This is part 3 of My Bariatric Life plastic surgery with Dr. Joseph F. Capella, Capella Plastic Surgery, Ramsey NJ.
My Plastic Surgery with Dr. Capella
Thinking back across the months leading up to my body contouring plastic surgery, I’d had many consults with Dr. Capella, one of the country’s leading bariatric plastic surgeons, to fully understand what my plastic surgery results versus what my permanent scars would look like. At that point in time, I had not been so concerned with the pain of recovery or the cost associated with post-bariatric body contouring. The scars were the biggest decision-point for me – was I willing to trade off some excess skin and cellulite for permanent scarring?
Everything became very surreal from the moment I got into my escort’s van to head to the plastic surgery center at Hackensack University Medical Center. This dream-like state did not end until I went under from the anesthesia.
I remember asking Dr. Capella, “Why do you have to cut me so much?” I asked if he could do short incision arm lift and thigh lift, and breast implants without the breast lift. Dr. Capella said that he could but that I would not like my results. He had then pulled my skin to show me how my body and face results would look tightened and it was a major improvement. Dr. Capella showed me where my incisions would be and pointed to my old gastric bypass scar. He said that over time my incisions would look like that, thin and white. It was at that consult that it became crystal clear to me what I wanted to do. I wanted to go all in, and signed the paperwork before leaving Capella Plastic Surgery that day. That was three months before my actual day of body contouring plastic surgery.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the O.R.
I awoke very early that morning of my surgery, at peace, following the emotional rollercoaster I’d been on all the while. Everything became very surreal from the moment I got into my escort’s van to head to the plastic surgery center at Hackensack University Medical Center. This dream-like state did not end until I went under from the anesthesia.
At the hospital, I vividly recall Dr. Capella’s bright and smiling face peeking in at me from the door of my patient room. Dr. Capella gave me the biggest hellooo of my life. As for me, I was in a half-conscious state of mind and numb to the people and events around me. This was, I believe, a defense mechanism of the ego to protect myself from anxiety. At this point I recall barely the details of what Dr. Capella said during my markup session even though he took extra time to explain to me all he was going to do. I do, however recall, how unbecoming it was to stand right in front of Dr. Capella and have the intake nurse remove my gown and robe. Then to stand fully nude in this little closet of a room while Dr. Capella did my markup in front of the nurse and his physician’s assistant.
I felt like a princess with her ladies in waiting walking into a gala rather than into an operating room with my surgical nurses.
After the markup was completed, I was escorted by the intake nurse to the O.R. nurses who were to assist Dr. Capella in my bariatric plastic surgery. I think there were four nurses in all who surrounded me. They chatted away excitedly and I was the complete center of attention. Truly, it was surreal. I felt like a princess with her ladies in waiting walking into a gala rather than into an operating room with my surgical nurses.
That’s When Things Got Really Weird
I remember walking through the double doors into the O.R. The nurses seemed to disappear from my side and to their stations without a word. I appeared to stand there alone and lost in the shuffle. I felt like a stranger in a strange land. I surveyed the room, wanting to take in everything and remember this momentous experience. First I saw a huge surgical team milling about, preparing things, as if readying to give the performance of their careers. It was overwhelming to realize that all of these people were operating on me in some capacity.
Then my eyes came upon Dr. Capella. He had a tiny cloth spread on the floor before him, and was doing some odd bending at the knees and stomping of his feet. These gestures provoked my anxiety even more, because I suddenly felt like he was King Kong pouncing in anticipation for his sacrificial offering. I knew he was waiting there for me. I was to stand fully nude on that tiny cloth and be washed in a Betadine solution by Dr. Capella and his physician’s assistant, as I’d previously done for my tummy tuck some six-months earlier.
It was a dream-like mood, and indeed I felt like the virgin being offered to the god. It was a surreal mix of fact and fantasy.
The sight of Dr. Capella in his scrubs always has scared me. I think this is because it is then that the plastic surgery becomes very real for me. During our many consults, Dr. Capella always wore a shirt and tie like any male colleague at my office. We’d had many enjoyable conversations and I’d gotten to know him more than the typical patient would. I would even call him a “friend.” But when he is in his scrubs, I know it is serious business. My life is in Dr. Capella’s hands from that point on. That is a tremendous responsibility for someone to hold and it makes me quiver.
But just before I could break into tears, the intake nurse came out of nowhere and took me by the arm. She did not speak a word, but waved her arm toward Dr. Capella. And this man whom I trusted with my life, whom I had come to know and admire, well, as the nurse led me to Dr. Capella I could not even look at him. I kept my eyes to the floor even as she placed me in front of him and disrobed me once again. It was a dream-like mood, and indeed I felt like the virgin being offered to the god. It was a surreal mix of fact and fantasy.
Everything seemed in slow motion and fast motion at the same time. I lifted my eyes from the floor just in time to see Dr. Capella dash to my side. It was so swift that I saw a blur of movement trail behind him, just as one would see in a cartoon. Then Dr. Capella’s physician’s assistant (P.A.) called to me, “I’m sorry, Cheryl, it’s not going to be as warm this time.” He recalled how cold I had been for my tummy tuck and that he’d told me the Betadine would warm me. However, rather than paint the wash on me as he’d done last time, the P.A. seemed to throw it on me from a bucket, and I turned my head to avoid getting it into my eyes. Both Dr. Capella and his physician’s assistant swiftly painted me with Betadine.
I was beginning to feel anxious when the P.A. broke the silence and asked how I felt? That was very considerate of him, and exactly what I needed to distract me from the operating table behind me, and what was about to happen: My 7-hour plastic surgery.
It seemed so strange, this was all in a day’s work for the entire surgical team but for me, it was something never again to be repeated in my lifetime.
When the wash was done, Dr. Capella had me walk backwards towards the operating table as he held my hands in front of my body. He did not want me to touch the sterile table, and he and his physician’s assistant helped me climb onto it and get into the supine position. The surgical team seemed to be double timing it: Nurses were putting surgical socks and leg compression devices on me, while the anesthesiologist was setting up my IV, as the nurse who stood beside me called for a blanket, which my P.A. laid upon me and then kindly placed his hand upon my chest to comfort me. It was a very caring gesture and later I would wonder if he knew reiki. As he stood over me at the head of the table, I looked up and waved, to which he giggled.
I awoke on the operating table, and witnessed Dr. Capella and his physician’s assistant wave and say good bye as they exited the O.R. It felt as though I’d just witnessed the magician and his assistant exit stage left.
It seemed so strange, this was all in a day’s work for the entire surgical team but for me, it was something never again to be repeated in my lifetime. Yes, I was a stranger in a strange land. I took one last look around the OR and saw Dr. Capella looking at a computer screen and the P.A. sitting upon a stool by that time. Then I grabbed the nurse’s hand, we exchanged a few words, and I was out.
Waking Up after Plastic Surgery
I felt as if only moments had passed but I had been out for six hours and twenty minutes. I awoke on the operating table, and witnessed Dr. Capella and his physician’s assistant wave and say good bye as they exited the O.R. It felt as though I’d just witnessed the magician and his assistant exit stage left.
Later Dr. Capella would tell me that I had been awake and had spoken with him after my body lift. I’d asked what time it was, and how everything went. And I’d told the anesthesiologist that it was good that he did not kill me — I have a fear of anesthesia and have a ritual of telling the anesthesiologist not to kill me; so far that ritual has served me well. I have a faint recollection of this and my surgery team laughing in response. But what I clearly remembered was the nurses lifting me onto a gurney and taking me into recovery.
Stay tuned for part 4 Plastic Surgery after Major Weight Loss Recovery
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life
Photo courtesy Dr. Capella