Author Topic: Stephanie's Adventures With FFS - FacialTeam  (Read 406 times)

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Online Steph2.0

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Stephanie's Adventures With FFS - FacialTeam
« on: November 14, 2018, 11:14:14 am »
Introduction

I had considered writing about this in my personal thread, but the audience is limited. This seems like the right place.

When I first started transitioning in June 2017, I vowed to let HRT do its thing in regards to facial feminization and breast growth before I did anything more radical. My timeline was about three years, and I didn't anticipate even going full time for at least 18 months or more. Well, one thing led to another, and here I am, 17 months later. I've been full-time well over a year, and feeling like most of the social transitioning is finished. Some time around early summer I started wondering whether I was limiting myself by not doing something about this face. My dear friend @Kendra came back from FacialTeam and looked amazing. I decided it wouldn't hurt to at least do a consultation and get a quote to see what was recommended and what the costs might be. So this thread will be where I post what I've already done, and when I get caught up, will chronicle the process as it unfolds. I'll try to keep each entry short, unlike my personal thread, where I tend to write novelettes.

Stephanie
« Last Edit: November 14, 2018, 03:15:56 pm by Steph2.0 »


Assigned male at birth 1958 * Began envying sister 1963 * Knew unquestioningly that I was female 1968 * Acted the male part for 50 years * Meltdown and first therapist session May 2017 * Began HRT 6/21/17 * Out to the world 10/13/17 * Name Change 12/7/2017 (Girl Harbor Day) * FFS With FacialTeam 12/4/2018 * GCS with Marci Bowers 9/25/2019

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Re: Stephanie's Adventures With FFS - FacialTeam
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2018, 11:44:56 am »
First Consultation Dr. Mardirossian

I had a visit from sister pilot @Dani , and we talked about all kinds of things, one of which was FFS. She recommended Dr. Mardirossian in Jupiter, FL. Since I'd had no idea where to begin, I was pleased to get a personal recommendation. I set up an appointment with the clinic for June 22nd (one year and one day after starting HRT).

His staff was awesome, and Dr. Mardirossian was very nice, and took his time examining me and explaining his recommendations and methods, despite us being late for the appointment.

I was relieved and gratified that he believed that my underlying bone structure was already quite feminine, and I didn't require anything but soft tissue work - and hair grafts to feminize the hairline, which is by far the most dysphoria-inducing problem I need to address.

He recommended hair grafts, scalp advancement/eyebrow lift, rhinoplasty, lip lift with augmentation, and facelift and necklift.

Meeting with the doctor was a thoroughly good experience, and he seemed very professional and trustworthy. I was favorably impressed.

Then I got the quote. Everything totaled about $42,000, with no real aftercare. I had complete confidence he'd do a good job, but I owed it to myself to do some more research.

I really have nothing bad to say about Dr. Mardirossian. It's probably just his location, in a very affluent part of Florida, just north of West Palm Beach, that allows him to charge such prices. It's just too far above my pay grade, since insurance won't pay a penny of it.

So it was time to look at other options...

Stephanie
« Last Edit: November 14, 2018, 03:16:36 pm by Steph2.0 »


Assigned male at birth 1958 * Began envying sister 1963 * Knew unquestioningly that I was female 1968 * Acted the male part for 50 years * Meltdown and first therapist session May 2017 * Began HRT 6/21/17 * Out to the world 10/13/17 * Name Change 12/7/2017 (Girl Harbor Day) * FFS With FacialTeam 12/4/2018 * GCS with Marci Bowers 9/25/2019

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Re: Stephanie's Adventures With FFS - FacialTeam
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2018, 02:35:24 pm »
Stephanie, this thread works well as a separate chapter of your transition that we can all visit.
Thank you, it will give an idea of progression that is needed to many.

Hugs, Jess

"If you go out looking for friends, you are going to find they are very scarce.  If you go out to be a friend, you'll find them everywhere."

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Re: Stephanie's Adventures With FFS - FacialTeam
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2018, 03:12:20 pm »
Consultations With FacialTeam

My awesome friend @Kendra had gone to FacialTeam in Spain in late Spring, and had very invasive work done. I saw her in Denver about three months later and she was just gorgeous, with no signs of swelling or bruising. She had nothing but glowing reports about FacialTeam. She graciously shared details, and I couldn't argue with the results or the recommendation, so I contacted them to set up a video consultation.

On August 30th I had a consultation with Dr. Gutiérrez. It went very well, and his conclusions were very much as Dr. Mardirossian's were. The consultation was great and I felt confident we were on the right track.

On September 11th I had a video consultation with Dr. Alcaide, the hair transplant specialist. The results are mixed. He plans to do the FUSS (strip) procedure, but isn't sure he can get enough follicles to fully fill in the corners. Also, he can't do much about the thinning, since apparently putting implants were there is already hair, even sparse, will kill the existing follicles. The biggest difference between FT and the other doctor is they don't believe in scalp advancement, and back it up with evidence that in most cases, female hairlines are actually higher in the center than male. Filling in the corners is all they say I need. He recommended working on the corners and using other methods, such as Finasteride (already doing that), Platelet Rich Plasma injections, and laser helmets (they say both work) to treat the thinning areas. It was a good consultation.

They told me that the face and neck lifts I'd like to get done were incompatible with the hair grafts, and I need to wait 6 months to get those done. Nevertheless, we set up a consultation with a plastic surgeon in their area to get their recommendation. I had that one with Dr. Kaye at Ocean Clinic on September 12th. No big surprises there, but because of the cost of going back to Spain and the fact that I had another 6 months to sort it out, I deferred any decision on that until I have a chance to get some quotes here in the US. They are such common procedures I think it might work out better here.

Finally, on November 6th, I had a video consultation with Dr. Bellinga, the rhinoplasty specialist. No big surprises there, either. We talked about what I wanted, and I kind of put it back on him as the expert in facial feminization. He said many decision are made in the operating theater anyway, since the rhinoplasty is the last thing they do, to harmonize with any other changes made. I liked what I heard with him, too, and am satisfied with the direction this is all going.

Back on September 28th I transferred the deposit, and on November 13th I transferred the balance. Surgery is on December 4th. I'm committed!

Stephanie


Assigned male at birth 1958 * Began envying sister 1963 * Knew unquestioningly that I was female 1968 * Acted the male part for 50 years * Meltdown and first therapist session May 2017 * Began HRT 6/21/17 * Out to the world 10/13/17 * Name Change 12/7/2017 (Girl Harbor Day) * FFS With FacialTeam 12/4/2018 * GCS with Marci Bowers 9/25/2019

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Re: Stephanie's Adventures With FFS - FacialTeam
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2018, 03:14:20 pm »
Stephanie, this thread works well as a separate chapter of your transition that we can all visit.
Thank you, it will give an idea of progression that is needed to many.

Hugs, Jess

Thanks, Jess! There are social aspects of this trip that I'll post in my personal thread, but I'll use this one for the technical stuff. I'm glad you think it'll be helpful.

Stephanie


Assigned male at birth 1958 * Began envying sister 1963 * Knew unquestioningly that I was female 1968 * Acted the male part for 50 years * Meltdown and first therapist session May 2017 * Began HRT 6/21/17 * Out to the world 10/13/17 * Name Change 12/7/2017 (Girl Harbor Day) * FFS With FacialTeam 12/4/2018 * GCS with Marci Bowers 9/25/2019

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Re: Stephanie's Adventures With FFS - FacialTeam
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2018, 10:17:50 pm »
Working with FacialTeam

I got the process started with FacialTeam in early July by visiting their website and filling out a form requesting a video consultation. I could also have gone to New York City for a face to face consultation, since they occasionally take their show on the road to various cities around the world. I figured I would be able to get a video consultation sooner, and save the travel expenses as well. As it turned out, my scheduled consultations ended up later than the New York visit, but I still saved all that money.

Shortly after I sent the request I received an email from Carmen Benitez, a patient coordinator there. I worked with Carmen as we set dates for the consultations and worked through any questions I might have during that process. She was great.

Once the consultations were over I was sent a written assessment with the doctor's recommendations and a quote. At this point I was assigned Laura Benitez to help me through the decision process. She acted as my liaison with the doctors and quickly answered any questions I had. We worked out exactly what procedures I wanted done, and I sent in the deposit, a copy of my passport, and a recommendation letter from my doctor. Laura was also a joy to work with.

With my deposit received, I was handed off to Isabel Osuna, who will be working with me from here on out. She is handling the technical aspects, requesting the specific blood tests required, helping me manage which of my medications I need to stop using before the procedures, and generally guiding me through the pre-op preparation.

FacialTeam is in Marbella Spain, and has an agreement with a resort hotel near their facilities. They make all the arrangements for your recovery in a room with full board at the Gran Hotel Guadalpin Banus, which is right on the Mediterranean Sea. After spending one night in the hospital, I'll be staying at the hotel for 10 days. On the tenth day I get the stitches out, and am free to head home. They send a car to pick you up from the airport, run you back and forth between the hotel and their clinic, and take you back to the airport. They've got it all figured out, and if everything goes to plan, I don't have to worry about anything but healing.

So far everyone at FacialTeam has been great to work with. If things go as smoothly when I get there as they have so far, it's going to be a pretty good experience. Well, except for the pain, of course...

Stephanie


Assigned male at birth 1958 * Began envying sister 1963 * Knew unquestioningly that I was female 1968 * Acted the male part for 50 years * Meltdown and first therapist session May 2017 * Began HRT 6/21/17 * Out to the world 10/13/17 * Name Change 12/7/2017 (Girl Harbor Day) * FFS With FacialTeam 12/4/2018 * GCS with Marci Bowers 9/25/2019

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Re: Stephanie's Adventures With FFS - FacialTeam
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2018, 04:02:35 am »
Getting There

To save expenses, I planned to do the trip alone. @Kendra, being an experienced traveler, gave me lots of good tips, and I started looking into flights to Spain. Then she hit me with some awesome news. She had been planning to go back to FacialTeam some time next year to get “after” pictures taken, but had decided to push that up, and was going to meet me there.

One thing led to another, and we found that it was much much less expensive to fly into a major European hub airport, then travel within Europe,  than it was to fly direct to Málaga/Marbella. The details are in my “Chronicles” thread, but the end result was we flew into Charles DeGaulle airport in Paris and met up there, spent a few days in an AirBNB, flew to Madrid and spent one night there, then took the high-speed train through Córdoba to Malaga. Doing it that way saved me almost $600 in travel expenses, and let me see places and do things I’d never imagined I’d ever get to do. I’ve lived a frugal, sheltered life...

We checked into the Gran Hotel Guadalpin Banus hotel, about 1/4 mile from HC Hospital where FacialTeam is based, on December 2nd. Next day would be my first face-to-face meetings with the staff at FacialTeam.


Stephanie


Assigned male at birth 1958 * Began envying sister 1963 * Knew unquestioningly that I was female 1968 * Acted the male part for 50 years * Meltdown and first therapist session May 2017 * Began HRT 6/21/17 * Out to the world 10/13/17 * Name Change 12/7/2017 (Girl Harbor Day) * FFS With FacialTeam 12/4/2018 * GCS with Marci Bowers 9/25/2019

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Re: Stephanie's Adventures With FFS - FacialTeam
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2018, 04:26:17 am »
Pre-Op Consultations

FacialTeam contracts with a local taxi service to transport their patients from/to airports and from/to their hotels, but Kendra had rented a car, so we drove the 2 minutes to HC Hospital. I met up with Isabel Osuna and we went over the procedures and signed the final paperwork. We met with Maria, who took blood samples, gave me a shot of blood thinner at the waistline (owwww!!), and a took an electrocardiogram. She dropped me off with another nurse, who took a nice picture of my skull with a CT scanner, and I was turned back over to Isabel.

She took lots of pictures, then used a special super-duper camera to create a 3D image on her computer. A bit more paperwork, and I was free for the morning. I was seriously ready to break my fast that I’d had to do for the blood work. Back to the hotel.

Kendra took the car for her own adventures, so at 11:45 FacialTeam sent their driver to pick me up. But I couldn’t find him. I texted Isabel (they like to use WhatsApp) and I eventually found out that their driver isn’t allowed within 100 meters of the hotel due to taxi regulations in Spain. He was way down the street. I eventually found him, and was on my way to my appointment with Dr. Bellinga, the rhinoplasty specialist.

He studied all the whiz-bang pictures we’d taken yesterday, pushed here and tugged there, and came up with a plan, drawing it all out for reference the next day. The idea was to bring the nose in closer to the face, change the angle, give the upper nose a slight arc, narrow it down, and reduce the bulbousness of the tip. He also covered the lip lift procedure, deciding to remove 5mm under the nose. Both the rhinoplasty and the lip lift would be done with the same incision under the nostrils, and would be nearly undetectable after it healed. Finally, he outlined the upper blepharoplasty procedure. It all sounded wonderful to me, and after a few more details with Isabel, we were wrapped up for the day.

Isabel introduced me to @Paula1, who was just finishing up her visit here. We hung out together for the afternoon, then the three of us went out on the town for my last fling with my old face. Tomorrow was the big day.


Stephanie


Assigned male at birth 1958 * Began envying sister 1963 * Knew unquestioningly that I was female 1968 * Acted the male part for 50 years * Meltdown and first therapist session May 2017 * Began HRT 6/21/17 * Out to the world 10/13/17 * Name Change 12/7/2017 (Girl Harbor Day) * FFS With FacialTeam 12/4/2018 * GCS with Marci Bowers 9/25/2019

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Stephanie's Adventures With FFS - FacialTeam
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2018, 05:37:52 am »
And Here We Go

At 8:15 Kendra rode with me back to HC Hospital in the FacialTeam cab. She’d walk back to the hotel after I was in surgery.

At 8:30 I checked in with Isabel, she showed me to my room, and I got undressed and put on the stylish blue paper gown. They checked whether the temperature in the room was okay, but I should have had them turn it down to 15C, because I worked up a sweat getting into the cute but really tight compression stockings they make you wear. As @SassyCassie put it, “They don’t want want you playing the thrombone in the operating room.”



At 9:00 the hair transplant specialist came in (I’m embarrassed that I didn’t write down her name) and drew a treasure map on my head.





With hugs all around, I was put into bed and rolled down the hall. We managed to avoid a major collision with a cleaning cart on the first chicane.



Into the operating theater, a needle in the back of the hand, a pushed plunger, and nighty night.

I heard someone calling my name after what I’ve been told was seven hours. I was tilted up at what I think was about 45 degrees, and I was shaking uncontrollably. I don’t remember being cold but it took a long time to stop shaking. Eventually things calmed down, and I experienced what Kendra told me she had when she’d had her procedure done. Simultaneously, as there seemed to be no time passing, I was thinking, “this is taking forever!” I was in a twilight state, and could feel the two doctors pushing things into my skin, but only occasionally could I feel a slight sting. It was much less painful than hair removal. The only real pain was coming from the back of my head, and I wished they’d bring me a pillow so my head wasn’t resting against a burning line across the back. It was, of course, the area they’d sutured together after removing the strip of scalp for the donor follicles.

After an eternity of no time passing, the movement stopped, the lights dimmed, and I started waking up. I helped as best I could to move from the operating table to my wheeled bed, and off we went to brave the dangers of the hallways back to my room again.

The back of my head burned, it was hard to close my eyes, and my nose was completely stuffed up, and numb as a block of wood. I tried to arrange the pillow and the angle of the bed so I wouldn’t rest on the incision, but not a lot helped. They connected a feeder line to me, made me as comfortable as possible, and let me be for a bit. I took a picture as soon as I could work a phone.





Kendra showed up and kept me company, and a little later they came in and started a painkiller drip - paracetamol, as it turned out. It also turned out that I’m apparently allergic to it. I got very sick - cold sweats, shakes, nausea, panting. Kendra called the nurse and they came in and stopped the drip. It took a while, but I finally got calmed down, and they resorted to just ibuprofen for the pain. Good enough. The reaction was much worse than the pain, so no more of the paracetamol, please.

As I dozed the rest of the afternoon, various doctors stopped by to see how I was doing, and finally about 9:00pm they brought me something to drink, followed at 9:30 with dinner, which I was able to eat all of. Kendra thought it was funny that after all I’d been through that day, my biggest complaint is that they’d brought me unflavored yogurt. Bleh. Still, I was ready for food and coffee!





After Kendra made sure I was doing okay, she headed back to the hotel to get dinner before the restaurant closed at 11:00pm. I did a little online communication and after some eye drops and a sleeping pill, had them dim the lights. That was enough for one day.


Stephanie


Assigned male at birth 1958 * Began envying sister 1963 * Knew unquestioningly that I was female 1968 * Acted the male part for 50 years * Meltdown and first therapist session May 2017 * Began HRT 6/21/17 * Out to the world 10/13/17 * Name Change 12/7/2017 (Girl Harbor Day) * FFS With FacialTeam 12/4/2018 * GCS with Marci Bowers 9/25/2019

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