A coroner is to write to the health secretary over concerns people are unaware of the risks of having cosmetic surgery overseas, after a British woman died following a ‘Brazilian butt lift’ procedure in Turkey.
Melissa Kerr travelled to the private Medicana Kadikoy hospital in Istanbul for the operation, during which fat is harvested from other parts of the body and injected into the buttocks.
The 31-year-old died on the day she had the procedure – 19 November last year.
Ms Kerr, who was “conscious about her appearance”, had breast enlargement surgery a decade earlier without complications.
But she was only given “limited information regarding the risks and mortality rate” associated with the Brazilian butt lift, an inquest heard.
Ms Kerr, from Denton, Norfolk, died after injected fat entered a vein before moving and blocking her pulmonary artery.
Her cause of death has been recorded as a pulmonary thromboembolism, Norfolk’s senior coroner, Jacqueline Lake, said.
Ms Lake now intends to write a report to Health Secretary Steve Barclay to outline concerns after telling the inquest there have been a “high number of patient deaths in similar circumstances”.
‘Future deaths can be prevented by better information’
“I am concerned patients are not being made aware of the risks or the mortality rate associated with such surgery,” she said.
“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.”
Ms Kerr’s death happened four years after mother-of-three Leah Cambridge died due to a fat clot caused by a Brazilian butt lift in Turkey in 2018.
The 29-year-old from Leeds travelled to a private clinic in the coastal city of Izmir for the operation after becoming paranoid about excess stomach weight gain, an inquest heard – despite being told by her partner she did not need surgery.
Patient underwent ‘limited assessment’ and did not see surgeon in advance
Ms Kerr arranged to pay £3,200 in cash for the procedure in a conversation with a hospital worker via WhatsApp.
She said she was “a bit nervous” before the operation and asked to see photographs of previous patients four times – but there is no evidence she was given them, the inquest heard.
Ms Kerr, a psychological wellbeing practitioner for the charity Mind, did not see a surgeon or clinician in advance and underwent a “limited assessment” prior to the procedure, Ms Lake said.
Consultant plastic surgeon, Simon Withey, who was asked to view evidence in the case and prepare a report as an expert witness during the inquest, 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 risks had been explained “before she was financially committed to proceed, she would not have done”.
Recording a narrative conclusion, Ms Lake said Ms Kerr died after cosmetic surgery.
“There has been the release of an international alert to surgeons regarding the high mortality rate associated with this procedure,” the coroner added.
“There has also been the introduction of a voluntary moratorium (suspension of activity) on this type of procedure in the UK.
“These are clearly not being followed in Turkey.
“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.”
Ms Lake offered her sympathies to Ms Kerr’s family, who listened to the inquest via videolink.
On a JustGiving fundraising page set up after the tragedy, Ms Kerr was described as a “pure and beautiful soul” who was “passionate about helping others”.