BANGKOK – An Australian mother of three has been left with a gaping hole in her stomach and will spend months recovering after a tummy tuck in Bangkok went horribly wrong.
The 52-year-old, who only wants to be known as Jennifer, faces months of corrective surgery after the wound from her operation became infected and her skin blackened and started dying.
Jennifer’s Thai doctor told her the blackened skin was nothing to worry about when she returned from Bangkok in early March, following her February 16 surgery date.
But when the wound started getting larger and was not helped with a course of antibiotics, she knew something was not right.
Australian Plastic Surgeon Dr Dilip Gahankari, who saw Jennifer on Thursday and immediately admitted her to Hospital, saying it was one of the worst cases he had ever seen.
Jennifer said her Thai doctor told her the dead skin had resulted because of poor circulation and high blood pressure.
Dr Gahankari said patients were not always properly assessed overseas and if poor circulation was suspected, the operation should not have gone ahead, or arrangements for follow-up care should have taken place.
Jennifer organized the holiday with two girlfriends through a cosmetic tourism company and paid $7000 for the procedure that would have cost her twice as much in Australia.
Her friend, who had the same operation, returned with no problems and a clean scar.
“Everyone knows with surgery there’s a risk involved, whether you get it done here or over there,” Jennifer said.
“To me, someone else was always going to be that one in 100.
“If I had it done here I would have had the follow up. I would have had the surgeon keeping an eye on it and doing whatever was necessary before it got to this stage.
“Even though it went well for the others and it can go well for someone else, it’s not an option if something goes wrong because you’re in dire straits and you’re on your own.”
Dr Gahankari said while complications could result from surgery here as well, at least patients could return for help.
“One of the things that happens in overseas cosmetic travels is patients are not properly assessed or evaluated … you can’t just leave patients to their own fate and say you’re on your own,” Dr Gahankari said.
“That whole thing that’s promoted by these (companies) is it’s all very smooth and easy and a walk in the park, which I think is wrong.
“They’re major procedures and they do need long-term follow up.”