Done deal!

Decision day has come and gone, thank God! I’m scheduled for brachioplasty and breast lift with implants at Dr. Hartog’s office. Pre-op appointment is April 20th, surgery day is May 4th.

And now I take a vow of silence on plastic surgery for the month of February. I’m tired of hearing myself talk about it!

Thank you for all your listening/reading and feedback and input. This was a pretty stressful decision to make, but now it’s DONE! 🙂

Decision time!

I heard back from USF after leaving a voice mail from their scheduler this morning. She got a quote for using one surgery center, and another surgery center may actually cost less but she doesn’t have an answer back from them yet. I’ve attached their quote and Dr. Hartog’s quote in case you want to see them.

Hartog’s price $9,884 includes:

  • implants
  • board-certified plastic surgeon
  • local

USF’s price $7,142 includes:

  • no implants (they rebuild boobs using side and armpit fat they say)
  • surgical residents
  • about 2 hours from home

Let’s assume 4 trips to Tampa should be factored in: another pre-op visit, surgery day, and 2 post-op visits. Mapquest says with my vehicle’s miles per gallon that’s a $26.52 round trip. Let’s say $30 with tolls. So we’re talking $120 in transportation costs. That’s a revised Tampa cost of $7,262.

That’s a difference of $2,622.

Dr. Hartog’s price without the implants was $8647. So comparing apples to apples (or boobs to boobs?), USF is a savings of $1,385.

This comes down to implants guys. If I know I want implants, it makes sense to go to Hartog who will place them at the time of my lift and pump them up a week later through a tube, because I’m sure I’d spend more than $2,622 to get them placed later.

The question is whether I need implants if they can pump up my boobs with my own fat (assuming I have any left by the time I reach a weight of 155, which is what I estimate at the time of surgery. I’m already at 167.2 today).

I called Lee and he automatically leans toward Hartog because he has experience and he doesn’t want the “kids” (i.e. residents) working on me. He also thinks implants are worth $2,622. In his words, “do you want the V6 engine or the V8? When I bought my car you said get the GT. I’m saying get the GT.” But then he finished with, “Talk to your family and see what they think.”

You’re my blog family. What do you think?

Waaaah!

Today was the consult at the University of South Florida cosmetic surgery residency program. It was so cool. I felt like I was in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, for real! The doctors were young and talking really fast and there was even elevator awkwardness between some of them. It was awesome! 🙂

I had hoped to leave there today with the last bit of information I’d need to make a surgery decision. Unfortunately, they didn’t give me any price information at all. Their assistant is supposed to email me some time NEXT WEEK with pricing. When I said I needed price info, like, TOMORROW, she reacted that is a totally ludicris request.

Meanwhile, the deadline for the $500 incentive to book with Dr. Hartog by the end of January expires Friday.

What to do, what to do?

In the meantime, I’m acting like the freaking FBI command center faxing quotes back and forth between all the doctors I’ve seen. Nobody wants to meet or beat Hartog’s price. Dr. Marzek won’t place implants at the time of lift, so he would meet the price but couldn’t promise implants at a later surgery for the $1237 in addition it would cost for Hartog to do them now.

I want this over with! Tomorrow is supposed to be decision day. Major stress overload!!!

Where it stands part II

So today’s consult with Dr. Hartog went well. I was very glad to have my mom there, because she could ask questions he had answered for me already at the first consult–I didn’t want to ask again, but it did feel good to hear the answers clarified! She got no red flags from the doctor, facility, staff or anything else. Whew! Passed the mom test!

Since I had better questions this time, Dr. Hartog was able to explain more about the surgical techniques he’ll use to avoid things like flabby elbows and the like. He was honest that the arm and breast lifts probably won’t completely resolve my underarm skin (is that too much info for you?) but that he could do a second procedure under local anesthesia in the office if I needed it later. He explained that if I decide I want implants, they will be partially submuscular and partially over the muscle. His explanation made sense but I’m sure I couldn’t relay it properly.

After he left, I met again with the scheduler/financial person.  I said, “as you know, I was meeting with a number of doctors. I have one more consultation tomorrow, but I’m pretty sure it will come down to a decision between Dr. Hartog and Dr. Marzek in Tavares. Your prices are almost exactly the same–$11,042 here. I don’t know if this is possible, but what I’m hoping for is to get the total price below $10,000.”

And she replied, “uhhh… let me see if there’s a way to do that. I’ll be back in a minute.”

I think I took her off guard. People must not ask these questions too often, and it’s probably because Dr. Hartog really did already have the lowest price. But she came back and guess what? She increased the multiple procedure discount from 10% to 15% and increased the prepayment discount from 15% to 20%, leaving me with a total price for arms, breast lift, and implants at $9,884. That’s a savings of $1,162 just for asking! So, bottom line, I think plastic surgery prices are absolutely up for negotiation.

Now. In reality, Marzek said he would match Hartog’s price. If he does, I have no idea what I’ll do. Given all things being equal… gosh, I really don’t know! I liked Hartog. Mom likes Hartog. Hartog operated on people I know. Seems reasonable, no?

Now tomorrow I have a consult scheduled with the University of South Florida’s medical residency program. I called and the will combine breasts and arms, they perform the surgery in an outpatient surgery center, etc. I have a feeling this is going to be a massive waste of time driving 7 hours tomorrow round trip, but I have a difficult time making decisions without all the relevant information. If I don’t go, I’ll wonder if I could have had my arms and boobs done for, say, $7,500 or something. So I’m going to keep this appointment and see what happens. If nothing else, it’s a day road trip with my mom!

On implants: now that my mom has seen my goods and heard the doctor talk about implants, I asked what she thinks I should do. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the idea of fake boobs that I know will eventually need to be replaced. But on the other hand, I’m worried about being completely small if I do a lift by itself. Plus, doing the implant now is a cost difference of only $1,237. If I didn’t get them now and wanted them later, it would cost four times that much! Plus, Lee’s definitely pulling for the implants–he never counted on smallish boobies when he married me! So with all that in mind, my mom said, “I worry that you won’t like the results if you don’t get implants. You’ve worked way too hard over the last couple years to do something halfway. I think you’d be happier if you just get it done now.” I didn’t really expect that answer from her, but I think she’s right!  So, as of right now, I’m thinking implants.

We’re getting close. This is almost over. Decision day is right around the corner!

Where it stands

Today is my second appointment with Dr. Hartog who is, at this point, the most reasonably priced surgeon I’ve seen. He operated on a friend of mine so I have confidence in his skill, but I’m meeting with him today to ask very specific questions about my massive weight loss body type and my expectations and possible outcomes.

I’m deciding between this doctor and Dr. Marzek who will likely match Hartog’s price. So today I’ll also try to get Hartog to reduce his price as much as possible. We’ll see.

My mom is coming with me, and I think that’s a very good thing–she’ll get a vibe about this guy, she’ll get a feel for the office, and her instincts will help me decide. She’s good like that! 🙂

Also, I’m at 168.8 pounds suddenly. I’ve been in the 170’s since just after Thanksgiving, so this is a welcome change!

I’ll probably update after today’s appointment. And hopefully I’ll have a decision made, date booked, and deposit paid by Thursday!

One Year Out!

Today marks a year since my RNY. It seems like I’m supposed to do the obligatory “one year reflections” post, but with all the plastic surgery nonsense going on (plus school, plus work, plus the rest of my life) I haven’t had much time for reflection.

What I can say is that I’m so glad I did what I did when I did. I feel a million times better this year than I did last year.

I was reading back over my posts from January of last year, and it’s strange to look back on the roller coaster of emotions. I am so blessed and so grateful for the Cut & Paste Girls out there who’ve been through this entire journey with me (and even those of you who haven’t decided whether to have surgery yet!). You’re the ones who’ve been a part of the day-by-day challenges and struggles that are a part of this whole weight loss journey. Thanks for being there for me!

As for numbers, my highest weight was 364. I was 299 on the day of surgery. I’m 171 today.

Considering a goal weight of 145 (because it’s a “normal” BMI), I’ve lost 87.85% of my excess weight thus far. I have 26 pounds to reach goal.

But I feel like I’ve already won. I never expected gastric bypass to be a cure for life. I never expected it to cure my urge to overeat or to make things easy. It’s still tough. I still want to eat all day long. I still can. But what I did want from my RNY is to help me get through a huge chunk of weight so that I can wage this fight against fat in the 100’s.

So that’s where I am now. I’m still fighting, still working, still learning. But I’m doing it all in the 100’s, where my bones don’t ache.

I’d say that’s a victory!

Plastics Consult 5

Peace. Serenity. Calm.

That’s what I’m feeling today after meeting with Dr. Marzek.

His office felt like a doctor’s office. Not a spa, not a retreat, not a gallery of postmodern furniture. A plain old doctor’s office.

And Dr. Marzek felt like a doctor. Not a Ken doll, not a socialite, but a bona fide doctor. Complete with a hideous necktie.

I can’t really explain why, because I can’t say I’m sure this is the doctor that would give me the straightest, cleanest scars or the tightest result, but I feel very comfortable with him. He is perfectly fine with doing the brachioplasty and breast lift together. Doesn’t recommend implants since I have “an intact breast mound.” (That just cracks me up for some reason.)

After meeting with him for well over an hour, I was curious to see what his prices would be like. I thought he might come out somewhere in the middle of the quotes I’ve received, and I was right. His price was $11,333.75.

So I worked up my nerve and asked the financial coordinator, “I hope this isn’t totally inappropriate, but I liked Dr. Marzek very much. If it came down to choosing between him and another surgeon based on price, would it be possible for me to show you the other surgeon’s quote to see if we could work on Dr. Marzek’s price a little bit?” and I told her specifically which other surgeon I was thinking about.

She said, “Oh sure, we know him! Fax us his price and we’ll match it. I’ll have to show the doctor first, of course, but it shouldn’t be a problem.”

And I said, “Wonderful. I have two more consultations and should be in touch soon.” But I was really thinking, “WAHOOO!!! Experienced massive weight loss surgeon for a botox-factory-surgeon price! Cha-CHING!” Not that any of it is cheap, however.

So if I had to book right now, it would be with Dr. Marzek’s office. I just feel safe with him, and I feel like he understands my body as a massive weight loss patient and the results I’m looking for. He has operated on people like me, and he understands that I’m not the same as a skinny 20-year-old looking for breast implants in an otherwise perfect body.

And it’s also just something about him. He seems like a regular guy. I’m a regular girl. It’s only natural that he should chop my skin off. 🙂