Talking Turkey–for Cosmetic Surgery
You probably think we’re against traveling for cosmetic surgery—not true! We are in favor of flying to another city or country if patients do so to work with the plastic surgeon of their choice. We have several patients each year who come to New York for cosmetic surgery with us, and we take every measure possible to ensure their comfort and safety.
We’re not wild about the idea of men and women traveling to get a cheaper price. You can get surgery in other countries less expensively for a reason—the tradeoffs usually undermine your safety. In developing countries in particular, standards for physician credentials, procedure limits, clinic safety measures and follow up care are generally much different than here in the U.S.
We’ve written in the past about risks of booking procedures in countries like the Dominican Republic. People from New York seeking cosmetic surgery tend to choose locations in the Caribbean or Latin America if they’re looking to save a few bucks. Patients from the United Kingdom favor other destinations, and Turkey is an emerging popular choice.
What We Hear About Turkey
There are enough red flags highlighted in media stories to make us worried about patients considering a trip to Turkey. A few of them are touched on in a recent article in The Guardian discussing Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) surgery:
• Surgeons take more risks. In the article, one Turkish surgeon bragged about his freedom, saying “The doctors are braver here than in Europe.” This is a big concern in our view. Cosmetic surgeons must err on the side of caution, not push the boundaries of what’s safe for each patient.
• Risks may not translate into good results. A UK doctor interviewed for the piece notes that she regularly sees patients who are unhappy with their BBL performed in Turkey. Surgeons are willing to insert larger volumes of fat than makes sense, according to the British doctor. Since much of it is not destined to survive, patients end up with misshapen buttocks.
• Credentials can be difficult to evaluate. Web sites are not always helpful, links don’t work and so on. Some Turkish cosmetic surgeons are board certified in Europe or the U.S., but those who aren’t may or may not have the training and experience patients might assume they do.
BBL surgery can be especially dangerous if the provider is inexperienced. When inserting fat into the buttocks, the doctor has to keep the instruments above the gluteal muscles. Failing to do so can allow fat to enter the bloodstream and cause fatal clots. The article in The Guardian mentioned the case of a woman from the U.K. who died from this complication a couple years ago after surgery in Turkey. She’s not the only one.
And the BBL is not the only procedure causing life threatening issues in Turkey. Another issue of The Guardian related the case of a woman who went into cardiac arrest during rhinoplasty surgery in Istanbul. At the time of writing last year, the patient was still in intensive care months later. Other British publications have written about mommy makeovers, eyelid surgeries, liposuction and breast augmentations gone wrong in Turkey.
Credentials and risk-taking behavior of cosmetic surgeons in Turkey are just some of the issues. Compared with operations performed in qualified cosmetic surgery clinics in New York, procedures in Turkey may look quite different. Patients have reported surgeries moving forward with no consultation, medical staff in street clothes and a frequent lack of aftercare. When post-op problems arise, it’s not unusual for a Turkish clinic to be suddenly very difficult to get in touch with.
U.K. vs. U.S. Patients
When patients return to the U.K. with complications after cosmetic surgery abroad, National Health Service doctors care for them as needed. An article in The Sun a couple years ago stated that Turkey is “the worst country in the world for botched operations.” It costs the NHS tens of millions of pounds each year to care for patients who have returned from another country. (If patients opt for private care, the price tag can be hefty, as it was for a woman featured in a BBC story recently.)
In the U.S., there’s an additional challenge for returning patients: without a national health organization it can be difficult to find a plastic surgeon to take your case. It’s not that reconstructive surgeons are hard to find in New York, it’s that cosmetic surgery performed after a botched procedure is very tricky. It can be next to impossible to create normal looking results, and many plastic surgeons are very hesitant to even try, even when a patient can foot the bill after already paying for a procedure abroad.
If you’re fortunate, you may indeed save money on cosmetic surgery in Turkey, the Dominican Republic or another developing country. But understand that you’re rolling the dice, and losers may pay with their looks, their health or even their life. Consider working with us for cosmetic surgery in New York instead. Your peace of mind is priceless!
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels