You could say this all started with an interview with Dr. Christopher Mondello about the new laser treatments he is offering, but in reality it all started months ago as I began to repeatedly look in the mirror, pull back the hanging skin, envision the results of a face lift and think “I need a face lift; I don’t want a face lift.” The aforementioned events culminated with an appointment this week for a laser treatment at Mondello Medical Spa.
I initially made an appointment for an Erbium laser treatment, a treatment with no recovery time which would enable me to immediately resume my normal routine. But with one look at my face (his first), Dr. Mondello immediately surmised “You need a CO2 laser.” I quickly translated his recommendation to mean “You have such severe sun damage and wrinkling; you need the strongest treatment possible.”
With holiday parties on the agenda for the week-end, I was hesitant to change my treatment plan. I wasn’t planning on the week’s downtime that is expected with the CO2 laser. Dr. Mondello didn’t expect me to be able to attend the parties or to do the Christmas shopping I had planned on the way home today. His wife Carol, a cosmetologist and medical aesthetician, was more optimistic. I looked at Carol for affirmation; only a woman knows how important a woman’s face is. She nodded me onward. Dr. Mondello had immediately impressed me during a prior interview. I’d driven over two hours for the appointment; I might as well listen to the doctor. If the results were actually what they are said to be, it will be well worth missing a couple of parties. Let the treatment begin.
To anesthetize my face for the CO2 laser, I received four shots injected into my gums that were easier than the previous day's dental appointment. As the laser was applied, I was numb, but I could imagine something akin to multiple points being drilled in my face. I could feel lines seemingly being erased—not a bad feeling at all. While I was told it was hot inside the room, I only knew coolness as Carol constantly applied cool air to my face. Mid-treatment, Dr. Mondello spontaneously changed my treatment plan to his signature treatment, an all-in-one laser treatment including both the CO2 and Erbium lasers. I could only feel confident knowing Dr. Mondello was doing whatever it took to get the best results. I decided to trust him implicitly. The CO2 was applied to my face, and the Erbium to my neck and chest. The event itself was surprisingly non-eventful. When it came time for the Erbium laser, it was downright pleasant. At first I felt nothing and as Dr. Mondello accelerated the laser, I can only say it was warm and invigorating.
Not knowing what to expect from the results, I’ve found it ever-fascinating. As I excitedly observe the transformation in my face from moment to moment and chronicle the events, I thought it might be interesting to share with others. It’s firsthand experience that I would have loved to have been able to access as I researched what to expect prior to the treatment. Follow my journey, and I’ll continue to keep you updated.
Wednesday, December 16
3:30 pm – I leave Mondello Medical Spa. I can’t stop looking in the mirror as I begin the drive home to Sarasota. I am mesmerized. My face and neck tightened immediately. The wrinkles in my forehead are almost invisible. My face has definitely reddened. Each of at least 40 times I pull down the mirror, something new has happened. Pinpoint spots of blood appear sporadically across my face. When I resist looking long enough for the tiny dots to dry, they turn black and wipe away with my touch. As I try to put a name to how my face feels, the word “invigorated” comes to mind.
4:30 pm – I can’t believe I feel so good. The anesthetic should be starting to wear off. I touch my face. It is no longer numb and only slightly tender to the touch. I pull in to Brandon Mall to take a shot at the Christmas shopping I had planned to do. (No one ever said I'm not a determined woman). The black scab-like dots vanish with a tissue. My face is so wrinkle-free that I don’t mind sporting it in public (I’m sure being out of town helps too). I feel only slightly conspicuous; I think my face will pass for sunburned. Or am I really this good at denial?
6:30 pm – After two hours of shopping, I decide if I’m going to be homebound for a few days, I might as well have a good meal. I feel totally inconspicuous in the darkened environment of the Cheesecake Factory.
7:30 pm – I think I am certainly going to be feeling the effects of the day as the night goes on. I am afraid to linger out of town much longer.
8:00 pm – On the drive home, I begin to look forward to a few days at home. If I have to miss a couple of parties in order to erase years from my face, so be it. I envision doing the holiday baking I never seem to have the time to do and getting caught up on my paperwork.
9:00pm – I arrive home and race to the mirror, I love looking at my new face even if it is a bit red. I am totally amazed by the transformation in my neck and chest where the Erbium laser was applied. Even the wrinkle that gave the illusion of cleavage has vanished; that’s one wrinkle I may miss.
11:00 pm – I reapply the Aquaphor ointment Dr. Mondello recommended and go to sleep, amazed that I feel so well.
The Day After
3:30 am -- I awaken. I touch my face which still doesn’t hurt. It feels a bit like sandpaper. I am afraid to look, so I don’t turn on the lights. I easily drift back to sleep.
7:00 am – I am a bit afraid of what I will see when I look in the mirror. My face is redder than yesterday, and now it is a bit swollen. I look as if I have really bad sunburn. I think I could still make it to the holiday parties.
Noon – My friend Kim calls, wanting to do lunch. It takes a lot for me to turn down an invitation involving food; I’m easily persuaded. The restaurant we frequent is rather dark inside. Besides, my mirror is surely tired of seeing me by now, and I want someone else’s view of my face.
12:30 pm – Kim is amazed with the diminishment of my wrinkles. She thinks people will just think I came from having a facial. Only in the sunlight is she able to see a grid across my face which even I haven’t seen previously. She says it just looks like I’ve pressed my face against a screen or perhaps a canvas.
1:30 pm - Our regular waitress didn’t seem to notice my inflamed face – although Kim thinks she may have just failed to mention it. I go to the office. What happened to the enjoyment of being homebound?
3:30 pm - I know I have to get some food in the house. I could be blistered and peeling any moment now, so I may need food. I decide to expose myself in the bright lights of the grocery store before the after work crowd. I am self-conscious, and I hope I don’t run into anyone I know. A couple of people in the grocery line start a conversation. I expect them to ask me about my terrible sunburn; they don’t.
4:00 pm – Home again and back to the mirror. My face seems a little less red. I decide to reapply the Aquaphor healing ointment frequently. I’m definitely inside for the rest of the day.
6:00 pm – My face is looking more splotchy. The redness has diminished in some areas, and some darker discoloration is showing in my cheeks. I wonder if the sun spots could possibly be rising to the surface before they slough away.
7:45 pm – The twelve year old on TV has frown lines that look like mine now…or rather, mine look like hers.
8:30 pm -- Getting out of the shower, I think my face may be more reminiscent of a childhood illness than sunburn…ah, the return to youth.
9:00 pm – Barefaced, my face continues to feel like sandpaper. My neck and chest feel baby soft. I reapply the Aquaphor to my face.
10:00 pm – For hours now I’m unable to get online for some reason and post this blog. The TV shows I looked forward to watching are all re-runs. I really am face-to-face with my new face. I think I’m going to like it.
7:00 am -- The redness in my face seems to be lessening. When I back away from the mirror, it’s not so obvious. The love affair with my neck continues.
8:00 am – As I watch TV while drinking my coffee, I continue to be obsessed with people’s frown lines. Jeff Bridges could use a laser treatment.
8:30 am – I’m online again. Should I save face or share my experience with the world? I think my face has already been saved. I am compelled to share my excitement. I’ll post the diary and continue the updates.