UK coroner warns of cosmetic surgery abroad after woman dies in Turkey

A woman who died after travelling to Turkey for buttock enlargement surgery was not given enough information to make a safe decision about the procedure, a coroner has concluded.

Melissa Kerr, 31, from Gorleston in Norfolk, travelled to the private Medicana Haznedar hospital in Istanbul for the procedure in 2019.

The inquest, taking place in Norwich, 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.

She died at the hospital on the day of the surgery, which involves fat taken from elsewhere on the body being injected into the buttocks.

The coroner concluded that Kerr died after injected fat entered a vein before moving and blocking her pulmonary artery, with her cause of death recorded as a pulmonary thromboembolism.

Jacqueline Lake, the senior coroner for Norfolk, will write to the heath secretary expressing concern about people travelling overseas for cosmetic surgery.

Simon Withey, a consultant plastic surgeon who viewed evidence in the case and prepare a report for Kerr’s inquest as an expert witness, said the death rate associated withwhat is known as a Brazilian butt lift was “likely to be in excess of one in 4,000”. He added that it was “quite possible” that, if the risk of the procedure had been explained to Kerr “before she was financially committed to proceed, she would not have done”.

The inquest saw a series of messages between Kerr and a hospital worker before she travelled to Turkey, in which she arranged to pay £3,200 in cash and said that she felt “a bit nervous” about the operation.

Kerr also asked multiple times to see photographs of previous patients but there was no evidence they were provided. She had no known health conditions, according to her GP, and had undergone a breast enlargement 10 years previously without any complications.

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

The coroner said: “Ms Kerr wasn’t seen by a surgeon or clinician prior to the date of the procedure and underwent a limited assessment prior to the procedures. There has been the release of an international alert to surgeons regarding the high mortality rate associated with this procedure. There has also been the introduction of a voluntary moratorium on this type of procedure in the UK.”

She added: “These are clearly not being followed in Turkey. I’m concerned patients are not being made aware of the risks or the mortality rate associated with such surgery. I do have concerns there will be future deaths and I’m of the view future deaths can be prevented by way of better information.”

Lake offered her sympathies to Kerr’s relatives, who listened to proceedings over video link.

In a statement, Kerr’s family said they were devastated, adding: “We hope in the future individuals give proper consideration before travelling to Turkey for cosmetic tourism.”

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