A mum’s 50th birthday treat of a tummy tuck backfired when she ended up hospitalised with sepsis and a belly covered in rotting flesh from the botched procedure in Turkey.
Janet Smalley opted to get the surgery done ahead of her upcoming birthday in January, flying to Istanbul for the operation on September 26.
But just days after going under the knife she began “shivering uncontrollably” and “burning up” intermittently and claims nurses at the Turkish clinic reassured her everything was “normal”.
After returning to the UK, Janet’s symptoms continued so she visited her GP, who opened her compression garment to reveal infected wounds with black, dead skin.
The 49-year-old was then admitted to hospital suffering from sepsis and is still at risk of needing a skin graft to replace necrotic skin on her stomach.
After being “dismissed” by the Turkish clinic, the account manager has now shared shocking photos of her infected wounds to warn others about the risks of getting plastic surgery abroad.
Janet, from Accrington, Lancashire, described how she noticed things weren’t right a few days after the surgery.
She said: “Things weren’t too bad at first because you’re sleeping – you’re in a lot of pain but you don’t know what’s normal and what’s not so you just get on with it.
“Day three I was sent back to the hotel and things started getting really bad. I was shivering uncontrollably to the point where my teeth were chattering.
“I contacted the coordinators to get a nurse to come to the room. She did my blood pressure and it was really low but she said ‘it’s absolutely fine, it’s just from the anaesthetic'”.
But Janet recalled that the next day she began burning up and sweating, and despite the nurse telling her it was “down to stress”, she knew something was wrong.
Janet flew home on the Saturday and describing the journey back to the UK, she said: “I felt so unwell, every little jolt was pain running right through me.”
After sleeping all weekend when she got home Janet continued to feel “really unwell” and her daughter got worried and told her to go to the GP.
Janet explained what happened during the appointment, saying: “They put you in a big compression outfit – I hadn’t undone it because there’s a hole underneath for you to go to the toilet. The GP opened the compression garment, took one look and said ‘you need to get to hospital straight away’.
“It was really swollen, red and gunky and there were blisters everywhere, so she rang through and got me admitted to hospital and it was sepsis.
“They told me I had necrotic skin and I said ‘what does that mean?’ and they said ‘your skin is dead’. It was really upsetting.”
The mum of three claims she decided to fly to Turkey for the op after being quoted just £4,300 – less than half of the price she was quoted by multiple UK plastic surgery clinics.
She flew home five days after surgery and, due to being assured by the clinic that her symptoms were “normal”, waited another four days before going to her GP.
Janet was then swiftly admitted to Blackburn Royal Hospital with sepsis and necrotic skin and spent nine days as an inpatient on IV antibiotics before being sent home on oral antibiotics for another four days.
She is still attending weekly appointments at Royal Preston Hospital to have her wounds cleaned and monitored and may need a skin graft on one area of her abdomen that remains necrotic.
Janet said: “I got a couple of quotes locally and it was pretty much double the price of what it was in Turkey.
“Initially I just went for the tummy tuck but once you get there they kind of up-sell – ‘we can’t do the tummy tuck without liposuction'”.
Janet had four areas liposuctioned – two areas of her back, her sides and her stomach, as well as the tummy tuck.
She believes that if she’d been told to see her GP as soon as she got home then it wouldn’t have been as severe.
Janet is now on the road to recovery but could still have a long way to go, she said: “It is healing now a lot better than I imagined now. I’ve just got one area that’s about three centimetres at the top of my hip that’s necrotic and it’s going to scar quite badly.
“Depending on how it heals I might need a skin graft.”
The account manager claims the Turkish plastic surgery clinic refused to accept responsibility for her health complications from the op before refusing further communication with her.
She now hopes to warn others about the poor treatment and aftercare she received, as she “regrets” going abroad for the procedure.
Janet said: “I did contact them afterwards to put a complaint in and they didn’t want to know, they basically said that instead of going to my GP I should’ve gone to their aftercare clinic.
“They said they can’t take responsibility because I didn’t go to their aftercare centre and they refused to talk to me after that. I feel really angry about it.
“Before you pay them they’re constantly there reassuring you and giving you advice but the minute that money gets handed over, they just don’t want to know.
“Just don’t do it. I’m regretting it so much, it’s really not worth it.”