A mother has told how cut-price ‘mummy makeover’ surgery in Turkey almost killed her and left her with a gaping wound on her stomach.
Sheriah Harrison paid £5,000 for a tummy tuck, liposuction and a boob reduction. The procedures could cost in the region of £12,000 privately in the UK.
Days after flying home from Istanbul following the triple surgery, the 40-year-old was whisked to hospital for an emergency operation.
Doctors revealed Ms Harrison, of Cardiff, had the onset of sepsis, a life-threatening response by the immune system to an infection.
The civil servant spent almost a month in hospital following her ordeal. She still has an open wound in her stomach that needs to be dressed every day.
Sheriah Harrison paid £5,000 for a tummy tuck, liposuction and a boob reduction. The procedures could cost in the region of £12,000 privately in the UK
Ms Harrison pictured before the op while on holiday. It is unclear where she is in this photo
Pictured, her body straight after the cut-price operation in Turkey. She claims the bruising would die down over time
‘It has disturbed me,’ Ms Harrison said. ‘It’s been completely traumatising. I just can’t live a normal life now and I’m devastated.
‘I was really ill so I’m just glad to still be here now. It’s just so dangerous and people don’t realise what can happen.
‘It’s safer to pay extra. I would never advise anyone to do what I did. It was awful. It’s like a game of Russian roulette and it could kill you.’
Ms Harrison wanted cosmetic surgery to remove stretch marks and excess skin she gained following pregnancy and childbirth.
The mother to Jay, 22, and Brandon, 19, said she ‘hated’ the way her stomach looked and would avoid photos and cover up.
She decided to have a tummy tuck and lipo at the same time as a breast reduction – to remove implants that ruptured after a boob job in 2002, aged 16.
Days after flying home from Istanbul following the triple surgery, the 40-year-old was whisked to hospital for an emergency operation (pictured, her stomach after the surgery)
Doctors revealed Ms Harrison, of Cardiff, had the onset of sepsis, a life-threatening response by the immune system to an infection
Ms Harrison flew out to Turkey on October 8 and went under the knife the next day at an unnamed clinic in Istanbul.
Just two days after the operation, Ms Harrison, who booked the surgery as part of a holiday package, claims her stomach became ‘rock hard’ and swollen.
WHAT IS A TUMMY TUCK?
Known medically as an abdominoplasty, tummy tucks improve the appearance of the stomach.
Surgeons remove excess skin and fat from the abdomen, and tighten connective tissues.
The end result is a more toned look. Many women, and men, have the operation to boost their body image.
A tummy tuck is also the go-to option for women who have given birth and have a prolonged ‘mummy tummy’.
The surgery repairs the rectus diastasis – two abdominal muscles than can separate during pregnancy.
Figures show nearly 130,000 tummy tucks were performed in the US last year. There are nearly 3,000 performed privately in the UK each year.
The Mayo Clinic states: ‘Like any other type of major surgery, a tummy tuck poses a risk of bleeding, infection and an adverse reaction to anesthesia.’
It can also cause fluid to build-up beneath the skin, known as a seroma. They can become infected.
She said: ‘I could feel it filling up with fluid. It was really swollen and I looked absolutely dreadful. It was getting bigger and bigger.
‘I went back to see my surgeon and he said it was normal. But he drained 12 syringes worth of fluid from my stomach.
‘He tried telling me it was normal but I could see it was infected. My stomach did go down after that so I just thought that perhaps it might have been normal.’
Her condition took a turn for the worse when she arrived back in the UK on October 15, six days after her surgery.
She had flu-like symptoms and blotchy skin, and looked ‘absolutely dreadful’, and so phoned for medical advice the next day.
Operators told her to go to the University Hospital of Wales immediately, as medics suspected she was suffering with an infection.
Her condition worsened over the next few days and she was rushed into surgery on October 19.
‘I couldn’t breathe properly and I was in so much pain,’ said Ms Harrison, who claims to have complained to the clinic but received no reply.
‘The swelling was putting pressure on my lungs. I went red and purple. The consultant said I was a mess. It was awful.
‘I was terrified and my family were petrified. I thought I was going to die. I am lucky to be alive. The doctors said I was very lucky to have caught the infection when I did.
The civil servant spent almost a month in hospital following the ordeal. She still has an open wound in her stomach that needs to be dressed every day (pictured in hospital)
Ms Harrison wanted cosmetic surgery to remove stretch marks and excess skin she gained following pregnancy and childbirth (pictured before going under the knife in Turkey)
‘They had to cut me open again because of how bad it was. They couldn’t just drain it.’
Surgeons had to un-stitch her wounds and vacuum huge amounts of fluid out of her stomach, then leave the would open for cleaning.
She was allowed home in November, but was admitted twice more after developing infections in the following months.
Ms Harrison had to take six months off full-time work and was only able to work half days from January this year.
Doctors issued her with a vacuum pack to collect the fluid while it leaked from her stomach, and a nurse visited her at home for three months to pack the wound.
Since January, Ms Harrison has been able to dress the wound herself, but says the operation has ruined her life.
Ms Harrison had to take six months off full-time work and was only able to work half days from January this year (pictured, the scars on her stomach after the botched surgery)
WHAT IS BREAST REDUCTION SURGERY?
Breast reduction surgery can help women who are unhappy with the shape, weight or droop of their breasts.
The NHS does not routinely offer it for cosmetic reasons. Instead, it is only usually offered for women who have health issues because of the size of their breasts.
The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) claims around 6,000 of the operations were carried out in 2016.
The procedure, which can cause scarring and an unusual shape, can cost up to £6,500 privately.
It also carries the same risks as any type of major surgery, such as bleeding and infection.
She said: ‘I haven’t been able to go outside of Cardiff or book any holidays. It has absolutely ruled my life and let me feeling horrible. It’s been horrendous.
‘I have felt constantly tired and lived on the sofa for months. I felt very run down. It left me unable to go anywhere at all.
‘It’s still having an impact on me now. I can’t do anything that I used to do and I’ve gained about 10lbs.
‘I’ve only just started power-walking to try to get active again. It’s been really depressing and has restricted everything that I do.’
Ms Harrison will need plastic surgery in the future to remove thick scar tissue that has developed on her stomach.
She said: ‘There’s more than two inches of scar tissue on my stomach and it restricts my movement.
‘I can’t bend over or bend down to put my shoes on. It really hurts my waist.’
Ms Harrison has urged Brits to stay in the UK for surgery. She said: ‘You see success stories but you don’t really see stories like this.
‘When you think you’ve got a good deal, think twice about it and seriously consider having the surgery here.’
Ms Harrison will need plastic surgery in the future to remove thick scar tissue that has developed on her stomach (pictured with her friends on her 40th birthday, before the op)
The NHS warns anyone considering cosmetic surgery abroad to research the clinic they are looking at.
‘It’s important to do your research if you’re thinking about having cosmetic surgery abroad,’ it says on its website.
‘It can cost less than in the UK, but you need to weigh up potential savings against the potential risks. Safety standards may not be as high.’
The NHS also warns people seeking cosmetic surgery should ‘be cautious of websites selling cosmetic surgery as part of a holiday’.
WHAT IS LIPOSUCTION AND THE DANGERS?
Liposuction removes fat from areas such as the abdomen, arms, buttocks, calves, chest, back, hips, thighs, neck, and very occasionally breasts.
The procedure reduces the number of fat cells in a specific area. The amount of fat removed depends on the appearance of the area and the volume of fat.
HOW IT’S DONE:
There are a few ways of doing it.
The most common is ‘tumescent liposuction’:
- Surgeon injects a sterile solution (salt water to help fat removal, anesthetic to relieve pain, and epinephrine to constrict blood vessels) into the area that’s being treated. The fluid causes the affected area to swell and stiffen.
- The surgeon then makes small cuts into the skin, inserting a thin tube called a cannula. The cannula is connected to a vacuum sucking fat and fluids out of the body.
- Patients can later be given an IV drip to replenish their body fluids.
If done in the wrong hands, liposuction can carry a number of risks, many life-threatening.
Patients can suffer heart problems, like Diana, due to a shift in fluid levels as fluids are being injected in and suctioned out.
Depending on the location of the operation, there could be a risk of puncturing an internal organ with the cannula.
Some botched operations have led to fat embolisms – when pieces of loosened fat might break away and become trapped in a blood vessel and gather in the lungs or travel to the brain.
Skin infections are also possible, though rare.
Aesthetically, surgeons with little or poor experience could leave patients with bumpy, wavy or withered skin due to uneven fat removal, poor skin elasticity and unusual healing.
They could tamper with nerves, causing permanent numbness in the affected area.