Mum and daughter’s Turkey plastic surgery nightmare left them in NHS hospital
A mum and daughter today reveal their nip-and-tuck hell in Turkey – where botched ops maimed hundreds of Brits.
Startling new figures show 324 people who went there for cosmetic procedures have required corrective surgery on the NHS.
Tragically, a number of others have died.
Many Brits are lured by cheap packages offering accommodation, transport and op.
Jacqui Wicks, 60, and daughter Tracy Visagie, 36, both required extensive treatment on the NHS following ops in Izmir in April.
Devastated Jacqui needed emergency surgery after a tummy tuck. She said: “I am in such a dark place and wish I’d never had the surgery done. I’m not sleeping or eating. I’m having nightmares and I’m very depressed.”
The NHS is struggling to cope with the fallout of returning Brits in need of treatment.
Alastair Brown, a member of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons, said: “The NHS has to rationalise what we can provide for patients who get cosmetic surgery abroad.
“We can really only perform life-saving surgeries for severe infections, skin necrosis, sepsis or severe infection.
“Sometimes, we simply cannot make things right again, no matter how skilled we are.
“People are being sold these glitzy packages of surgery abroad but why is it so cheap?
“You are not getting adequate pre-op counselling like in the UK and the other big concern is aftercare. When patients are being sent home too early and something goes wrong, where is the aftercare?”
Jacqui, from Ramsgate, Kent, and Tracy booked packages through a third-party agency and were heartened by the positive reviews for surgeon Dr Vugar Alakbarov.
Jacqui was quoted £10,000 for a tummy tuck in the UK – but just £4,000 in Turkey.
Tracy – insecure about saggy skin after losing five stone – was told a tummy tuck and breast uplift would set her back £13,000 here.
But for just £5,000 she was told she could have both treatments – plus a range of liposuction procedures – from Dr Alakbarov.
Tracy said: “I did lots of research on the surgeon. The photos on his Instagram page looked amazing and my dream body finally seemed possible.”
The pair claim they met their surgeon for the first time just a few hours before their operations. But after coming round, they realised something was amiss. Jacqui claims the surgeon asked to record a video saying she was happy within hours of the procedure.
She said: “I had no idea of what was under the dressings and now I know why some of the reviews are so good – because some people give them before any problems have had a chance to arise.”
The problems for both women began three days later, back in their hotel. “We were in so much pain and my wound kept getting blacker,” said Jacqui.
She alleges Dr Alakbarov reassured them they were fine.
Jacqui added: “He didn’t look at the wound itself, or Tracy’s, and told us not to remove the tape for 14 days. He also told us we couldn’t shower for four weeks – something a UK surgeon said was ridiculous. There was zero aftercare.”
After nine days the women returned to the UK still in pain. Jacqui went on: “On day 14, I removed the tape on my stomach. Two days later the black area had grown in size and was oozing. A nurse took one look at it and sent me straight to A&E. It had gone necrotic and was infected.”
Jacqui had to have an emergency operation to have the dead tissue removed. Two weeks later, she collapsed at home and was rushed back into theatre.
She had six rounds of antibiotics to rid her body of the infection and is still receiving care from NHS nurses.
Medics told her she should never have given a tummy tuck – having had gallbladder surgery years earlier.
She was not aware this would be relevant and alleges medics didn’t ask her before the op. In a text exchange between Jacqui and Dr Alakbarov, the women were told they should not have left Turkey, despite him signing their fit-to-fly certificates.
His text said: “It is not my fault. Normally I have to control patients for one month but you are leaving after the operation, treatment is incomplete.”
Tracy also ended up in A&E when dead tissue on her nipple formed a hole in her breast. She has also been left with scars on both breasts, a misshapen navel and a huge bulge of skin under her pubic bone. She alleges that the surgeon decided not to perform some of the liposuction procedures without explanation.
Tracy said: “My body is a mess. Mum and I are devastated. I didn’t like my body before, but I hate it now.
“I also feel so guilty Mum had this awful surgery by a surgeon I’d found. I’ve been caring for her and helping her wash daily. She’s in such a bad way. I believe any bad reviews are deleted or brushed under the carpet.”
Tracy and Jacqui have now consulted lawyers about their ordeal. Yesterday, the agency offered to give the women a full refund after we contacted them about our story. In his response, Dr Alakbarov claimed the women had left “three to four days” after surgery.
He added: “In plastic surgery, correction may be required in 15-20% of patients. For this [they] need to wait six months from surgery.
“They came to me via [an] agency. That’s why I am also not allowed to communicate with the patient.”
The women’s paperwork shows they remained in Turkey for nine days.
The country is also a hotspot for the highly risky Brazilian bum lift operation. With a mortality rate of one in 3,000, it is one of the deadliest cosmetic procedures.
At least three British women have died after travelling there for the procedure – with different surgeons – since 2018. Mum-of-three Leah Cambridge, 29, from Leeds, had the procedure in Izmir in 2018 and died after suffering a blocked artery.
Bride-to-be Melissa Kerr, 31, from Gorleston, Norfolk, died on the operating table in Istanbul in November 2019 after an artery in her lung became blocked. And Abimbola Ajoke Bamgbose, 38, a mum of three from Dartford, Kent, died two weeks after having a bum lift and liposuction in Izmir in August 2020.
In 2021 alone, 75 women and seven men were treated on the NHS for complications arising from cosmetic surgery in Turkey. Others, such as Diarra Akua Eunice Brown, 28, from Wolverhampton, didn’t make it home.
She died last October, two days after being discharged from an Istanbul clinic following a liposuction procedure.