10 Oct Turkish Cosmetic Surgeries criticised for causing crisis
By Neha Gohil Correspondent,
and Emma Bentley Camerawoman and Editor.
An investigation by The News Movement has revealed the ‘shocking’ and ‘dreadful’ sales tactics used by some cosmetic surgery clinics in Turkey. A spokesperson for the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) said the findings were ‘astonishing’ and constituted a ‘real healthcare crisis’.
‘30% DISCOUNT- AVAILABLE FOR 48 HOURS ONLY!’
‘Do not let this opportunity slip! It will only be valid for 48 hours!’
‘If you wish to secure your treatment plan for 18 months, you can do so by making a £50 deposit.’
These were just some of the WhatsApp messages I received from a cosmetic surgery clinic based in Turkey.
I contacted the clinic posing as a 24-year-old from the UK who wanted to have a Brazilian Butt Lift – a procedure which has the highest death rate of all cosmetic surgeries – and a nose job.
After I sent photos and answered a number of medical questions, the clinic presented a surgery package deal.
They offered Brazilian Butt Lift surgery and liposuction with a 20% ‘flash discount’, valid for 10 days. The surgery package, with a hotel stay, cost £2800. The deposit to secure the deal was £280.*
A few days later, I received a message to say the deposit was reduced further to just £50.
“We are excited to extend a special offer to you, available for the next three days only,” the message read. “If you wish to secure your treatment plan for 18 months, you can do so by making a £50 deposit.”
And that was not the end of it.
I asked the clinic if I could have more procedures – the Brazilian Butt Lift and liposuction, rhinoplasty, buccal fat removal and blepharoplasty – all to be performed under one anaesthesia.
The clinic responded: “If you are suitable with your blood levels, you can have all of them in one surgery. It will be 100% according to your test results.”
I was even offered an additional £1,000 discount for booking multiple surgeries at once.
The News Movement contacted several cosmetic surgery clinics in Turkey, some of which have since been criticised for their “dreadful”, “unsafe and incredibly unscrupulous” sales tactics by surgeons and experts in the UK.
We shared the WhatsApp messages with Consultant plastic surgeon and spokesperson for the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), Paul Harris, who said he was “truly astonished” by the findings.
“The way that patients are being persuaded and preyed upon is just dreadful,” he said.
“It really is shocking…that is almost the best example I’ve ever seen of pressurised selling techniques, all of those, combine it together all in one message trail. It’s unbelievable.”
The exclusive investigation by The News Movement reveals the sales techniques used by some cosmetic surgery clinics in Turkey which include:
- Deposits ranging from £50-£500 for BBL and liposuction surgery packages
- Clinics repeatedly messaging and offering ‘flash discounts’ with time limits
- Clinics accepting ‘concerning’ body and facial combination surgeries
Of the nine clinics we contacted, five offered discounts on the price of the surgery or price reductions for early booking and surgery.
Mr Harris said ‘pressured selling techniques’ in cosmetic surgeries were banned in the UK more than 10 years ago and it was “incredibly unsafe” for Turkish clinics to be offering discounts and time limits on ‘a very complex part of healthcare.’
Seven Turkish clinics said it was possible to have multiple body and facial surgeries – including the BBL and liposuction, rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty and buccal fat removal – under one anaesthesia. Some clinics said this would be dependent on having appropriate blood test results.
Mr Harris said it was ‘worrying’ that such combination surgeries could be accepted.
He said: “It really concerns me that [the surgeons are] not appropriately trained and that they are operating beyond their level of experience in that training.”
Mr Navid Jallali, a former Consultant Surgeon at Imperial College NHS Trust, also viewed the messages and said: “There seems to be a big push for having multiple surgeries and they incentivise this by giving additional discounts.
“In general, we do not like doing procedures that will take longer than 4.5 hours in the UK. However, the combination being discussed will take well over that even in a very experienced surgeons hand. It is also a very unusual combination of procedures and should have been queried at the outset.”
He added: “This is not UK standard in terms of practice and would not be supported by any surgeons in the UK.”
In response to the clinics offering discounts, Mr Jallali said: “From the General Medical Council point of view and actually for any reputable surgeon in the UK, that incentivisation of saying ‘we can give you a discount if you proceed’ should never ever happen.
“The patient [should] only receive surgery based on the fact that they’re going to gain a benefit and not the fact that the surgery has been done cheap or for a discounted price.”
Dr Alex Karidis, a Consultant Plastic Surgeon at Karidis Plastic Surgery Clinic in the UK, said: “I don’t think it’s ethical. I don’t think it’s right.
“Surgery – that’s not a product that you sell… You’re potentially playing with people’s lives.”
Dr Karidis said a cosmetic surgeon in the UK who offered discounts and incentives would be “investigated straightaway and possibly suspended.”
He said: “It’s a wild west out there, they can do whatever they want. They don’t play by the same rules.”
Turkey has seen a boom in its cosmetic surgery industry in recent years. More than 1.2 million people travelled to the country for medical treatments, the majority of which was cosmetic.
The trend has sparked alarm from many industry experts in the UK who have said the lack of regulation in the country creates a high complication risk.
Since 2019, 24 British nationals have died after medical tourism trips to Turkey, according to the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
Mr Harris said there are “reputable” surgeons in Turkey but it was important for people to do their “own research” and to think “very carefully” before booking cosmetic surgery abroad.
He said: “We really need to be informed before making these decisions which will have a lifelong impact on you. This is not like having a haircut or buying some new clothes or going on holiday, this is a big decision that will affect the rest of your life.”
The News Movement published a YouTube documentary about the cosmetic surgery boom in Turkey and how the industry has tried to attract more people in their twenties.