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Friday, April 13, 2012

Docs & dollars

I spent a lot of time researching different docs & narrowed it down to three.  In particular, I most want a plastic surgeon who has a lot of experience with bariatric patients.  I think we are a special breed & pose challenges unique to extreme weight loss.  I want someone who knows what they are doing.  Also, I've had lipo before & I'd say I had mixed results.  Definitely lots of lumps that never really resolved.  Because of this, I am quite leery of the bargain basement doc.  This is also why I won't consider surgery outside of the US.  Quality really matters to me.  I do believe there is a lot of skill *and* art required in this.

In my head, I'm thinking I need a butt lift & a boob lift.  For the belly, I'm thinking reverse tummy tuck even though I know its not a common procedure & I have no idea what can be done about the squirrels.  Each doc got the same spiel from me & I was curious to see what each one would recommend.

Here are the results:

Doc #1:  Doc Hollywood
This doc was recommended by my band surgeon altho' my WLS guy referred me to his partner because Doc Hollywood is known to be pricey.  And he was - with good reason. He is probably the best ranked plastic surgeon in Denver, has a practice in LA and has celebrity clients.  He is older & very experienced.  Definitely got the artistic feel from this guy.  Pictures of his work were truly beautiful.

He told me that the butt was hard - no really great solutions for the butt (same story from all the docs).  He would do a lift & showed how the scars would carry around to the front to avoid "dog ears".  He grabbed a fist full of excess skin on the top of my butt & pulled up to give me an idea of what it would look like.  For my boobs, he would do a regular lift - suggested the implants but I talked him out of it.  He said I still have enough volume that I'd end up around a small C cup.  ah, music to my ears!  Then he would do a little lipo on top of the bigger breast to help even them out.  He could do the reverse tummy tuck in conjunction with the lift.  For the squirrels, he'd put the scar running up and down in my armpit & down my side a little bit.  He said he'd just "tuck up" the excess skin during the breast lift.

This doc does not have his own operating facilities.  I'd just go the hospital for surgery & then spend a nite or two there before heading home.  

Total price tag? $45,307
Practice fees came in at $30,400 & outside fees for hospital/anesthia came in at $14,907
Surgeon's fees broke down like this:
                      - butt lift $13,750
                      - breast lift $7,200
                      - reverse tummy tuck $5,500
compression garments, meds, blood tests & mammogram all required but not included in this number
Holy crap!!! hubs & I almost fell out of our chairs at this number!  This is way above my budget.  I toyed with idea of only doing my top half or bottom half but I think I would feel half finished (& annoyed) with this approach.

So, next I tried to fine something more affordable....
Doc #2:  The value option
This doc is not in Denver but out in Golden.  He has a pretty big practice with ~30-40% bariatric patients.  He's younger, energetic & more a go-getter.  However, his pictures really weren't that great.  Some of them looked more like a hack job.

He'd also do the butt lift, breast lift & reverse tummy tuck.  As for the flying squirrels, he won't do anything.  He said just go for zen acceptance of them.  ummm, not a great answer.

This doc does have his own operating facility at his office but no overnite care.  After the surgery, he recommended just checking into a hotel & hiring a nurse to come sit with me for a night or two.

Total price tag? $18,395
Practice fees came in at $16,945 & outside fees for anesthesia came in at $1,450
Surgeon's fees broke down like this:
                      - butt lift $7,200
                      - breast lift $4,400
                      - reverse tummy tuck $2,000
                      - operating room fee $3,235
compression garments included.  meds & blood tests, hotel & nurses fees not included in this numbe.
Holy comparison shopping, batman!! Worth the time to shop around a bit, eh?  This price was certainly more in line with my budget but no action on the squirrels wasn't great.  Plus, checking into a hotel after a 6-hour surgery kinds freaked me out.

So, I tried one more doc..
Doc #3: Baby bear
Older & more experienced like Doc Hollywood but not as flashy or as self-promoting.  More low key.  There are two major bariatric surgeons in town.  Doc Hollywood is tied to my WLS surgeon; Baby Bear is more closely tied to the other WLS surgeon so he sees lots of patients like me.  He does, however, have his own operating facilities like Doc #2.  Also, his office is right next to the hospital.  So I don't have to pay hospital OR fees but after surgery, they just wheel the gurney across the street & I spend a nite at the hospital for recovery.

Like all the docs, he said butt was hard.  He would take out about 8-10" of excess skin across the back to lift the butt.  He could also do the reverse tummy tuck but said I wouldn't be happy with it because the scar would cross the midline & I might not be able to wear v-necks anymore.  (yikes! this is my go-to shirt style).  He then suggested a full lower body lift, rather then just a butt lift, and doing a full tummy tuck in front.  To remove 8-10inches of skin in back would require the scars to come around all the way to the front so why not just go another 4inches and connect the whole thing?  He did commit that a full tummy tuck would address my loose skin issues in front.   He would do a breast lift - tried to upsell me on implants (this guy had several different sized implants laying around his office.  naturally, my hubs picked up the biggest one to play with.  I got an eyebrow waggle from him & he got an eye roll back from me).  As for the squirrels, he recommended extending the breast lift around my sides & onto my back.  Basically, a partial upper body lift.  He's done this before & showed me the pictures.  Definitely have scars but they would just be hidden under a bra band or bikini.  

(he priced out two options: butt lift & reverse tummy tuck vs. full low body lift.  first option was actually more expensive so this is for the LBL:)
Total price tag? $20,599
Practice fees came in at $19,599 & outside fees for anesthesia came in at $1,000
Surgeon's fees broke down like this:
                      - full low body lift $13,100
                      - breast lift with lateral excision $4,200
                      - compression garment $100
                      - operating room fee $2,500
                      - hospital stay $699
Blood work, meds are not included.  Pricier than I expected when I started but still reasonable. 

So, what do you think?  Which doc would you choose?



MandaPanda said...

I'm guessing you named the third surgeon "baby bear" because he seemed "just right." If that's the case, I agree with you. Sounds like he's got a pretty balanced approach. While I agree with not bargain shopping, that first guy is just crazy expensive! The second surgeon I would say no just because you didn't like his pictures. You would think the examples he would show a potential patient would be the very best sample of his work. If this is his best, I wouldn't be impressed. Just my 2 cents. Thanks again so much for posting this type of's so helpful!!!

Andrea said...

Thanks for sharing this info!

Wow, that is definitely a lot to consider. I would think #3 would be the best choice, but there is definitely a lot to think about! I'm sure you'll make the best choice for you!

vickyd said...

Good info...I agree with the others that #3 seems to have a more balanced approach. I'm interested to see what you choose and to hear about your journey...