Istan-bill: Cash-strapped NHS spent record £1.7million on fixing botched cosmetic surgery carried out overseas last year due to post-Covid boom
- One shocking case of a Turkish tummy tuck gone wrong cost the NHS £100,000
- READ MORE: Inside UK’s deadly, celebrity-inspired craze for Turkish surgery
Taxpayers last year spent a record £1.7million on fixing Brits botched by cosmetic surgery carried out abroad, analysis suggests.
Some shocking cases of Brits who ‘should never have gone under the knife’ cost a whopping £100,000 to treat, experts claim.
Cheap flights to Turkey have made it one of the top destinations for Brits desperate for the body of their dreams. On top of that, clinics dotted across the country offer cut-price surgery and enticing holiday packages.
But huge questions are starting to be asked about the practices deployed in Turkey and beyond, following an ever-growing catalogue of horror stories from Brits who’ve flown out and the medics and campaigners helping them pick up the pieces.
British cosmetic surgeons have now accused their Turkish counterparts of using the NHS as a taxpayer-funded safety net for their poor aftercare.
An audit by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) — shared with MailOnline — shows 111 Brits needed emergency NHS care after returning from places like Turkey in 2022 to go under the knife.
British surgeons have raised the alarm about the rising NHS multi-million bill of fixing botched cosmetic ops performed overseas, with costing the NHS an estimated £100,000 alone
Surgeons reported their patients were lured in by what looked like ‘bargain’ tummy tucks and boob jobs. Others were deemed too unfit for surgery in the UK.
However, instead they were left with flesh-eating bacterial infections and implants bursting through their skin.
Others endured potentially deadly blood clots that required urgent NHS treatment, sometimes within just days of arriving back in the UK.
Some patients needed multiple ops to cut away dead skin from tummy tucks gone wrong.
The 2022 tally is 35 per cent higher than the previous year, which experts believe is down to a post-Covid boom.
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Dani now, 23, and fully recovered, runs an OnlyFans account and has been featured in Playboy
Pandemic restrictions on international travel struck a massive dent into the overseas cosmetic industry.
BAAPS estimates the cost to the NHS of treating each botched patient is upwards of £15,000, though this naturally varies on a case-per-case basis.
This ballpark amount — which would fluctuate with every patient — accounts for the cost of staff wages, medications and equipment, as well as ongoing care.
However, some of the more complex cases, which can require multiple operations to fix, can cost upwards of £100,000 to treat, surgeons told this website.
Last year’s £1.7m total adds to the £4.8m taxpayers have spent on fixing botched ops since 2017.
One horrifying case last December saw a 60-year old woman need around £100,000 of taxpayer-funded emergency care.
Charles Durrant, a consultant plastic surgeon at the Ad Nova in Portsmouth, told how the obese, wheelchair-bound woman had a tummy tuck and lipo in Turkey.
By the time Mr Durrant saw her within his separate role in the NHS, the woman had a dangerous blood infection, rotting tissue on her abdomen, as well as a growing pool of infected fluid inside her belly.
But, ‘most worryingly’ of all, she had a potentially deadly blood clot in her lung — a dangerous post-surgical complication.
Mr Durrant told this website how the case had ‘made him angry’ as a surgeon, given the risks taken with her life considering her health conditions.
Dawn Knight, who has campaigned against poor practises in cosmetic surgery, said Turkish medics treat the UK as a honeypot
‘Most, if not all, surgeons in this country would not have operated on her with all those comorbidities and increased risk factors,’ he said.
They certainly wouldn’t do an abdominoplasty with added liposuction.
‘I would have put her risk of wound healing complications at 100 per cent.’
He added he was shocked to learn the woman, whose name is not being provided, wasn’t given any blood thinners post-surgery given her risks, a practise Mr Durrant said was ‘absolutely standard’ for this type of patient.
The woman needed multiple NHS ops in the subsequent months to address the consequences of the surgery, including procedures to cut away or and drain infected skin and fluid, a host of antibiotics as well as blood thinners.
Mr Durrant, who was worked as a surgeon for over a decade, said the woman could face long-term health complications requiring treatment for the rest of her life.
‘She’s cosmetically going to have a poor result and the pulmonary embolism could end up giving her long-standing respiratory issues,’ he said.
In the UK, such patients would need to lose weight before being operated on and go through a host of other health safety checks. Ops can be cancelled if certain criteria are not met.
‘We would do all those sensible things, the responsible things to do,’ he said. ‘That just doesn’t seem to happen [in Turkey].’
The 60-year-old is not the only Brit Mr Durrant has helped treat in the UK after they had cosmetic surgery in Turkey.
Another case involved a woman who originally went for a minor revision to a procedure she had done previously.
However, due to a patient mix-up at the Turkish clinic, she was mistakenly given full-body lipo instead.
The major procedure left the woman in question dangerously low on blood, and she needed an emergency transfusion upon returning to Britain.
‘It almost killed her because she lost so much blood from it,’ Mr Durrant said.
He added that, although he had no way to prove it, it was his opinion that some Turkish surgeons were deliberately using the NHS as their surgical aftercare service, with a ‘scandalous’ cost to the health service.
Labour MP for North Durham Kevan Jones MP is another voice campaigning for change on overseas surgery
‘They’ll do multiple procedures in high-risk patients safe in the knowledge that they won’t have to deal with the complications,’ he said.
‘When they know there’s back-up from the NHS, they’ll do whatever they want, to whomever they want, cash the cheque and forget about the outcome. It’s just a “fire and forget”.’
Experts have claimed the such eye-watering sums are likely just the tip of the iceberg, with many other cases believed to be missed by not being treated by a BAAPS surgeon.
BAAPS is a charity membership organisation for UK registered aesthetic plastic surgeons aiming to promote best practice in the profession, with members expected to uphold strict standards.
Even the £6.5million from just the known cases since 2018 is enough to put £20 in the pocket of every cash-strapped NHS nurse in England, or pay for a brand new medical centre.
In addition to tummy tucks and boob jobs, labiaplasties and face lifts were also procedures Brits needed fixing upon their return to the UK in 2022.
BAAPS vice president Nora Nugent said surgeons are seeing a ‘continued rise’ in the number of Brits requiring corrective, and sometimes life-saving surgery, after going under the knife abroad.
Ms Nugent said the cost of treating these problems could quickly add up to the NHS, and ultimately, the taxpayer.
READ MORE: More Brits will die unless we crack down on Turkey’s cheap cowboy surgery market now, writes Labour MP and botched op campaigner KEVAN JONES
When asked why they went overseas for surgery in the first place, patients often told the British surgeon fixing their botched procedure that they had been lured in by the low costs.
‘Price seems to the primary motivator for a lot of these cases,’ Ms Nugent said.
She urged Brits to think twice about going overseas for cosmetic surgery, warning that the price might not be the only cost they pay.
‘It’s not cheaper if something goes wrong,’ she said.
‘These patients cannot access aftercare because it’s in a different country.’
She echoed calls from campaigners for more action from Government warning people of the dangers.
Labour MP for North Durham Kevan Jones, who has written to health ministers to crackdown on surgeons in Turkey butchering Brits, described the cost as shocking.
‘These shocking figures shed a light on the cost to our NHS of trying to repair the botched work of cowboy surgeons,’ he said.
‘Their blatant disregard for patient safety and the taxpayer is unacceptable.
‘These figures are likely to only be fraction of the actual cost. The Government needs to act to ensure proper records are kept so we can know the true scale of the issue.’
Tom Ryan, policy analyst of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Taxpayers will feel uncomfortable with the swelling costs of fixing botched surgeries.’
Dawn Knight, who has campaigned tirelessly against poor practise cosmetic surgery since she was left unable to close her eyes in 2012 following a botched eyelift, said the nation should be concerned about the rising bill.
‘We cant continue in this way with a struggling NHS, no money to pay doctors, nurses what they deserve, yet our NHS picks up the bill for botched surgery abroad,’ she said.
All the known Brit fatalities in Turkey from surgery
At least 24 Brits have died as a result of medical tourism trips to Turkey since January 2019, according to the Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
Here, MailOnline highlights some of the victims.
Leah Cambridge, 29, suffered a blood clot during a £6,500 Brazilian butt lift surgery in Turkey.
Leah Cambridge, 29, died after having the ‘Brazilian butt lift’ procedure in Turkey
The mother-of-three, from Leeds, died just one day after travelling to an Elite Aftercare clinic in Turkey in August 2018.
The trainee beautician, described as being ‘paranoid about her body’, paid in cash for the procedure after being inspired by pictures on Instagram.
The procedure involved having fat extracted from the waist and injected into the buttocks.
But she suffered a fatal complication when fat was accidentally injected into a vein causing her to have three heart attacks on the operating table.
Ms Cambridge’s partner Scott Franks told Wakefield Coroner’s Court that the surgeon who carried out the procedure told him he had ‘injected the fat too far into the muscle and it entered her veins’.
Mr Franks said when he flew out to Turkey after his partner died, Dr Ali Uckan, the surgeon who treated Leah, had told him: ‘It’s a guessing game, you can’t see where you are going into.’
Ms Cambridge father, Craig, took his own life in 2021 with an inquest held in July last year hearing how he was never able to get past the loss of his daughter.
Diarra Akua Eunice Brown
Diarra Brown, 28, died after having liposuction in Turkey
Diarra Akua Eunice Brown, died aged 28, two days after getting liposuction at a clinic in the suburb of Bahcelievler in Istanbul, in October 2021.
She reportedly underwent the operation to have fat removed from her hips.
While the procedure initially appeared to be a success, Ms Brown ‘suddenly’ fell ill while having her dressings changed.
She died just hours later.
Social media posts from family and friends described her as a ‘beautiful soul’ and a ‘close friend’.
‘This must be a dream,’ one post said. ‘Still can’t come to terms with this yet.’
‘I miss you angel. I’m devastated you were taken away way before your time,’ said another.
Shannon Bowe, 28 died after undergoing gastric band surgery in Turkey
Shannon Bowe, from Denny, near Falkirk, died while undergoing gastric band surgery in Turkey in April 2023.
The 28-year-old passed away during the procedure which involves placing a band around the stomach.
Where exactly Ms Bowe had the procedure in Turkey and the complication that led to her death have not been revealed.
In the aftermath of her death, Ms Bowe’s boyfriend Ross Stirling wrote on social media: ‘Sleep tight my angel, love you forever and always.’
Gastric band surgery involves a doctor placing a gastric band around the top of the stomach, creating a small pouch.
When the patient eats, this small pouch fills up more quickly than their stomach normally would, making them feel fuller with less food.
By encouraging them to eat less, the procedure can help patients lose weight.
Melissa Kerr, 31, of Gorleston, Norfolk, died after having a BBL in Turkey
Melissa Kerr, 31, died while undergoing a Brazilian butt lift in Turkey in 2019, just before her wedding.
Ms Kerr traveled to Istanbul’s Medicana Haznedar Hospital in November that year for gluteal augmentation, which can cost up to £3,150.
The psychological wellbeing practitioner, from Gorleston, Norfolk, died from a blocked artery in her lung as a result of undergoing the surgery.
Her twin sister Natasha who set up a justgiving.com page after her death described her a ‘a pure and beautiful soul inside and out’.
She said: ‘Words cannot describe the pain and heartbreak we are going through, life without her will never be the same again.
‘We miss her deeply and nothing will fill the emptiness we are left with.’
Melissa’s partner Skye Birch said: ‘I will continue to love you with all my heart until my last breath.’
Ms Kerr also worked as a volunteer helping domestic violence victims and supporting people through bereavement.
Abimbola Ajoke Bamgbose
Abimbola Ajoke Bamgbose, 38, died after liposuction in Turkey
Abimbola Ajoke Bamgbose, a 38-year-old social worker, from Dartford, Kent, died in August 2020 after undergoing liposuction surgery in Turkey.
The mother-of-three bought an overseas package deal with Mono Cosmetic Surgery after becoming fed-up with people asking her if she was pregnant, according to her husband.
A post-mortem examination found that Mrs Bamgbose suffered perforations to her bowel during the surgery, with the cause of death given as peritonitis with multiple organ failure.
Peritonitis is an infection of the peritoneum, the inner lining of the tummy which covers vital internal organs like the kidneys, liver and bowel.
Her husband Moyosore Olowo told an inquest he was unaware his wife had traveled abroad for cosmetic surgery, instead believing she had simply gone on a holiday with her friends.
It was not until Mrs Bamgbose called her husband to say she was suffering from stomach pains following the procedure that he found out what had happened.
Mr Olowo said his wife had visited a private medical practice in the UK for surgery but added that the cost had been too high for her to have the treatment in Britain.
Carol Keenan, 54, died after having a BBL and tummy tuck in Turkey
Carol Keenan, 54, died six days after undergoing a combined Brazilian butt lift and tummy tuck in Turkey.
The grandmother, of Glenrothes, Fife, paid £7,000 for the procedures at a private hospital in Istanbul in 2022 after becoming anxious about the way her body looked.
Ms Keenan also accepted the offer of free abdominal muscle repair surgery shortly before she was taken into the operating theatre.
But she died before she was due to have a final check up and fly home.
Speaking to MailOnline in April, her family said they are still waiting for the results of her autopsy 11 months on from her death.
Her daughter Leonie Keenan, 32, said: ‘My mother was a fit and healthy individual. She was a very petite size 10 and she kept in shape by walking everywhere and going swimming.
‘She was a very active grandmother who loved bouncing on the trampoline with the kids-but she was not happy with her body even though everyone told her she looked great.
‘She set her heart on having surgery after seeing stories about other people and celebrities having procedures. I don’t know if it was like a mid-life crisis.’
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