on the surface of things – things to consider before a laser peel

in the not always amusing soap-opera-tragicomedy that is my life, i get home last night, decide to be my own jewish mama and make myself some chicken soup to help get over this respiratory infection. i throw in whatever ingredients i can find, including a chili from which i’m careful to remove the seeds. 

then i decide to remove my contact lenses.

AAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH! 

it was obviously not just my skin which got damaged this past week – my brain must have sustained some damage as well! this morning i eventually have to throw the lenses out after several attempts to clean them fail (which i of course only discover each time i try to put them in my eyes!)

i try to have an early night, but the moon is full and my dog, chai will not stop barking. in the early hours of the morning i finally get up and muzzle him so i can get some sleep.

anyway, it feels like i’m finally surfacing from 10 different layers of hell. 

it’s obvious to me that there’s a reason why shows like dr 90210 are edited the way they are. they show you a little before, during, immediately after and then 6 weeks or so later when the patient has had ample time to recover and forget about the painful aftermath of whatever procedure they’ve undergone.

one week later, it’s still way too soon for me to say whether this process was worth it. right now i definitely look worse than before. besides the very raw looking reddish-pink around my eyes, my normally fairly smooth skin-tone is blotchy, hyper-pigmented and criss-crossed with hash marks. my eye-lids are still swollen and my fore-head under the lights looks serrated and my profile looks curiously wide and flat. even though i normally don’t wear foundation unless for work, there is no way that i can walk around like this. most people at work have only seen me once my make-up’s been done and one of them said, “what’s the big deal?” this morning he sees me on my way into the make-up room and all he can do is say, “shit!”, shake his head and say it again, “SHIT!”.

for now, based on my experience, here’s what i can advise anyone else thinking of getting a micro-laser peel or periorbital laser resurfacing:

  • 1. be absolutely certain you know what you’re letting yourself in for.
  • 2. ask as many questions as you can think of.
  • 3. be prepared for anything.
  • 4. a laser peel is different from a tca peel. it’s deeper, and takes more recovery time.
  • 5. it’s going to hurt more than you think it will.
  • 6. you’ll get over it…
  • 7. … if you give yourself enough time to recover. i’d suggest at least a full week.
  • 8. if your job, as does mine, entails being under studio lights, know that every little irregularity will be magnified. give yourself twice as much recovery time.
  • 9. have someone who can drive you to and from the procedure, to post-op visits, pick up prescriptions and just generally take care of you.
  • 10. do not do this procedure unless you’re 100% healthy. the recovery places huge stress on your immune system, so make sure it’s entirely up to par.
  • 11. don’t pick! do not touch your face unless it’s absolutely necessary and then only as little as possible.
  • 12. did i mention it before? DO NOT PICK  AT YOUR FACE! if you do, you will regret it.
  • 2 MONTHS POST-PEEL, EDITED TO INCLUDE: 13.  if you’re bi-racial, or have an olive skin-tone, think seriously before doing this procedure and ask your doctor if it’s advisable. i’m beginning to think it’s not.
in make up 1 week after periorbital resurfacing

in make up 1 week after periorbital resurfacing

 

by next week when the swelling has gone down totally, when i’m over my respiratory infection and hopefully when my skin-tone evens out,  i might have a better idea about how i feel about this. 

for now i’ll hold off judgement on whether i think it was worth it.

what was that saying about beauty being skin-deep?

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modern day torture – suffering for beauty – day I

city of angels 2000

city of angels 2000

8 years ago when i’d just done an episode of nypd blue and got a recurring role on city of angels with blair underwood, i wrote the following:

hollywood knives               08.10.00 a.k.a. methinks the lady doth protest too much

i’m 30-plus

yet i haven’t been snipped

or nipped and tucked

so i think it sucks

that i’m being compared

to others who’ve had

their everything

liposuctioned,

lifted and sculpted.

it seems that this is

what our culture

requires of me.

yeah, i have looked in

the mirror

and i know what i see.

 

i think i look

perfectly presentable au natural.

hell, i’ve got good genes,

even my denims fit well.

yet it seems

“by any means necessary”

is now the rule

(i’m telling you malcolm

would stew in his grave

if he knew).

are we all fools?!

these days skin is stretched so thin

that skin-deep takes on

a whole new meaning.

we want to live till methuselah

but still look twelve;

“oh is that a line? i think i’ll skip lunch

and get my dermis dissolved!”

 

i really hope this insanity isn’t lasting.

if you offered me a flawless future

with forever youth,

truth is i’d never say never,

yet i can’t conceive that i’d accept

and though these avowals may not hold fast,

right now i do like to believe…

i’d take the past.

okay, so the day has come. my avowals have not held fast.

now, being a woman of “a certain age”, i’ve been getting more and more concerned about what i see on the monitor at the studio every day; my hereditary puffy eye-lids getting puffier and the troughs below my eyes (what one of the other actors calls his “gucci bags”) getting deeper and deeper.

i’m certainly by no means ready to go under the knife (though i have to admit that watching dr. 90210 is desensitizing – makes elective surgery seem almost normal), but i’ve been speaking to dr. CENSORED of the CENSORED for a while now about non-surgical alternatives. his clients include CENSORED and CENSORED. i had 2 tca peels previously, done by rachel moayer out of dr celia brown’s office in woodland hills, california, but i’ve never considered a laser peel before. dr CENSORED tells me that periorbital laser resurfacing will make a difference to the area around my eyes without having to go under the knife. the only problem is that i need 4 consecutive  days off of work and at the moment i am working all the time.

i mention this to the production manager at work and she finally works out the schedule so that i have friday through monday off. only problem is that i’ve already signed up to run a 10k on the saturday morning and have a fire performance i’ve agreed to do saturday night for a friend, wanda shuenyane of vwv so i decide not to do it. wednesday i wake up with the worst sore throat and realize that i have the flu. i’m so bummed because it means i won’t be able to run my 10k. i’ve been preparing for so long and i can’t wait to get it behind me. i realize though that this frees me up to get the laser procedure. i call up dr. CENSORED and he agrees to keep the office open late on thursday evening to accommodate my schedule.

i get there around 5.30p.m. after i finish at the studio. it’s all happening so fast. i’m given some numbing cream to put around my eyes while i wait in the very stylish waiting room. when i go in to consult with dr. CENSORED, we decide to laser my whole face, but do more intensive treatment around my eyes. it’s all happened so fast that i’ve forgotten to bring my glasses even though i’d thought about it the night before. i remove my contact lenses and next thing i’m on the table. i have no idea what to expect. the assistant places some black-out lenses in my eyes in order to protect them from the laser and all goes dark.

CENSORED informs me that he’s going to give me a number of injections in order to numb my face. there are 8 in total and they hurt like a mother. little do i know what’s coming.

CENSORED fires up the laser and i can’t believe how painful it is. i ask him how much of this i’m supposed to feel and he says it’s normal to feel something. however, this is not just “something”. i feel as if i’m being branded with each pass of the laser. my face is immobilised, my lips feel like sausages, but still i am feeling every second of this procedure. i feel like a zombie – one of the living dead. like i’m paralyzed, yet i can feel everything. i have a pretty high pain threshold, so i grit my teeth and i bear it. i try yoga-breathing, i visualize melting into the table in order to make me relax, but eventually my body will no longer obey my mind and i start trembling uncontrollably.  they stop the procedure for a few minutes in order to allow me to recover. i only discover afterwards that this is not normal. when we finish, the assistant discovers a few spots which have not been done. the black-out lenses are already out, but we have to go back and do a few more passes.

my face is on fire and i’m barely keeping it together. the assistant is fantastic. she gets me some coffee with sugar and helps me get my lenses back in. apparently the norm is that people have someone bring them to the office and  drive them home. that way they can have a sedative in order to ease the process, but with my time constraints, this wasn’t possible.

i finally get myself together enough to drive home, declining the nursing assistant’s offer to drop me off.on the way home though, i find i cannot blink my eye-lids which means that my lenses constantly blur and i have to reach up and pull my eye-lids down to manually blink my eyes while i drive. i’m miserable.

i manage to get in just enough food in order to take the antibiotic for my flu and the painkillers and 1/2 sleeping tablet from dr. CENSORED. i’m in bed by 9.30 and sleep on a pile of pillows as instructed. i wake at 2a.m. and take the other 1/2 dormicum which keeps me asleep till about 6. my face is puffy and striated like a maori tattoo.

i get in some yoghurt post haste so i can take my meds. i can’t wait for the painkillers to kick in.

i can’t believe i CHOSE to do this!

i’m miserable!

@%$^%  ($%$#  #@%$$&^ $#%$#!!!!!!!!

(to be continued)