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Warnings against 'reckless' weight loss surgery abroad

Seven British patients who travelled to Turkey for weight loss surgery died after operations there, a BBC investigation into the trend has found.

Others have returned home with serious health issues after having had gastric sleeve operations, during which more than 70% of the stomach is removed.

The operations, used to treat morbid obesity, are carried out in the UK, but, because it can take years to get one through the NHS, some people are looking abroad for treatment.

British doctors say that they're treating an increasing number of patients who have travelled to Turkey and returned with serious complications.

Dr Ahmed Ahmed, a leading surgeon and member of council at the British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society, says he's treated patients returning from Turkey who have had an entirely different operation to the one they understood they had paid for.

The BBC has also been told that some people are being accepted for surgery who do not have a medical need for it. The BBC contacted 27 Turkish clinics to see if they would accept someone for treatment who was considered to have a normal BMI. Six of the clinics we approached were happy to accept someone with a BMI of 24.5 for extreme weight loss surgery.

Separately, the BBC also found that some clinics who refused the treatment actually then encouraged patients to put on weight, to enable them to be accepted for surgery.

One said: "You need to gain 6.7kg to have sleeve surgery. I think you can easily eat some food and then lose weight easily." Another asked: "How soon can you gain weight?"

Dr Ahmed says the practices are "reckless" and "unethical".

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Source: BBC News, 21 March 2023


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