Monday, December 4, 2023

Brazilian butt-lift surgery death of British woman, 31, prompts meeting between UK government officials and counterparts in Turkey over the dangers of cosmetic tourism

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UK Government officials are to meet their counterparts in Turkey to discuss the dangers of cosmetic tourism after a young British woman died following a £3200 ‘Brazilian butt lift’ at a private hospital there. 

Melissa Kerr, 31, was admitted to the Medicana Kadikoy Hospital in Istanbul in 2019 and died after the procedure to collect fat and inject it into her buttocks.

The procedure carries a death rate at ‘least 10 times higher than many other cosmetic procedures.’ 

Norfolk’s senior coroner Jacqueline Lake said that Ms Kerr, of Denton, Norfolk, was only given ‘limited information regarding the risks and mortality rate’ associated with the operation.

The coroner wrote to the Department of Health and Social Care with her concerns following an inquest heard in September this year.

Melissa Kerr, 31, of Gorleston, Norfolk, was on holiday in Istanbul when she had the procedure 

Kerr paid £3200 for the procedure (Pictured is Ms Kerr and her partner Skye Birch)

Kerr paid £3200 for the procedure (Pictured is Ms Kerr and her partner Skye Birch)

She wrote: ‘I am concerned that patients travelling to Turkey for this procedure are not being made aware of the risks and the high mortality rate associated with this surgery.’

Ms Lake also raised concerns that there were ‘no or limited controls with regard to such surgery taking place’.

Her concerns were addressed to then-health secretary Steve Barclay, and a response has since been received from Maria Caulfield, minister for mental health and women’s health strategy.

In her response this month, Ms Caulfield said: ‘My officials will… be visiting Turkey shortly to meet with their counterparts.

‘The intention is to discuss the regulatory framework, and the protections that are in place for UK nationals, and to identify concrete areas where the UK and Turkish authorities should work together to reduce the risks to patients in the future.’

She continued: ‘It is particularly important that those considering having the ‘Brazilian Butt Lift’ (BBL) procedure are made fully aware of the risks and have time to reflect fully on their decision ahead of surgery.

‘As you note in the report, the risks associated with this procedure are high.

‘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, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) has advised its members not to carry out Brazilian butt lift surgery until more is known about safer techniques for the procedure.

‘The Government is considering how we can most effectively communicate with those considering medical treatment abroad, to ensure people are better informed about the risks ahead of surgery and understand the need to ensure appropriate aftercare, including considering when it may be safe to travel home.’

Ms Caulfield said she hoped her response was ‘helpful in setting out how seriously the UK Government is taking the issues raised in your report’.

Ms Kerr's medical cause of death was given as pulmonary thromboembolism and fat embolism, as a result of elective cosmetic surgery

Ms Kerr’s medical cause of death was given as pulmonary thromboembolism and fat embolism, as a result of elective cosmetic surgery

Ms Kerr, who had a breast enlargement operation a decade earlier without complications, died at the Medicana Kadikoy hospital on the day of the butt lift. 

The procedure sees fat harvested from elsewhere on the body and injected into the buttocks – on November 19 2019.

In a string of WhatsApp messages between Ms Kerr and a hospital worker before the Briton 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.

Ms Kerr said in her messages she felt ‘a bit nervous’.

Recording a narrative conclusion, Ms Lake said Ms Kerr died after cosmetic surgery. 

She died after injected fat entered a vein before moving and blocking her pulmonary artery, with her cause of death recorded as pulmonary thromboembolism and fat embolism, with a secondary cause stated as elective cosmetic surgery.

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