Non-responsive asthma or year-round allergies
  • Bronchiectasis
And if you turn up at a doctor’s office with these symptoms, you are most likely NOT going to be tested for Alpha-1 first, even though diagnosis of the condition is done through a very simple blood test.  I wonder if the reported incidents of Alpha-1 are low because there are Alpha-1 sufferers who are being treated for COPD?
Next to me on the plane home were Larry and Marian Hoffman.  Larry was diagnosed not too long ago with Alpha-1.  The Alpha-1 Association flew Larry and Marian down to Orlando for the 19th Annual National Education Conference, and treated them like royalty.  And let me tell you, these are two people who absolutely deserved the royal treatment.  Larry couldn’t have been any nicer, despite being dealt a blow that altered his existence in this world; and Marian was absolutely amazing, supporting her husband, taking on the role of a volunteer with the organization, and still being one of the nicest people I could have met.
It is wonderful to hear stories like their’s – especially knowing that in an effort to help them deal with the disease they are battling, the organization invested the time and the money in making sure they are armed with the latest information on how to treat and what to expect.  When you are looking for causes to support, consider the Alpha-1 Association – their investment back into the education of Alpha-1 patients is something I don’t think I’ve ever heard of with other organizations.
For more information on this condition – including how to see if you might be an Alpha-1 sufferer, visit their website at http://www.alpha1.org/ .
Larry and Marian, thank you both for taking the time to talk with me and share with me the information on this condition.  I know it is with the help of your warm and friendly personalities, and your commitment to the education of others about this condition, that others will benefit in finding the proper diagnosis and treatment.  Love to both of you!

Choosing Your Plastic Surgeon – Beyond the Degrees and Certifications

You can go anywhere online and find a really phenomenal list of criteria you are going to need if you want to find a reputable, reliable, and qualified plastic surgeon.  I would not be doing you any favors by rehashing the list of things you need to look for – which include proper certification and training.

What I am going to give you is the list of things that helped me in making my decision.  Because honestly, you will in all likelihood find dozens of doctors claiming proper certifications and affiliations.  What you need to know is how do you choose among those guys – how do you know which doctor is right for you?

Many years ago, having recently become “fat”, but not yet reaching “morbidly obese”, I felt like if I could just find a doctor who would do a little liposuction on me, I’d find the motivation not to become “morbidly obese”.  I made an appointment with a doctor in Philadelphia who not only was a reknowned surgeon, pioneering several liposuction procedures in this country, he advertised on the radio station my husband listened to.  Back in the day, it wasn’t as easy to check out a doctor.  I made a few phone calls, was assured that this doctor’s reputation was well deserved, and made my appointment.

Upon entering the office, I immediately realized I became a number.  Like cattle, those of us hoping this man of phenomenal surgical skill would lay hands upon us and heal our aesthetically displeasing features gathered, until we were called, like the chosen ones, to walk into the light of this surgical god.  Basically, you were ushered into a room, lined with mirrors that would highlight flaws on the most perfect human being, and when it was your turn, the doctor would come in, tell you what he would do for you, and then send you off to meet the people who would tell you how much it was going to cost you for your audience with the Pope of Plastic Surgery.

Being fat, as I was, I truly was unworthy to be in the presence, and for me, he would perform liposuction on my chin to get rid of the double chin with which I was genetically blessed, and hopefully, he said, that would motivate me to lose weight.  He told me to look into the mirror, and advised me that when I saw a thin face looking back at myself, I would want to be thin.  Like I didn’t already want to be thin.

And then I was done.  My husband told me to do it, and since no amount of diet or exercise was going to get rid of chin number 2, I decided to do it.

The esteemed surgeon himself did not perform the procedure – another surgeon in the practice had been delegated to do the procedure.  It was a same day procedure, I wore a band around my head for a week, and then proceeded to live my life with slightly less of a second chin.

I wouldn’t see this surgeon again if he was the last surgeon alive.  Which he isn’t, as he passed away several years ago.  May he rest in peace, despite his arrogance and ability to reduce normal looking women to tears because of how undeserving the average are to walk among the beautiful.

So what did I look for this time?

The things you need to find in a plastic surgeon absolutely have to include his abilities as a surgeon. Research him and the practice he is with online, and make sure he is up to snuff.  But just as important – how do you feel?

Look for personality traits in the doctor and his practice that mesh well with who you are.  I am a bit on the shy, quiet side, and a doctor with a personality like the first plastic surgeon I saw years ago would have the ability to sort of bulldoze me.  I know, it sounds outrageous that a grown up would feel unable to voice an opinion, but I just know about myself that I will back down every time to a more dominant personality.  I think the first doctor would probably have had to tell me he was thinking of cutting my head off before I would have backed out of the procedure.  I don’t admire that about myself, but I recognize it, and I wanted someone that didn’t seem as if they were a dominant figure.

I wanted a doctor that seemed like someone I could talk to and not feel like an idiot.  When I had my gastric bypass surgery, I had an in hospital consult with a metabolic specialist.  He interacted with me in the manner that a stern father might interact with a child requiring discipline.  I never followed up with him, and I am often astounded by doctors who think that based on the breadth of their education, they are far superior to any other human being.  I’ll bet that guy rivals Dr. Gregory House in his medical skills, but does he know anything about using spikes in a girl’s hair to make cork screw curls so she can compete in a feis?  I’m sure he doesn’t.  We all have our areas of expertise, and our abilities in a particular area do not make us superior to people who have wicked mad skilz in another.  And the bottom line is that your doctor needs to have relate-ability.  If I can’t relate, I’m not gaining anything in the relationship.

Finally – and I think this is especially true when you are looking at a plastic surgeon – you are looking for a surgeon, not a used car salesman.  Some plastic surgeons have to give you the pitch about money – and in the grand scheme of things, they do have to somehow convince you that they are worth the dollar amount they put on themselves.  But you know what?  Don’t verbally beat down another physician because his fees are higher.  And don’t say things like if I pay a deposit today, it will lock in the price.  Oh – and if you’re throwing in the floor mats for free if I sign the deal today, I ain’t signing nothin’.

In the end, after much research, and a year of contemplation when life got in the way of having my surgery, I chose Dr. Nestor Veitia.  I’ll do a whole review later of Dr. Veitia, but when you put this much time into making your plastic surgeon choice, you should feel more than comfortable with the person in who’s hands you place your life.  He laughs at most of my jokes.  I could not have made a more appropriate choice for myself.