Turkish holidays sold with butt lifts and tummy tucks alarm UK advertising regulator

Turkish holidays sold with butt lifts and tummy tucks alarm UK advertising regulator
Turkish clinics are accused of glamorising potentially risky medical procedures by combining them with luxury holiday packages. / social media
By bne IntelliNews April 9, 2024

Ads are increasingly appearing on Instagram and Facebook offering Britons the chance to undergo a cosmetic medical procedure such as a Brazilian butt lift (BBL), breast surgery, a tummy tuck or hair transplant while enjoying a luxury holiday in Turkey. “Turkey teeth” has also become a meme in the UK, which suffers from a chronic lack of dentists.

Experts are concerned. Nora Nugent, vice-president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, told the Guardian: “Turkish clinics advertise package deals including hotel and flights, and patients see what looks like a reasonable package. But what you are not supposed to do is promote it as a holiday or trivialise what it’s about. You are not meant to trivialise risk and advertise these operations as holidays.”

She added: “It’s not meant to be glamorised … or promise unrealistic outcomes, such as a guaranteed breast size.”

Cosmetic providers have been warned about adverts such as this offer that appeared on Instagram. "BBLs" carry the highest risk of all cosmetic surgeries.

Britain’s Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has issued a warning to cosmetic providers abroad, outlining the strict rules that are supposed to apply to promoting their services. The watchdog specifically advises that those behind health tourism adverts should keep in mind that linking surgery to a holiday may trivialise a decision to undergo a procedure. The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), administered by the ASA, has started enhanced monitoring to identify and tackle irresponsible ads.

Concern over the linking of Turkish cosmetic surgery to holidays is heightened by the fact that Turkey’s regulation of its health tourism industry is often regarded as extremely poor.

BBLs carry the highest risk of all cosmetic surgeries—for every 4,000 procedures, there is at least one death.

Last November, UK government officials said they would meet Turkish counterparts to discuss disturbing health tourism cases such as that of Melissa Kerr, 31, an Englishwoman from Norfolk, who died after she had buttock enlargement surgery at Turkish private hospital Medicana Haznedar.

At the time the meeting was announced, the UK Foreign Office said it was aware of more than 25 British nationals who had died in Turkey since January 2019 following medical procedures.

In 2022, Turkey welcomed 1.2mn people for healthcare procedures. Medical tourism earned the country around $2.5bn . Early indications are that the revenue generated was similar last year, with Turkey the seventh biggest provider of health tourism in the world.