FFS at 2pass Clinic2019-11-11 07:58, 9 months and 2 weeks ago
It’s hard to believe that only 8 months ago I was making my plans to drop out of uni to pursue FFS - not exactly something I considered lightly - but the thought of spending 4 years doing a degree looking like this was reason enough…, here I am now though, mostly out of the woods in regards to swelling and with a new face 😌
Just to get it out of the way the surgery was just short of £16,000, and I spent another ~£1,000 on flights, taxis, x-rays & passports + other misc. stuff… like yogurts. For that amount I got: rhinoplasty, chin recontouring with advancement & liposuction, type 1 forehead reconstruction (orbital rim shave), browlift and a hairline advancement.
I’ve been at 2pass clinic since the 4th of November, but in Belgium since the third. Overall my experience was pretty good, apart from feeling like total garbage and being mostly drugged up it wasn’t as bad or nearly as painful as I was expecting. I would definitely recommend 2pass to anyone looking into FFS.
It’s now the 11th and I’m a few hours from getting my bandages off, so I thought I’d take the time to sort of chronicle how I planned getting FFS, how much it roughly costs, the unexpected parts of it that I wasn’t told and to detail the whole experience for anyone else looking into 2pass.
In the months prior to coming here I had to sort out a few things: blood tests, an OPG scan & a new passport. The first of which I acquired after a bit of hassling to my GP, they were a bit awkward about the fact the surgery wasn’t being performed by the NHS but allowed my blood tests anyway.
The OPG was a bit more difficult, my dentist turned me down - and so too did my GP, I had to go to my local general hospital and check in as a private patient and pay £89.99 for the scan, this took about a month though so I’m glad I planned in advance.
My passport was due for expiry too so I had to renew it because of Brexit or something, I wanted this passport to have a female sex marker on it too, for this I had to send a letter from my psychologist saying that my “change of gender is likely to be permanent”, as well as a few other documents like my deed poll & bank statements using my new name. The new passport cost me £85 and took around a month to be processed and sent back to me.
3rd, travelling to Antwerp
Set off early at 8:00am to arrive at Manchester Airport with plenty of time, got a McMuffin on the way which was super nice, it was pretty foggy on the way to the airport but nevertheless a pretty uneventful and fast drive.
Arriving at airport I had to explain to my mum that: no, you didn’t actually need to go up and check in since I’d took the liberty of doing all that online and printing the boarding passes off months ago, I think she’s still stuck in the 90’s where you actually have to interact with people to get things done, archaic. We only brought hand luggage and that was a bit of a faff, they had to be checked over because I think my razor set off the alarms, also, I got asked if I was over the age of 16 and then some guy patted me down, I was slightly nervous they’d take me aside because he patted down my boobs a bit and I was worried that he might’ve thought I was trying to smuggle in drugs or something.
My flight was FR3432, booked with RyanAir to Eindhoven (I would’ve flown to Brussels but there were no flights from the 2nd to like the 13th for some reason 😕), 2 persons return: £132, £33pp each way is pretty good.
The flight was scheduled at 12:45, but we arrived like two hours earlier so I just sat around and played some Celeste, managed to beat a whole stage, maybe I was spurred on a bit by over-lookers behind me waiting to board. We boarded at the rear of the plane since I picked seats 22A/B (my favourite number), the whole time in my head before we were about to set off all I could think about is those Air Crash Investigation documentary’s where the wings just randomly rip off the plane and everyone dies, bit of an uncomfortable flight, RyanAir isn’t exactly known for their luxury, also there were a bunch of obnoxiously loud people in-front of us who were probably drunk that made the flight a bit unbearable.
After we landed we got a taxi with probably the most professional taxi driver in the world, full suit attire, even opened the door for me, very nice - although when I saw the meter I probably should’ve seen it coming, €30 for a 15 minute drive to the train station! I was even more annoyed that my mum tipped him €5 and then complained about the price… really?
I managed to book some train tickets using the Omio app to Antwerp for about £45 which was a bit more expensive than I was expecting considering the Europeans tout how good their rail network is, just about as expensive as England from the looks of it. The train was super spacious and comfy though. We had to change trains at Breda and got slightly lost, my mum had to ask someone which platform the train to Antwerp was at, apparently in Europe us an app called 9292 for all this stuff so the signage is sort of lacking in comparison to the massive boards with every arrival/departure like you have in England.
We arrived in Antwerp at about 6pm, we got another taxi to the Crowne Plaza Hotel to stay the night before pre-op tomorrow at 1pm which was about 12 euro-ish. The hotel was alright, nothing special for what I paid, £78. Probably wouldn’t stay again since it was situated next to a ring-road which making sleeping a bit difficult.
4th, pre-op with Dr Bart.
I woke up pretty early because I was nervous about the pre-op, I had a cup of tea from the hotel provided teabags, which, as to be expected, was pretty subpar - nothing compared to English tea. At around 12:30 we got the hotel to order us a taxi and I was on my way to the o2 clinic.
When I arrived I checked in at the reception and waited for someone to collect me. Petra, the permanent resident who lives in the guest-house and takes care of a lot of people came down to say hello and told me that she would be showing me around.
When we got into the guest-house she gave me a little flag pin to put on the world map to show where you had come from to 2pass. I struggled to put mine in since there were so many stuck into England. They’ve had so many people come from London and other places that they’ve started to use big white pins to represent 10 people.
Petra showed me around some more, we talked a bit about what surgeries I was having and she told us about how she became a permanent resident in around 2016 after having FFS with Dr Bart. She then gave us some lunch which was this really nice tomato soup with chicken meatballs.
The living room and kitchen are really nice, clean and modern, there’s a big table where everyone comes at breakfast, lunch and dinner to eat together, it’s a bit amusing to watch people with their lips super swollen all bandaged try and eat. From the kitchen there’s a patio if you want to step outside into the fresh air, I only did this a couple of times since it’s quite cold in Antwerp this time of year.
I was sort of lucky in that the previous week everyone had been on holiday, so I was the first person to arrive and no-one else would arrive until after I had had my surgery.
The pre-op with Dr Bart was interesting, he took some more photos of my face and created a simulation of my profile, after asking if I wanted anything changing with it, he sat me on this huge medical chair and took some measurements of my face with a ruler and also showed what I could expect the hairline lowering to look like by pulling down the skin on my forehead (kinda hurt). He then explained where he would make the incisions and how each procedure would be done (apparently there’s 3 titanium screws in the bottom of my chin now). Afterwards we sat back down at the table and he made some sketches/plans on how many mm he would take off my nose and things like that.
After all that he gave me the huge amount of drugs I would need over the coming week, Zolpidem, Lorezepam, Diclofenac, Codeine & Temestra, all guaranteed to probably have me high as hell for the time I took them 🥴.
I went back to check out my room afterwards which surprisingly had an en-suite toilet, I only paid for the single room… I watched TV for a bit and unpacked, later my mum proposed we go out somewhere for a drink since I wouldn’t be able for the weeks afterwards, we walked around a bit admiring Antwerp until we found a place called Park West - which was totally filled with old people and fancy drinks. My mum asked for a pint of lager (which they didn’t have, they only had tiny beers), I asked for a Mocha but somehow ended up with an Espresso which I drank out of stubbornness. Gross.
After that we picked some yogurts up from the supermarket nearby and went back home, watched TV some more, had dinner with Petra then settled in for the night. I had a pretty restless night, I was anxious about tomorrow and kept pawing at my face thinking about tonight would be the last night I’d feel these features.
5th, day of the operation
Woke up quite early at around 6am, brushed my teeth twice and donned my operation gown & seductive compression tights, very trendy. Mostly just sat around twiddling my thumbs waiting for 7:30 to swing around, I took a Temestra which mellowed me out a bit. I took one last picture of my face in the mirror.
At around 7:15 I was called by a nurse, hugged my mum (who immediately started crying as I got in the lift), got escorted to the theater room, sat around and waited a bit looking at all the fancy technical equipment and my face + jaw x-ray up on a light-board.
Soon the anesthesiologists asked me to get onto the operating table, they hooked me up to all kinds of machines and I could hear my heart blaring on the heart rate monitor, they kept saying “She’s so nervous”, “You’re shaking” etc - Well yeah, I’m about to have my face carved open, not exactly going to be chill about it am I?
They failed to put my cannula in two times which sort of exacerbated my heart rate, I’ve had this issue in the past with several nurses failing to find my veins, eventually they stuck it in and the last thing I can remember is them saying: “You’re going to sleep now”.
The good thing about anesthetic is that you don’t dream, it’s sort of just like a teleportation potion, one minute you’re going under, the next you awake in a totally different place feeling really crap.
Anyway, I wake up, feeling suuuuper woozy from the morphine or something, I kept passing in and out of consciousness occasionally asking the night nurse if I could have my phone, she says no obviously since I’m basically delirious. I remember waking up and feeling very nauseous, I tell the nurse I feel I’m about to be sick and she dashes for the sick bucket - I threw up a lot of blood, deep red blood. That’s one thing I wasn’t expecting or had read about. I was really worried by this but the nurse explained it was just blood I had swallowed during the surgery that my stomach was rejecting - comforting…
I threw up blood about three times. One of the times I turned around to look at my pillow which was completely stained with blood, from the hairline incisions of course. Looking back on pictures I can see how matted and full of my blood my hair was, a real mess. I was in the recovery room for about 6 - 8 hours, after which I was put on a wheel chair and taken to my room.
I had this cooling machine on my face all night - not literally, just the mask. Also, apparently the surgery only took 3hrs 30mins as opposed to the 4hr 30m that Dr Bart had allocated.
6th, 7th, 8th, 9th & 10th, recovery
For the first 3 days I was so high off painkillers and sleeping pills I can barely remember much, on the 7th I had to get a shower because crusts were forming on my hairline staples. Petra and my mum took me to the shower where I sat on a little fold out chair in the shower, I’m kind of thankful for being so high since I don’t think I could’ve managed the awkwardness of me being almost entirely naked except for some pants and a towel over my chest, while my mum and a person I’d only met 3 days ago washed me.
It was really hard to eat initially since my mouth couldn’t open very far and my lips were swollen, I was also very clumsy and kept dropping the food from the fork, luckily for me I had sippy cups so I couldn’t spill any drinks over myself.
Since I was one of the only people in the clinic I managed to get the cooling mask machine for about 2 or 3 days, whereas other people usually only get it for 1 or 2 days, I think this stopped my face from completely exploding into swelling like some of the other people here. You can really see how the swelling and bruising moved around my face on the above pics - looks like I have eyeshadow on in some of the pics. One girl couldn’t see for 2 days because her eyes were so swollen and purple, it looked pretty horrible to be honest.
The infamous quote comes to mind:
Cooling, cooling, cooling!
– Petra, like all the time.
By the 8th I started to feel a bit better, able to eat more, stay awake for longer and such, Petra was worried I wasn’t moving much so I tried to walk outside to the supermarket to get my circulation going, Petra lended me a pink hat to cover my stitches, which was pretty cute - I managed to walk to the super market but was so tired I needed the wheelchair on the way back, pretty embarassing 😣
At night time I was having real difficulty breathing because my sinuses were so blocked, you get given nasal drops (that are absolutely horrible by the way) which do a fantastic job of clearing out nasal congestion - if only for a few hours. My breathing got so bad to the point where I had a quasi panic attack and started to hyperventilate, Petra came in with some ice cream (she’s so kind) which was a nice distraction and it helped calm me down. I think most of the difficulty with breathing is that since my nose passages were so blocked I had to mouth breathe all the time, I keep finding my tongue and throat to be so dry it hurts, even drinking water doesn’t help much to hydrate it - I’ve found that eating food helps a lot more in this regard though.
The 9th & 10th were a bit weird, I was definitely more ‘conscious’ and I felt good in the morning, eating lots and then by lunch time extremely tired, I would sleep in for about 5 hours until 6pm and wake up wet with sweat, I’m not sure if it was just the drugs working their way out my system or what but I was very fatigued to the point where on the 10th I didn’t go outside to walk.
At night time on the 10th I was feeling much better, I had tea, which was this super yummy chicken burger with some sort of sweet potato mash and gravy. I watched some English telly, tipping point, the chase etc. and just tried to relax. Since I had been sleeping all day I thought it was a good idea to take some Zolpidem and Lorezepam so I would sleep through the night, I decided I would go on my laptop for a bit until I felt them working, this had the unintended side effect of sending me on what I can only describe as a shroom trip but without the visuals.
These messages to my boyfriend shortly before I fell asleep basically tell all:
11th, going home
Probably the worst day out of all of them, it’s the 12th now and I was too exhausted to write anything yesterday. Airplane ride was horrible, car home ride was horrible, just generally felt in the worst state of the whole week 😖
At around 11:30pm Dr Bart invited me into his office to take off my chin bandage, nose splint, nose stitches and hairline staples. In terms of pain from most to least it definitely goes: nose stitches, chin bandage, split then staples.
The chin bandage was taken off first and it felt like my skin was being torn off, Dr Bart warned me it would hurt but I had taken some Codeine an hour prior and hoped it wouldn’t as much as it did - my whole skin felt hot and had sharp stabbing pains that throbbed for a few minutes after it was taken off.
The nose stitches were the worst, having strands of nylon being pulled out of an incredibly sensitive area made me cry because of how much it hurt and how many there were to be taken out. The head staples wasn’t painful at all, my forehead and scalp is still very numb so I’m thankful for that. The nose splint wasn’t too bad either, just really uncomfortable, Dr Bart commented on how the tapes glue “gets better every year”, since he had a bit of difficulty taking it off - funny joke.
After all my bandages and such were taken off I was handed a mirror to look at my face, I was already teary from the pain and seeing my new face, now seeing my profile and everything I just started to sob. My mum was near and comforted me but it was just really overwhelming… I never thought I would see my face like this before - I used to feel so nauseated inside looking at my profile before, but now I felt relieved and the emotional stress just came out. I know I’m probably being overly-dramatic but at the time it’s just how I felt. A lot of people probably won’t understand why people do this kind of surgery but it really is sort of life-affirming to look at yourself and not feel an sense of uncomfortableness at the least or intense disgust at the most.
After I’d cried for a bit and blown my nose I went to the photo room so I could get my post-op pictures taken (you can see some tears on my cheeks), apart from looking like I’d gained 20kg in my face because of all the swelling I was really pleased with the results, I talked some more to Dr Bart about things and eventually it was time to leave, he gave me a hug we said our goodbyes.
I stayed with my mum for a bit and then decided to say goodbye and to thank Petra again for looking after me - she really is one of the nicest & caring people I’ve ever met, she always knew what to do and informed me about things, took care of all the patients, cooked tea every night and just generally made the experience so so much more bearable. I think she’s what sets the place apart from other FFS clinics - having the experience of someone whose been through this before is really invaluable, there’s a big difference between a nurse and someone with anecdotal experience of things. When I was about to leave I started crying (common occurrence of the day) again and she hugged me for a long time which made me feel a lot better, she’s sort of like a second mother in a way 💜.
Soon the taxi arrived and it was time to leave, after another emotional goodbye I was on my way to the airport. I mostly just listened to Spotify and tried to get rid of most the snot coming out my nose.
Airport was just the usual, the passport control people gave me surprisingly little trouble, they only asked I took off my hat and did a sort of double take at my passport, then let me through - no need for the fit-to-fly letter.
I was sleeping on the airport chairs when I realized I hadn’t seen the sea cow plushie I had brought in a while - I checked by bag and knew I had left it - cue the tears again… I felt so terrible at the thought of having it potentially found and thrown away by a cleaner that I messaged Petra and the clinic immediately to see if they could find it before the worst could happen.
Luckily she found it and messaged me on facebook telling me she’d put it (seal? easy to be mistaken with a sea cow 🤔) in bed - how many other people would do that?! So nice. Later she messaged me saying it’d been sent downstairs and was being mailed to my address - I said I would pay postage but no need apparently, hopefully it arrives safely in the next few days - the sea cow has had a holiday all of its’ own 😔
12th, 13th, at home
Had a really long sleep last night, super exhausted from traveling still but feeling better today, trying to keep eating and just recover. I know it’s going to take at least 2 months for most of the swelling to go down so I’m stuck looking like a potato until then… which I don’t entirely mind, a cute potato.
I read online you’re not supposed to wear glasses for 4-8 weeks after rhinoplasty so I’ve resorted to taping my glasses to my forehead in order to see, I made some leek-and-potato soup and went to pick up the cats from the cattery.
Going to try and take it easy over the next few weeks, I was thinking I might try my hand at making some of these little things on the left for people as gifts since I still have a bunch of 1206 leds and brass rod hanging about from making my bf’s christmas present.
Anyway, sort of an anti-climatic end to this post - but that’s how this surgery is, it isn’t the peak of my life, it’s just a stepping stone/thing that needs to be done so I can begin to live it in an authentic way - hell, just to go outside even, for so long I’ve felt the need to hide from people and opportunities, at least now maybe I will have the confidence to be more outgoing which is as much as I could’ve ever asked for from this surgery.
So my closing thoughts - if you want FFS should you go to 2pass? Definitely, 100% recommend, super amazing staff, super amazing surgeons and generally just a pleasant (as can possibly be) experience. Maybe in a few months when I’m looking better I’ll post an update, until then 👋
sea cow arrived home safely… 🤗