There has been a ‘massive increase’ in the number of Irish people returning from abroad with cosmetic surgery complications.
It emerged over the weekend that the Turkish Embassy in Dublin has been assisting Istanbul authorities with medical malpractice claims from Irish people over botched surgeries.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, St Vincent's Hospital Consultant Surgeon, Professor Helen Heneghan said the situation is “very worrying”.
“We’ve noticed over the last three to four years a dramatic increase in the number of patients returning from abroad with significant complications pertaining to surgery they’ve had performed outside of the country,” she said.
“Particularly in Eastern Europe and particularly in Turkey. I’m not surprised there is a number of medical malpractice claims; that the envoy is aiding people with those.”
Professor Heneghan said she has seen it herself at work.
“It would reflect what we see when people return to St Vincents Hospital, and it's not unique to Vincents. My colleagues around the country are also seeing similar presentations,” she said.
Marketing is partly to blame, according to the surgeon.
“It’s really heavily marketed to people which is really inappropriate for a medical procedure with pretty significant risk – for any operation,” said Professor Heneghan.
“It’s marketed at groups who are in some way vulnerable and may not listen to advice. They also think they’re immune to risk or underestimate the risk significantly.”
Professor Heneghan said people who get cosmetic surgeries abroad are “chasing an aesthetic” and not doing it for health reasons.
She said shortcuts are being taken in certain procedures.
“I do think, based on what we’ve seen from patients returning back, is there are corners cut in the quality of care that's delivered, said Professor Heneghan.
“But it’s so hard to stop it, it’s really hard to persuade someone against an operation that they could benefit from and that we can’t provide in a timely fashion here in Ireland.
“We do provide it, and we provide an excellent service but unfortunately access is limited and there’s a waiting list of four to five years.”
Professor Heneghan provided a possible solution to reduce the numbers taking surgery risks abroad.
“I think providing surgery here in a more accessible way - a timelier way - would stem the tide of people travelling abroad,” she said.
“I also think we should be advising people to talk to a health professional in Ireland before they do it. Your GP is always the first port of call.”
Professor Heneghan added that some of these surgeries can cost “three to four times more” in Ireland than in Turkey or other Eastern European countries.
Main image: A young woman with a correction mark for plastic surgery. Image: Hongqi Zhang / Alamy Stock Photo.