I have been researching for HOURS the last couple...
I have been researching for HOURS the last couple of weeks and have found it very difficult to get authentic information about doctors in Thailand - there are many reviews out there, but also many allegations that its the doctors own staff putting up fake reviews, or the same people posting negative reviews over and over, also a fair bit of name confusion. Often when I found another person reviewing the same doctors I was their Real Self entries stopped, so there was no final results. I'm a bit of a conspiracy theorist and I wonder if these people maybe had a negative experience but the doctor or company threatened them with legal action so they stopped posting. So I decided to start a Real Self review and set reminders in my phone to post updates afterwards - as far out as 1 and 2 years afterwards detailing how things are going - the only reason I will not post an update around the date stated in each previous post is if the experience turned out bad and for legal reasons I have been prevented from continuing the review.
My story - I'm a 37 year old mother of 2 from the Gold Coast. I looked into surgery to correct my tummy muscles and sagging boobs locally but the quote was $33000 - I would get about $1200 back from Medicare and if I joined a Health Fund for hospital cover and waited 12 months I would get about $6000 back from them. I was not prepared to wait and didn't have that sort of money so started looking at Thailand.
A friend had breast augmentation through Cosmeditours and was very happy so I started out asking them questions but they did not provide quick responses or thorough information so by the time they got back to me with the answers I wanted I had already booked with Thai Surgery. Trina (the owner) seems lovely and answers my emails very quickly. She has a closed Facebook group for her patients so I was able to message other girls who have had the same surgery, used the same doctor and some who are in Bangkok currently recovering from their surgery. This reassured me that Trina was not a fly-by-nighter going to run off with my deposit and that the doctor (Dr Thiti Chaonalikit) gave good results - low incision, clean lines, looks good.
I am getting a full tummy tuck with muscle repair and liposuction, a breast lift with areola reduction and small (300cc?) implants. Not sure on placement yet - thinking dual plane but not sure what surgeon will recommend and I have been told by some of his other patients that he will give me good advice so I will just wait for the consultation. I'm also getting liposuction on my upper back, upper arms, inner & outer thighs. I have also decided I want it at the sides of my breasts, near my armpit as its a bit bulgy, especially if the boobs are pushed up, but will wait and talk with the doctor about that. I believe I will have two surgeries as its safer, but again the doctor will make the final call on that.
I am about to book Medical Tourism Insurance - I think through Global Protection Services, although I have been unable to find any reviews on them, so will let you know about that too. Should cost about $500 but for saving potentially thousands if I need care once back in Australia it will be well worth it.
I will post again in the days after my surgery unless anything else comes up before that.
I have booked my flights and am sending my kids to their grandparents for the month of December - I will fly home on December 18 and go to collect them and spend Christmas & New Years on December 24th. I will have 6 weeks off work total so I'm hoping that will be time to recover.
1 day post surgery
I did a huge post early this morning but the wifi dropped out & I lost it. It went very well. I will do a full post tomorrow from my laptop as its too hard on my phone. Here's so pics. Boobs & lipo done. Tummy tuck next week.
Noticed I didn't have all my before pics up.
2 Days Post Surgery
Im back at my hotel now. On the day of surgery I was taken to my room at the hospital and asked to shower. The hospital provided everything - shampoo, toothbrush, comb etc. I changed into a hospital gown & slippers and waited for about an hour. During this time the anaesthetist came to see me and asked me questions and a nurse gave me some pills. Then I was taken by wheelchair down to the theatre.
The doctor met me in theatre and marked me up, then I lay down and the anaesthetist said he was starting to run the drug through my iv line, the next thing I knew someone was saying its over, wake up.
I had but of pain on waking, but just said 'pain' and a nurse gave me something right away. I was freezing cold and shivering really badly I got trussed up with blankets and towels and taken back to my room, where I was also given an electric heating pad. After about an hour I had warmed up and was feeling alright.
I was served dinner bout 8pm - although no one adjusted the tray table so I was trying to eat spaghetti bolognaise from half a foot above me awkward - also getting the plastic covers off the plates was tricky as I didn't have much mobility. Nancy visited me along with some of the lovely girls from the Cosmetic Centre next door where I had gone for my consultation.
I drifted & dozed all night without any pain, just mild discomfort. In the morning Dr Thiti came and took out my catheter and drains, I was washed and changed into clean hospital clothes and felt much better. I really wanted to get up and walk but as my morphine drip was plugged into the wall I couldn't. Every time I needed to pee I had to call a nurse to help.
I drifted and dozed again all day and night. This morning my morphine drip ran out so my IV line was removed and I could get up by myself. I was washed again and changed, had breakfast and then waited for Nancy to come to take me back to the hotel. She came right on lunch time so she removed my bandages and helped me get dressed, I ate lunch and then we taxied back to the hotel. Nancy checked in for me and once in my room showed me how to appy my dressings and told me what to expect for the next couple of days - she also left a big box of DVDs for me to watch and gave me some suggestions for places to go for dinner, massage and foot spa.
I'm just relaxing now, not in much pain - just had a shower, washed my hair, dressed my incisions and took 2 Tylenol. I will hang out in bed until dinner time and see if I feel like going out or ordering in.
My next surgery is in 3 days - tummy tuck. Not looking forward to trying to lift myself out of bed with my abs stitched up, but I'm not scared, not expecting the pain to be too bad - they keep me pretty medicated. I will post again a couple of days after my tummy tuck as wifi in the hospital is not great.
First look at incision.
My first look at my tummy tuck incision. Check out where the freckle above my belly button ended up. Looks good! Feeling much better today. Not needing pain relief. Very hunched over & slow though. I travelled here alone & mostly it has been totally fine, but I have to say having someone with you 24/7 in the first few days after a tummy tuck would make it so much easier. Nancy my assistant from Thai Surgery is great, & on call whenever I need her, but I'm wasnt going to call her at 7am from the hospital to come & help me take the gladwrap off my breakfast or move my tray table closer. Those are the things I struggled with, & I was already calling the nurse every half hour for toilet & pain pump alarms so I didn't want to be annoying. Other than that and the language/cultural differences that were to be expected Im really happy with my experience so far. Fingers crossed I heal well!
Post op TT 6 days BL BA 11 days
Feeling pretty good. Not taking any pain medication. One last anti inflammatory to take tomorrow then I'm medication free. Went out walking round shopping centre & using sky train in Bangkok today for a couple of hours. Slow & slightly hunched, took it easy but was good. I don't want to miss out on a little shopping & sightseeing & go home in 2 days.
Got stitches from breast lift out. Healing really nicely except in one place where my bra band rubbed. Not inflamed or pussy, just abraided & will take an extra couple of days to heal. Nipple sensation pretty normal I think and incision lines not tender or numb or anything. Quite fine lines at the moment.
Tummy tuck incision healing my nicely. Visit Dr tomorrow to maybe get some stitches out. No inflammation or pus :). See pics - a bit graphic of belly button!
Tummy very swollen & public area is really high now - my hair will be right in my panty line.
Lipo is still the worst pain. Back of my thighs are killer when I sit on the toilet. Can't see a difference in thighs but assume they are swollen. Wearing my proper post surgery compression garment now & much more comfortable than the hospital binder & tube compression pulled up over my thighs.
I tried to get the pics to post right way up but it's just not working. Apologies :)
Will update again in a few days.
Post op BL/BA & Lipo 19 Days, TT 14 Days
Not sure where the times gone! Thought I updated only a couple of days ago!
I went back to the hospital the day after my last update and got my belly button stitches out and the TT incision stitches were snipped for me to remove in a couple of days. I ventured out sight seeing afterwards but I think I overdid it as I was so sore and swollen and nearly crying by the time I got back to the hotel after 5 hours. But at least I got to see the temple I wanted to see and mastered the Skytrain (in Bangkok). Did some shopping too. Next day I flew home at midnight but went out sightseeing with a driver to the floating markets for the morning then back to my room to rest and pack. Then flew home, no dramas. Once home I rested, had my work xmas party (drank too much!), have been to work yesterday for 7.5 hours - was really hard and I was so swollen but I had to go get caught up as I'm off to NZ for 2 weeks tomorrow. I pulled my stitches out no trouble and everything is nice and dry.
So, my current status - I am still walking a tiny bit hunched over and slowly, if I walk to fast or too much I get a pain like a baby pushing its little foot out in my belly. Incisions healing well, I dress them twice a day and just shower/wash like normal but with a bar of antibacterial soap. The scabs are about 95% off my breast incisions. Lipo still my worst pain - I hate it! My triceps are sore too as if I've been working out. Makes it hard to stretch and get comfy in bed. Every morning. Each morning I'm woken by terrible muscle cramps in my stomach & back of my thighs. Its just as I start to move each muscle group it remembers that its had trauma and spasms. They don't hurt but they are very uncomfortable and I have no control over how long they last, its weird.
My belly incision seems to be healing well, its dry and I have a little sensation coming back so when I rub the antibacterial cream on it I feel little like electric shocks running along it & up into my belly skin. I have number areas all over, but they are getting smaller. My swelling is improving. A few days ago I was worried that my pubic area was really big and puffy, but its gone down now & is more normal. I wear the compression garment 24/7, except I air myself out for half an hour or so when I do my dressings. I'm just using tissues taped over the incision now instead of actual dressings, along with antiseptic cream the Dr gave me (I had to buy more, but its the same type). He said to keep applying it until the scabs come off.
I had a small panic yesterday with my right breast. I could feel a tiny spike sticking out which started leaking fluid. I knew internal dissolvable sutures are clear and I should trim and leave them, while external stitches are black & I should pull them out, I have seen and touched both types and both are quite soft, but this was a tiny hard plastic black thing so didn't fit the description. I got in touch with Trina - the owner of the company I booked with, who is available on Facebook Messanger or email 24/7 - to ask about it. She got back to me within seconds and reassured me it was OK, she told me to give it a pull - it came out a mm maybe but is firmly inside me still. Once I got more of it out its actually a white & purple hard nylon knot. I just used nail scissors to cut the sticking out bit off and covered it with a dressing & antiseptic cream. It was really scary as its right in my incision vertical/nipple junction and the seam opened up to easily once I pulled at the stitch with tweezers, I was scared it would unzip! Today it looks OK. The dressing had a bit of red/yellow fluid dried on it, but the tiny hole is not read and not weeping now. I just have to hope it get better without turning into something gross. From googling I see that spit stitches are very common and tend to heal well. Its really nice that even though my surgeon is in another country I can still consult instantly with someone whose seen this a hundred times and knows the deal.
I had read before surgery that tummy tuckers get post surgery depression more than other types of surgery. For the first week I was totally fine and thought myself lucky, but the last few days I have been having the odd sick/empty feeling that I know is how my depression starts, but I know its just a side effect, and I have a lot to look forward to soon - like seeing my kids and parents again, holiday in NZ over Xmas, catching up with old friends - so I just distract myself and remind myself that its normal and all will be better soon. I think the higher incidence in TT patients may be related to how disabled we are for so long after surgery. I didn't know I would be having trouble walking around, rolling over in bed, sitting on the toilet, or that swelling is seriously uncomfortable . You read about these things but the 24/7 reality of them gets you down a bit Obviously its not stopping me, but its just really difficult and I can't move fluidly and freely like I did before - it annoying. But then I look at my new shape (even when it is swollen) and I remember how much I hated it before, and I know its worth it. I will feel good again soon :)
I'm off to NZ tomorrow but will update again when I get back or if anything exciting/important happens!
Post op BL/BA & Lipo 6 Weeks, TT w/MR 5 Weeks
I got the stitch out after about 5 or 6 days – the whole time the split in the incision was leaking fluid and I used tape & tissues to keep it covered. I became sensitive to the tape and ended up with skin taken off all over my poor boob which has taken ages to heal. The stitch was a stiff purple nylon thread. I have googled and I think it was from a ring of permanent sutures called the purse string which is sewn around the areole to keep it in shape. A couple of days ago this ring became noticeable for the first time. It feels like a hard, thick rubberband around my nipple. On my left breast the tightness of it is making the nipple puff outwards instead of lying flat. I had noticed this puffy nipple before but thought it was swelling. I am massaging the rings every day in the hope they will become softer and less noticeable. I could even see my puffy nipple & band through a sports bra and thin singlet the other day – eeek. The shape is improving with time. I was worried the right one (no tattoo) was going to be square and lopsided, but its evening out, and now my leftie is a bit square, but I’m sure it’ll come right. The right is a bit bigger, but it always was and I really shouldn’t expect a set of perfectly symmetrical boobs - although I do wish the Dr had put a smaller in the right like he said he would. He thought because he took a little more tissue out of the right that they would be OK with the same size. The left one has not dropped as much as the right too, so once that goes down a bit they may look more even. In any case, they are a huge improvement from what I had – I have ribs now! I love that!
It has taken me ages to be able to stand straight. Even now I hobble around a bit because the pulling inside at the top of my abs is so sore. If I do too much the next couple of days I have a spot of pain above my belly button – either left or right side, it changes, but I have worked out now that its from overdoing it. I had a very sore back for a couple of days 2 weeks ago. Not sure what caused it but I think it was related to me changing posture and standing a little straighter after a month of being hunched. I’m still not fully mobile. I walk very slowly and can’t change positions quickly. Its getting better – just not every day like I expected. Its more 2 steps forward 1 step back. I get muscle spasms every morning in bed. I think after being still all night when I first go to move a leg or change position my muscles remember they are still in trauma and they cramp up. The strength of these is less now, and I’m really trying to catch them and relax instead of going with them like I was before. I felt a stich slip out inside me about a week ago while spasming and it hurt & scared me, so I’m trying to prevent anymore stitched going. It was a sudden slipping as if the knot had pulled inside the muscle and gone to a more relaxed position. I also sneezed few days ago and felt 2 pops in my upper abs – one each side. I’m hoping I haven’t ruined my muscle repair but I have no bulges so I think I’m OK.
I have been on holiday in NZ and have done some touristy stuff – hired bikes in Queenstown and biked about 25km. Took it very slowly and managed it fine. Was a bit worried as it’s the first time my heart rate had been up since surgery but I was OK – unfit, but OK ? Two days later I walked up a big hill on the Milford Road – Key Summit. I was about 3km to the top and climb of 500m so it was pretty steep, but again I took it slow and managed it fine. The next two days were hell though – sore belly, swollen, plus I got my period and the pain was waaay worse than before. I guess changes are to be expected when your insides are squished into a smaller space. Will be interested to see how it is next month.
I am using a silicon scar gel every day, twice if I remember and my incisions are all clean and no scabs left. They have gotten a bit pinker, but I’ve read that’s normal. I give them a firm rub when I apply the gel in the hopes that it will make them soft and faint one day. I also give my belly a bit of a massage as well as my thighs and upper arms to try to move some of the swelling. My thighs & arms are still quite tender from the lipo. I am only just this week able to massage them – previously they have been too sore to touch. I stopped wearing the long compression garment as its just too hot. I bought some high waisted sucky-in undies that I wear along with a soft sports bra during the day. At night I wear the binder the hospital supplied me with and a cheap post surgical bra – I wear this because in the sports bra my breasts squish together when I lie on my side to sleep and I’m getting pimples in my cleavage, the post surgical bra has soft cups that contain me better. I could not do without some form of compression on my upper belly – it feels quite unstable inside – the muscles are just not ready to self-support yet. My lower belly is fine.
I am still conscious of the potential for depression. Every day I have these waves where I feel sick and empty and sad, but three weeks ago I started doing arm stretches every time I felt that way and its really helped. My triceps are really tight from the lipo and healing so the stretching hurts a little and takes my mind off my feelings until the sadness passes (about 2 minutes). My arms are more flexible now too – I couldn’t even bend them to scratch my own back before. Double win.
I have put up new pics – I don’t look great because of the 2kg worth of chocolate and wine gained over Christmas but I’m back home now (as of 2 days ago) and am clean eating, not snacking, attempting to walk (2km a day is my goal this week) and have already started dropping. Hopefully in a month or two I will be able to post a nice bikini shot!! You will see I have a bit of a bulge in the lower belly – this is the incision line and I think its swelling rather than my permanent shape, but we’ll see. This is first thing in the morning, by 10am my belly is sore and tight with swelling and I look about 5 months pregnant. Also I have a large pubic area - my ken doll lol. It slopes outwards to meet the incision & I feel like it makes me look like I've got man junk in my pants lol. I hate it, looks so gross and puffy, but hopefully its only swelling too and will soon go away.
That’s all for now. Another long post. I will update in another month ?
Before & after 1.5 months post-op
Pics before & after BL BA lipo to thighs, back & arms & TT with MR. Still a bit swollen but improving so much this week (week 6).
3 month post op update
Posting on my phone & lost the lot grrrr. Will just post pic & say everything's going well - slowly improving but still have a way to go.
6 month post-op update
Wow, 6 months! I have to say the healing process is far longer than I expected! I am still not feeling like my old self. I love not having a big fat belly and saggy boobs anymore, but sadly you quickly forget how bad it was and start picking faults in yourself again - although not to the same degree at all.
My healing - I have started light ab exercises - planks and crunches - coupled with stretches - salute to the sun pose - to try and get my movement and flexibility back. My muscles are just so tight and weak that it feels like I'll never get there, but when I look back a month or two I know I am getting stronger. I do all activities without thinking like cycling, gardening, carrying heavy things etc - although I do notice it if I carry something a bit too heavy - I think oops I still need to be careful, but I'm talking moving furniture type heavy, not bags of groceries etc. I have plans to go scuba diving in a few months and I must say I'm a bit worried about how I'll go. Swimming was much harder than I expected and the water go too cold before i felt really confident, and with scuba you have heavy weights right where the incision is - will let you know how I go in October (I'm going at the end of September).
My incisions have healed, although I have messy scarring on my nipples where I had deep stitches come and and get a bit infected/not heal. Its a shame, but I'm sure they will fade. My boobs are more even in size now (or maybe I'm more used to them) but still have a bit of a square look to the bottoms, and a bit of unevenness where the two side of the incision meet. Internally they feel alright - I can nearly lie comfortably on my front again, just my right boob feels a bit hard, but it will keep improving I expect. I don't (and never really did) massage them regularly, but I give them (especially the right one) a bit of a rub most days as it feels a bit harder than the left and I get a little pain running down the center of it. Nothing serious and as I said I'm sure it will continue to improve.
My lipo entry points are fine - just a little red mark in several places around my body. I don't even notice them except the ones in my groin, and thats only because I spend time looking at my tummy tuck incision and they are right there. I do have some unevenness to my butt/upper thighs where more fat was sucked out in one spot than another, but this is improving as I do more biking ad tone my legs up. I think it was also swollen and is getting better now. The skin on my upper arms and back has tightened up and I can see an improvement there. Initially I didn't see any difference at all, but now I'm really happy with my back and quite happy with my arms. Theres only so much that can be done for tuck-shop arms though without removing saggy skin. I really notice how much smaller my thighs are, but because my belly is smaller too its not really outwardly obvious.
My tummy tuck incision is not my favorite thing. It is quite high, so my usual style of pants doesn't cover it. When all my swelling is gone I will go and buy new underwear in a different style. I know the incision was really low initially as I had a tattoo really low down which was removed at my request with the excess skin. Sadly though all the skin below the incision has been pulled upwards, so my hairline is now about 2 inches higher than it was. The incision is also hypertrophic - which gives it a dark, raised, ropey appearance. I can only hope this will fade and improve over time as its not pretty, but at the end of the day I can cover it with my underwear or bikinis without too much trouble so noone else will know its so ugly. If I knew ahead of time it would be like this I would still go ahead as its such an improvement over my big belly and I'm so much happier.
You can see in the pics I have more fullness above the incision than below. i think this is partially because I didn't get lipo on my belly skin. The dr said it was not necessary. I wish I had, but cant change it now. I think I also have intra-abdominal fat (around my organs) making my lower belly stick out as its bigger than the layer of fat I can grab with my fingers accounts for. This is my body type - I was always big around my belly, so I guess diet and exercise is the answer. Its possible I am still a bit swollen too.
I was suprised that my weight went up after surgery - probably due to me deciding chocolate bars and chips were good healing food while I was in Thailand recovering, and then heading right out on a 3 week holiday over Christmas to my family in NZ. So I went into surgery at 63kg and came out at 65kg after getting about 2kg taken out of me. I have not managed to lose the weight, currently sitting around 64kg although I exercise daily. I thought I would lose weight naturally after surgery as I can not eat as much - my belly gets fully because the muscles are so tight and can not expand to fit in large amounts of food or liquid - I can't even drink a can of coke zero - it takes me about 2 hours to get through it. I'm happy with how I am though, I expect I will lose some weight as I increase my activity more, but I'm not in a rush - I want to heal properly - don't want to pop anything!
I think thats all. I will update again at one year :)
1 Year Update
Its now been a year since I had my operations. This will be my last update. Overall I am very happy with my outcome and do not regret my decision, but as this blog was started to give the true story with no cover-ups I will share the things I wish I had known or realised.
1 The recovery is LONG – I don’t mean the outer scars, they heal surprisingly quickly, I mean the internal recovery – even one year on my stomach muscles do not feel strong. I worry that I am going to strain the wrong way and tear the suture line apart down the middle. I have to stretch my stomach muscle out most days or they feel tight and uncomfortable. I have lower back pain because I have unconsciously taught myself to use other muscles (thigh/back) to avoid using my stomach muscle. I have seen a physio and have exercises to do, but I imagine I will have back pain on and off for life now.
2 I didn’t really want implants – I was unsure at the beginning about implants. Being overweight I hated my big boobs, once I lost weight I loved having less, but hated that they were saggy. I didn’t want big boobs again but thought an implant would give me nice shape. I asked for under 200cc but the doctor said that was pointless and that people always wished they had gone bigger, so I followed his advice, I think mine are 200cc, or maybe 250? Anyway, I wish I hadn’t. I don’t like how big they are, I also don’t like how I can feel them – they aren’t part of me, they make me feel fat, but I know they look better than they did before so I don’t get caught up thinking about it. If I had the money I would consider getting them removed, or replaced with smaller ones, just for a bit of shape.
3 My thigh skin is saggy after lipo – its like its not attached anymore, if I lie on my side and lift my leg it just hangs down. And there are odd lumps and dents where more or less fat was removed. I know there is an improvement in my thighs – I can see it in pictures – but I’m not sure I would do it again. My thighs were painful for so long (months!) and the improvement is only small.
4 I didn’t get lighter, or drop a dress size. I can hardly believe it, but I came out of hospital 2kg heavier even after getting about 3kg of fat and skin removed. I assumed it was fluid retention and swelling, but even now a year on, after trying to eat healthy and exercise I am still a bit heavier than when I went into hospital. And my clothes got tighter – especially around my thighs and bum. Again I put it down to swelling, but even now I’m healed my pants (that I have worn for about 5 years) are tighter around my bum & thighs than before surgery.
5 Scars – I saw all the lovely pictures of people with faded scars and assumed that would be me too, but sadly my tummy tuck scar is hypertrophic (raised, red and ropey) and one of my nipples where I had a stich pop and get infected is also really raised and ropey. The tummy scar doesn’t really bother me, I thinks its slowly improving and its low enough that its not visible, but my nipple one bothers me and its quite raised and visible through tight or thin tops.
6 Ken doll – I’m not sure why, maybe I didn’t have quite enough skin to stretch, but instead of my scar staying low where it was cut everything has been pulled upwards, so my scar is higher than expected and my pubic area is pulled up about 2 inches – this means I have hair growing right where the tops of my underpants & shorts sit – it’s a bit puffy too – maybe lipo would have been a good idea – it looks like a naked ken doll! I know the doctor cut low as he removed a tattoo as I requested that sat very low on my belly.
So that’s my ‘cons’ list. Now the ‘pros’…
1. I don’t have horrible, uneven, saggy boobs.
2. I don’t have large, puffy nipples.
3. I don’t have a big round belly.
4. I can wear most clothes and not feel self-conscious.
5. I feel like I look normal. Sometimes I even feel like I look good!
6. I look forward to the future now.
So as you can see cosmetic surgery is no quick fix, no magic wand, but if you go into it hoping for an improvement, not expecting perfection, you will likely be satisfied at the end.
Thanks for reading and I hope it helps someone one day!