Hi, Dr. Garcia. It's the infamous gullwing lip lift lady again. You've been so extremely patient, generous, and helpful that I thought you'd want to know how this turned out. As you may remember, I had this lip lift to try to correct some of the visual effects of the hemi-paralysis I had suffered during a small cheek lift years ago. Only one side of mouth moves when I speak. (I also can't move that cheek, and I've had to have multple procedures to protect my cornea, which has desiccated because the lower lid now sags due to the paralysis. It's been fun.) Anyway, after the gullwing lip lift, I was left with a dark brown line about 1/4 inch above my whole lip, making me look like I had a mustache, and to make matters worse, the corners of my mouth became depressed, sunken, and measurably turned down as a result of the surgery. The corners looked puckered, like those dried apple granny dolls. Lovely. But perhaps the worst outcome was that the surgeon had lifted the animated side of my mouth more than the paralyzed side, emphasizing rather than minimizing the paralysis. I think he confused which side was paralzed, even though I had double checked his surgical markings and made sure he knew which was the paralyzed side before he cut. (Let's just say, I've not been lucky with surgeons, though the two I've used are highly respected chiefs of their departments at major teaching hospitals.) Following the surgery, he kept telling me that this would all get better, to just give it time. After months of this, he finally agreed that the emphasized paralysis was not a matter of swelling but was a result of his lifting the wrong side, making the asymmetry worse, and that the scar was not going to fade on its own. But he said that there was nothing I could do to repair it now without making matters worse. So I decided that the best I could do was to try to fade the scar with the help of a dermatologist and just live with the now exaggerated paralysis. Maybe I could join a religious order and take a vow of silence, never speaking again, right? I went to a dermatologist at a teaching hospital near me. He owns every imaginable laser, and he tried everything and anything that he thought might help: Q-switched Yag, short-pulsed Yag, 1064, 1540, IPL, etc. etc. Nothing. No improvement at all. It looked like I would be left forever with a dark brown mustache over my permanently distorted mouth. It was like bright yellow police tape around a crime scene, calling attention to mess within! Finally, I screwed up my courage and went on a few more surgical consults -- this time, with less "famous" but also highly respected surgeons. Each of them was simply appalled by what they saw, and each of them told me that they could improve it. They told me that the incision itself looked widened but in fact that it was not -- that it was, for no apparent reason, "paralleled" like two train tracks, almost as if the guy who did it made two separate incisions instead of one. No amount of laser treatment would ever fix it. The scar needed to be completely excised and closed again. They also thought that the paralyzed side of my mouth could be significantly lifted. I confess that I was, understandably, terrified, to try this again, but I finally decided to do it. The surgeon I chose did a magnificent job. It's like she was a magician. Honestly, Dr. Garcia, it's been just a few weeks, but you can't even see the incision, and you can barely tell that I'm paralyzed when I speak. My teeth even show on that side of my mouth, which they haven't in about 6 years. It's just incredible. I don't usually focus too much on my appearance, and I have been as dismayed by the imposed narcissism (and self-indulgent expense--$10,000!!!) of all this as I have been by the disfigurement, but this is so visible and so central that it's been impossible to hide or mask. It's been really quite traumatic, I'm ashamed to say. I know that countless people live with horrible, life-threatening, or disfiguring diseases, including innumerable children around the world, so I'm very impatient with myself for even a minute of self-pity. But now that this is fixed, I can see what a huge toll it has taken. It feels like I've been released from a little prison. Sorry for the very long story, but I thought you'd like to know about this, and I also thought you'd like to hear a story about how your profession which can, I'm sure, feel on some days pretty ordinary and repetitive (not to mention that it can feel like it's catering to the terminally self-involved) can also make a huge, huge difference in people's lives. Thank you for listening to all of us with our woes and complaints and for giving us encouragement and advice. I hope that this story will also encourage you to tell your writers that sometimes a completely terrible and apparently hopeless mess can indeed be made much better. I feel very, very lucky. Thank you so much, Dr. Garcia.