Angie Hill, 44, lives in Margate with her partner Elaine and their daughter Emily and two foster children. After trying many diets, she decided to have gastric wrap keyhole surgery in Prague, where costs are cheaper than in the UK. The procedure folds and then stitches the stomach to make a tube, restricting the amount of food that can be eaten. Height: 5ft 7in. Total weight loss: 5st 4lb.
January 2013 17st 6lb, size 22-24
I first heard about this surgery in May 2012, when I attended a meeting at Secret Surgery, which arranges procedures overseas. My partner Elaine had a gastric bypass then went to Poland for a tummy tuck in 2010. A gastric wrap is less extreme than a bypass, gives good weight loss and there’s a lower risk of vomiting than with a gastric band.
The only question was how quickly I could save the money for the operation – it cost £4,640 for the surgery, flights and accommodation, plus £350 for Elaine to go with me. My operation is booked for 15 January in Prague and I began my pre-op liquid diet of light yoghurts and soups on New Year’s Day.
My weight dramatically increased when I came out as gay, aged 14. Since then, I’ve yo-yoed. I’m a comfort eater, plus my portion sizes are too big, I snack and I have a habit of eating in the evening. I’ve tried every diet going and asked my GP for support but nothing has worked. My blood pressure is high, I get breathless easily and my joints ache. I also find I get emotional and upset about my weight and I hate wearing frumpy clothes.
April 2013 13st 4lb, size 16-18
I’ve lost 4st 2lb and I’m looking forward to getting even smaller. The surgery was straightforward. I spent two nights in hospital and three in an apartment in Prague. I was on liquid food for two weeks, followed by two weeks of purées, two weeks of mashed food, then soft foods such as porridge and eggs. Now I’m on normal food, but much smaller portions as my stomach is the size of a banana. I’ll have muesli or porridge for breakfast, soup or cheese and crackers for lunch, then dinner on a tea plate – such as haddock with a creamy sauce and vegetables. If I eat even a teaspoon too much I feel sick. I feel so much more alive now – I can actually play with the kids when I take them to the park. My knee doesn’t lock if I kneel. I’ve just been on an all-inclusive holiday and didn’t put on the half stone I usually would.
July 2013 12st 8lb, size 14-16
I only lost 3lb in May and 3lb in June so I’ve had to look at what I’m eating. I need to cut down on carbs and choose chicken and salad instead of a roast dinner. I do get very tired sometimes and I’ve had some hair loss, both of which are problems with gastric surgery. The follow-up to my surgery has been great. I log on to the Secret Surgery forum and I attend a monthly support meeting in Rochester, an hour’s drive away. I can also see my GP if I have any concerns, but I haven’t had to do that. My daughter Emily takes a photo of me every month, so I can see how much my body has changed. She used to call my bum my ‘bookshelf’. It’s gone now.
‘Without the operation, I don’t know what size I would have been by now’
October 2013 12st 5lb, size 14-16
I’m closer to a size 14 now because I’ve lost several inches. Elaine and I joined the gym two weeks ago. My operation has brought us closer as she has helped me learn how to eat post-surgery and we both feel better about ourselves. I used to be an apple but now I’m a pear, and it’s a thrill to be able to wear fitted clothes instead of my old baggy T-shirts and trousers.
December 2013 12st 2lb, size 14
I can walk into the gym with my head held high but there are some bits of my body that exercise can’t touch. My skin was stretched when I was bigger and it hasn’t snapped back so I’m having a tummy tuck in Poland next month, then saving for a breast reduction and to have some skin removed from my upper arms. Another problem is that surgery doesn’t remove the ‘head hunger’ that makes me want to eat when I’m not hungry. But without the operation, I don’t know what size I would have been by now.
I’m really positive about the experience. It was scary going abroad for surgery but I researched the hospital and the doctor, and I chose the procedure I felt would suit me best. I look at the portions being served in restaurants and I think, ‘How could anyone eat all that food?’ But I used to. I’m so glad that’s not my life any more.
I use the word ‘customer’ in the title rather than ‘patient’ because it’s important to remember that you’re still a customer of the clinic you choose to undergo your surgery with. In other words, you’re the one who’s paying: so make sure you’re getting what you want out of it.
When you’re considering surgery abroad, it’s important to do your research and find a clinic that you feel confident and comfortable with. This isn’t just about checking that the clinic has done good work in the past, or making sure that their surgeons are well qualified – it’s about finding people you can talk to while you’re there.
You’ll be surprised how much of a difference it makes, being able to chat, ask questions, and be put at ease during your stay and before your surgery. We’ve compiled a list of questions to ask your chosen clinic which should help you to find somewhere which will make you feel, if not at home, then in good hands:
- Does my surgeon speak English? If not, will there be a translator available?
- Will I get to meet other British patients during my stay?
- How much help will I be given when it comes to getting around, shopping, etc.?
- How nice/comfortable are the surgery facilities?
- Can I choose my own accommodation?
- Will I be given a contact to call if I get stuck or upset?
This isn’t a comprehensive list. Have a think yourself about what you think you might need when you’re there, and just ask away – the clinic which ticks the most boxes is likely a good one to go for.
Going for surgery can be scary, and going for surgery in a foreign country even worse. It doesn’t have to be hard, though, with the right support in place. To take the next step and receive a FREE personalised info pack and quote please visit www.SecretSurgery.co.uk or call 0843 289 4 982 or email [email protected]
At Secret Surgery, we are frequently approached by patients wondering if they can save a little time and money by having two procedures at the same time. It’s obvious why this would be desirable; rather than having the worry and stress of coming in for two separate procedures, you can just go to sleep once on the operating table, wake up, and everything’s been done!
So, we can see why you guys and gals might think it’s a good idea. But, well – it’s not. We don’t offer multiple procedures at the same time like this, and I can’t stress enough that the reason why is because we value your safety more than our purses!
Multiple procedures put extra strain on the surgery and the surgeon. Think about this – would you rather have a surgeon working on you for two hours without a break, or four? How long does your concentration usually hold for at work? If it’s four hours, you’re doing better than me! We also don’t want anybody going under anaesthetic for extra time – it’s not safe.
Your body also needs time and energy to heal properly after a surgery, and the more surgeries you have done at the same time, the harder your body will find this to do. And that’s without even thinking about how much extra pain you would have to deal with…
Finally, operating on two areas of the body at once will increase the risk of cross-contamination if there are any issues with bacteria. We don’t want this, and you don’t want this either. So, in short? No, we don’t do multiple surgeries. Yes, you will thank us later!
Some people worry that after cosmetic surgery – particularly surgery which alters they way you look fundamentally – they won’t look like themselves any more! It might sound silly, but really it’s a pretty understandable way to feel.
Remember that you’ve had your body for the last twenty, thirty, forty, or maybe fifty years! That’s a long time, and to suddenly to change the way you look can feel like a big deal. It is. That’s why it’s really important to make sure that you’re having surgery for the right reasons.
Cosmetic surgery procedures are about more than just looking your best; they’re about feeling your best, too. We all like to look good, but the question isn’t ‘does he like the way I look?’. It’s ‘do I like the way I look?’
We can’t stress enough how important it is that our patients see surgery as a way to look and feel the way they want to. Don’t get a boob job because your partner wants you to have a C-cup – get one because you want to.
We make sure that our patients are choosing surgery for the right reasons – for themselves. If this is the reason why you’re choosing surgery, then it’s unlikely that you’ll feel unhappy with the results; most of our patients find that they feel like they finally look the way they have always felt.
Just remember: It’s all about you. Don’t let anyone tell you differently!
Lots of our kids will grow up to one day have cosmetic surgery – and that’s not a bad thing. The fact that they have the option to choose cosmetic surgery to make them look and feel the way they want to should be celebrated, because it’s a lot more freedom than humans have had in the past.
However, cosmetic surgery is a sensitive topic around kids. We don’t want to bring our kids up to feel insecure about themselves, and so while they might realise that mummy’s had a tummy tuck, we need to make sure that they don’t feel that they need a tummy tuck too – because they’re just kids!
A recent report in one British tabloid suggested that in the US, over 24,000 teenagers undergo cosmetic surgery in a year. That’s a little high! The problem is that these teens are still growing into their bodies, and realising what they do and don’t like about themselves; if they’re anything like I was as a teen, they’re also probably much more concerned by what other people think than what they themselves think!
At Secret Surgery, we can’t stress enough how much we think surgery is about how you feel about yourself. And this is where the problem lies in children and teens being interested in cosmetic surgery – they’re still learning their own minds. The cosmetic surgery industry has a difficult task ahead: to rid itself of the stigma that cosmetic surgery is bad, at the same time as convincing kids and parents that it’s only for grown-ups!
Cosmetic surgery can do wonderful things for all kinds of people, but that doesn’t mean that it’s an easy ride. Before you make the decision to undergo any kind of cosmetic surgery, it’s important to consider all of your options, and make sure the decision you’re making is right for you. Here are our top tips on 5 things to remember when you’re making the plunge:
- There is no such thing as too much research. Learn anything and everything you can about ever surgery clinic that you’re considering, and make sure you aren’t simply taken in by adverts. Find out the facts.
- Choose a company that you get on with. You’re going to need to talk to your surgeon, consultant or nurse about some fairly intimate details, so make sure you go with a company whose staff you actually like.
- Know exactly what you want, and what you’re going to get. Don’t be taken in by surgeons who try to push more procedures on you than you really want, and know what kind of results you can expect from your surgery before you’re seeing them firsthand.
- Stop believing in magic. While surgeons are pretty good with their hands, they’re not Derren Brown. We can’t make you look completely different, but we can make you look more like the you you want to be.
- Give yourself plenty of time for recovery after the procedure. Don’t take our recovery estimates as certainties and book in lots of parties and events for two weeks after your surgery, because you may well need even longer to feel tip top. Keep a clean diary for the whole month.
Of course, if we had all day there’s a lot more we could tell you, but these five tips should help out when it comes to planning a cosmetic surgery procedure. It’s a big deal, and it’s important to make sure that everything’s ready for when you go under the knife. Happy surgery hunting!
We’ve all heard the stories about those celebrities who just don’t seem to know when to stop – a boob job here, a tummy tuck there – and somehow end up looking like a completely different person ten surgeries later. But whose fault is it really, the patient’s, or the surgeon’s?
This all comes about as Alicia Douvall blames her doctors, at least partially, for her past surgeries. The British model is a well-known plastic surgery addict, previously having had 330 plastic surgery procedures. This includes 16 breast augmentations! Alright, so most people don’t get anywhere near this figure – most of us couldn’t afford it! – but when you do, whose fault is it really?
Douvall has said that while she did have a plastic surgery addiction, the blame falls somewhat on the doctors who approved her for surgeries again and again and again. What do you think? Is it up to the professional, or the patient? While it’s true that patients shouldn’t place all the blame on a doctor, it is the doctor’s place to know when surgery is going to help someone – and when it isn’t.
Doctors might get this wrong sometimes, but after 330 surgeries, we might think that any doctor in their right mind would have known that this patient was never going to be happy with the away she looked! What do you think?