At the end of last year, my sister Sam and I had two weeks in Lithuania where she had a “Mummy Makeover” – a series of plastic surgery operations involving a breast lift (mastopexy), tummy tuck (abdominoplasty), and liposuction. This was at the Nordesthetics clinic in Kaunas.
We chose Nordestetics for reasons I’ll go into below. I did most of the research into the clinic beforehand, and we took lots of pictures and notes when we were there.
Now we’re back home in the UK, we’ve decided to write up a complete review and guide to Nordesthetics (or “Nords” as many people call it), with the full story on how it all went, in case it’s useful for those considering going to have similar procedures.
Disclaimer: Everyone’s body is different, and these results aren’t necessarily indicative of how the same procedures might affect another individual. This isn’t medical or financial advice – this article is for informational purposes only.
This is a LONG read, so grab a cuppa – and you’ll probably want a pen and paper or your phone to take notes! We did tons of research on every aspect of the trip, so hope it helps if you’re about to do the same.
Covered in this Article:
Plastic Surgery Abroad: Why Lithuania? [and Not Turkey]
When Sam first started researching tummy tucks abroad (including the all-inclusive “mummy makeover” packages) she looked at Turkey first. It’s been in the press a lot, some celebs have done it, and prices seemed cheaper than anywhere else.
There are a LOT of companies and clinics selling plastic surgery in Turkey. It’s incredibly difficult to wade through them and assess their quality. Many have a slick marketing operation with websites that look legit, but don’t give much ‘real’ information.
A lot of online reviews can’t be trusted, unless the person can prove they actually attended the clinic (which is why we’re writing this first-hand account!).
Remember, anyone can fill in a 5-star review form online, and anyone can put what they like on a website (which is why we’re including all our own pictures and reports here).
How We Made a Shortlist of Clinics (and How You Can, Too)
After sending initial emails out to a handful of clinics (including Nords), it was easier to make a shortlist. If you’re thinking of having plastic surgery abroad, you should do this too – get a few quotes, and assess the quality of the responses you get. Do lots of research.
Things you should check are:
- Full CVs of surgeons with membership of internationally-recognized medical associations (not just local ones, or associate memberships) – for example, can you call the association and see if the surgeon really is a member? Who are their colleagues? Who can vouch for them? Where are they professionally recognized? Where have they practised? Are they board certified?
- Are they a “real” business that you can call and get through to – not just a mobile/Whatsapp number and PO box? Is there a reception you can speak to, or a representative?
- Do the reviews and pictures online seem legit? Are they photoshopped? Do they appear on other sites or Instagram feeds?
- Are there first-hand accounts of people’s visits there, and their results?
- Finally, if it’s too good to be true – it usually is. Medical care is not something to be taken lightly. This is your body, and your life in their hands.
Nords was one of the few clinics that said that Sam should try and get her BMI down first, to achieve better results and to lower the risk of complications. This, to me, was a good thing – it indicated that they prioritised medical responsibility over securing the surgery booking.
In contrast, almost all of the Turkish clinics said yes, they’d do the procedure, with no reference to risks, BMI or anything else. Many were cash only (big red flag, in my book) and one couldn’t even spell ‘medicine'(!). It’s a minefield out there.
We eventually shortlisted clinics in Lithuania and Prague. EU countries also have an advantage here, since they have their own higher standards and laws if you want to practise medicine in the EU. Despite Brexit, the UK still maintains a reciprocal health agreement with all EU countries (more on this later).
Why We Chose Nordesthetics
In a nutshell, after a lot of research, here are some of the reasons we chose Nords:
- Certified and experienced surgeons who had practised in many other European countries, many of whom were members of respected medical societies or associations (and I checked)
- The parent company (Artmedica, UAB) is licensed by the Lithuanian Ministry of Health and adheres to European standards for practising medicine (yep, I checked this as well)
- No extreme reviews that indicated any sort of serious negligence or death – whereas there was a handful of these for other clinics. Bear in mind there ARE negative reviews, and there ARE things that go wrong, as with any surgical clinic, but these are for mixed reasons – more on this later. Every plastic surgery clinic will have someone unhappy with their results, or people who get infections, but wilful medical negligence is a whole different thing.
- Majority positive reviews across many channels (Trustpilot, TrueSelf, Facebook, Google My Business) with many that seemed genuine.
- A real physical office / business with multiple forms of contact – not just a “PO Box” or rented office space (watch out for this with some clinics).
- A community Facebook group for either men or women to discuss their journey at Nords and help each other out.
A note on the Nordesthetics Facebook Groups
Joining this “surgical journey” group was very important to Sam, since she wanted to speak to others who had already been for surgery, and see how it was going afterward.
The Facebook group is moderated by Nords, but on the whole they seem to leave most posts up – even ones that could be viewed as negative or complaining. To me, this is a good sign – they could just delete or suppress anything negative. It’s much more preferable to keep an open dialogue and address problems in public.
There are also private, unofficial Whatsapp groups that people tend to join for their surgery month – just to make it easier to connect with people having surgery at the same time.
There are pros and cons to the Facebook and Whatsapp groups:
- Extremely supportive and helpful community
- You can ‘make friends’ with other people having surgery at the same time and then meet up in real life for support whilst you’re in the clinic (and after!)
- Reassurance when you need it from those who have ‘been there’
- Plenty of before and after (and during!) pictures of other women’s results
- The chance to ask niggling questions day or night to sympathetic ears
- Recommendations for useful things like what to pack, or things like scar cream and other bits and pieces you need to buy later on
- Well-meaning but unqualified medical advice. I’ve seen some recommendations for things like supplements, pills, or creams that aren’t scientifically proven. I’m sure they may work for some, but it’s not wise to dish out medical recommendations to people, even if they’ve had the same surgery.
- There can sometimes be drama and frightening/graphic photos. Infections seem quite common (more on this later as Sam experienced this too) and depending on how they’re dealt with, can make others anxious and upset.
- For example, Sam nearly didn’t have liposuction because one woman said it gave her unbelievable pain. As it turns out, it was the least painful procedure and Sam very nearly didn’t have any lipo because of this one dramatic comment.
This circles back to my original point – everyone is different, and you have to do what’s right for YOU, and you should make that decision in conjunction with proper medical advice.
If you DO decide on Nords, or just want to hear what happened next, then read on:
When to Go for Surgery, and for How Long
This, of course, depends if you have the choice – lots of people can only get time off work/childcare and so on at a given date.
If you have the option, you might want to consider that swelling and the compression garments are likely to be uncomfortable when you’re hot, so if you’re flexible, go in a cooler month.
We went in November, which was fine – but very cold. Icy paths outside are probably a bad idea to tackle, but it certainly helped with managing the inevitable heat/itching/swelling issues.
Depending on the amount of surgery you’re having, you might have to stay longer than you think in Lithuania. The clinic will clear you medically for flying home, and give a minimum of about 5 days’ stay depending on your surgery.
I would STRONGLY recommend that you take much more time. Flying is the main risk, here, and you want to be in the best position possible to let your body recover and reduce the risk of blood clots. If you’ve ever had clotting problems then talk to your GP as well as mention this to Nords.
For example, if you were having a tummy tuck in the UK, they normally recommend not flying for at least 5-10 days, depending on how complex it is (source: NHS).
After consulting with the surgeon, which we’ll talk about later, he told us we’d done the right thing by staying ten days after Sam’s surgery. Bearing in mind she had more than one procedure plus liposuction, so it was more complex.
At the time of writing, people are concerned about Lithuania being close to Russia. Don’t worry – it’s perfectly safe. Lithuania is a member of NATO and the EU and the prospect of anything “bad” happening there is very slim indeed.
Kaunas, where Nords are located, is Lithuania’s second city. It’s modern, pleasant, and the people were friendly. Many people worry about going to Eastern Europe for surgery, but there’s no need. The city is easy to get around, and the accommodation reflects the usual choices in any major European city.
Going Alone vs Taking Someone With You
One of the strongest plus points with Nords is that a very strong community has built up around those having a similar “journey”.
This is both in the private Facebook groups but we also joined a private Whatsapp group for all the women having surgery in the same month. This means that you can make friends, reassure each other, and ask how everyone is doing. It certainly helps you feel less alone.
This means that some women decide to go alone – some, because they want to, and others for childcare reasons or just because their partner/relative/friend can’t spare the time off.
Many women go on their own and are just fine. I would say it depends on the amount of work you’re having, how you normally manage pain and/or inconvenience, and how independent you naturally are.
My sister is definitely a strong independent woman but she admitted she would have struggled on her own. Not so much the hobbling around and recovering, but all the other things – I had to help her wash and dress, and did all the shopping, cooking, cleaning, and wound care.
On top of that, being in a foreign country where not everyone speaks your language can also be trying, even if you’re not recovering from surgery. There are also a lot of medications to manage and if you’re feeling ‘out of it’ this can be a challenge, too.
Bonus tip: If you do take someone with you, have them do a first aid course (even one of the online simple ones). It’s super useful to have anyway, and it makes you feel more confident.
I was already Red Cross qualified but I took this refresher course on Udemy – there are loads on there and they’re less than 20 quid. For peace of mind, I think it’s a good idea.
WARNING: From this point on, there are pictures of the surgery. They are not gross or indecent, but some people might be squeamish about scars and so on. Just so you know if you keep scrolling!
Step 1 – Booking the Surgery [Pre-Surgery Pics]
Nordestethics will assign you a ‘rep’ when you make your initial inquiries. These representatives act as your main point of contact for almost everything, from booking the surgery through to logistics and aftercare questions to the surgeon.
Our rep was changed halfway through because I think the first lady left, but they are all very polite, friendly, speak/write excellent English and are really helpful.
First, Sam was asked to send photos of herself, front, back and side – and to complete a questionnaire.
The Before Photos (Taken at Home)
When Sam and I were thinking about putting this article together we thought we’d also share the photos – because so many people want to know a “real-life” story. Here is one of the ‘before’ ones Sam sent to Nords:
The email she received back indicated that she ought to lose weight before having the surgery. This is for two reasons:
- Better results. If you lose weight after the surgery you’ll have sections of loose skin again and may need more work. The best option is to get your weight down to a level you’re happy with before having any sort of skin-tightening procedures like a tummy tuck or boob lift.
- Lower risk of complications. People who are very overweight or obese may have more issues under anesthetic.
This is not a post about weight loss, of course – that’s a whole different story. But I am very proud that Sam worked hard to lose a couple of stones through a better diet and exercise.
I saw some posts in the forum about women lying about their weight in their application forms. This isn’t a good idea – you’ll definitely have an in-person consultation before you’re operated on and if the surgeon thinks it’s too risky, then you’ll have travelled all that way for nothing.
Surgeons can, and do refuse to operate if they think it’s unsafe to do so. If you want the best results, honesty is the best policy.
After the above pictures Sam was offered – on the condition of getting her BMI below 30 – the “mummy makeover”. This was a tummy tuck, breast lift and liposuction to the back and sides.
Sometimes, you will get other RECOMMENDED procedures, so bear in mind you don’t have to take everything you’re offered. You will talk more about this with your surgeon in person, and your final plan is decided before you pay for it all at the clinic, so you may end up paying a bit more or less, depending on what procedures are decided.
Why No In-Person Consultations Before Bookings?
Many cosmetic surgery clinics (especially in the UK) will give you an in-person consultation way in advance of the surgery and before any plan or booking is made. Some people feel uncomfortable with the Nords way of doing things, which is to have the consultation a day or two before going into surgery.
For this reason, some people may feel undue pressure to go ahead, when they’re not sure, just because “I’ve come all this way” and it’s already booked in.
It’s your body, and your life – you should ask any and all questions to make yourself feel comfortable with what you’re about to have done. Surgery is not to be taken lightly, so if you want to fly out for a consultation, that may be possible.
I know that Nords probably don’t do video consults and the like because they are simply too busy (they do 2000 ops a year, according to their site), and I imagine this is to prevent timewasters who will never book.
The best thing is to ask as many questions as possible, before you make a decision.
Step 2 – Paying a Deposit for the Surgery
Nords asked for a £500 deposit to secure the booking date. At the time of writing, if you cancel more than 3 weeks before your surgery, you’ll get half (£250) back. Less than 3 weeks and you forfeit the deposit.
If you postpone once, it’ll knock £100 off your deposit. If you postpone twice, you have to pay a new deposit. These rules are subject to change, so it’s best to read the official Nords Payment Policies on their site to see what they currently are.
These sorts of terms and conditions will be emailed to you. Read them thoroughly so you know where you stand. We read a couple of stories of lost deposits because people didn’t realise the cut-off date or the accepted reasons for changes or refunds.
That said, Nords were reasonable and will refund a full deposit if someone had a genuine reason to cancel, such as the death of a family member or other things out of their control. It’s best to speak to them about your individual situation.
The deposit is paid in Pounds Sterling, into a UK bank account belonging to Nords, so there’s no issue with currency conversion or anything like that, at the beginning.
You pay for the rest in person at the clinic, so there’s more detail on that later, including how to avoid paying ridiculous bank exchange rate charges, too!
Step 3 – Flights and Accommodation
Before we set off, we had very thorough emails from our rep, noting all the flights etc. we had booked, when we were being collected, and she double-checked our mobile numbers. I couldn’t fault their politeness and efficiency with the organising.
You also get a “pre-surgery” email describing all the things to do (or not to do) before surgery. For example, you shouldn’t smoke, take aspirin, use self-tan etc a couple of weeks before surgery.
I’m not repeating the full list here, because this may well be different for others, and you may get bespoke advice based on the surgery you’re having, as well as any medical issues unique to you. Again, your rep will tell you everything you need to know in advance.
We flew Ryanair both ways, direct from Manchester. If you can, I’d strongly recommend getting a direct flight rather than changing anywhere – the less time spent flying after surgery, the better.
Depending on the work you’re having done, and the days you’ve allowed for recovery, you’ll very likely need airport assistance booked for your return flight. You can do this at the same time as the booking.
Some airlines (like Wizz) like you to call their call centre to ask for it. One thing for sure though – you MUST book this in advance. You can’t just rock up and ask for a wheelchair. We heard that one lady had left it until the airport, and was turned down.
One advantage (on Ryanair at least) is that you’ll get automatic seat allocation together with a companion, if you’re taking someone with you, so you don’t pay extra to choose a seat.
That wasn’t a problem on our flight anyway -it was pretty empty!
Another thing to bear in mind is that Kaunas is a far better airport to fly back from if you can. It’s a 30-min ride between the clinic and the airport, whereas Vilnius, the capital, is over 1.5 hours away. Although Nords will provide transport, it’s a long journey if you’re still feeling every little bump, as Sam was, even on the way home.
Try to travel light. The less you’re carrying, the easier your return flight is going to be. Sam and I shared a suitcase and hand luggage so I could carry the whole lot on the way back (and I did). There was no way she was going to pull a suitcase.
Tips on What to Pack
We put this together based on what other people said in the various groups before we went, and what we realised we actually used afterwards. I’ve included links to each item on Amazon, too:
UK to EU adapter (Lithuania is 220v/2 pin European plug) – we got this one because it also had 2 USB points on it. It saved us buying separate adapters for our phones. If you have a lot of accessories like hair dryer, straightener etc and your accomodation won’t have them, I’d say get two adapters.
A long USB lead for your phone so it can go from pretty much any power point to your bed or sofa – like this one for iPhones or this one for USB-C powered Android type phones (Nords rooms do have USB points though, so you don’t need to take the mains adapter into surgery!) – before you buy, check it’s the right connector for your phone.
A foldable walking stick – like this one. We took a trekking pole and it didn’t work very well! So take a proper one with a wide base. The clinic does have sticks you can borrow, but they’re not given out routinely.
Earplugs – whether you’re a light sleeper or not, the surgery and its surroundings can’t be 100% quiet all the time, with people coming and going. That, and you might have street noise outside your apartment or hotel. I swear by these wax earplugs rather than the foam or silicone ones, and Sam LOVED them.
Throat lozenges – whatever your favourite brand is – Sam had a bag of these honey and lemon ones. This is because your throat hurts after having breathing/ventilation tubes during the surgery, and your mouth can get pretty dry anyway with all the stress, medication etc. You can always buy them there, too.
TAKE TEABAGS if you drink tea! Lithuania has much more of a coffee culture than tea, and the typical strong British brew is very hard to find. You can find green and herbal tea more easily.
Your own sleeping pills (if you’re able to have them prescribed) or something that will help, like these Kalms, for example. Nords give you a couple, but many people we spoke to needed help getting off to sleep for a night or two after. Always check if it will interfere with your post-surgical medication.
Something for constipation – which is one of the main side-effects of anaesthesia/surgery. Yes, Nords will also provide a couple of things to “get you going” but when Sam got through those with no luck, I had to go out on the high street and try to describe suppositories and constipation to a Lithuanian pharmacist in their second language.
They were lovely, but it was a bit embarrassing and stressful. So take something with you – these type of ones worked fine for Sam after a few attempts.
Compression socks (proper medical-grade ones). Blood clots are an elevated risk when flying after surgery so it’s a very good idea to wear these. Sam borrowed some from a nurse friend, but if you haven’t got any – it’s this type of sock and NOT the cheap, thin ones. They should go up to your thighs.
Any favourite films, books, music etc with headphones, loaded onto your phone. It can get boring pretty quickly. Sam had me, but she also had Beyonce to get her through it all 🙂
PJs, tracksuit or other loose-fitting clothes that you’re really comfy in – it’s really all you’ll be wearing until you fly home, and they’ve seen it all before in Nords, so don’t feel you have to dress to impress…
Shoes/boots (like Uggs) that are easy to pull on and off. I had to help Sam dress and undress so make it as easy as possible if you can.
A spare small old towel or a puppy pad. This is because if you’re having lipo, the fluid will leak for a bit after the drains are removed (more on this later) and if you’re in a hotel or Airbnb it can be alarming when it gets on the bedsheets.
Anything (e.g. a meditation or anxiety app) that will help support your mental health. I use Headspace, though there are plenty of others, including free apps. Or anything else that will keep you centred and help you cope with the emotional rollercoaster that some people experience.
What NOT to Pack
In the spirit of travelling light, there are some things you won’t need and shouldn’t bother with:
Don’t take loads of clothes changes. Not needed because you’ll be in a compression garment so can wear the same clothes over it, and wash the garment instead.
Avoid bringing any tight-fitting clothes… the swelling is significant and you probably won’t get into them anyway. The same goes for any clothes with complicated zips, laces, fastenings… it’ll just suck your energy and time trying to put them on.
For ease and speed of getting through the travel part, I’d try to go with hand luggage only, rather than check-in baggage, but I realise some people prefer it and want to pack more, so that’s fine too – but remember you’ll likely be unable to carry anything much on the way home.
Note: If you have more than one piece of luggage, or more than one person accompanying you, Nords will charge extra for the transport logistics. When we went, it was 30 Euros per extra person (e.g. if you brought a second person or more) for the airport transfer, one way, and 20 Euros per extra item of luggage, one way. Another reason to travel light!
The Nords clinic has its own apartments in the same building where the huge advantage is being just one or two floors away from the surgical team and nurses.
Nords has a working relationship with several hotels in Kaunas, and your rep will email you all the prices and can also book on your behalf. They’re happy to make enquiries for you as well, which is really helpful.
We were originally going to book a room at Nords but their ‘large’ apartment (or at least the ones available) had only one bedroom and a sofa bed, so we decided on an Airbnb instead so we could both have a bedroom with a bed. Choose somewhere quiet – you’ll need your rest!
We had a lovely little apartment in the old town, with two bedrooms and a full kitchen, washing machine, etc. It had one flight of stairs which was just about manageable – again, think ahead and don’t get somewhere with more than a flight of stairs or without a lift. It wasn’t much to look at from the outside, but it was pretty cosy.
I’d recommend staying a 10 min ride (or less) away from the clinic. If you go back for a lymphatic drainage massage, a check-up, or your tapes changed – it’ll be much easier. Sam felt every cobble, speed bump and pothole in the car and although the in-house Nords drivers are very careful because of this, the regular taxi drivers aren’t!
Some people also choose to stay in hotels. We didn’t, because I could do all the self-catering stuff, but if you were on your own, getting takeout from all the apps (more on this later) would be just fine since you won’t feel like much cooking. Or in the better hotels, there might be room service. Another advantage of hotels is that it’s likely at least a couple of staff members will be trained in First Aid, too.
I used Booking.com to look for hotels and self-catering apartments. See their Kaunas page here.
A note on Travel Restrictions
I’m not mentioning the restrictions here because they change so rapidly. It’s best to check the most up to date information for both Lithuania as a country (which will largely follow the EU guidance), and also Nords own rules. Here’s the link to the UK Foreign Office’s page on Lithuania, which usually tells you any restrictions.
For example, their requirement at the time was that Sam had to have a PCR test before her surgical consultation, and I was only allowed to visit her after I showed proof of being vaccinated. There were also the in-country rules like needing extra paperwork before flying, and showing your NHS vaccination pass before going in shops, and so on. This is very likely to have relaxed by now.
Your Nordesthetics representative will also tell you what their own rules are for the time you’ve booked.
Step 4 – Arriving in Lithuania
Our first night was at the Kaunas Airport hotel because we arrived very late – 1am in the morning, local time. If you have a similarly late flight I’d recommend it – it’s just outside the airport doors, across a small car park.
It was clean and comfortable but basic – a bit like a decent Travelodge or Premier Inn. Here’s the link to it on Booking.com if you want to book.
The following morning we were picked up by one of Nords’ drivers in a marked minivan.
A word on the Nords drivers – they’re all really lovely, helpful and speak good English. Despite some of them being quite young, they drove safely and carefully. We were really impressed with them.
We arrived three days before the scheduled surgery (I think the minimum is two), but the extra day was great for settling in to the apartment. First, Sam had to go have a PCR test done – and wait for the results before seeing the surgeon the next day.
This may or may not still be a requirement, so it’s best to check what rules are in place at the moment.
Tips on Food, Culture and Making Yourself at Home
Next, we went shopping and got supplies for the week ahead. Being a food dweeb I tried out most supermarket chains (much to Sam’s annoyance) and the best ones were Maxima followed by SILAS. Here’s a pic inside one – they’re pretty good!
Sam wanted the same familiar brands she had at home, which are fairly common – and I went for the local food.
Tips: What looks like milk (pieno) is often sour cream (grietine). Some people were upset when they poured it into their tea! I used the Google translate app camera feature to figure out what most things were.
Stock up on high fibre foods. Constipation is a “thing” after surgery – and eating fresh fruit, veggies and other high-fiber foods can really help move things along. Plus, eating healthier options also helps your immune system and wound healing.
Although Sam hated being dragged around the supermarkets, it was so much easier doing all this when we could both carry the shopping home and lug a trolley around.
Note that you don’t HAVE to do self-catering. Much of Eastern Europe has a food app called Wolt which is just like Deliveroo, Uber Eats and so on. Lithuania was full of delicious food options, and prices are much cheaper than at home.
Here’s a link to the Wolt app on the App store and on Google Play. I found it really easy, and it will auto-translate menus into English, too. Use the referral code GDDE5T3 and you can get 2.50 Euros off your first two orders.
On our first night Sam had a steak and I had some traditional Lithuanian potato dumplings with pork crackling (delicious). You could also get almost any other cuisine, so if you’re on your own, don’t want to cook or can’t be bothered – have the food delivered. The Nords clinic/apartments even has a hot box in the lobby for all the food deliveries that get sent there.
After Sam’s PCR test came back negative (thankfully!) we went to go to her surgical consultation the next day with Dr Ghassan.
Step 5 – Paperwork and Payment
I was looking forward to seeing the Nordestethics building in person. A good website is one thing, but I wanted to check things all out for myself – especially after I felt partly responsible for choosing the clinic, too.
Sam received some texts from the logistics team, telling her when we’d be picked up, so another driver came and we went off to the clinic.
First impressions were good. Our temperatures were taken, masks were offered (we already had some) and we were taken to the reception.
The clinic is clean, airy and modern:
The atmosphere was one of calm professionalism, which was also reassuring. The surgeons and medical staff were moving in between reception and consultation rooms, and everything seemed professional and above board.
There were ladies in reception (presumably waiting to be discharged) and some who had just arrived, like us. Sam immediately recognized a couple of names from the Facebook and Whatsapp groups and started to have a chat – especially to the two ladies there who had just had their surgery. They were really reassuring and made her feel so much better.
Next, we had to pay for the surgery:
Tips on Paying For the Surgery (And Avoiding Fees)
If you travel abroad often you might already have accounts, apps or cards in place to make it easier to make payments in foreign currencies like Euros.
Sam sent British Pounds Sterling to me and I did all the payments and conversions because I already have them all set up.
Whatever you do, don’t use your high street bank (Halifax, Lloyds, Santander, TSB, etc.) to do a bank transfer to Nords in Euros – you’ll be wasting a lot of money on fees, and it takes a few days to get there. Same goes for any high street debit card. These days there are far better ways of sending and spending money abroad.
To send money abroad, like Sam’s deposit, I used Wise (formerly known as Transferwise). They often arrive the same day and have small fees). You can sign up here with my referral link.
Do a test transaction (maybe 20 Euros or so) first to make sure everything works properly and you’ve got the right details for the Nordesthetics bank account.
You pay the rest after your consultation with your surgeon. Since this is usually a large chunk of money, you’ll also save a lot by using a currency-friendly card or app. The best three (and I own all of them) are:
Wise – I use this and my Revolut card (below) the most. Sign up using my referral link and your first transfer will be fee-free (up to £500)
Revolut – I used my Revolut card for everyday items while we were in Lithuania like shopping, and paying for taxis and takeaways. You can have both virtual or physical cards (I have one of each and use the virtual one for online purchases). Here’s my link to sign up to get a Revolut Account (it’s free). Do this ahead of time, as they may need to check your ID, etc.
Monzo – Sam had a Monzo account with a small amount of money loaded on it so she could buy things when she was in the clinic and I wasn’t, like booking a lymphatic drainage massage and buying an extra compression garment. Alternatively, you can get an extra card with Wise or Revolut, above.
Halifax Clarity – a credit card, so you’ll need to be approved, but they also let you spend in Euros at a good conversion rate, with no fees. However, you have to apply like any normal credit card.
If you use a “normal” debit card, you’ll often get stung with anything up to 3% fees per transaction and then a rubbish currency conversion rate on top of that. If you’re paying a few grand for surgery and a couple of weeks travel, this can really add up.
A Note on Paperwork
We were given a large amount of paperwork to sign when at Nords, just before the surgical consultation. You can request this beforehand by email so you’ve got a chance to read it all when you have time to look through it and digest it properly.
I strongly recommend that you do this because essentially it’s the legal agreement about revisions and dangers and risks and so on.
I noticed some ladies were just chatting and signing their documents without reading them, which I’m not sure is a good idea! Or maybe they’d already read them. You could probably ask Nords to send you these as a sample even before you’re considering your surgery, just so you know what the terms and conditions are.
The most common thing I’ve seen people miss are the clauses on revision surgery – very often people think they’re entitled to a revision but they’re not, and they’d already signed the document agreeing what does and doesn’t get you a revision.
As a general rule revisions are for when Nords are at fault for something that needs revising, for example with another surgical procedure. Whereas after the event, things like you being unhappy with your look or if you get an infection – that doesn’t automatically get you a revision.
That said, you can ask any questions you like when you’re there, and before you pay up.
Step 6 – The Surgical Consultation
After paying for the surgery and filling in all the forms, we went to see Dr. Ghassan in a private room. Like many of the surgeons, he was very pleasant and reassuring.
Sam was nervous about being naked in front of a surgeon (he needed to take pictures and have a close look at the work needed) so she asked me to come to the consultation with her. Nords said that this was OK, so I joined in.
We talked to Dr. Ghassan for about half an hour. It didn’t feel rushed and he took his time to explain all the work he planned on doing. He took pictures of Samantha from many angles so she had something to compare it to for the after photos. I believe they use these on Instagram as well, anonymised, with your permission.
Samantha told Dr. Ghassan about her fears regarding liposuction but after he had explained it in detail she decided to go ahead with the recommended procedures. We discussed recovery time – many told us that we’d done the right thing by allowing 10 days after the surgery for to recover.
Overall we were quite happy with the consultation. The only thing that struck me as a bit strange was that he said we could contact him via Instagram which seemed odd to me. This could be because so many people use Instagram to message each other these days but I was surprised that method was recommended. In the end we did contact him, but via the Nords reps.
After all the paperwork, payment and discussion we were driven back to the apartment and had a relaxed evening.
Tip: Sam had set up a WhatsApp group of her friends and I also spoke to her husband privately so everyone had a single point of contact (me). It was so much easier writing one message that went to a whole group, instead of answering each individual person!
Step 7 – Surgery Day
The next morning I wasn’t allowed to come with Sam to the surgical wards, so said goodbye as the driver came to pick Sam up in the early morning – and take her to be drawn on!
She sent me pictures of her room which looked really nice:
Then she saw Dr Ghassan again who drew all the surgical areas to be adjusted:
Because of the multiple procedures, Sam was due to be in surgery for around 5 hours. Believe me, when you’re waiting, it was a very long 5 hours! I felt much better about being a ten-minute taxi ride away, though, and was happy with what I’d seen of the surgery the day(s) before, so trusted Nords to do their job.
I distracted myself with work, and I asked the rep how long it takes for someone to wake up. Interestingly the rep said it varies from person to person, so we couldn’t really pinpoint a time when we would next hear from Sam.
After about 5 hours I got a selfie from Sam which she doesn’t remember taking, lol. She was still all drugged up and apparently had thrown up (as is common after anesthetic). Since she had managed to somehow operate her phone I presumed that all had gone well although she couldn’t really tell me.
A little bit later after she’d had a sleep she told me she would rather recover on her own that day and I would come and see her the following morning.
The WhatsApp group was, again, a really good idea at this stage because Sam didn’t have the energy to text more than 2 people – and that was her husband and me. If you have a lot of people at home or even in Lithuania with you it’s a good idea to just have one person relay all the messages.
Everything went well and the surgeon took a picture of Sam in surgery so she could see what she would look like. This is really motivating because you can see what your results are expected to be like before the swelling begins and you have a compression garment on, though you’re covered in iodine and surgical tape!
Step 8 – Initial Recovery Period at Nords
The following morning I went to go see Sam, and after proving I was vaccinated I was allowed to visit her in her room. I have to say I was quite impressed with the standard – it was very clean and very modern.
Sam had a roommate for one night but that lady only had some minor surgery and had already checked out by the time I got there.
Sam knew after her C-section that she didn’t do very well with anesthetic so she wanted to ask about an extra night. We were told that you can request this, but it’s €150 per night if you want to stay more than the 2 prescribed nights that are included. In the end, she decided the two nights were enough, after all.
One of the nurses came in while I was there and she was very friendly and nice. Everything I’ve heard about the nurses has been wonderful. Yes, they get you up and about as soon as possible and try to encourage you to eat – but that’s the best thing to do.
A lot of people have made comments about the good food. Nords order it from an outside restaurant, so the standards are extremely high. Here’s the menu Sam got:
In the end, Sam felt she would rather relax and recover at the apartment instead of having an extra night at Nords. This was also because there tends to be a lot of movement around the surgery, even at night and so it’s not that great for sleeping (and that’s where the earplugs came in really handy!)
Step 9 – Recovery in Kaunas
We were driven back to the apartment when Sam checked out. The drivers at Nords are very careful to not bump you on potholes or cobbles which is nice because you can feel every bump!
Sam was given some paperwork stating the procedures that had been done, a bag of medication, and full instructions.
Before we left I suggested we buy an extra compression garment so she could always have one clean to put on. You can buy these from reception from Nords when you’re there. I think it was about 30 Euros and well worth it.
When we got back to the apartment I made the bed as the nurses had told us to. Sam had to sleep with her legs raised and also slightly propped up because of the risk of blood clots.
Unfortunately, we had a mini scare within an hour of getting back to the apartment. Nobody had mentioned that when you have drains removed from your liposuction “holes”, the fluid continues to leak out for a while, and it looks really terrifying because it’s pink. Sam woke from a brief nap and panicked because she thought she was bleeding.
It didn’t look like blood to me, but nevertheless, I called the emergency number that Nords give you, which was also on a wristband that they gave Sam to wear. They answered straight away.
The nurses seemed quite calm and didn’t seem panicked, but to be super safe I insisted they send a driver to come and collect Sam to be checked over. Her compression garment was soaked through with the liquid. I didn’t want to undo it and expose her wounds so early.
Sam really did not feel like going back to the clinic but I just thought it was the best thing to do. When we got there we saw a couple of nurses who were brilliant. They got Sam into a room, got her out of her compression garment, repacked her wounds, cleaned her up, and then we put the new compression garment on.
They also gave us some absorbent pads in case it happened again although it looked like most of the lipo fluid had come out by then. Although they handled it really well, I wish someone would have mentioned this beforehand so we needn’t have worried unnecessarily.
Then the proper recovery started. I have to admit I was not prepared for just how immobile Sam was – she needed help with everything. On top of that, I had to set several alarms on my phone for all the different medications at different times.
This is something to consider if you’re going to go alone and do recovery on your own. Sam was on painkillers and antibiotics, and the brain fog meant I doubt she would have followed the instructions easily if I wasn’t there.
Nords will send you home with a leaflet on what to do regarding washing and in washing and showering. For example, I had to help Sam wash and after a couple of days, washed her hair for example. We tried to keep everything as dry and as clean as possible.
What people don’t tell you is that one of the most important things after surgery is to have a poo! Sam could go to the toilet on her own and lower herself onto it but she was really worried about post-anesthetic constipation.
She quickly ran out of the constipation suppositories Nords had given her to get things going, so I had to go out to a pharmacy and get some more. If you want to save yourself the embarrassment of trying to ask for them in a foreign language, bring some with you! (they’re on the “to bring” list above).
Sam’s solution to this stress was to play Beyonce full blast and lock herself in the bathroom for half an hour – it seemed to work!
One of the advantages of staying for the 10 days after the surgery was that Nords could do the first tape change which is sometimes left for you to do if you go home after 5 days. This is because it typically happens on the 7th day after surgery.
I was relieved that it would be done by the nurses in Nords and not me trying to do it!
Sam was really anxious about the tape change not just because of the pain, but because she didn’t really want to see her wounds just yet either. The driver came to pick her up as usual and it all went really well.
We had also booked two lymph drainage massages so Sam went for one of those as well and it helped keep the swelling down. More on this later because we had a problem finding a masseuse who would do this at home. There was a small fee for the second one onwards – I seem to remember it was about 20 Euros.
Fortunately, the apartment was big enough for Sam to walk around because it’s important to keep moving and avoid blood clots when you’re recovering. If you’re in a small hotel or something similar bear this in mind.
Tip: Bring lots of things to entertain you like DVD’s or your laptop or a good book because it gets very boring when you can’t really move much. I connected Sam’s laptop to the TV in the apartment and I don’t know what we would have done if we couldn’t have watched that. Lithuanian TV is fine but none of it is in English, obviously!
After a few days, Sam decided that she didn’t feel very well on the Codeine so I called a doctor friend to see if she could be taken off the strong painkillers.
Also, she was only given 2 sleeping tablets. Although it’s not recommended to use them for a long time, if you have anything else that helps you sleep like tea or lavender then bring that (they’re on the list above too).
Step 10: Flying Home
When the time came to fly home Sam was really nervous about the flight but we had booked assistance beforehand.
Tip: Always book it assistance way in advance. Ideally, when you book the flight. We had heard one lady being turned down for it at the airport because she asked for it there and then!
The driver was really pleasant, taking us all to the airport in a minibus. There were several people picked up from various hotels, but all Nords patients – some had gastric surgery, some nose jobs… it was an interesting mix!
Sam was given a wheelchair to be wheeled through the airport, a bit like a fast track system. I was allowed to go with her as her companion.
I strongly recommend booking airport assistance it was well worth it and the staff were lovely. It doesn’t cost anything extra and you automatically get to sit together without the daft seat booking fees.
Sam wanted to spend one night in the airport hotel just to prepare psychologically for seeing her husband and children again- this might be a good idea if you want some headspace after getting home, or understandably some people might just want to go home.
Step 11: Post Op and Complications
Now I handed over the baton to Sam’s husband to do all the care. Sam still couldn’t drive of course, and could only walk short distances. With kids, it’s also hard – she had to explain to her 5 year old why he couldn’t jump into her arms, for example. A lot of people tend to relax once they’ve been home a couple of weeks and the wounds have closed, but this is when you should be the most vigilant.
The fact you’re on your own for recovery once you get back to your home country is the single drawback about Nords. There’s only so much you can do when your surgeon is busy in another country. Yes, you can still text and ask questions but it’s just not the same as having the post-op care nearby.
I ought to mention that Sam tried to get a local masseusse to come and do a drainage massage but she was told because it was surgery done abroad, it would invalidate the indemnity insurace of the masseuse. So bear this in mind – I found a solution by taking an online self-massage course which was a lot cheaper anyway. If you want to do the same, then the one I took is here. Sam was able to self-massage or share the videos with her husband so he could also do a massage as well.
About 4 weeks after the operation Sam noticed a little bump and a red mark on her scar, and it hadn’t closed properly. She sent me pictures and I wrote to her surgeon at Nords, via the rep by email. Again, this is a disadvantage because you wait a day or two for a response, even longer if it’s over a weekend.
The surgeon replied saying she should go have an ultrasound to see if it was an infection, but how can you do this without going privately?
I’ve heard mixed stories about how the NHS handles complications like this. I totally understand why they want nothing to do with surgery done abroad – it’s not their surgeons and the results aren’t their problem. In this case, the issue was taken out of our hands – before Sam could get a doctor’s appointment the hole ruptured and started leaking pus, and she had to go to A&E.
It was an infection, thankfully a minor one. These are common – you have to be super, super careful with being totally sterile when you replace the tapes and dressings yourself. We bought these vinyl gloves, these sterile dressings and also some wound cleaning spray.
Thankfully that was the only issue and it resoved pretty quickly. Several women recommended Mepiform silicone scar dressings like these which help to reduce scarring and produce better results. Don’t be fooled by cheap Chinese knock-off fake ‘scar tape’ – it’s NOT the same. Mepiform is a proper medical brand – only buy the official stuff.
Step 12: Enjoy Your New Body!
I’ve always been lucky in that I’m happy with my figure but I know Sam’s was distressing her and making her self-conscious for a long time. She was absolutely determined to get this done, and it really improved her self-esteem and the way she felt. Here’s one of her ‘after’ pics, a couple of months later:
Was it worth it? Absolutely – but we wished we knew a bit more before we set off on this adventure.
Hopefully, this article will help you in your journey, too. Good luck!