The quest for that round bum, the perfect smile, an hourglass figure, perfectly perky boobs; has driven women to try surgery for decades. With the number of tummy tucks in America was 115,902 in 2011, it's something a lot of women are considering.
But rhinoplasty, breast augmentation, liposuction; all these cosmetic procedures don't come cheap. Starting around $5,493, the average tummy tuck isn't cheap. Coupled with the fact that most people want more than one procedure done; a body makeover can spiral into tens of thousands.
These prices have made people look for other cosmetic surgery options. Thanks to a favorable exchange, cosmetic surgery abroad has become a 'cheaper' option. This has led to the development of the cosmetic surgery tourism industry. Surgeons abroad advertise their services with websites showing stunning models and promise readers a 'luxurious plastic surgery holiday'.
Sounds like a bargain, right? One gets the desired procedure done for cheaper, plus a few weeks holiday too. But it isn't as rosy as is painted.
Different countries have different medical practice standards. They're not often as strict as in the US and the UK. There is also the problem of the language barrier as many of them are based in non-English speaking countries.
Yet people fly all over the world for cosmetic procedures; so much that certain areas have become synonymous for the surgeries they offer e.g dentures in Thailand, a nose job in the Czech Republic, tummy tucks in Belgium etc.
While some of the procedure done abroad are without incident, many end in severe complications. Here are 10 people who traveled abroad and found out the hard and painful way.
10 Liza Wood
High prices are not the only reason people travel abroad for surgery. Some procedures may not be available at home, and the patient has to travel to get it done. This was the case with Liza Wood, who decided to get her bariatric surgery done in Mexico in 2011.
In her native Canada, wait times for bariatric procedures can be as long as 5 to 10 years. As she was suffering from diabetes and heart problems, she took the risk and flew to Mexico. Spending $14,000 for a 'vertical sleeve' surgery, she flew back to Edmonton a few days later. Back home, she developed an infection and spent the next two years in the hospital recovering from the infection.
9 Sue Briddick
52 year old Sue craved a firmer stomach after having three kids, but the procedure would cost around $15, 000 in the UK. After researching online, she found a clinic in Turkey that would do it for much less. They even threw in a ''free'' breast augmentation, all for around $5, 700.
A week after the surgery, having flown back home, Sue noticed the skin on her stomach was turning black. Upon notifying to the clinic, they brushed it off as bruising from the procedure. Another week passed and after seeing a private surgeon, she was told she had necrosis. This develops when the cells in an area of the body die due to an infection.
Sue had to have the dead flesh scraped off, and a skin graft patched on, leaving her tummy badly scarred. And the breast augmentation? Instead of a breast lift, she got a reduction and implants instead!
8 Belinda Draper
Not pleased with the loose skin on her face and her general 'worn out' appearance, Belinda opted to get a facelift done. As the average facelift costs over $12,000 in England, she found a surgeon in Turkey who would do it for $3,000. Having had other procedures done before, she felt the facelift would finally make her feel good about herself.
A few months after the procedure, she found this wasn't the case. The surgeon in Turkey had stitched up her face in the wrong position. He also hadn't secured the underlying muscles, causing gravity to pull her face down. Her ears had been basically pinned to the side of her face, leading to scarring around her neck. Thankfully she was able to get some reconstructive surgery done in the UK.
7 Tabatha Barrett
As a size 16, Tabatha felt self-conscious and wanted to lose weight. As dieting hadn't worked for her, she went on the Internet to find other alternatives including surgery.
Finding a one deal in a Thai clinic, it seemed like her dreams of having slimmer thighs were finally going to happen. For $12,000, she could get a total body makeover including liposuction, breast augmentation plus the flights and accommodation.
Waking up in hospital after the procedure, she found herself attached to many tubes. She was told she had 11 liters off fat removed and had developed a bad reaction to the lipo too. These complications led to the rest of the surgery being canceled.
One week and six blood transfusions after, she flew back to Australia, but the pain didn't subside. A consultant informed her that she had blood clots in her legs. Blood thinning pills and corrective surgery costing another $7,700 finally helped tab get her health.
6 Nicole Burnett
Like many young women, 30 year old Nicole wanted a fab figure. She went on a recommended regime of diet and exercise, and it seemed to work. But along with the pounds, she also dropped three cup sizes. Unhappy with the way her breasts looked and unwilling to pay $8,000, she flew to Turkey for breast augmentation.
Initially pleased with the results, Nicole finally felt happy. Three weeks later, the right breast started to swell, and the breast scar opened up. Loads of pain and some leakage quickly followed. Doctors found that there was a severe infection in the left breast and a pocket of fluid in the right one. She had to have the plants taken out; and due to the rotting fat left by the implants, she can't have them replaced.
5 Adeleh Deane
Diagnosed with gender dysphoria, Adeleh felt as though she needed surgery to make her face and body seem more feminine. Traveling to Thailand to get breast implants and her nose done was initially successful. Going back for further surgery led to disastrous results.
The implants in her bottom were faulty and ruptured. This required them to be removed and a prolonged hospital stay. A month after her facial recontouring, while blowing her nose, an air bubble developed on her forehead. It turns out that instead of filing down her brow bone, the surgeon had removed every inch of it. This led to contracting a bacterial infection in her face, facial paralysis and vertigo.
A four hour surgery was carried out to repair the damage.
4 Darren Mills
Poor oral hygiene and lifestyle choices has left many people with less than desirable smiles. Like Mills, who due to a lifetime of smoking, had lost a lot of his own teeth. With his confidence in tatters and not wanting removable dentures, he flew to Thailand to get dental implants. In the UK, it would have cost him $16,000, but for $5,000 less, he got a free holiday thrown in.
The surgery was rushed and the proper procedure wasn't followed. This left his mouth in a mess as the angle of the screws was off, infection caused pus to leak into his mouth, and many loose teeth. Forced to see a surgeon in the UK, Mills endured a 10 hour wide awake surgery where all his teeth were removed and new implants fitted. After another $28,000 spent, Mills finally got the smile of his dreams.
3 Claire Hawker
After having kids, many women become dissatisfied with their breasts. Wanting them a little perkier, they are willing to go under the knife. It should be a straight forward procedure; at least that's what Claire thought.
Flying to Prague in 2014, 30 year old Claire went for a $3,600 breast augmentation. Back in England, she brushed off the pain as 'normal'. While showing off her new breasts about a week later, she noticed a hole and a smelly liquid coming from her new breasts.
At the hospital, the doctors found that the implant was too large for her chest and had caused it to rip open the skin around it. This led to an infection and required immediate removal of the implants. Over the next year, she had 26 different visits to the hospital to have her wounds checked.
She was told she would have to wait at least two years before she could have further surgery.
2 Dawn Moore
Bride-to-be, Dawn Moore wanted to look her best for her upcoming nuptials. Choosing to have boob implants and a tummy tuck done, Dawn flew to Poland.
Boosting her 36B sized chest to a 38DD seemed like a good idea, but after a week, her breasts appeared visibly lopsided. Contacting the clinic, she was told it could take up to a year for them to settle.
Satisfied with the response, she flew to the same clinic for a tummy tuck. As she was recovering, she caught a severe infection from a flesh-eating bug. This led to necrosis in her stomach and rounds of surgery to remove the dead tissue.
A few months later, her stitches ruptured. After another round of surgeries, she has been left in constant pain, riddled with scars and has become infertile.
1 Claudia Aderotimi
In many of the botched surgery cases, the procedure can be reversed. But if left for long, it can have life-changing consequences as in the case of Apryl Brown who wanted the perfect bum. An unlicensed practitioner injected her with bathroom sealant. Stopping after the second procedure, she still spent the next five years in pain as the toxic sealant infected her nerves and muscles.
When doctors finally decided to attempt to remove the sealant, she also had her bum and four of her limbs amputated!
Many of those who attempt surgery abroad, end up with scars and memories that haunt them forever.