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The Harsh Truth Behind Affordable Beauty: Cosmetic Surgeries in Turkey Revealed

“If someone had told me in advance that the decision to go to Turkey would cost me a lot financially, physically and mentally, I would not have boarded that plane.” Perkins was in great pain, “The last 16 months , I seem to be in purgatory on earth.”

“My life has been completely ruined.” When the 22-year-old Irish girl Jed Cooney said these words, the photos she posted on social media still remain in the picture of a young girl with blond hair and good looks. look like.

Cooney’s pain is ongoing. Now, she has two deep holes in her breasts and stomach. The hard-to-heal holes keep festering and stinking, so much so that she has to go to the hospital twice a week to change the wound dressing. Her belly was pitted, her navel disappeared, and there was only a straight line of scars standing out across her stomach, and a hideous scar running from one side of her buttocks to the other.

This is already the effect after repeated treatment and recovery. Since the heart-wrenching medical aesthetic surgery in October 2022, the severe sepsis and endless bleeding that came to the door made Cooney go through 18 hours of rescue in the emergency room.

“For anyone who wants to go to Turkey for plastic surgery, my answer is don’t go,” Cooney said bitterly. “It destroyed me, physically and mentally.”

From “sweet dream” to “nightmare”, similar alarm bells have been sounded continuously in recent years. Whether it was the tragedy of a 29-year-old British woman dying on the operating table as early as 2018, or the warning issued by the British government in May 2022 that since January 2019, 20 British women have been found guilty of medical treatment in Turkey. Death from US surgery did not stop people from going to Turkey.

“Wild West”
“In the beginning, I thought it was impossible for me to go to Turkey. I’m not crazy. But as I researched more information, I became more and more sure that this country is suitable for me.” Lu, who underwent sleeve stomach surgery in Turkey Sy Marshall said she was quoted £10,500 for the procedure by a private clinic in the UK, compared with £3,100 for a weight loss clinic in Turkey.

Sleeve gastric surgery, which greatly reduces the size of the stomach and sews the stomach into a small gastric pouch, is a popular option for weight loss surgery. However, due to the high demand for surgery, many people have to wait a long time before starting the operation. According to the “Independent” report, St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, performs about 80 to 100 bariatric surgeries a year, far below the local demand. Thousands of obese patients are on the waiting list for surgery, and waiting times of 3 to 4 years are not uncommon.

Under the torment, the overwhelming Turkish surgery advertisements on social media seemed to be life-saving straws. These surgical opportunities are enticing for those who are severely obese, financially distressed, and have been on the waiting list for several years.

Delia O’Malley, 26, has been on the waiting list for a private clinic in Ireland for nearly two years. O’Malley weighs nearly 160kg, suffers from binge eating disorder and needs gastric bypass surgery. Extremely anxious, she turned her gaze to Türkiye.

“A clinic was recommended to me by a friend of mine who lived in Turkey for 20 years. I did a lot of research on the doctors at the clinic, followed his former patients and talked to them on social media. When When I saw that doctor, I felt more confident,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley thought he had been cautious enough, but he was still not out of luck. Her leg was in so much pain after surgery that doctors told her it might have been a nerve next to her stomach that had been severed during the operation. When she spent half a year recovering her legs, she found that she could not swallow because another postoperative complication “pyloric stenosis” occurred.

“Before the operation, I wasn’t told anything about possible complications,” O’Malley said with lingering fear. “I guess it was because I was younger. Now I’ve survived, but I don’t recommend anyone to go to Turkey for it.” Operation.”

In addition to curing diseases, people just need to become beautiful. Since the guest star in the popular British variety show “Love Island” captured the hearts of the people with a mouthful of white teeth, Turkey has become a holy place for orthodontics. This iconic white tooth is also called “Turkish teeth” by netizens. On social media, many young people shared their orthodontic experiences, recommending clinics and all-inclusive plastic surgery tour packages. But there are also elements of adulteration – according to British media reports, some Turkish clinics have contacted British Internet celebrity bloggers and paid them to advertise.

Even so, the social media offensive has paid off. Coupled with low-cost surgery fees that are less than half of developed countries and all-inclusive cosmetic tour packages as gimmicks, Turkey has quickly developed medical tourism into one of the country’s emerging industries. In the first half of 2022 alone, Turkey will attract 600,000 people to receive medical services. In 2020, nearly 950,000 cosmetic surgeries were performed, making Turkey fifth in the list of the number of cosmetic surgeries in the world that year. The International Society of Cosmetic Surgery ranks Turkey among the top 10 countries for most popular plastic surgery procedures, with popular procedures including breast augmentation, eyelid surgery, tummy tuck, liposuction and rhinoplasty.

Matching it is the high degree of privatization of Türkiye’s medical service industry. An increasing number of Turkish surgeons are leaving the public health service to work in well-paid private clinics or to open their own practices. Agencies have also sprung up like mushrooms after rain, providing an intermediary platform between private surgeons and foreign clients, and organizing “medical beauty tourism” one after another.

“Turkey is the leader in medical tourism because they have the cheapest prices, almost the cheapest in the world,” said Jonathan Edshter, CEO of the American Medical Travel Association. “They’re like the Wild West. , you have to be careful.”

“In hell on earth”
The reason why Turkey’s medical aesthetics projects can maintain such enthusiasm is not only the temptation of low prices, the promotion of social media, but also the blessing of successful cases.

In December 2021, 29-year-old Stephen Moore lost almost 63kg after undergoing a cheap sleeve gastrectomy in Turkey. “It changed my life,” she said gratefully.

Moore spent 4 months doing homework online and choosing clinics. Like the other patients, she spent a week in Turkey and saw the doctor twice. After the operation, she kept in touch with the clinic through text communication and video calls. “I had terrific post-op care,” Moore said. “My only regret is not having the surgery sooner.”

Unfortunately, success stories cannot be reproduced 100%. Emma, ​​34, followed Moore’s trajectory, but in the exact opposite direction. She also spent months doing her homework and thought the care she was receiving was “impeccable,” but a few weeks after the operation, she was having trouble breathing and was diagnosed with sepsis; a small leak appeared in her stomach , resulting in fluid buildup in her lungs and diaphragm, and pneumonia. After returning to the UK from Turkey, she was hospitalized for nearly four months with serious complications, during which time she underwent two further operations.

“Going to Turkey for surgery was the worst experience of my life,” Emma said. “My children almost lost their mother.”

Compared with 43-year-old Dawn Benham, Emma is considered a lucky patient. In April 2019, when Benham underwent post-pregnancy surgery on her abdomen and breasts in Turkey, she found that her breasts were highly asymmetrical, her areolas were of different shapes, and her abdominal liposuction was uneven.

When Benham brought this back to the hospital and asked for a repair, she was told it would take another year before she could be scheduled for surgery. A year later, the surgeon in charge of Benham told her that he was no longer working at the hospital and that the hospital had to make adjustments. When she finally managed to contact the hospital, Ilmet Hospital told her that the expiration date had passed and she could no longer undergo surgery. After that, she could no longer contact the hospital.

“I’m disappointed, they’re not professional, they just want your money, they don’t care what’s going on,” Benham said.

Even seemingly innocuous dental procedures can have serious consequences. Molly, a 25-year-old British girl, had dental veneer surgery in Turkey, which cost 3,000 pounds, including online consultation services, 3 days of luxury hotel accommodation, airport transfers, breakfast and brand new teeth. In Manchester, where she lives, a similar operation would have cost more than £6,000.

Molly left Turkey with ‘oversized’ tooth after surgery Her teeth were oversized and unnaturally shaped, and her gums were becoming hypersensitive. It wasn’t until she saw a British doctor that she learned that her previously healthy teeth had been completely destroyed and instead of veneers, she received 20 thick, gleaming crowns. Now, she’s spending a fortune to have those teeth straightened.

“I met a boy who had a broken tooth crown after surgery in Turkey. He had to use chewing gum to fix it, and it took him 18 months to rebuild his gum tissue.” Sam, vice president of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry Jeswa said so far he has seen quite a few people come back with damaged nervous systems, dead teeth, abscesses and serious infections requiring root canals.

According to statistics from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, since 2019, a total of 324 patients have returned to the UK after “medical beauty tourism” in four years and need further surgery. In 2021, 75 women and seven men developed serious complications, with some having to be placed on life support. The patients with postoperative complications all returned from Turkey.

In 2023, the situation is no better. A Scottish hospital has admitted 11 patients in 10 days who suffered serious complications from cheap plastic surgery abroad, reports The Sun. Another British surgeon revealed that within a week, he had treated 8 patients whose bodies were in critical condition due to plastic surgery abroad.

There are many victim groups active on Facebook (a social tool), where everyone shares the harrowing experience of going to Turkey for surgery. Some people, like Cooney, contracted sepsis, and some people entered the intensive care unit due to surgical complications.

Angela Perkins, a 57-year-old British woman, was disfigured and unable to close her right eye just because she spent £8,000 on a simple facelift. Now, she needs to spend at least £30,000 and undergo multiple operations to repair her eyes, ears, cheeks and neck.

“If someone had told me in advance that the decision to go to Turkey would cost me a lot financially, physically and mentally, I would not have boarded that plane.” Perkins was in great pain, “The last 16 months , I seem to be in purgatory on earth.”

So called agencies are not that professional either. Numerous witnesses said the surrogate may have been an amateur assistant, or a patient who had undergone similar operations before. Chris Foster, 38, embarked on his plastic surgery journey a month and a half after first consulting with a clinic on Facebook. In the meantime, she only filled out a medical questionnaire.

In addition, there are many complaints about the poor medical care and poor medical conditions in the local area. More than one witness said that their operation time was scheduled until 10 pm, and some hospitals would transport them to hotels for postoperative care, and the hygiene and safety of hotels were also problematic.

Marshall joined online victim groups, but still couldn’t resist the lure of success stories. “I wanted to see the good and the bad, and I was torn between excitement and fear—can’t wait to lose weight, but was afraid of the consequences,” says Marshall. I hope I’m next.”

This mental journey can summarize the psychological activities of the vast majority of people who go to Turkey for surgery. They are willing to risk their lives with a chance.

Difficult to defend rights
Turkish hospitals are not silent about these medical aesthetic operations that are baited by beauty and priced at the price of life. In their view, their slack is justifiable.

Gibble, founder of a weight-loss clinic, said doctors at the clinic would review the patient’s medical consultation form in advance and ask for further details if necessary to determine which surgery the patient was suitable for. “They really only talk to patients before they get to Turkey, if needed,” Gibble said.

As for negligent post-operative care, Melt Karakuzu, owner of a medical travel agency, explained that the industry is oversaturated, “When you have so many patients, you don’t focus on individual patients, you focus on the general numbers”.

Gibr insisted they were under strict supervision by Turkish authorities. In recent years, the Turkish government has introduced a series of measures to regulate the industry and encourage its development, including exempting foreign medical patients from VAT. In 2017, the Turkish Ministry of Health issued regulations intended to regulate medical tourism, stipulating that local hospitals, clinics and institutions must obtain an international health tourism authorization certificate. In addition, it also stipulates the requirements for plastic surgery prices, promotion methods and surgeons in charge of operations.

But Karakuzu believes that the regulations are still only on paper, and that the Turkish government has failed to strictly enforce them and shut down companies operating illegally.

In August 2020, British primary school teacher Michelle Williams underwent simple rhinoplasty in Turkey, but unfortunately became a permanent vegetative state. Her family subsequently launched legal action against all the medical staff involved in her medical care, but her lawyer, Bur Holmgren, admitted to the British “Sky News”: “For a foreigner, medical treatment in Turkey is difficult. It’s actually very difficult to bring a negligence lawsuit.”

“In Turkish courts, a medical negligence claim can take two years.” Holmgren explained that if the party has no formal documents and booked an all-inclusive package, it will be very difficult to prove that the hospital is at fault. Because such packages usually include airfare, accommodation and surgery, hospitals and doctors do not directly contract with patients.

Another gutter is also common. Most patients will be required to pay the operation fee in cash before the operation, and sign a waiver, in which the hospital’s waiver covers a very wide scope, covering almost all complications. “It’s also very difficult to get over that,” Holmgren said.

Cooney, who was suddenly replaced as a doctor before the operation, has not even been able to obtain her own medical files, which is enough to illustrate the bumps in the road to rights protection.

“A few days before the operation, I found out that the doctor’s name had changed on my wristband, and it was not the doctor I had booked and was satisfied with. However, no one informed me of this in advance, and I discovered it myself. Cooney recalled, “When I entered the operating room, they tied my wrist with a rubber band, and I was still awake. The anesthesia didn’t work, and I started to panic. The operation time was expected to be 6 hours, but it actually took It took 11 hours. I woke up in the intensive care unit with excruciating pain all over my body, and I couldn’t help screaming.”

On the second day after the operation, Cooney was too painful to get out of bed, but the hospital was still preparing to transfer her to a hotel. Cooney firmly refused. Six days later, she returned home on a flight organized by the agency. She was so painful that she couldn’t walk, and had to cry and ask the airport staff for a wheelchair. Followed by a diagnosis of severe wound infection and sepsis.

But when Cooney wanted to pursue responsibility from the Turkish side and demand a refund, he was told that he had signed a consent form, and the hospital did not need to take responsibility. So far, she is still fighting fiercely with the hospital, trying to get back her medical files.

When the “beautiful storm” from the Balkans began to sweep across Europe, the tragedy never stopped. The inefficient and expensive local medical system makes some patients who are waiting for plastic surgery to save their lives or change their lives have to take risks and turn around. Whether they were exhausted in the European medical system or died without evidence on the operating table in Turkey, the painful experience of the victims should not be accused of being “reckless, not cautious, and risking their lives for the sake of beauty”.

This is enough to cause people to wake up.