We (Deborah & Michael) both come from a Healthcare background. Deborah trained as a nurse in the United States and lived there for 12 years, and has had over 20 years nursing experience, both in the US and in the NHS back in England. Michael was trained as a psychotherapist, and met Deborah whilst she was working in an NHS hospital in the UK.
We have a large family – 6 children and 9 grandchildren (at last count!) between us, and we have lived for the last 10+ years in beautiful Cornwall.
We do spend most of our time in the Czech Republic with our patients, though!
Why we formed Cosmetic Bliss
We started Cosmetic Bliss several years ago after we ourselves went abroad for surgery which Deborah had arranged through a UK company. Whilst the surgery went well and the hospital was first class, we had to find our own way there, make our own travel and accommodation arrangements and there was no English speaking representative from the UK company available to tell us how to proceed when we got to the hospital, or to act as a liaison between us and the hospital. We were left very much to our own devices. Deborah’s surgery was successful, though her stay in the hospital was a day longer than the UK company had initially told us. We were given quite a large extra bill from the hospital which had to be paid before she left. On returning home to the UK, the company made no attempt to contact us to see how it all went, and there was no explanation of the additional charge!
This made us think – surely there could be a better, friendlier and more caring way to do this? A way in which patients could get the benefits and expertise of the first class medical treatment and care which can be found outside the UK at a much lower cost than in a British private hospital, yet also be able to benefit from someone on site who is knowledgeable and experienced in the way things work abroad, and who can deal with any problems which may arise and can also help look after the patient when they are in the foreign hospital.
We decided that we were well equipped to do this, and discovered no one else was offering this level of service and help. Plenty of the agencies we looked at said they had a representative on site in the country, but when we investigated, we found that they were either merely sales people, or foreign nationals who were employed to “keep an eye on” the British patients.
We spent many months researching doctors, hospitals and clinics throughout Europe before we finally found partners in whom we were 100% confident and happy to work with and bring patients to. When we were recommended to meet Dr Cierny to discuss bringing our patients to him for weight loss surgery, we were already aware of his international reputation as a leading specialist bariatric surgeon, and knew he had extensive experience lecturing and operating in different countries. What impressed us most when we met him for the first time, though, was his attitude to patient safety. He was insistent on extensive pre-operative checks and examinations, and was equally insistent that patients should not leave his care until they were fully recovered and able to safely return home. We knew that most gastric band surgery patients in the UK and elsewhere were released from hospital either on the day of surgery or the next day. We felt much happier in our own minds that he would not allow this. We know we made the right choice in Dr Cierny, as our success and safety record for weight loss surgery proves. He believes he made the right decision in choosing us to be his exclusive partners for “foreign” patients, as we make certain that the patients arrive for surgery with him properly informed and prepared. He feels very confident in us, knowing that we give patients all the post-operative help and support they need, and he receives through us all the post-operative and statistical information from the patients that he needs for his records. We are currently working together to enable his new hospital in Breclav soon to become a European Centre of Excellence in Bariatric Surgery (CoEBH). This is the highest accreditation which can be awarded by IFSO (The International Federation of Surgery in Obesity)
What we do now
We all work very well together as a team and our patients really value the close personal attention and care we give them. We think it is right not to be too formal or “straight -laced” when dealing with our patients, as it is important that everyone is at their ease and relaxed, but we take what we do very seriously indeed. We think people appreciate clear and detailed answers to their questions and being told honestly what they must do to make a success of the surgery.
Michael will be your point of contact from when you make your initial enquiry up until you arrive for your surgery. He will answer any questions you have, explain anything you are not sure about, plan the visit for surgery with you and make all the travel and hotel arrangements for you. Michael had weight loss surgery in September 2008, you can see some before and after photos of him, and read about his own experiences of surgery with Dr Cierny below. When you arrive at Brno airport, Michael & Deborah will meet you and take you to the Grand Hotel, to settle you in for your first evening and go through all the arrangements for the week with you.
Deborah takes over the next part with you. She takes you up to the hospital early the next morning and stays with you during all your pre-op tests. She will be with you most of the time you are in the hospital – you will see a lot of her, and her job is to make sure you are comfortable and happy. She will help to get you up and moving as quickly as possible after surgery, which is very important. She will go over everything with you to make sure you fully understand how to make the changes which you will need to make after surgery, and give you all the dietary information for the first few weeks after your operation.
Weight loss surgery patients will be under the surgical and nursing care of Dr Cierny and his team in the hospital, who do a great job in providing both expert surgery and first class medical care after the operation. In addition to the hospital’s own nursing staff, Zuzana our Czech nurse will be there to look after you with Deborah. Zuzana has worked with us looking after Cosmetic Bliss Weight Loss patients for over two years. She speaks perfect English, being a part-time English teacher, and is very kind and supportive. We really appreciate all she does for us.
After we began offering our weight loss surgery we quickly realised that the surgery was only really the first step in the process of successful weight loss and that for our patients to achieve a sustained and healthy weight loss not only must they be at the right psychological point when they had the surgery – in the right frame of mind to make a success of it – but also that they would need support, nutritional and exercise advice and lots of encouragement to help them on their way.
We give our patients nutritional diet and exercise advice and provide the essential after-care and support. We will contact all patients before they come out for surgery, and provide lots of nutrition and healthy eating information for the immediate post-operative period (the first six weeks), which enables them to make the transition back to solid food after their operation, including some tips on what to stock in their food cupboard to prepare for their return from surgery! We are available at all times after your surgery to help and advise you on any aspect of healthy diet, nutrition and exercise, and will stay in touch with you for as long as you need our help and support after your surgery – and at the very minimum for 2 years after your operation.
Michael’s Weight Loss Surgery
I had weight loss surgery (a Sleeve Gastrectomy) performed by Dr Cierny on 15th September 2008.
I think it might be useful to explain what led up to the decision, and how the surgery went, and also let you see some photos of my progress following surgery as the months passed.
I was an obese child, and in common with most people who suffer from obesity developed bad habits early. I was taught it was bad manners not to clear your plate, and food and mealtimes were important in my family when growing up. As a teenager, I managed not to be too big – but those were the years of plenty of exercise, and in adult life I always found it a struggle not to increase weight.
As middle age crept up on me so did an increased waistline, and in my early forties I found that I had reached almost 18 stone (BMI 37). With some effort, 7 or 8 years ago I managed to lose 5 stone through a combination of diet and exercise, and I really thought I had it licked! However, human nature being what it is, I gradually let things slide, and by the beginning of 2008 – no surprise – I had well exceeded the 18 stone mark again. My work makes regular exercise difficult, (a poor excuse, I know) and after having a full health check by Dr Cierny and his team I had to face up to the fact that, at age 52, and with hypertension, very high cholesterol levels and glucose serum levels which made me borderline diabetic, some drastic action was needed if I was ever going to control my weight and become healthy again.
On the 1st September 2008 I started the pre-op low fat diet to reduce liver size. I also began taking 700mg Milk Thistle daily and gave up alcohol, in an effort to reduce enzyme levels in the liver. The diet was not so bad, and at least it was only for 2-3 weeks. (Starting weight 18st 4 lbs)
On 15th September Dr Cierny announced he was able to operate on me that afternoon. We had 2 UK patients for surgery the following day, slightly fewer than usual, so it was the ideal time. Weight 17st 6lbs – lost 12 lbs on the pre-op diet. It’s not the main purpose of the diet, but any weight reduction helps the surgery. The operation went well, and I went back to our apartment in Brno later that week. There is pain after surgery – it can’t be helped, but the pain relief works well, and the nurses take good care of you. Deborah, naturally, was very attentive, although she had other Cosmetic Bliss patients to look after, too.
I followed the post-op diet and eating advice pretty well, and in the weeks that followed can honestly say I did not feel hungry ever – though it does take some getting used to slowing down the speed of eating, and it is sometimes hard to believe how small the portion size you can eat really is. I made the odd mistake in the first few weeks and months post-op – everyone does! – mostly by eating a little too quickly or a little too much, but you soon learn to listen to what your body is telling you. The main thing is to remember that because you are no longer taking in the sheer volume of food you did before surgery, you have to make sure of the quality and nutritional value of what you do eat. I take my daily vitamins and supplements as recommended by Dr Cierny, and also make sure I eat regularly – albeit very small meals.
I am now stable at a weight of just over 12 st, (BMI 23.5) a year after surgery. I am healthier (the hypertension, high blood sugar and cholesterol have all disappeared) I feel so much better and happier in myself, and I can exercise more. When I first started to lose a significant amount of weight it was great to be able to bend over without panting, and to look down and see my feet again after so long only being able to see the bulge of my stomach!
1 year post op in trousers saved from before surgery!!