A mother’s stomach was covered in rotting flesh after a botched tummy tuck in Turkey became infected and left her hospitalized.
Janet Smalley, 49, from Accrington, Lancashire, had the operation for her upcoming 50th birthday when she flew to Istanbul on September 26.
But days after the procedure, she began ‘shaking uncontrollably’ and ‘burning up’ intermittently, despite nurses at the clinic assuring her everything was ‘normal’, she claims.
After returning to the UK, her symptoms persisted, so she visited her doctor, who opened her bandages to reveal infected ‘red’, ‘swollen’ and ‘gunky’ sores with black, dead skin.
The account manager was taken to Blackburn Royal Hospital with sepsis.
She has since largely recovered – but may need a skin graft to replace some of the remaining necrotic skin on her stomach.
After being ‘sacked’ by the Turkish clinic, she has now shared shocking photos of her infected wounds to warn of the risks of having plastic surgery abroad.
A mother’s stomach was covered in rotting flesh after a botched tummy tuck in Turkey became infected and left her hospitalized
Janet Smalley, 49, from Accrington, Lancashire, had the operation for her upcoming 50th birthday when she flew to Istanbul on September 26
She was quickly 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 a further four days
WHAT IS SEPSIS?
Sepsis, known as the ‘silent killer’, occurs when an infection such as blood poisoning triggers a violent immune response in which the body attacks its own organs.
It is the leading cause of avoidable death, killing at least 44,000 a year, and the Daily Mail has long campaigned for more attention.
If caught early, the infection can be controlled by antibiotics before the body goes into overdrive – ultimately leading to death within minutes.
But the early symptoms of sepsis can easily be mistaken for milder conditions, meaning it can be difficult to diagnose.
Sepsis has similar symptoms to the flu, gastroenteritis and a chest infection.
- pslurred speech or confusion
- Eextreme chills or muscle pain
- Pno urine for a day
- peternal shortness of breath
- It feel like you’re dying
- pgenus spotted or discolored
Symptoms in children are:
- Rapid breathing
- Seizures or convulsions
- Mottled, bluish or pale skin
- Rash that does not fade with pressure
- Feeling unusually cold
Abdominoplasty, medically known as abdominoplasty, involves removing excess skin, fat or stretch marks from the abdomen to improve its shape.
Surgeons make a large incision across the lower abdomen before separating the skin below the navel from the fat and muscle inside.
Loose skin and fat are then removed before the incision is stitched back up. It usually takes four to six weeks to recover.
The operation can cost up to £6,000 in the UK, with additional funds required for follow-up and consultations. In Turkey they can cost as little as £1,500.
Pain and bruising, numbness and small red raised scars are common side effects of the surgery.
But there is also a risk of infection, which is particularly high if hygiene is not ensured when dressing the wounds.
Sepsis is a sometimes fatal condition caused by the body’s immune response to infection, which causes it to attack its own organs.
It is the leading cause of avoidable death, killing at least 48,000 in the UK and around 270,000 in the US each year.
Recalling her ordeal, Mrs Smalley said: ‘I’m turning 50 in January so I decided to do it as a treat for my 50th.
‘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.
‘On day three I was sent back to the hotel and it started to get really bad. I was shaking uncontrollably to the point where my teeth were chattering.
‘I contacted the coordinators to get a nurse to come to the living room. She took my blood pressure and it was really low but she said “it’s perfectly fine, it’s just from the anaesthetic”.
‘The next day I was the opposite, I was burning up and sweating. The nurse came back up and said it was for stress. I knew something was wrong. It was just really scary.
‘Saturday was fly-home day – I felt so bad that every little jolt was pain running straight through me.
‘I pretty much slept all weekend when I got home. I felt really bad but I thought “they told me it was normal”.’
Her daughter became concerned about her condition and persuaded her to go to her local doctor.
The doctor opened the compression garment – which was worn to minimize swelling and promote healing after the operation – and told her to go to hospital ‘immediately’.
She said: ‘It was really swollen and red and wet and there were blisters everywhere so she rang through and got me into 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 mother-of-three claims she decided to fly to Turkey for the operation after being offered just £4,300 – less than half the price on offer at the UK clinics she researched.
She flew home five days after the operation and, having been assured by the clinic that her symptoms were ‘normal’, she waited another four days before seeing her doctor.
Ms Smalley was then rushed 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 a further four days.
She still has weekly appointments at Royal Preston Hospital to have her wounds cleaned and monitored and may need a skin graft on an area of her stomach that remains necrotic.
Ms Smalley said: ‘I got a couple of quotes locally and they were pretty much double the price in Turkey.
“In the beginning I just went for a tummy tuck, but once you get there they sell a bit more – ‘we can’t do a tummy tuck without liposuction’.
She said: ‘It was really swollen, red and wet and there were blisters everywhere’
The account manager may need a skin graft to replace the necrotic skin on the abdomen
‘I was stupidly told to have liposuction in four areas – two areas of my back, my sides and stomach and then obviously the tummy tuck.
“If they had said ‘as soon as you get home, write to your doctor’ I don’t think it would have been so serious.
‘But there were four days when I got home before I went to my GP and those are four days where it just got worse and worse.
‘It’s healing much better now than I imagined now. I just got an area that’s about three inches at the top of my hip that’s necrotic and it’s going to scar quite a bit.
‘Depending on how it heals, I may need a skin graft.’
She claims the plastic surgery clinic refused to accept responsibility for her health complications from the procedure and now refuses to communicate with her any further.
Ms Smalley now hopes to warn others about the poor treatment and aftercare she received as she ‘regrets’ going abroad to have the procedure.
She said: ‘I contacted them afterwards to make a complaint and they didn’t want to know, they basically said that instead of going to my GP I should have gone to their aftercare clinic.
‘They said they can’t take responsibility because I didn’t go on their aftercare and they refused to talk to me after that. I feel really angry about it.
‘Before you pay them they are constantly there reassuring you and giving you advice, but the moment the money is handed over they just don’t want to know.
‘Just don’t do it. I regret it so much, it’s really not worth it’.’