'Obesity treatment' in Turkey that is now leading to medical complications and death

 'Obesity treatment' in Turkey that is now leading to medical complications and death

  A BBC investigation has revealed that seven British citizens who went to Turkey to undergo bariatric surgery (gastric sleeve) have died.


Bariatric surgery, before and after

A BBC investigation has revealed that seven British citizens who went to Turkey to undergo bariatric surgery (gastric sleeve) have died.

Apart from this, many people have returned with various medical problems after undergoing a 'gastric sleeve' operation in Turkey. Seventy percent of a patient's stomach is removed in bariatric surgery.

According to the National Health Service in the UK, gastric sleeve operations are performed to eliminate obesity, but because it takes years to get a history of such an operation in the UK, people seem to turn to other countries for treatment.

Attractive advertisements on social media are also attracting people to travel abroad for sleeve operations.

Katie (pseudonym) from Belfast decided to go to Turkey after first seeing an ad online.

Like many others, he had seen before and after weight loss videos on social media. The TikTok hashtag #gastric ad has been viewed 292 million times in the UK over the past three years.

Katie flew to Turkey for surgery in October 2021. She says she was in pain immediately after the procedure, but the Turkish clinic told her it was just gas trapped in her stomach.

Katie arrived back in the UK in critical condition and was taken to the hospital a few days later with sepsis (severe infection) and pneumonia.

Katie spent almost a year bouncing around hospitals, during which she developed sepsis six times. Eventually, NHS doctors decided to remove her entire sleeve.

She says that because of the procedure, she is now constantly tired and has not even been able to keep her job.

"This is the biggest mistake I have ever made," she says. He has ruined my life.


The BBC investigated it for months.

British doctors say they are seeing an increasing number of patients who travel to Turkey for treatment and return with a range of health problems.

According to Sean Woodcock, a consultant at Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust, every week a patient is arriving at Newcastle Airport from Turkey and has to go straight to the hospital.

Dr. Ahmed, a renowned surgeon and council member of the British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society, says he has treated patients returning from Turkey who had undergone surgeries they had not been told about.

There is no record of how many people go to Turkey for this treatment.

The BBC has learned that since 2019, seven British nationals have died after traveling to Turkey for obesity treatment.

Fifty-five-year-old Joe Thornley was among them. Joe Thornley's parents learned of his death when the police came to their home and told them that their son had died in Turkey.

Police officers gave Joe Thornley's parents the telephone number of a clinic in Turkey, which Joe Thornley's father called.

A doctor told Joe Thornley's father that he had low blood pressure, which led to a heart attack.

When Joe Thornley's body was returned to the UK, an autopsy revealed that he had bled to death during surgery.

Joe Thornley's father says he tried to contact the doctor in Turkey, but he was unresponsive.

Joe Thornley's friends say he told them he was upset about his failure to lose weight.


In some clinics in Turkey, booking for this treatment is done only through a WhatsApp message.

In Turkey, this surgery costs 2,000 pounds, while it costs 10,000 pounds in private hospitals in the UK.

The BBC has learned that clinics in Turkey are willing to operate on people who don't need it.

In the UK, a person must have a body mass index (BMI) of forty to qualify for bariatric surgery.

A person's BMI is determined by using the person's height and weight in a formula that divides their weight by their height. A healthy BMI is considered to be between 20 and 25.

We contacted 27 Turkish clinics to see if they would accept someone with a normal body mass index (BMI), which is considered between 20 and 25.

Six of the clinics we contacted were willing to operate on someone with a BMI of 24.5.

In addition, the BBC found that some clinics that refused treatment encouraged patients to gain weight to make them amenable to surgery.

One said that you need to gain six kilograms for sleeve surgery. Another person asked: 'How quickly can you gain weight?'

Dr. Ahmed says this practice is a 'reckless' and 'unethical' move. I have never come across a situation where someone is being asked to eat more to gain weight. They should not be offered any type of surgery at a normal BMI

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