Helen Tidswell - My Surgery Diary part I.

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Realized proceduresTummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

Surgeons & Offices: Josef Kulhánek, MD., MBA.


Helen TidswellAfter a huge and quick weight gain from the onset of Polycysitic Ovarian Syndrome in my late teenage years I began a massive struggle with my weight. I managed to lose some before I became pregnant with my first daughter but then gained it back on more. After the births I felt so unhealthy and couldn’t stand what I saw in the mirror. I set to work by following Weight Watchers and exercising and aimed to lose 5 and half stone. In just 15 months I obtained my goal and felt fit and healthy and certainly looked a lot better. But under my clothing I was left with a droopy sack of skin scarred with huge stretch marks which made me look like I had tiger stripes!! About a year later I became pregnant with my second daughter where I managed to keep some weight control but still put some on. After the birth again I worked hard and the weight came off but only to leave an even worse chunk of loose skin on my stomach.

No matter how much exercise I did on my abdominal muscles I couldn’t shift the “jelly belly” and it depressed me so much. The rest of my body looked slim but I felt like the skin stuck on the front didn’t belong to me.

Through my successes with Weight Watchers I was chosen to appear on the front of the Nationwide magazine and again a year later modelling shoes. Each photographer told me I was a natural in front of the camera and suggested I pursue modelling. As great as this sounded they did not know what lurked beneath my clothes.

Loving being in front of the camera I decided to have a portfolio taken, ensuring my stomach wasn’t on show. The pictures turned out great but I knew any agency would not be able to book me a job with my wobbly belly.

Helen TidswelI researched the internet for abdominoplasty and read about other peoples experiences and saw many before and after pictures and witnessed the dramatic changes that can be possible. I so longed for that to be me. I even watched the entire operation being performed on Youtube and I still felt I wanted to undergo the surgery. I booked a consultation with a UK based medical group where the surgeon said I was an ideal candidate for the surgery and said the coast would be approximately £6000. I knew this was something I would never be able to afford and so my dreams felt smashed.

Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to fund the surgery myself I turned to my GP who referred me for the operation on the NHS, as my weight gain was due to a medical problem. The funding council would not agree my surgery so once again my heart sank. I knew that my only opportunity would be if I could enter a competition to have the surgery for free. I had read magazines where they sometimes would run the competitions and I entered but I never heard anything. I entered a few online competitions but found them to be fake.

When I found the competition with cosmetic-plastic-surgery.info I couldn’t believe my eyes and set straight to work typing out my story. From the moment I pressed submit I couldn’t think of anything else and hoped and prayed that the judging panel would see me as a worthy winner.

The moment I read the “congratulations...you are a winner” e-mail I felt so elated and felt as though all my dreams had come true. I couldn’t believe that finally everything I had hoped for was actually going to happen.

Sun 17th May The story begins

My journey to Prague started with the hardest thing I have ever had to do...leave my family. Having only ever been apart from my children for night, I knew it would be difficult to leave them and I would miss them terribly. After many tears, kisses and cuddles with me children and my partner I finally walked out the door to begin my journey of a lifetime.

Unfortunately the flight was delayed by 2 and half hours due to a technical fault which gave me time to think about everything and for the nerves to kick in. Unable to fix the original plane we finally boarded a replacement aircraft, much to the relief of my mum who came with me for support. After a smooth flight, we collected our baggage and were met by Pavel, joint owner of cosmetic-plastic-surgery.info.

Helen Tidswell

A very friendly and welcoming reception from Pavel, along with some pictures of our arrival to Prague. Pavel drove us to our apartment at Residence Karolina which gave us a look at Prague at night. The apartment was stunning, very contemporary and I knew that I would be comfortable recovering in the apartment after my surgery. Using the free Wi-Fi connection we contacted home via webcam to let them know we had arrived safely. We had a quick meal and having arrived so late into Prague, we went straight to bed as we had an early start the next day. I went to bed with a mixture of nerves and excitement for the next day and was looking forward to getting the surgery over with.

Mon 18th May MY BIG DAY!!!

I awoke at 06.30am feeling as though my stomach was a washing machine full of butterflies. I was tired after only 4 and half hours sleep and had to be ready for my filmed interview with Pavel for 07.30am so got showered and ready. I enjoyed a few extra minutes in the shower knowing that it would be the last one I could have for about 14 days!!Pavel and the cameraman arrived at 07.30am and we set straight to work. Although feeling nervous for my impending surgery, the filming was fun and I enjoyed explaining my reasons for wanting the surgery, it took my mind from my nerves for a while and we headed outside for some pictures in the street. At 08.30am we head off to one of Prague’s state hospitals to have an Echocardiogram examination of my heart as one final check that I was healthy enough to undergo the surgery. The results, thankfully, were all clear and so we headed to the Lekarsky Dum Clinic in Prague 7 to start my pre-operative tests. The journey to the clinic was a great chance to view the lovely buildings of Prague but I also felt my nerves take over and began to feel quite shaky and anxious. I knew 110% that I wanted the surgery but having never undergone any anaesthetic before I was very frightened of being put to sleep. I kept looking at my horrible wobbly tummy which reminded me exactly why I was doing what I was doing.

Helen Tidswell

I was met by one of the nurses where I had some blood taken, blood pressure checked and an ECG trace carried out. It felt very re-assuring to have all these tests done as I knew the clinic had my health and well being as a priority. After completing a health questionnaire I was shown to the bed ward where I had to change from my normal clothes into very flattering gown and rubber shoes!! Julie, who was now with us, then took my mum to her accommodation which was just a few streets away. It was re-assuring to find the staff to be extremely well spoken in English which I think is always a concern when you go to any foreign country. Being left alone for the first time in the journey made my mind run wild with thoughts and scenarios and I couldn\\\\\\\'t even glance at the pictures of my children and fiancé without bursting into tears. The nurse fitted the cannular to my arm where I was connected to a hydration drip as I wasn\\\\\\\'t allowed to eat or drink anything 12 hours prior to surgery and the drip would ensure my body was fully hydrated for surgery. The hunger wasn\\\\\\\'t too hard to deal with but the thirst was difficult, so the drip was welcome as it seemed to relieve my thirst. I was then called to see the GP where she carried out a medical examination and confirmed that my blood tests were all clear. I was given a clean bill of health and so all I had to do now wait for my consultation with my surgeon Dr Kulhanek MD.

My mum returned to the clinic where she also had to change out of her clothes and into sterilised overalls. I felt that this standard of hygiene was excellent and much better than the standards seen in many hospitals in the UK. I was happy to see the return of my mum as she provided much needed support and reminded me why I was having the surgery when I became nervous.

At 14.00 I was shown to Dr Kulhanek’s office for my consultation. This was filmed by the cameraman and the surgeon explained operation to me. He then examined my stomach and made some pen lines to show where the incision line would be. He also said that I would benefit from liposuction to my hips to give a smooth appearance overall. After he had finished, I had some before pictures taken and I then sat down to ask a few questions. I asked what result I could expect and he said that he would expect a completely flat stomach and I also asked if I could achieve abdominal muscle definition and he agreed he thought I would. I then asked about the shape of the new belly button, as having researched other people’s surgeries, I have found a massive difference in the shape that different surgeons do. He said that he made v shaped incisions as round holes looked un-natural and I agreed that this is what I was hoping for. After signing my consent form I nervously returned back to the ward.

Back on the ward I was an emotional wreck and found it hard to hold back the tears. I was extremely frightened of being put to sleep and what pain to expect afterwards and just wanted to get everything over with. I grabbed the chunk of skin on my stomach and said a thankful goodbye which again made me realise how much I wanted the surgery. 3\\\\\\\'oclock arrived and after a long hug with my mum and kissing the pictures of my family and my children, the anaesthetist walked me down to theatre. I felt incredibly guilty for putting my mum and family under the worry for me especially as my mum has had see my brother off to theatre several times for serious heart surgery and I knew it would be bringing all the feelings back. The support from my family and friends was fantastic regardless of their concerns as they realise how important and life changing the surgery would be for me.

I lay on the operating table here the anaesthetist told me that I would be asleep within 5 minutes. I was crying and the last thing I remember was seeing a mask coming towards my face which smelt terrible. For some bizarre reason I said “no” and moved my head away, it\\\\\\\'s not like I wanted the surgery done awake!! That was the last I remember and was in the land of nod!!!

In what felt like a split second later I awoke being told it was all over, which I felt relieved. I felt the tight binder belt being fastened around my tummy and the nurses had to push my legs down as I had a natural urge to draw them up with the pain. I was transferred to my bed and covered with covers, a blanket a duvet and an electric heated blanket. Even with all this I felt unbelievably cold and could not stop my body from shaking. The nurse reassured me that the shaking was a normal reaction after anaesthetic and it would pass. The shaking made the pain in the wound very uncomfortable and after a drip of painkiller I had to ask for something stronger. All I wanted to do was sleep but with the pain I couldn\\\\\\\'t settle. The nurse gave me an injection in my thigh which gave excellent pain relief and made me sleep.

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