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Is Turkey Safe for Gastric Surgery?

Going abroad to get a weight loss surgery might seem like a good idea. Why not go on holiday while also shedding excess weight? Especially in a place like Turkey with its affordable prices and stunning scenery. Turns out, it can be quite a risk to a patient’s health.

Before diving into the risks associated with medical tourism, let’s break down the different kinds of procedures that can result in someone wanting to go to a surgery clinic in Turkey.

Types of Surgery

There are a few broad types of gastric or bariatric surgery that can be performed to help a patient lose weight and is typically administered when a patient is morbidly obese. All bariatric surgery helps patients to improve obesity-related health problems, such as sleep apnea, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and more. Bariatric surgery also helps improve mobility and can lead to an increase in energy, fitness, strength, stamina, bone density, and more.

Most bariatric surgery clinics in the UK require patients to have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 35 in order to undergo any kind of bariatric surgery.

Gastric Sleeve Surgery

A gastric sleeve surgery reduces the amount of food intake a person can have by removing 70-80% of the stomach, effectively changing the size of the stomach. This surgery is done through a small incision and results in a thin, tube-like structure that is connected to the small intestine. The patient’s health problems will tend to improve within 2 years of having the surgery and will result in substantial weight loss.

Gastric Bypass Surgery

A gastric bypass surgery creates a new structure out of the existing stomach, often referred to as a gastric pouch or a small stomach pouch. Instead of removing a portion of the stomach, a gastric bypass simply bypasses (hence the name) the lower portion of it, reducing the amount of food you can eat at any given time. The average weight loss from a gastric bypass surgery is up to 70% of excess weight within the first two years of your surgery.

The Risks of Gastric Surgery: Turkey

With all the information you now know about bariatric surgery in general, it may have become clear that this type of surgery is nothing to sniff at. Between the risks of travelling to get a gastric bypass in Turkey, being uninformed of the quality of care you’ll receive, and the postoperative care you’ll require with this type of surgery, there are plenty of risks associated with getting bariatric surgery in Turkey.

In fact, in 2023, the BBC did a thorough investigation of medical tourism in Turkey and found that a large percentage of the clinics they contacted were exercising practices that are reckless and unethical, even accepting patients over WhatsApp and patients that don’t have a medical need for it with a healthy BMI of 20-25.

Travel Risks

From a surgery clinic in Turkey, straight to an NHS hospital stay. Patients who travel to Turkey to get bariatric surgery are returning to the UK with postoperative complications. Travelling for any medical procedure can come with dangers, whether from travel delays to the air pressure causing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), restricting access to medical care while on the move, or even more mundane logistical issues, it’s impossible to know exactly what will happen when you have surgery abroad.

Quality of Care

The main issue with getting surgery overseas is that you have no idea what the quality of care will be like. There is no way of ascertaining if it is going to be safe or if it is going to kill you. If gastric bypass prices from a bariatric surgery clinic in Turkey are cheap, it’s more likely that they’ve cut costs by taking out necessary safety measures, having a substandard medical facility, or not getting the proper equipment to safely perform a surgical procedure. Plus, there’s a chance you’ll end up spending more with potential recurring visits and complications that need private care.

While it’s true that some clinics in Turkey have high-quality bariatric surgeons, from abroad, there is no way to know if your surgeon will be one of them. There is not the same rigour of regulatory boards in Turkey as there is in the UK for surgeries and gastric bypass procedures. Having a gastric bypass procedure in the UK will mean an entire team of medical staff that has undergone the rigorous education required for a medical license to perform a gastric bypass.

Postoperative Care

Another issue with medical tourism in Turkey is the issue of postoperative care. With a gastric bypass, it’s standard practice that from surgery day onward, bariatric patients have regular checkups and appointments for the rest of their lives to ensure that there are no complications with their digestive system after their surgery. However, with a surgery clinic in Turkey, gastric bypass patients will be unable to head back so frequently and the burden of their postoperative care will fall to the NHS.

Additionally, as bariatric surgery and gastric bypass surgery are considered major surgeries, there are always risks associated with them. Whether that be issues with general anaesthesia, problems once you return home, or internal bleeding while at the hospital or clinic in Turkey. Now some of these complications can arise with treatment in the UK as well, but the surgeons and hospitals in the UK have excellent services that can quickly and efficiently take care of any complications and there are far fewer patients who have had issues that impact their daily life in the UK. If done correctly, gastric bypass surgery is incredibly safe, but you simply cannot have that guarantee from abroad.

Many complications can come from an improperly performed surgery, including:

  • Sepsis
  • Internal bleeding
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Dumping syndrome, causing diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia)
  • Stomach perforation

Private Alternatives

Getting a gastric bypass in the UK is by far the better option. In fact, the UK government’s Ministry of Health has issued a Turkey travel warning regarding medical tourism. With long NHS waiting times, the best option for safe gastric bypass surgery is to go private within the UK.

We offer a number of extremely safe and well-researched gastric surgeries, including the mini bypass, the roux en y bypass, revision surgery, and the sleeve gastrectomy. All of our bariatric surgeries and balloon placements come with a comprehensive aftercare package to help ensure that your weight loss surgery is successful and has no complications. Not only do we help you create a healthy, balanced diet and exercise programme in your new life after weight loss surgery, but we also offer ongoing support from our nursing team and help you make positive changes throughout your life.

Contact us today to learn more about our bariatric surgery clinics, the procedures we offer and how we might help you have a successful weight loss surgery in the UK.

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