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Dangers of cosmetic surgery abroad highlighted

Warnings follow death of woman in the US after buttock procedure in a hotel room
WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith

10th February 2011 - UK cosmetic surgeons are warning of the dangers of having procedures done abroad after the death of a woman from London in the US.

20 year old Claudia Adusei was injected with what she believed was silicone in a buttock procedure which took place in a hotel room. Some hours later she was taken to hospital with chest pains and later died.

Philadelphia murder detectives are investigating the death. A post mortem is being carried out to find out exactly what was injected into the woman.

US authorities have banned the injection of liquid silicone or silicone gel to fill wrinkles or augment tissues anywhere in the body.

One leading UK consultant cosmetic surgeon tells us such a procedure could only have been carried out by “cowboys”.

Cosmetic surgery tourism

While Ms Adusei’s motives for having the procedure done in America are not known, going abroad for cosmetic procedures is on the rise.

In 2009, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) reported that 46% of people polled had considered undergoing cosmetic surgery and of these, almost all (97%) would consider having the treatment abroad.

78% said that if there were complications they would use NHS services to sort out the problems.

67% would not consider cosmetic surgery outside the UK if money were no object.

Dangers of cosmetic procedures abroad

26% of UK cosmetic surgeons said they had seen an increase in the amount of patients that had experienced complications stemming from cosmetic surgery ‘holidays’.

One in 10 surgeons had seen between seven and nine patients over the same period with problems resulting from holiday surgery.

False economy

Anthony Armstrong, a consultant cosmetic surgeon in Windsor, who represents BAAPS, says this case is not just unusual, “It is scandalous”.

Armstrong continues: “If one was approached by someone who said it would be a good idea to travel to a foreign country, to see a surgeon you’ve never met before to have a procedure in a hotel room, I think for a lot of people that would ring alarm bells.

He describes it as “an accident waiting to happen,” adding that, “unfortunately this woman has paid the ultimate price with her life”.

Two years ago Armstrong was involved in a report about the problems of cosmetic surgery abroad.

“Often the inducement had been that if you have your cosmetic surgery, you come to somewhere sunny, you can combine it with a holiday.” This has several flaws, he says.
“Most people who travel overseas for a holiday at some time want to have a drink, they want to lie in the sun. All these situations are not conducive to good wound healing after any form of surgery.”

He says UK cosmetic surgeons are often faced with having to repair botched procedures carried out abroad, which people thought would be cheaper.

“It may be cheaper, but unfortunately if there are problems it then is much more expensive and more difficult to sort out and is potentially life threatening.”

Armstrong has seen patients return to the UK after being discharged far sooner than they would have been here with the result that “the wound had started to get infected, and broken down”. The patients can’t afford to go back to the country where the operation was performed, “and there’s no one in this country they can turn to for help apart from the NHS or another private cosmetic surgeon”.

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