I want to share my experience of surgery abroad. I...
This has been something that I have deliberated over since the age of 18; I'm now 25. Following three consultations in the UK, I elected to fly out to Poland for surgery. My decision being based purely on cost. For surgery in Poland I was quoted exactly a third of the price I was quoted in the UK, and having spent countless nights researching the clinic and reading reviews I was prepared to take a risk.
[photo 1 is my before profile]
Day 1 - Op Day- Friday 13th December
First impressions of the clinic are excellent. From the moment I step off the plane I am greeted by a warm and comforting female representative of the clinic. She takes me (and three other UK patients) to my hotel and transports me to and from the clinic for all my appointments thereon. (My taxi is free from the airport and also to my first clinic appointment) and all other journeys are per a Meter (which is extremely cheap). The clinic is clean and modern. The staff are all friendly and professional. The consultation goes well and something that is apparent to me is the fact that they aren't willing to cut corners; I was initially scheduled to be the first patient, my Surgeon explained to me that he has a full day of operations and that mine is a simple procedure. However after I tell him that I'd drank a small glass of water that morning at 6am he has to reschedule his full day around me and puts back my surgery to 2:30pm. Silly of me, I now appreciate. I feel comforted in the fact that they aren't willing to cut any corners.
Surgery 2:30pm- 4:00pm:
My reaction to General Anaesthesia is fine. No complications and no apparent side affects. The first night post op is spent at the clinic, and, even though this is a tough night to sleep (as at this point I'm unable to breath through my nose), the Nurse is fantastic. She checks on me regularly and is what I can imagine an old school Nurse to be. Comforting, extremely efficient and direct in her approach, confident and caring.
[photo 2 is immediately after surgery]
Day 2 - Saturday 14th December
At this point I haven't had much sleep. I'm feeling groggy and extremely bored. There's no pain as such, just a feeling of discomfort and pressure around my nose. A sore and dry throat also from having to breathe through my mouth. This is the most uncomfortable part for me. My face isn't as bruised or as swollen as i'd have expected. At this point the Nurse has cleaned and changed my dressings about three times already. The Surgeon comes, removes my final dressing, before discharging me and inviting me back for my next check up the following morning. As the Surgeon removes my dressing he asks me if I have seen my nose yet, to which I reply no. He then, in a very comforting and reassuring way explains to me that this isn't the end result. That I won't know if I'm happy with my result until at least a week after the cast has been removed, he then explains that the nose can then be taking shape over the next year. On arrival back at my hotel I now understand why the Surgeon has explained this to me. Naturally the first thing I want to do is to check out my new nose. I take one look in the mirror and I feel sick. I want to cry. My nose is upturned and my top lip is swollen. My entire face had changed, my face resembles that of a Tweenie / or a pig, and I can not begin to picture how I can get my old face back. I want to cry but reassure myself that this isn't the end result. At this point I just want to hide myself and fast forward a week. I spend the day in bed. Eating and drinking is a challenge still, and the swelling around my nose, mouth and eyes, is gradually getting worse. I have been taking dissolvable Arnica pills for the past four days, and in my opinion they do not work.
[photo 3 is day 1 post surgery]
Day 3 - Sunday 15th December
Last night I slept well and can breathe through my nose slightly which makes me feel better. However my face has ballooned twice the size of yesterday and I can barely open my eyes. I look in the mirror and I feel like a 'bloaty head syndrome' patient from Theme Hospital. Again, in my opinion, Arnica is a waste of money and does not work. A failed attempt at facing the public and going for breakfast this morning has landed me back in bed with an empty stomach. Feeling low and very bored. Frustrated that I'm in such a great city yet I'm unable to experience any of it. I definitely underestimated the recovery. In my world everything is bubbles and butterflies and as far as I was prepared to convince myself I was going to have no side effects, I would look fine after two days and I could enjoy the rest of my stay. Apparently not. Today has been a long day. My nose is starting to hurt and I'm feeling down. I'm looking forward to the coming days as I'm keen to see the first stages of my new nose minus the swelling and bruises.
[photo 4 is day 2 post op]
Day 4 - Monday 16th December
Feeling a lot better than yesterday. Sleep was easy and my swelling has reduced a lot. Back at the clinic check up I find comfort in talking to other patients and hearing their story. Every person I speak to has had a fantastic experience and can't speak highly enough of this particular surgeon and his team. One lady, who I met at the beginning of my stay, I will not forget. Her outlook on life is just fantastic. This lady, travelled from the UK. She is 62 years old and has had a lot of surgery this time - face lift, eye lid and under eye surgery. She is a hard working professional, a psychiatric doctor of 40 years, has just opened up her own practice in the UK (I make this point, as, some people associate surgery with silly insecure girls). Her attitude throughout the process has been one to admire. My initial inhibitions surrounding surgery were with what other people will think, how they will react, how I will tell people and the overall feeling of having to explain my reasons for going ahead with this. But after meeting this woman I remind myself that if you want to do something in this life, you do it. And if you live adhering to other peoples opinions and objections then your existence will be a sheltered and regretful one. Deep, I know, but these days post op are long, and your thoughts consume you! I manage to get out and about today. I walk to the square and see the Christmas market ignoring the stares and sniggers from the general public. My swelling and congestion seems to get worse towards the end of the day.
Day 5 - Tuesday 17th December
Today I feel well, my face is regaining its normal shape and I'm itching to see under my cast. I manage to face the public and go down for a meal with a glass of wine. I fly back tomorrow.
Day 6 - My day is consumed by travel, waiting around and more travel. No change from yesterday with my face. Still bruised and cheeks are slightly swollen. Congestion worsens with flying.
Day 7 - Cast Removal. The big day is here. I take a shower and peel away the cast. (This should be done by the surgeon however I booked my trip a day short. Again, the surgeon didn't want to cut corners by taking off the cast too soon and gave me exact directions to take the cast off myself days later. With rhinoplasty, I understand, the cast should ideally be removed 5-8 days post op. This is the day I have been warned not to get upset in thinking that what I see is the end result. I stare in the mirror and it's better than I expect. Face fronting still appears slightly wide and swollen. My eyes are still bruised. I am happy with my profile already. I'm looking forward for the swelling to reduce.
[photo 5 - after profile pic]
The worst part, I'd say, in this process is the overall boredom and the discomfort. I wouldn't say that there is any agonising pain involved. It's just uncomfortable and it makes you extremely irritable.
I do completely appreciate and understand any reservations and concerns that may surround flying into a foreign country to undergo surgery. In my opinion and my own experience, surgery abroad is the only way for it. The surgeon was trained in the UK and is GMC registered. His clinic is clean. His team are highly professional and efficient. Having spoken to a number of other people travelling abroad for surgery I get the general impression that everyone who does this would not dream of having surgery in the UK. Some who have done so already and weren't impressed with the lack of interest, care, aftercare and the overall experience v the cost. The swelling on my nose is still reducing daily but I'm happy so far. If for some reason I wasn't happy and did want a revision then I would definitely go back to the same Surgeon. I wanted to share this as I was so impressed, and I know that anyone considering surgery abroad will appreciate this insight :-) if anyone has any questions then please get in touch!
iPad - with plenty of films /books /wifi
Currency - get beforehand
Mouthwash - dry mouth
Vaseline - for lips and nose
Vitamin c & pineapple juice - helps with the swelling
Laxatives (pain med side affects)
U- shaped pillow
Plenty of tissues
Soft snacks (yoghurt/ banana)
Before Pic - Front View
After Pic - Front View
Pics - One Month Post Op
Noa Clinic , Wroclaw - Dr Adam Kalecinski ...Dr Adam and his team are fantastic. One night spent in the clinic post op, followed by daily check ups until you fly home.