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Consumer lawyer welcomes government plans to discuss cosmetic tourism with European counterparts

Consumer law specialist Tina Patel has warned of the dangers of travelling abroad for cosmetic surgery following the death of a British woman during buttock enlargement (Brazilian butt-lift) surgery at a hospital in Turkey.

Posted on 29 November 2023

Melissa Kerr, 31, from Gorleston, Norfolk, died at the private Medicana Haznedar Hospital in Istanbul in 2019.

Responding to the prevention of future deaths (PFD) report written by Norfolk senior coroner Jacqueline Lake, the UK government has now said it would meet with officials in Turkey to discuss regulations around medical and cosmetic tourism.

Health minister Maria Caulfield said government took the issue "seriously", adding that officials from the Department of Health and Social Care would be "visiting Turkey shortly to meet with their counterparts".

At the inquest in September, the coroner raised concerns that Melissa, and others, were not given enough information before travelling abroad for cosmetic surgery.

The coroner concluded Melissa had suffered a fatal clot that had travelled to her lungs during the Brazilian butt-lift surgery (BBL). The inquest was told BBL operations carried the highest risk of all cosmetic surgery procedures.

Ms Lake ruled that Ms Kerr had not been given enough information to make a safe decision and said, "the danger to citizens who continue to travel abroad for such procedures continues... and I'm of the view future deaths can be prevented by way of better information".

Last year, new guidelines were issued to members of a UK cosmetic surgery association following a four-year moratorium on carrying out such operations due to the dangers involved.

Tina Patel, a partner at law firm Leigh Day, said:

“Melissa’s tragic death highlights the dangers posed by cosmetic tourism and the need for a consistent approach in informing individuals of the associated risks. Had Melissa been aware of the risks then there is a chance she may have decided not to proceed with the procedure and she would still be here today.

“I am pleased to hear that the government is taking steps to discuss the regulations surrounding cosmetic tourism and I hope this will lead to more consistency in individuals being fully informed of the risks before embarking on such procedures.”

Tina Patel
Consumer law Cosmetics Hips Medical devices

Tina Patel

Tina Patel is a partner in the consumer law team.

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