Coroner warns of dangers of having cosmetic surgery abroad

Coroner warns of dangers of having cosmetic surgery abroad after British woman, 31, died following a £3,200 ‘Brazilian butt lift’ at private clinic in Turkey

  • Melissa Kerr, 31, travelled to a private hospital in Istanbul for the procedure

A coroner will write to the Health Secretary after a British woman died following a ‘Brazilian butt lift’ in Turkey.

Norfolk’s senior coroner Jacqueline Lake will tell Steve Barclay of her concerns that people are unaware of the risks of having cosmetic surgery overseas.

Melissa Kerr, 31, who was ‘conscious about her appearance’, travelled to a private hospital in Istanbul for the procedure, Ms Lake said.

But the psychological wellbeing practitioner, of Denton, Norfolk, was only given ‘limited information regarding the risks and mortality rate’ associated with it.

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 – which sees fat harvested from elsewhere on the body and injected into the buttocks – on November 19, 2022.

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

Pictured is Ms Kerr and her partner Skye Birch. Kerr’s relatives listened to the inquest remotely

She died after injected fat entered a vein before moving and blocking her pulmonary artery, with her cause of death recorded as a pulmonary thromboembolism, Ms Lake said.

Consultant plastic surgeon Simon Withey, who was asked to view evidence in the case and prepare a report for Ms Kerr’s inquest as an expert witness, said the death rate associated with Brazilian butt lifts is ‘likely to be in excess of one in 4,000’.

He said it is ‘quite possible’ that, if the risk of the procedure had been explained to Ms Kerr ‘before she was financially committed to proceed, she would not have done’.

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.

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

The coroner said: ‘Ms Kerr wasn’t seen by a surgeon or clinician prior to the date of the procedure.

‘Ms Kerr underwent a limited assessment prior to the procedures.

‘Ms Kerr was provided with limited information regarding the risks and mortality rate associated with this procedure.’

Ms Lake said ‘certain techniques’ used ‘increased the risk of embolism occurring’, including a ‘decision to inject fat into superficial muscle’.

She said there have been a ‘high number of patient deaths in similar circumstances’.

She added: ‘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.

‘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 don’t have any authority over hospitals in Turkey and I also appreciate the UK Government has no control (over) what happens in other countries.

‘However the danger our citizens will continue to travel abroad for such procedures continues, though citizens are unaware of the risks involved.

‘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.

‘I do propose making a report to the Secretary for Health, who I believe could take action to prevent future deaths.’

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

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