Pressure tactics deployed by Turkish cosmetic surgery clinics were today exposed by a shock investigation.
An undercover reporter, posing as a 24-year-old wanting a Brazilian bum lift (BBL), contacted nine providers across Istanbul.
Within hours, she was offered time-sensitive deals with up to 30 per cent knocked off the total fee and incentives to book multiple surgeries.
Experts today slammed the ‘unsafe and incredibly unscrupulous’ sales tactics that were found in The News Movement’s probe.
Doctors warned Brits contemplating going abroad for cut-price boob jobs, bum lifts and other procedures to think again.
Posing as a 24-year-old from the UK, an undercover reporter from The News Movement contacted several cosmetic surgery clinics across Istanbul. But within hours was offered time sensitive early booking price reductions of up to 30 per cent
Among the Whatsapp messages received from a cosmetic surgery clinic in Turkey, one read: ‘We are offering you a 20 per cent discount valid for 10 days. ‘Pay a 10 per cent deposit and freeze the 20 per cent discount for one year.’ It added: ‘Grab this great chance and benefit from this special time limited offer.’ Another said: ’30 PER CENT DISCOUNT- AVAILABLE FOR 48 HOURS ONLY!’ Later it added: ‘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’
A third, after sending photos and answering a series of medical questions offered Brazilian Butt Lift surgery and liposuction with a 20 per cent ‘flash discount’, valid for 10 days. The surgery package, with a hotel stay, cost £2800. The deposit to secure the deal was £280. Just days later, the clinic messaged again, reducing the deposit by a further £50
Standards are notoriously laxer than in the NHS and campaigners say aftercare can be non-existent.
Turkey has become one of the most popular destinations, fuelled by celebrities and influencers who’ve made the four-hour trip in pursuit of revamping their bodies.
Thousands of Brits, particularly women in their 20s and 30s, flock there every year.
Of the nine clinics contacted by The News Movement, five offered discounts on the price of the surgery or price reductions for early booking and surgery.
Among the WhatsApps received from one clinic was a message which read: ‘We are offering you a 20 per cent discount valid for 10 days.
‘Pay a 10 per cent deposit and freeze the 20 per cent discount for one year.
‘Grab this great chance and benefit from this special time limited offer.’
Another clinic said: ’30 PER CENT DISCOUNT- AVAILABLE FOR 48 HOURS ONLY!’
Later it added: ‘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.’
After the undercover reporter sent photos and answered medical questions, a third clinic offered BBL surgery and liposuction with a 20 per cent ‘flash discount’, valid for 10 days.
The surgery package, with a hotel stay, cost £2,800. The deposit to secure the deal was £280.
Just days later, the clinic messaged again, reducing the deposit 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.’
Other sales techniques from clinics involved asking for deposits ranging from £50 to £500 for BBL and liposuction surgery packages.
For decades, Brits have been warned against seeking cheaper surgery in places like Turkey, Eastern Europe, or South East Asia.
Turkey is not inherently more dangerous than other surgical tourism hotspots.
But cheap flights between it and the UK — as well as the rise of the trend combining cosmetic surgery with a holiday — have made it one of the leading destinations for Brits looking to go under the knife.
Paul Harris, consultant plastic surgeon and spokesperson for the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), said he was ‘truly astonished’ by the findings.
He added: ‘The way that patients are being persuaded and preyed upon is just dreadful.
‘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.’
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 a BBL, liposuction, rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty and buccal fat removal — under one anaesthesia.
Some clinics said this would be dependent on having appropriate blood test results.
British surgeons have raised the alarm about the rising NHS multi-million bill of fixing botched cosmetic ops performed overseas, with costing the NHS an estimated £100,000 alone
Paul Harris, consultant plastic surgeon and spokesperson for the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), said he was ‘truly astonished’ by the findings. He added: ‘The way that patients are being persuaded and preyed upon is just dreadful
Liposuction that offers to remove up to 15 litres of fat, BBL’s, eye colour changing laser treatments and hymenoplasties are all offered in clinics across Turkey
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.’
Meanwhile, Mr Navid Jallali, a former consultant surgeon at Imperial College NHS Trust, said: ‘There seems to be a big push for having multiple surgeries and they incentivise this by giving additional discounts.
‘In general, we don’t like doing procedures that will take longer than four-and-a-half 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.’
‘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.’
It comes as MailOnline last month revealed taxpayers last year spent £1.7million on fixing Brits botched by cosmetic surgery carried out abroad.
An audit by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons — shared with MailOnline — showed 111 Brits needed emergency NHS care after returning from places like Turkey in 2022 to go under the knife.
Surgeons reported their patients were lured in by what looked like ‘bargain’ tummy tucks and boob jobs.
Others were deemed too unfit for surgery in the UK.
But some patients were left with flesh-eating bacterial infections and implants bursting through their skin.
Others endured potentially deadly blood clots that required urgent NHS treatment, sometimes within just days of arriving back in the UK.
Some Turkish clinics provide extreme transformations that surgeons in the UK would never dream of performing, either because the procedure is illegal in Britain or is considered too risky.
Responding to the findings from The News Movement, Dr Alex Karidis, a consultant plastic surgeon 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 added: ‘It’s a wild west out there, they can do whatever they want. They don’t play by the same rules.’
Mr Harris acknowledged that while there are ‘reputable’ surgeons in Turkey, it was important for people to do their ‘own research’ and to think ‘very carefully’ before booking cosmetic surgery abroad.
He added: ‘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 red flags of getting cosmetic surgery abroad
All surgery carries risk, but it is important to do your research before hopping on a plane to get cheap plastic surgery.
Although it can cost less than getting surgery in the UK, you need to bear in mind that the safety standards may not be the same.
You should be cautious of any website that sell cosmetic surgery as part of a holiday, the NHS warns.
Some websites sell the idea of sightseeing alongside hotels with breakfast included.
NHS advice adds that if you are looking at holiday packages make sure you have a consultation with a surgeon and don’t just meet a salesperson.
The health service adds that you should not pay to see a surgeon you have never met.
The Royal College of Surgeons of England also echoes the NHS’s concerns and advises to not agree to cosmetic surgery before meeting the surgeon and visiting the hospital.
UK plastic surgeon Veerle Rotsaert said: ‘Travelling long-haul overseas to have surgery done, followed by no proper aftercare, that’s where often things go wrong.
‘Often third party agencies sell surgery without any surgeon ever seeing the patient in person and having a proper consultation until it is actually surgery day.’
Many of the surgeries offered overseas in countries such as Turkey are more affordable than private clinics in the UK.
However, there could be hidden costs.
The Royal College of Surgeons of England urges people to consider the cost for additional flights and hotel stays for future corrective, or touch-up procedures.
It also warns patients to consider what might happen overseas if they pay ahead of time but change their mind before the operation as their right to a refund could vary in different countries.
Choosing the right surgeon
Surgeons and clinics are regulated differently in different countries and standards can vary.
Before traveling abroad for surgery the NHS says you should ask if the surgeon is fully trained in the surgery you want and how long they have been practicing for.
The surgeon should also be fully insured to carry out the surgery you want, says the Royal College of Surgeons of England. It suggests asking to see details of the surgeons insurance.
It is also vital you have a proper consultation with your surgeon before you consent to having the surgery, experts warn.
Risks of flying
Flying and having major surgery increases your risk of getting a blood clot, which can be life threatening.
As a result, the NHS warns people should wait five to seven days to fly after procedures such as breast surgery and liposuction and wait seven to 10 days to fly after facial cosmetic procedures or tummy tucks.
However, some surgeons suggest waiting between two to six weeks before flying depending on the procedure.
Dr Rotsaert explained: ‘This is because first of all, you want patients to stay relatively close to their surgeon in case of any immediate post-op issues.’
He added: Secondly because of the deep vein thrombosis/pulmonary embolism risk associated with the act of surgery, it’s aftermath, as well as prolonged immobilisation.’
Drinking plenty of water, avoiding alcohol and walking about during your flight can help circulation, but this doesn’t completely remove the risk of a blood clot especially having major surgery, the British Association of Plastic Reconstruction and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS).
Follow up care after your surgery is an important part of your treatment. But traveling abroad can make it more complicated.
Before getting surgery outside of the UK consider how long it would take you to travel back to your surgeon if there is a complication, says the Royal College of Surgeons of England.
Make sure you have a contact for a named doctor that can deal with any complications, rather than a helpline, experts warn.
You need to also make sure the clinic will deal with any problems and that they will help if you are not happy with your outcome.
In many cases the NHS will not help you unless you have a serious complication which requires emergency or life-saving support.
Source: NHS, BAPRAS and Royal College of Surgeons England.