A mother claims liposuction nearly killed her after a botched procedure left her with rotting flesh around her midriff.
Beatrix Searles spent £3,300 ($4,200) on having unwanted fat removed from her abdomen, legs and back last October at a Columbian clinic.
Just days later, the 53-year-old claims says the skin around her abdominal wound began rotting and turned black. Although she was never diagnosed, she is thought to have had the flesh-eating disease necrotising fasciitis.
The truck driver alleges nurses at the clinic, which has not been named, failed to properly dress her wounds, leaving her at risk of infection.
She was then forced to undergo seven surgeries to correct the botched operation, leaving her with a severely-scarred midsection.
Miss Searles, who describes the ordeal as ‘torture’, wants her surgeon brought to to justice, claiming he is ‘on the run’.
Beatrix Searles (pictured in hospital) claims liposuction nearly killed her after the botched procedure left her with rotting flesh around her midriff that later turned black
The affected area is pictured with a vacuum known as a VAC. This reduces air pressure around the wound, which speeds up healing. It also lowers swelling and removes bacteria
Seven surgeries later, Miss Searles’ severely-scarred abdomen is pictured
Miss Searles, who is mother to a 28-year-old daughter, opted to have liposuction after battling low self esteem.
‘I originally wanted the operation as I weighed over 13st (182lbs) and wanted a little confidence boost,’ she said.
‘I did spend my time researching, and decided I needed liposuction on my leg, stomach and back. I chose Colombia because when I researched it was the country that specialised in the surgery I wanted and they did it at reasonable prices.
‘I watched the surgery through their various YouTube channels and videos and I thought I knew what I was expecting. ‘
But Miss Searles soon realised the procedure was nothing like it looked in the videos.
‘Whilst I was under, they literally cut the fat off my stomach and stitched me back up,’ she said.
‘The surgeon originally tried to fix what he’d done by using the skin from my back, and pulling it forward – but it went stiff and sore.’
Miss Searles believes poor hygiene practices at the clinic caused her wound to become infected.
‘The nurses providing the aftercare used the same gloves for things like using their phone,’ she said.
‘I wasn’t provided with anything I’d seen on the videos, like plastic wrapping over the surgery or a body suit to protect it.
‘By the second day, it was red, inflamed and you could see – the skin was dying.’
Things then took a dramatic turn for the worse when Miss Searles’ skin turned black.
‘My skin started to [turn] black and die, I was on so much pain medication I couldn’t feel anything – I just knew something was really badly wrong,’ she said.
Miss Searles (pictured left before the ordeal) opted for liposuction to give herself a ‘confidence boost’. Pictured right in hospital, the truck driver claims she has been left in ‘constant pain’
Miss Searles’ is so self conscious of her abdomen now (pictured) she ‘can’t go out in public’
NECROTISING FASCIITIS: THE VICIOUS FLESH-EATING BACTERIA
Necrotising fasciitis, more commonly known as ‘flesh-eating disease’, is a rare but extremely vicious bacterial infection. ‘Necrotising’ refers to something that causes body tissue to die, and the infection can destroy skin, muscles and fat.
The disease develops when the bacteria enters the body, often through a minor cut or scrape. As the bacteria multiply, they release toxins that kill tissue and cut off blood flow to the area.
Because it is so virulent, the bacteria spreads rapidly throughout the body.
Symptoms include small, red lumps or bumps on the skin, rapidly-spreading bruising, sweating, chills, fever and nausea. Organ failure and shock are also common complications.
Sufferers must be treated immediately to prevent death, and are usually given powerful antibiotics and surgery to remove dead tissue. Amputation can become necessary if the disease spreads through an arm or leg.
Patients may undergo skin grafts after the infection has cleared up, to help the healing process or for aesthetic reasons.
There are 500 to 1,500 cases reported a year, but 20 to 25 percent of victims die.
Miss Searles was forced to undergo additional operations, including a tummy tuck, in Columbia to fix the gaping hole left by her dead skin.
‘I had to stay to get this done, as it needed fixing urgently,’ she said.
‘The hospital tried to oxygenate the skin but it had turned completely black.’
Miss Searles, who even spent her birthday in hospital, returned home to the US in January.
‘I’ve been so scared and have spent most of my recovery crying all of the time,’ she said.
‘This has destroyed my confidence – it’s been like torture.
‘I can’t look like this forever – I feel like I can’t go out into public or wear a bikini or go to the beach.’
Miss Searles now wants to find the doctor who is responsible for her ordeal.
‘No one can locate the surgeon who did this to me, and he’s essentially missing in action,’ she said.
‘The last I heard, he had 34 cases being held against him.
‘I’m still searching for answers over what went wrong, and have begged for explanations.
‘My skin completely died and I’ve been left in constant pain.
‘It’s destroyed my life and I hope those responsible get brought to justice.’
Miss Searles has required additional surgeries to fix the gaping hole left by her dead skin
Pictured recently left, Miss Searles claims she ‘spent most of her recovery crying all of the time’. Miss Searles (pictured right before) claims she opted to have liposuction in Columbia after being seduced by the ‘reasonable prices’ and watching videos of the clinic on YouTube
Miss Searles was so unwell she was forced to spend her birthday in hospital (pictured)