Health officials have issued an urgent warning about a low-cost Botox procedure being offered to aspiring weight-lossers in Turkey.
Sixty-seven patients from across Europe have been affected by botulism after receiving the weight loss injections in two separate clinics. No UK cases have yet been reported.
The condition, which can be life-threatening, can lead to paralysis if not treated urgently.
All patients received stomach or gastric botox, which paralyzes the muscles in the digestive system, slowing down digestion and helping them beat the bulge.
Turkish clinics are offering patients wanting to lose weight the injections, usually given to banish wrinkles, for just £850.
European health authorities have issued a warning about a surge in botulism cases believed to have been caused by botox weight loss procedures in Turkey (stock image)
This is a fraction of the price in places like UK and US,
All cases were registered between February 22 and March 1, 2023.
Botox uses toxin made from Clostridium botulinum, which is considered a very dangerous pathogen, as the toxins are one of the most deadly substances known.
But this same toxin can be used to paralyze muscles for a range of treatments, and is usually safe when used by a trained medical professional.
However, if the toxins are administered incorrectly, it can cause symptoms such as weakness, difficulty breathing and/or swallowing.
This can lead to paralysis and even death if severe and left untreated, with up to one in 10 cases of botulism being fatal.
While most known cases have been mild, several patients have been hospitalized, according to European health authorities.
They advise any patient who has undergone a Botox slimming procedure in Turkey within the presumed dates to contact a medical professional immediately, especially if they start experiencing symptoms of botulism.
Most cases for which data are available have been reported in Turkey itself (53), followed by Germany (12) with one more each in Austria and Switzerland.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, which issued the warning, said it was unclear what exactly caused the botulism.
Turkish authorities had identified most of the cases in two clinics, 60 of which were linked to a private hospital in the capital Istanbul. Three are linked to a private site in Izmir.
UK surgeons are increasingly concerned that the NHS is helping to subsidize poor care abroad, with the bill costing taxpayers an estimated £4.8 million over the past four years
Here, MailOnline describes some of the most notable differences in some cosmetic procedures in the UK and Turkey
Cosmetic procedures in Turkey are often done at bargain prices compared to their UK counterparts. Turkey and UK prices are from multiple websites (model is a stock photo)
They also found that while licensed Botox was being used in the clinics, these products were not specifically approved for the treatment of obesity.
They have since suspended all activities within the relevant departments of the hospitals has launched further investigations against the parties involved.
Stomach or stomach botox is touted by Turkish cosmetic and slimming clinics as a cheap and easier option for people to lose weight compared to full surgery.
The procedure costs as little as £850, according to medical tourism booking agencies that ensure Britons in Turkey go under the knife.
During the procedure, the endoscope — a long tube with a camera on the end — is inserted into the patient’s mouth to reach the stomach.
Botox is then injected into the stomach wall using an endoscopy tool that tracks the camera.
Clinics say the procedure takes about 15 to 20 minutes and doesn’t require general anesthesia.
The resulting paralysis of the abdominal muscles slows the digestion of food, making the person feel fuller and theoretically helping to lose weight.
However, like other Botox procedures, it is not permanent and the abdominal muscles return to normal in about four to six months, meaning people can begin to gain weight again.
Health authorities in the UK have not yet issued a similar warning to their EU counterparts.
However, the government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is urging Britons to be incredibly careful about having any surgery in the country and to carefully scrutinize any operation or procedure.
The government says at least 22 Britons have died in Turkey since early 2019 following medical tourism visits.
In addition to the deaths, many more Britons have suffered health consequences from Turkish operations, with the NHS and taxpayers footing the bill.
Campaigners have even dubbed Turkey the ‘slaughterhouse capital’, with a botched operation abroad costing the money-poor NHS £5 million over four years.