Holly’s notes: Things to consider if you’re having plastic surgery

A veteran of 4 cosmetic surgeries gives her pre-and-post surgery tips so you’ll be prepared.

(Editor’s note: Over the years Holly has had a number of surgical procedures. She had a breast augmentation in November 2005 and after loosing a significant amount of weight – 60lb – she was concerned about her loose skin so she had a 360 Bodylift in May 2019 and an Armlift and Thighlift in October 2019. These are her thoughts and top tips.)


Are you considering Plastic Surgery?

So, firstly, this is such a big deal and the first step is sometimes the hardest. I dedicated a notebook to this whole process. I wrote down all my thoughts, the pros and the cons, every question (no matter how silly), the reasons I wanted surgery and how I thought it would better my life (and everyone around me).

1. You will need to find the right surgeon.

Top tips:

  • Must be on the GMC register.
  • Must be board certified- BAAPS or BAPRAS.
  • Must be affiliated with a hospital/clinic registered with the CQC.

Once you have shortlisted the surgeons that hold the attributes above….

2. Book a consultation with the surgeon directly.

You can see more than one to make sure you’re comfortable and getting the right person for you.

Things to ask them at the consultation include:

  • How many of X procedure they have carried out- ask to see before & after cases.
  • The most common complications of the procedure.
  • What aftercare you can expect, and who will look after you (surgeon/nurse)- how many appointments will you need.
  • What to do if you’re not happy with the result- can it be revised?
  • How much it will cost, and if it will cost extra to have further treatment if needed- Is the cost fully comprehensive- i.e.- includes gown and theatre costs?
  • How much time will be needed off work?
  • What if you want more children – is it best to wait until after? (Depending on the surgery, I’ve heard that it is best to wait but discuss with your surgeon).

The surgeon should give you details of exactly what’s involved in the procedure, including:

  • How long will the procedure take? Be mindful that surgeons like to keep operating time to a minimum (no longer than 4-5 hours).
  • How the procedure is carried out? I wanted to know everything (some might not- I wanted to know how they would turn me over during 360Bodylift).
  • Which anaesthetic is needed – local or general?
  • Who will the anaesthetist be? Look them up!
  • Will it be a day case or a 1 or 2 night stay?
  • Will drains be used? If so, when will they be removed and what are the care instructions while they’re in and after they’re removed.

They should also tell you about what to expect after the procedure, including:

  • If any pain should be expected afterwards/ will pain relief be provided?
  • How long the recovery should be (2-4 weeks)
  • Any potential risks and complications
  • How long the results will last- obviously – for optimum results- maintaining a healthy lifestyle will mean longer lasting results.
  •  What you can expect to look like after the procedure- always have realistic expectations.
  • When do you need to leave the hospital/ clinic by? You will need to be picked up and driven home. Some hospitals charge extra if you stay after a certain time.
  • Do you have a good rapport with the surgeon- I felt that this was crucial- did you feel they understood and listened?
Holly, before and after armlift

Once you have decided on your surgeon:

This stage was extremely emotional as it all ‘got real’. I cried as it was a huge relief and I knew I was doing the right thing- happy tears! I had actually booked the surgery date!


3. Things to do before plastic surgery

Take lots of pre-surgery photos in different positions (you soon forget what it looked like before).

Bromelaine- helps to reduce swelling after.

Arnica tablets are good for after- helps swelling and bruising after- (some take it before but check with surgeon).

Make sure you have your high quality post-surgery compression garments for after. Two should be provided by your surgeon. You should be measured pre-surgery to get the correct fit.

Before and after tummy tuck

Make sure you have read the pre and post op instructions a good few weeks before. You need to ensure that you do this in a quiet space – so that you are fully aware of the do’s and don’ts.

You may find that you have more questions to ask the surgeon at this stage- completely normal and keep asking.

Focus on the end result and do not discuss your surgery with any negative Nancy’s!! Positivity is key. Keep to a healthy diet and make sure you are eating enough protein and drinking plenty of water.

Food prep and store in the freezer – healthy and quick – so you don’t have to cook afterwards.

One tip – get your bowels in order. You don’t want to be straining – so a cereal with a high fibre content is a good idea.

Make sure you have the contact numbers of who to call out of hours. I remember feeling all kinds of emotions leading up to my first surgery (360bodylift). This again, completely normal and a positive mindset is absolute key in all of this.

4. Things to do before you go in and pack in your overnight bag

  • Arrange for somebody to pick you up and drive you home.
  • She Wee- Amazon Big knickers/ panty liners. Make sure they sit above your incisions  and the bigger the better!
  • Loose clothing for after wards. Slip on shoes, surgical stockings (will be provided by hospital- to wear for 10 days after surgery).
  • Make-up (I have never left the house without it on)
  • Water bottle Laxative- Movicol – I took this as soon as I got out of theatre.


5. Things to have ready at home

  • Somebody to look after you for 5-7 days after.
  • Make sure everything is easy to reach in the bedroom and bathroom- high enough for you to reach.
  • Lots of pillows or recliner chair if you have one (v shaped pillows are very handy for after)
  • Bed pads/ sheets to protect your sheets
  • Pain killers- if needed and prescribed by doctor
  • Gentle laxative / peppermint tea for trapped wind- very common after a general anaesthetic!
  • Dry shampoo
  • Good moisturiser – skin gets very dry after GA and meds.
  • Antibacterial wash (recommend Australian Body Care- Amazon)
  • Netflix/magazines to keep you entertained
  • Good diet- plenty of protein and plenty of water – don’t eat too much sodium (may mean you retain more water)
  • Pineapple/ pineapple juice – good for reducing swelling
  • Micropore tape/ Meopore patches/ Square gauze packs

Tips: You will be told by your surgeon when to start showering- I had my first shower on day 3/4. I used Australian Body Care antiseptic/ antibacterial wash every time.

I dried my body on a low heat using a hair dryer and then applied fresh dressings.


What’s normal?

You will be bent over after 360 Bodylift/Tummy tuck- totally normal- just a funny feeling.

Thighlift- you will walk like a cowboy for the first week but quite funny really. Again – all for a great cause. Bruising, numbness, discomfort and swelling are the 4 things that are ALL completely normal.

I never experienced pain with any of my surgeries- just slight discomfort. Be sure to walk each day to prevent DVT and get the swelling down.

Keep your stockings on 24/7 and as told to- very important! As I have said above- Totally normal to have lots of swelling – I was told for between 12-18 months.

Drink plenty of water/ take arnica and keep moving to help reduce swelling.

Holly, before and after

Lymphatic drainage massages are good for getting the stubborn swollen areas to subside- ask your surgeon when they are happy for you to start. I am currently on my 6th session and it does make a difference. I still find that from week 2 (ovulation until my period) the swelling is worse. This then subsides quite significantly.

Keep garment on 24/7 – except for when you are washing it or having a shower. These are usually kept on for 6-8 weeks.

Scars Once the wounds have closed and surgeon happy for you to start applying creams etc… My faves …

Massage these in morning and night


You may feel tired for some weeks or months after- this is normal after long operations.

Your period might go slightly out of sync- mine did and still does sometimes but all is fine.

Take plenty of photos throughout the whole process – very important.


Was it worth it?

It takes a while to get used to your new body- something the mind struggles with at first but once you get going- you will find a new inner peace.

The only regret I have  is not having done it sooner!!!!

Some people asked if I thought it was worth it/am I happier- the answer is ‘ hell yeah’…. It has changed my life and my family’s lives. I am a better wife and a better mother. I am no longer fixated on loose skin hanging even though I was working out and eating healthily. I have a real sense of inner peace and I feel like I can get on an enjoy my life!!


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and are intended to help people, not encourage or discourage people to have surgery. 

You can find an experienced BAAPS, BAPRAS and GMC registered plastic surgeon in our doctor’s section.

Holly’s surgeon for her body work was Mo Akhavani

You can follow Holly on instagram @my_loose_skin_story