Government officials are to meet their counterparts in Turkey over the dangers of medical and cosmetic tourism after a swathe of deaths, it was revealed today.
Turkey has become one of the most popular destinations, fuelled by celebrities and influencers who’ve made the four-hour trip in pursuit of revamping their bodies.
Thousands of Brits, particularly women in their 20s and 30s, flock there every year.
Melissa Kerr, 31, from Gorleston in Norfolk, travelled to the private Medicana Kadikoy Hospital in Istanbul in 2019 for the £3,200 buttock enlargement surgery.
But she died at the hospital on the day of the surgery. An inquest into her death in September heard that Kerr, who was self-conscious about her appearance, was given only ‘limited information regarding the risks and mortality rate’ associated with the operation.
So how safe is the surgery? What are the risks of a BBL? And why are so many Brits travelling abroad to get it done?
Here MailOnline breaks down everything you need to know…
Turkey has become one of the most popular destinations, fuelled by celebrities and influencers who’ve made the four-hour trip in pursuit of revamping their bodies. Thousands of Brits, particularly women in their 20s and 30s, flock there every year. Pictured, Kim Kardashian who has admitted to undergoing a BBL
The risky procedure, designed to emulate the perky posterior of celebs such as Kim Kardashian and Cardi B , was shunned by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons in 2018. Pictured Cardi B in September
Despite the dangers, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) says the op is the fastest-growing type of cosmetic surgery , with its popularity increasing by 20 per cent year-on-year. Pictured Chloe Sims, who has previously admitted to undergoing a BBL
Melissa Kerr (pictured), 31, from Gorleston in Norfolk, travelled to the private Medicana Haznedar hospital for the £3,200 buttock enlargement surgery in 2019. But she died at the hospital on the day of the surgery. An inquest into her death in September, heard that Kerr, who was self-conscious about her appearance, was given only ‘limited information regarding the risks and mortality rate’ associated with the operation
What is a Brazilian butt lift?
BBLs are used to make buttocks bigger, more rounded or lifted.
It sees fat transferred from other areas of the body, such as the hips or stomach, to give patients a fuller derriere.
Despite the dangers, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) says the op is the fastest-growing type of cosmetic surgery, with its popularity increasing by 20 per cent year-on-year.
It was shunned in the UK because of its risks. But last year, BAAPs, which creates guidelines for British plastic surgeons, partly reversed its decision on offering the procedure.
Surgeons in the UK are now instead encouraged to do superficial gluteal lipofilling (SGL), which is considered a ‘lite’ form of the procedure.
How is a BBL carried out?
Fat is first harvested from the hips, lower back, abdomen, thighs and other areas via liposuction.
Special equipment is used to prepare it for transfer before it is injected directly into the glutes at specific points, giving the buttocks a bigger, curvier appearance.
The procedure, sometimes referred to as lipomodelling, usually lasts a couple of hours.
According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgeons, it is typical for a portion of the injected fat not to ‘take’ in its new location.
Fat is first harvested from the hips, lower back, abdomen, thighs and other areas via liposuction . Special equipment is used to prepare it for transfer before it is injected directly into the glutes at specific points, giving the buttocks a bigger, curvier appearance
Why do people want a BBL?
Unhappiness over a ‘flat’ buttocks that lack shape, despite a healthy lifestyle, is a common reason listed by those who choose to undergo BBL surgery.
Experts have also blamed the allure of celebrity culture and choreographed social media images for fuelling the BBL trend.
In July, London-based aesthetic surgeon Dr Veerle Rotsaert told MailOnline she discourages patients from getting any BBL and instead recommends they go to the gym and do squats.
She said: ‘In my practice if people want more volume in the buttocks area, I first of all educate them on normal anatomy.
‘I recommend going to the gym to do squats.’
Dr Rotsaert also urged Brits to shy away from BBLs, stating that the ‘Kardashian body type is a trend’.
‘And we all know trends go out of fashion at some stage,’ she added.
How much does it cost?
On average, it costs around £6,000 in the UK. But according to the NHS, it could be priced as high as £8,000.
There may also be additional costs for consultations, aftercare and further treatment sessions, if required.
Adverts for the procedure in Turkey, meanwhile, have been advertised online for as little as $2,750 (£2,190).
In July, MailOnline also found some cosmetic surgery packages in Turkey being sold for under £3,000. Brits were being offered the chance to get a BBL as part of a five-night hotel stay and VIP airport transfers.
Why do people travel abroad for a BBL?
For decades, Brits have been warned against seeking cheaper surgery in places like Turkey, Eastern Europe, or South East Asia.
Turkey is not inherently more dangerous than other surgical tourism hotspots.
But cheap flights between it and the UK — as well as the rise of the trend combining cosmetic surgery with a holiday — have made it one of the leading destinations for Brits looking to go under the knife.
Nora Nugent, the Vice President of BAAPS told MailOnline: ‘There are many reasons why people travel abroad for cosmetic surgery including BBL — but one of the most common reasons is price.
‘Overseas surgery can be cheaper than surgery in the UK. Differences in the cost of living, business expenses, cost of ensuring compliance of premises and processes with UK regulations and medical insurance are some of the reasons why it can be more expensive in the UK.
‘The BAAPS urge people to look at quality and service provided as well as cost though as it is vital to know what is included and not included and to have full information on the procedure and your surgeon and hospital too.’
In Turkey, the BBL and even what are dubbed ‘extreme BBLs’ are promoted.
In fact, some clinics even underplay the risks linked with the surgery. A MailOnline investigation earlier this year found one clinic claiming that a BBL is ‘completely safe when carried out by a qualified BBL surgeon in Istanbul’.
Another offered a more extreme BBL — the ‘BBL with Vaser Liposuction’.
With this procedure, the clinic claims they are able to extract more fat from the body at once and says this results in a slimmer abdomen which makes the hips more noticeable.
Liposuction that offers to remove up to 15 litres of fat, BBL’s, eye colour changing laser treatments and hymenoplasties are all offered in clinics across Turkey
What are the risks of a BBL?
BBLs are one of the most dangerous types of cosmetic surgery available.
The risk of death is higher than most operations, currently estimated at one in 15,000.
Surgeons can accidentally inject the fat into the bloodstream —which can cause a potentially deadly blood clot.
Such a complication is what killed Leah Cambridge, 29, a British mother who died in August 2018 after paying £6,500 to get a BBL in Turkey.
Generic side effects include bruising, swelling, temporary numbness and scars.
And, like any op, it carries the risk of excessive bleeding and an infection.
In her response to Ms Kerr’s prevention of future death report, Maria Caulfield, minister for mental health and women’s health strategy, wrote: ‘The risk of death for BBL surgery is at least 10 times higher than many other cosmetic procedures, and it has the highest death rate of all cosmetic procedures.
‘As you note, BAAPS has advised its members not to carry out BBL surgery until more is known about safer techniques for the procedure.’
Experts also warn against the pressure tactics employed by cosmetic surgery clinics including time-sensitive deals and booking procedures informally using apps like WhatsApp.
In a string of WhatsApp messages between Ms Kerr and a hospital worker before she travelled to Turkey, Ms Kerr arranged to pay £3,200 in cash.
She asked four times to see photographs of previous patients but there is no evidence they were provided.
Last week, BAAPS also found 324 Brits have needed medical treatment or corrective surgery after having gone under the knife overseas since 2018.
This has surged 94 per cent in three years, the organisation claimed, with BAAPS figures suggesting Turkey was the largest source of botched ops.
BAAPS estimates the average cost to the health service of treating a Brit botched overseas is about £15,000, putting the total bill since 2018 at about £4.8million.
The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons analysed 324 cases of Brits needing medical treatment or corrective surgery after having gone under the knife overseas since 2018
How does an SGL differ from a BBL?
An SGL is, effectively, a lighter version of BBL.
It uses fat from elsewhere in the body to make the buttocks appear curvier. However, a SGL only injects fat below the skin.
In comparison, BBLs go deeper into the muscles themselves, which raises the risks of the procedure.
An SGL doesn’t provide the same results as a BBL but is considered safer.
What should people do if they still want to travel to Turkey?
In June, in an ‘unprecedented’ move, BAAPS issued a joint statement with the Turkish Society of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (TSPRAS) over fears of an increased number of complications and deaths in Turkey following cosmetic surgery.
‘Multiple reports have highlighted concerns that our two national societies share regarding standards of patient care,’ they said.
Those who still want to travel abroad for surgery, were strongly urged to follow new guidance, including checking that any Turkish surgeons are TSPRAS members and have Turkish board certification.
Plastic surgeons should also have practiced in their speciality area for at least five years.
‘It is compulsory in Turkey to have a comprehensive consent form completed ahead of travel – if this does not happen it should raise concerns,’ they added.
Equally, surgeons must offer aftercare plans and means of contacting them.
Brits who have died after going under the knife in Turkey
At least 25 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.’