Author Topic: My surgery in Poland with Katarzyna Ostrowska Clark  (Read 13174 times)

Offline zack42

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Hi everyone,

Before I start I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has posted their stories on here.  Surgery is a big decision and health is the most important aspect in our lives so I think we all try to do as much research as we can to ensure that we're doing the right thing.  Without people taking the time to update this board with their experiences then I don't think I'd have ever considered doing this at all.

So where do I start with my story?  I've suffered with gynecomastia since puberty and one day whilst looking for a solution I stumbled across this forum.  After reading the UK boards for a while I didn't think I could really afford surgery at this stage in my life (I'm 27), with costs of £4k-£5k.  However for some reason I clicked on the Europe section and started to read the reviews from those who had been to Szczecin.  After further research I decided to email the surgery and ask for more information.

I got a reply from Jeremy and it has to be said he's not always the quickest at getting back to you and the patient form he sends you looks far from professional!  It's a shame because I don't think that is a reflection on the surgery at all.

I got a date confirmed, paid my deposit and booked my flights.  I then spent the next couple of months in the gym and dieting to get my body fat down as much as I could prior to the operation.

Prior to surgery
I stopped alcohol a week before and ate as healthily as I could leading up to the surgery.  You are instructed to stop all supplements a month before but I continued with a multivit - I read that Vitamin E is the concern with multivits because it thins the blood but I found one with low Vitamin E levels from Holland & Barrett.

I flew into Berlin Schoenefeld and Jeremy had organised for a coach to take me to Szczecin (he sends you all the info about 2 weeks before your op).  The coach was easy to find and the journey to Szczecin took about 2.5 hours.  I was dropped off at Hotel Ibis quite late in the evening so got something to eat from the hotel restaurant and some bottled water from a shop just down the road.  The Ibis Centrum is conveniently located and although basic, had everything I needed really (other than a fridge which would have been handy).  For the price it's great value.

Operation Day
On the day of the operation Jeremy rang at 8am and like the others on here I was taken for blood tests and ultrasound before being dropped back at my hotel.  I was allowed to eat until 11am so I got a sandwich, some fruit and a yoghurt from the shop near Ibis and then waited in my room until 2.45pm when a taxi came and took me to the surgery.

I had my consultation with Katarzyna and she explains the process and the risks.  To be honest she is straight-talking and she didn't exactly put me at ease!  She's very nice but obviously can't guarantee anything and by this stage I was getting a bit nervous.  She went through my blood tests and then I signed the consent forms.

I unpacked some of the things I wanted after surgery in my private room (phone & charger etc) and put on a gown.  The surgery itself is modern and clean and my room was nice with a Plasma TV on the wall and a toilet next door.

Katarzyna called me through before taking some pictures and making some further marks on my chest (in addition to those made by the ultrasound expert).  The anaesthetist put his needle into my arm and the next thing I knew I was waking up a couple of hours later.

Katarzyna was there and told me everything had gone well and I was taken to my room.  It took me 20-30mins to really wake up and then I felt absolutely fine.  I wasn't in any real pain and was pleased when the nurse brought me my sandwiches and drinks etc.  I watched some football on the TV for a couple of hours and then turned the lights out to get some sleep.  The night nurse didn't speak much English but checked on me every hour (or maybe more often) in the night and reassured me that everything was ok.

I had to get up a few times in the night to use the toilet.  I felt a bit swollen and stiff, and it's wise to sit on the side of the bed for a while before getting up because I was a bit light-headed too.

Day 2
I woke up around 6.30am, the nurse brought me breakfast and I watched more TV before Katarzyna arrived.  There wasn't any fluid going into my drains so she made the decision to take them out then and change my dressings.

Before putting the dressings on she stood me in front of a mirror to see the results.  I'm going to be honest and admit that I didn't have the euphoric moment that others have experienced.  I'm quite squeamish so didn't really want to look and in truth it was like looking at somebody else's body.  It didn't look or feel like mine at all and appeared beyond flat if that is possible. I should also mention that Katarzyna informed me the nipples were still alive and she gave them a bit of a tweaking to keep the blood flowing to them - ouch!

After that I was given a prescription for painkillers, antibiotics and heparin cream.  I got them from the pharmacy next door and Katarzyna ordered me a taxi to take me back to my hotel.  Just one word of warning - the painkillers they prescribe are Nimesulide which has been banned in the UK because of its potential for liver damage so I didn't use them.  Take some paracetamol with you.

I have to admit I didn't feel quite ready to be let out into the world!  I felt sore and vulnerable and found it awkward to walk.  They recommend that you spend the rest of the day in the hotel and I agree completely.  Get room service or use the hotel bar but don't go out and about - I did go to the shops and later to a restaurant but both times wished I had just stayed in my room.

I was on my own and felt a bit lonely and did start to wonder if I'd done the right thing with such a long road to recovery ahead.  The prospect of spending the next 4 nights in Szczecin was not exactly appealing either!

Days 3-5
On day 3 I went back to the surgery and had my dressings changed again.  My movement got better every day and I felt a bit more confident being out and about as time went on.  I continued to eat healthily as much as I could and although my chest felt weird I started to feel better about myself.  The compression vest is ok but it gave me severe back pain when trying to sleep so I kept waking up and it wasn't very pleasant at all - I'm hoping that subsides with time.  I tried walked around Szczecin a bit to break up the days although it's essential to take a laptop with you - Ibis has free WiFi which is handy.  I went out to eat at various restaurants in the evenings and you can eat very well for not much money.  Just be careful not to get too bloated - it's not fun with the compression vest on!

On day 5 I had another check up with Katarzyna.  She pulled on my nipples twice each side to prevent them from sticking to the muscle and she showed me how to massage too - both were extremely painful and judging by reports on the UK forums I think the first week might be too early for massage.  It was way too tender!  She changed my dressings, gave me some to take home and I picked up some sterile gauze from the chemist next door.

I travel home tomorrow and am looking forward to getting back to the UK.  So far I have been really impressed by Katarzyna and the aftercare that they provide.  The time here in Szczecin has gone much quicker than I thought it would on the second day and my movement has improved each day as well.

I still haven't taken the vest off to have a look for myself yet and I haven't had a shower either (well I have but for the lower half of my body only).  That will probably sound really weird to everyone but I just haven't been able to bring myself to look just yet.  I'll have to man up tomorrow because I'll need to change my own dressings etc and have a proper shower.

So I can't yet review the results of the surgery but I will try to in due course.  All I can say is that travelling to Poland is not a big deal and the logistics are fairly straightforward with Jeremy there to help.  I haven't got anything negative to report yet and I hope that continues.

I know I have a long and probably stressful road to recovery ahead which will take many months.  I plan to take each day as it comes because it's a bit overwhelming to think of it as a whole.  I'm keen to get back exercising asap but I know how important it is to let the body heal first so I won't rush anything.

Thanks again to all the others for their stories and if anyone has any questions please let me know - I've probably missed a lot out.

I'll try to update as well when I can.

Zack.

Linkback: https://www.gynecomastia.org/forum/index.php?topic=26573.0

Offline zack42

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Small update.

Back in the UK now.  Journey went to plan and the transfer to the airport that Jeremy organised was on time etc.

Just stocked up on fresh fruit & veg and had my first shower this morning.

Chest is still swollen but otherwise looks extra flat.  Katarzyna seems to have done a neat job with the stitching.

I rubbed in some heparin cream - my skin is still numb with some dull soreness underneath but not too bad.  I tried to pull the nipples away as instructed but I'm not sure I did it properly because I was a bit nervous really.  Will have another go tomorrow.

Every day my movement gets a little bit better.  I realise that things can deteriorate from here and I haven't started massaging yet so a long way to go.

Offline zack42

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The pain is subsiding every day - in fact I haven't taken a painkiller since the day after the operation.

I've finished my course of antibiotics and have a few more days to recover before returning to work next week.  I have bought a compression vest from MACOM to wear underneath my shirts for work because they're much less visible than the wrap that Katarzyna provides you with.

Just in terms of tips for things to take with you to Poland, here are 10 things I would recommend:

1. Button-up shirt a size too big for you.
2. Zip-up top/jumper a size too big for you.
3. A warm loose coat (depending on the time of year).
4. Easy to slip on shoes/trainers.
5. Multivits + any other vitamins/supplements you want post-surgery (I took Vitamin C too).
6. Bag of dried fruit & nuts (good easy source of nutrition post-op).
7. Baby wipes - to have a wash/clean after surgery before you can have a shower.
8. Polish Zlotys - I took £150 worth and had money left over after all taxis, meds, food, drink etc.
9. Paracetamol - to use instead of the Nimesulide you get prescribed if you need painkillers (although I didn't).
10. Laptop - you will have a few days post-op to recover in Poland and I was very glad I took my laptop (with some films on it) for entertainment.


On the day of the surgery I left my phone charger plugged in and a couple of bottles of mineral water by the side of my bed before the operation so they were there ready when I came out.  You might want to ring somebody to let them know how it went and you'll need plenty of fluids too.  The nurse will bring you as much as you want, but I was glad I had a couple of bottles there so I didn't have to keep bothering her.

Offline zack42

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I forgot to say what it all cost me.

For the operation (including excision & lipo), flights, hotel, medication, taxis, compression vest, spending money etc, the total was about £2,000.

Offline zack42

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A week post op now.

Chest still feels very odd and I don't like touching it much.  So rather than massage by hand I've started using an electric massager through the compression vest.  It probably doesn't do much but I might continue with that for a week and then start proper massage in a week's time if I can.

I've been taking Arnica & Bromelain since the day after the op and I'm not suffering with much bruising or swelling anymore.  I've seen on other people's reports that the swelling often gets worse in the second week so I'm not getting carried away.

I'm sticking to a healthy diet with plenty of fluids and no alcohol.  Just trying to give my body the best chance to recover.  I don't want to put on too much weight though during the 6 weeks without exercise so I'm going to start limiting my carbs a bit more from now on.

I'm sleeping a bit better now and although I'm still a bit stiff and sore when I wake up in the morning, I'm not getting the severe back-ache that I was during the first few nights.

Offline Pez2

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Sounds like you're healing well  :)
How's the bruising and how was mobility in the first week?
Just take it easy, Limiting carbs if you're not exercising and not looking to gain weight is a good idea, although I wouldn't worry too much... you can get out there with your new chest and do sports you never could before and burn it all off  :)
Would be good to see some pre/post pics
Gyno free :)

Offline zack42

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Hi Pez2,

The bruising has almost completely disappeared now.  Katarzyna said I didn't bleed a lot and I was able to have my drains out the morning after the operation so perhaps I was just lucky in that regard.  I never had much bruising at all.

I am indeed looking forward to getting started with sports & exercise - seems like a long way away now but hopefully the time will fly by.  I also realise there can still be complications with the recovery so just taking each day as it comes for now.

I promise to get some photos up soon.

Offline zack42

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Another day down.  Went out for a long walk yesterday and the cold weather made my chest tense up - it didn't cause any real pain except a slightly stinging sensation around the nipples.

I'm due to get my stitches out tomorrow afternoon assuming the incisions are healing as they should.  My movement is still improving and I can now lift my arms above my head (although I do feel a slight pull when I do this).

Another tip for people whilst I remember it: make sure that you shave your armpits and chest hair.  I did, and am very glad I did because it stings when they first remove the dressings - if they were attached to body hair I suspect it would have been agony.

I'm going back to work tomorrow so will change my compression wrap to a vest I bought from Macom.  If you put the code "mybreast" in at the checkout you get a discount.  These vests are recommended by Katarzyna and I think Karidis provides them to all his patients too.

Offline Poland2012

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Hey. I'll be almost exactly a month after you, so I'll be following this thread closely Photos would be great, but I'd be more interested in any tips for surviving in Poland. Cheers.

Offline zack42

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You'll be fine in Poland don't worry!

Take things to keep you entertained - laptop, DVDs etc.  For the first couple of days post op you won't feel like doing much.

Immediately after the operation, 4 more days in a foreign country seemed like a lifetime but it goes quickly.

Katarzyna and the nurses will look after you well - you have nothing to be worried about.

Offline zack42

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I had my stitches taken out earlier.

The nurse commented on how fine and neat the stitching had been done & was impressed with Katarzyna's work on that front.  She also said the incisions have healed well which is a relief.

I went back to work today and didn't have any problems so slowly getting back to normal life.  I plan to take it easy now for a few days and then get going properly on the massaging.

Offline zack42

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The nurse told me to keep dressing the incisions/nipples for a few more days so I'll probably keep putting fresh jelonet on every day this week and then I can just wear the compression vest on its own from next week onwards.

I'm using an electric massager through the vest for 30mins per day but will try to start properly with my hands tomorrow.  I still feel tender but I'd like to keep scar tissue to a minimum if I can.  I have my full range of movement back now although I do feel a slight pull when stretching my arms above my head.

The Macom vest is reasonably comfortable and invisible beneath a shirt.  I'll keep wearing the surgery's compression wrap at night.

Offline Poland2012

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Has the scar tissue started to form yet?

Offline zack42

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I think so Poland.  Chest is feeling a bit lumpy but I'm not quite sure what is swelling and what is scar tissue.  I haven't been massaging with my hands to really get to grips with it either but will start soon.

I have scabs that have developed on the end of both nipples & had a small amount of blood coming from one after my shower this morning.  I've seen others get the same thing so hopefully it's nothing to worry about but I'll keep an eye on it.

Offline Poland2012

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Can you give me a run down and timeline on the swelling? I've not been able to really find a clear description of what it's like; is it watery, fleshy, rubbery?


 

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