Doctors have urged people not to fly abroad for weight-loss surgery, as you can end up with serious complications requiring medical help when you get back home. A surgeon says long waiting lists for surgery in the UK as well as a requirement to lose weight before and after surgery are driving people to travel abroad for operations.
One firm says it is taking 60 people a month from Scotkand alone for surgery in Turkey, reports the BBC.
The two most common types of weight loss surgery are a sleeve gastrectomy or gastric bypass, where some of the stomach is removed and a gastric band, where a band is used to reduce the size of the stomach.
Andrew de Beaux, a consultant surgeon and weight loss surgery lead, said that in his own health board last year there were 33 urgent referrals for medical help for people who had serious problems after foreign weight loss surgery. He said: “In the last three months we’ve had two patients that have stepped off a plane and been admitted to hospital and they are still in hospital.”
GP Dr Becky Harley said she had seen an increase in the number of patients returning from surgery overseas needing help. She said: “When people have these surgeries done through the NHS, there is a protocol we follow.
“So the patients will have the surgery and then they will be followed up by the team in the hospital, usually for a couple of years, and in that time they will have specialist input. It seems when patients get this surgery abroad, often they will come back and there is just not that follow-up and that can lead to dangerous presentations for patients.”
Nihal Terzi runs the Healthcare Store Turkey company which flies patients to Izmir for weight-loss surgery. She said: “The one thing about bariatric surgery, it is not a quick fix. It is the hardest thing somebody can do to themselves.
“These people who are coming are at the end of their tether, they are not able to carry on with their normal lives. It may seem to be a burden on the NHS, but if you could get the surgery on the NHS we wouldn’t be in this situation.”