I'm 59...still, in 2 days I'll be 60, and, this is my 60th birthday present to myself.
I knew I was going to have a face lift one day, and last year I thought now is the time, so I started researching. I read many reviews and watched many Youtube videos. Thailand seemed like my best option in terms of reputation and expense. However, when contacting places like Destination Beauty and Cosmeditour, and after considering several doctors I always had the feeling that it might not be reliable or safe, although the reviews were always good. So, I decided to do it at home in Sydney. I did my research, picked a reputable surgeon and went for a consultation. Well, a face lift was just going to be way too expensive, around 30K all inclusive but only an estimate, which never means less. So, I settled on having just the lower eyelids done, day surgery under general anaesthetic and ended up paying 10K total after the hospital sent me another bill for $1000 extra because the doctor took longer than expected. Anyway, 6 months later my eye bags were looking much better except for more crows feet at the sides (see images), so then the neck and jowls were still hanging there.
I started researching Thailand again, knowing it was the only option unless I wanted to go with a cheaper, less experienced, accredited Sydney Doctor, who would charge 20K total. I came across Dr Chartchai's name here and in the Realself forums, and whenever his name came up people said he was highly regarded in the field, and is well known for the great work he does, and because of this he does charge more. I narrowed my research down to focussing just on him and was happy with what I found out. I decided this is my surgeon. I sent an email to the hospital with my photos and I also contacted Bodyline Patient Care - a company connected with Dr Chartchai. The quote came back as 420,000 bahts, which is roughly $19000 Australian, and so it was affordable, and I had the confidence I wanted in a surgeon. Janese of Bodyline Patient Care contacted me, and she led me through the whole procedure from start to finish. There was no need for me to think. She still rings me now. She's an Aussie and that does help.
Surgery took 7 hours I am told, they do a full health check before it (unlike in Sydney), all the staff at Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital were so nice. I had to shower with antiseptic cleanser before the operation (unlike in Sydney).The anaesthetist gave me gas to sleep before doing anything (unlike in Sydney where the needle was put into a vein in my hand while I was awake). After surgery I woke feeling very very drowsy and thirsty and couldn't talk. Janese was there to put a straw to my mouth and reassure me that all was good. Then I dosed off, woke up and Janese was there to spoon feed me some soup. I dosed off again and when I woke at 3 AM Janese was still there, and she told me she would go home now and come back later. At breakfast she was there, and by now I could sit up and eat some scrambled eggs (yummy) and juice. I didn't feel like any of the other food on the tray since it's not easy to eat, and this goes on for about 3 or 4 days, just soft foods. After the usual check ups through the day I had my shower (keeping head dry) and then at 2 pm I was discharged.
Janese took me to Starbucks for coffee and cake, and then we got a taxi to the hotel. The Windsor Hotel, executive suite, all booked through Bodyline was a real treat. I had a beautiful view from the 31st floor, access to the executive dining room on the 32nd floor which looks over Bangkok city, and this is where I had breakfast, evening drinks and snacks, all inclusive. I had a nurse, Marie, from Bodyline stay with me the first night to give me ice packs and make sure I was comfortable. Janese took me to breakfast the next morning. On the 4th day we went out shopping, and then the shopping and tourism part of the experience continued until I left Thailand 2 weeks after arriving. I had fun. Janese knows Thailand very well, having worked there for 15 years with Bodyline Patient Care.
Dr Chartchai turned out to be all I expected, and I think it's due to him and his skills that I am not in any discomfort and I can hardly tell where the scars are.
How did my family react when I told them I was getting a facelift in Bangkok? They were very supportive, and had no issues with medical tourism. My sister came over a week after my surgery, and also got a little work on her eye area. Dr Chartchai made time for her. My sister and I have concluded that the medical standards and care at major hospitals like Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital, are better than in Sydney. My huge private room with large screen TV and ensuite was more like a hotel room. It was also dead quiet and the nurses all have soft shoes and you don't hear them walking in.
Dr Chatchai is very busy, therefore consultations are short, and he doesn't show you before and after images of his patients because he doesn't have to. If you don't choose him he has enough patients already. He doesn't need to compete or advertise. His website provides useful information, but no before and after images. I was fine with this.
I am now 17 days post, and back home again, feeling good, although swollen and numb. I was always a little afraid of a facelift, but the lower eyelid surgery and recovery was worse in all ways. I can honestly say in my case there is nothing to having a facelift - no pain, hardly any discomfort so far, and my stay in Thailand was actually fun. I'm planning my next trip to Bangkok - a tummy tuck. I'll be using Dr Chartchai and Janese's services again.
Now, about medical tourism. I have read this and agreed with it at the time 'surgery and tourism should never be in the same sentence'. Now I know different.
I haven't seen many photos or read much about the holiday experience of medical tourism, so I've posted some images of my time there. Janese organised all our outings, and Marie, the nurse, came along too. When my sister and I went shopping with Marie as our guide, she insisted on carrying all our bags as we were her patients, and she patiently waited for us to choose clothes at MBK, and gave her advice on what to buy.