26.02.2024

Urgent warning over cheap weight loss Botox procedure in Turkey

Health officials have issued an urgent warning about a cut-price Botox procedure being offer to wannabe slimmers in Turkey. Sixty-seven patients from across Europe have been struck down with botulism after getting the weight loss injections at two separate clinics. No British cases have yet been reported.

The condition, which can prove life-threatening, can lead to paralysis if not treated urgently. All of the patients were given stomach or gastric Botox, which paralyzes muscles in the digestive system, making digestion slower and helping them beat the bulge.

Turkish clinics offer patients wanting to lose weight the injections, usually given to banish wrinkles, for as little as £850.

This is a fraction of the price of similar weight loss procedures in Britain and the US.

All of the cases were logged between February 22 and March 1 2023.

Botox uses toxin made from Clostridium botulinum, considered to be a highly dangerous pathogen, as its toxins are one of the most lethal substances known.

European health authorities have issued an alert over a wave of botulism cases believed to have been trigged by Botox weight loss procedures in Turkey (stock image)

European health authorities have issued an alert over a wave of botulism cases believed to have been trigged by Botox weight loss procedures in Turkey (stock image)

But this same toxin can be used to paralyse muscles for a range of treatments, and is usually safe when used by a trained medical professional.

However, if the toxins are administered incorrectly, it can cause symptoms like weakness, difficulty in breathing and/or swallowing.

This can lead to paralysis and even death if severe and not treated, with up to one in 10 cases of botulism being fatal.

While most of the known cases have been mild, several patients have been admitted to hospital, according to European health authorities.

They are advising any patient who had a Botox weight loss procedure in Turkey within the suspected dates to contact a medical professional immediately, especially if they start experiencing symptoms of botulism.

Most of the cases with known data have been reported in Turkey itself (53), followed by Germany (12) with one more each in Austria and Switzerland.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, which issued the alert, said what had exactly caused the botulism was unclear.

Turkish authorities had tracked down most of the cases to two clinics, with 60 linked to a private hospital in the capital Istanbul. Three are linked to a private site in Izmir.

British surgeons are growing concerned that the NHS is helping subsidise poor care overseas, with the bill costing the taxpayer an estimated £4.8million over the last four years

British surgeons are growing concerned that the NHS is helping subsidise poor care overseas, with the bill costing the taxpayer an estimated £4.8million over the last four years

Here, MailOnline details some of the most striking differences in some cosmetic procedures in UK and Turkey

Here, MailOnline details some of the most striking differences in some cosmetic procedures in UK and Turkey

Cosmetic procedures in Turkey often go at bargain basement prices compared to their British counterparts. Turkey and UK prices have been sourced from multiple websites (model is a stock image)

Cosmetic procedures in Turkey often go at bargain basement prices compared to their British counterparts. Turkey and UK prices have been sourced from multiple websites (model is a stock image)

They also found that while licensed Botox was used in the clinics, these products were not specifically approved for obesity treatment.

They have since suspended all activities within the hospitals’ relevant departments and launched further investigations against those parties involved.

Stomach or gastric Botox is touted by Turkish cosmetic and weight-loss clinics as a cheap and easier option for people to lose weight compared to full on surgery.

The procedure costs as little as £850, according to medical tourism booking agencies that arrange for Brits to go under the knife in Turkey.

During the procedure the endoscope — a long tube with a camera at the end — is inserted into the patient’s mouth to reach their stomach.

Botox is then injected into the stomach wall by using an endoscopy tool that follows the camera.

Clinics say the procedure takes about 15 to 20 minutes and does not require general anaesthesia.

The resulting paralysis of the stomach muscles makes digestion of food slower, making the person feel fuller, and in theory, helping them lose weight.

However, like other Botox procedures, it isn’t permanent, and the stomach muscles return to normal within about four to six months, meaning people can start to gain weight again.

Health authorities in the UK have not yet issued a similar warning to their EU counterparts.

However, the Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office urges Brits to be incredibly cautious about getting surgery in the country and to research any operation or procedure carefully.

The Government states that at least 22 Brits have died in Turkey following medical tourism visits since the start of 2019.

In addition to the deaths, many more Brits have suffered health consequences from Turkish surgery, with the NHS, and the taxpayer having to then pick up the bill.

Campaigners have even nicknamed Turkey the ‘capitol of butchery’ with botched overseas surgery been estimated to cost the cash-strapped NHS £5million in four years.

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