Following the death of Leigh Aiple, a 31 year old Australian who underwent cosmetic surgery in Malaysia, a coroner has warned of the need for people to be aware of the risks they are taking when they travel overseas for medical treatment.
According to Mr Aiple’s mother, he was self-conscious about his weight and was seeking an extreme make-over. He was introduced to the Beverly Wilshire Clinic in Kuala Lumpur by Gorgeous Getaways, a New Zealand-based medical travel agency. It claimed that the clinic was a ‘boutique medical centre’ with ‘highly skilled specialists’.
Mr Aiple underwent two marathon surgeries at the clinic within the space of five days, costing $35,000. This included a 360 degree tummy tuck, extensive liposuction, an upper eye lift, a chin tuck, a thigh lift, chest sculpting and lip filler. The first surgery alone took 8-10 hours. Five days after the second surgery, Mr Aiple was given the all clear to fly home, despite having open wounds. He collapsed and died the day after he returned.
The president of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons, Professor Mark Ashton, reviewed the treatment and care Mr Aiple received in Malaysia for the coroner’s investigation. He said the multiple surgeries would never have been performed in Australia and the care Mr Aiple was given afterwards was grossly inadequate. His death was caused by a pulmonary embolism following a deep vein thrombosis in his leg. Professor Ashton’s review found that Mr Aiple had been prescribed inadequate anti-blood clotting medication by the clinic, which was far below the recommended levels.
It is estimated that 15,000 Australians each year travel overseas for cosmetic and dental work. The drawcard for most is that the cost of overseas surgery is cheap. Mr Aiple paid an estimated third of the price of treatment in Australia.
According to a Daily Telegraph investigation in October 2017, the number of patients leaving Britain and flying overseas for medical treatment has trebled as NHS waiting times reach a record high. Government data shows that 144,000 people went abroad for healthcare last year, rising from 48,000 in 2014, with cosmetic surgery representing a large portion of those figures.
Elise Bevan, a solicitor in the cosmetic surgery team at Penningtons Manches, said: “Having cosmetic surgery overseas comes with significant risk. There is no guarantee as to the level of care you will receive, which more often than not falls far below UK standards. Patients contemplating cosmetic surgery abroad should be mindful of the circumstances of Mr Aiple’s case.
“Most Britons who seek surgery in another part of the world are tempted by treatment at a fraction of the price offered in the UK. We recommend that if you are considering this as an option, you do your research as standards and guidelines vary from country to country. It is important that you weigh up any cost savings against the possible risks and think about what will happen if there are complications.”