From being stitched so tight their wounds burst open on the toilet to suffering from necrotic tissue after botched ops, dozens of Britons have been maimed by budget surgery done overseas.
MailOnline shares the horrifying, never-before-told stories of two brave victims.
In sharing their life-changing ordeals they hope their warnings will help others avoid the same fate.
Sarah* – The NHS saved my life
Unhappy with her appearance, Sarah wanted to have liposuction on her belly and thighs combined with a Brazilian Butt Lift.
In June, she took the plunge.
On the recommendation of one of her friends, she booked to go to Turkey for the procedures.
She paid £5,200 to go under the knife, a sum which included a stay at a five star-hotel in Istanbul as well as transport from the airport.
It was just a fraction of the almost £20,000 she would have been charged for the surgeries, if she had them done in Britain.
But following her surgery, Sarah, from Yorkshire, awoke concerned over the lack of attention she received from hospital staff.
‘I didn’t sleep a wink, didn’t see any nurse. I just laid there in blood and fluids,’ she told MailOnline.
‘When the nurses did come in, they didn’t understand me. I kept thinking what the hell had I done.’
The housewife was discharged just two days after the op.
And despite having just undergone major surgery, she was not offered transport to the hotel.
Upon returning to England the stitching on her thighs suddenly split open as she sat down to go to the toilet — leaving two-inch deep wounds
Rushing to help from the NHS, Sarah was told the wounds from the surgery on her thighs had been stitched too tight
It meant Sarah was forced to walk a quarter of a mile to her hotel while holding a plastic bag connected to drainage pipes from her wounds as bodily fluids leaked out.
‘No transfer or anything, we had to walk back to the hotel with our surgical drains in a carry bag,’ she said.
The horror didn’t end there, though, with Sarah then immobilised for two days because she was in so much pain. She sat in her hotel bed covered in ‘puppy pads’ to absorb the liquid spilling from her stitching for two days.
‘I filled a black sack daily. The room smelt disgusting from me and I was very weak and in pain.’
But, unbeknownst to her, the worst was yet to come.
After a painful four-hour flight home, Sarah spent a few extra days in bed recovering.
The stitching on her thighs suddenly split open as she sat down to go to the toilet — leaving two-inch deep wounds .
‘My legs just busted open, my heart was racing I was so scared,’ she said.
Sarah was rushed to hospital by her concerned family, where NHS medics gave her an emergency blood transfusion due to her rapidly decreasing blood pressure.
She was later seen by a plastic surgeon who was ‘disgusted’ she had been let out of the Turkish hospital so soon after her operation.
He told her the stitching on her thighs was far too tight, which had left them prone to bursting.
Furthermore, because so much tissue had been removed, her wounds had to heal ‘from the inside out’, meaning they couldn’t be stitched back up and need ongoing care to ensure they are healing correctly.
Speaking to MailOnline still recovering from her ordeal four months on, Sarah was full of praise for the NHS and social care staff that have looked after her.
‘Nurses were coming every day, they have been amazing. I thank our NHS, they saved my life.’
Shockingly, she never spoke to her surgeon directly until the day of the procedures.
Sarah saw a UK plastic surgeon who was ‘disgusted’ she had been let out of the Turkish hospital so soon after her operation with wounds on her thighs taking months to heal
Instead, Sarah received recommendations on what surgery to have via text messages from a member of his team after she sent images of her body.
‘I was like, ‘I trust you, let’s go with it’,’ she said.
Sarah was originally impressed with her treatment as she was picked up from Istanbul in a ‘lovely’ bus that conveyed her straight to her hotel alongside other British women also there for operations.
This positive impression soured after meeting the surgeon, who said he would mark her up for surgery while doing the procedure.
Normally marking up which areas to cut is done before surgery and with the patient’s input to help avoid mistakes being made.
Sarah eventually did get some of her £5,200 back but says that’s poor compensation compared to what she said was a risk to her life.
Kate* – Turkish surgery left me with a necrotic nipple
Kate paid a small fortune to go under the knife for a swathe of procedures in Turkey in June.
Admitting ‘vanity’ was her sole reason, she booked an upper eye-lid lift, an upper arm lift, a breast reduction with lift, a tummy tuck and extensive liposuction, all in one go for the price £15,000.
Despite the princely sum, this is still just a fraction of what the 65-year-old would have paid in the UK.
Kate, from the North West, went with a British-based agency that offered to arrange everything for her to get the procedures done in one of Turkey’s major cities.
‘They offered the full works, five-star hotels, breakfast, bring a friend to stay with you, VIP airport pickup and transfers, massages, the whole package,’ she said.
The part-time care assistant was led to believe that she was speaking with an actual medic, when she was arranging her package.
It was only after the op took place that she learned her discussions were with the wife of the cosmetic surgeon.
While the surgeries initially went to plan, Kate became concerned one of her nipples had turned an extremely dark colour.
Kate would later learn this was a sign it was slowly becoming necrotic due to a drop in blood supply.
Post surgery, Kate became concerned one of her nipples had turned an extremely dark colour and would later learn this was a sign it was slowly becoming necrotic due to a drop in blood supply.
Kate paid tribute to the NHS staff that have treated nipple, describing them as ‘fantastic’ and acknowledged that the taxpayer was essentially subsidising the mistake made by overseas surgeons
But the grandmother was reassured by the Turkish team that this was normal.
She said: ‘I was told “That’s okay, it’s because of the graft oozing blood underneath the surface, it’ll be fine”, it all started going downhill from there.’
After 10 days in Turkey, Kate returned home to Liverpool but grew increasingly concerned about the state of her nipple.
‘When I got home, I saw that my nipple was starting to get darker and it was starting to get dry,’ she said. ‘It looked like it was scabbing over.’
Kate sent pictures to the agency which organised her surgery, as well as the surgeon himself, who only advised her to use an antibiotic cream and a moisturizer which she did for a few weeks.
‘For every picture I sent, every message I sent, I was assured it was fine,’ she said.
Kate even claimed the Turkish medical team actively discouraged her from speaking to her GP about her nipple.
She said the medics told her: ‘Those British doctors don’t have a clue, they’re not qualified to make decisions on this.’
However, after telling a friend of her condition, Kate was urged to seek medical attention, and contacted her doctor.
He advised her to go into her nearby NHS walk-in centre and Kate said staff were shocked by her nipple’s condition.
‘The nurse I saw almost went hysterical, she had me crying I was so alarmed by her reaction,’ she said.
The nurse sent her back to her GP who arranged an urgent referral to the breast care unit at the nearest hospital.
There, a specialist confirmed the nipple had become necrotic and parts of it would need to be cut away.
They added it was fortunate Kate had come in when she had otherwise she may have lost her entire nipple.
She has since needed weekly appointments, which have included the application of special vacuum dressings to encourage healing.
Kate paid tribute to the NHS staff that have treated her, describing them as ‘fantastic’ and acknowledged that the taxpayer was essentially subsidising the mistake made by overseas surgeons.
While Kate’s necrotic nipple was her major concern, she was also left dissatisfied with the shape of arms following the lift as well as the shape of her hips following the liposuction.
She now needs a range of corrective procedures and is paying £10,000 to have them done, bizarrely in Turkey again.
Kate acknowledged this might seem strange given her recent experience but said the price of surgery in Britain left her no option.
‘I simply can’t afford it in the UK,’ she said.
She called for greater regulation on who should be allowed to advertise and arrange surgery for Britons overseas.
And for those thinking of going under the knife overseas, Kate had the following advice.
‘Do your homework, there’s so many things to look out for,’ she said.
‘Look for previous patients, get the history of the surgeon.’
*Names have been changed to protect anonymity.