Leeds mum who died during 'Brazilian butt lift' surgery 'may not have known the risks'

A MOTHER-OF-THREE who died during cosmetic surgery in Turkey may not have been fully aware of how dangerous it was, an inquest heard.

Thursday, 21st November 2019, 5:00 pm
Leah Cambridge who tragically died in Turkey in August 2018

Leah Cambridge, 29, from Leeds, had saved up thousands of pounds in order to have the surgery done last August, after feeling “paranoid about her body”.

But she died while having a “Brazilian butt lift” operation, where fat is removed from certain areas of the body, including the stomach and back, and then transferred into the buttocks to achieve an hourglass figure.

Giving evidence at the inquest in Wakefield, Simon Withey, a consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital in London, said some UK surgeons had agreed a temporary halt on performing the surgery until more information on its dangers can be obtained.

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It came after a report by a US taskforce suggested that the procedure could be about 10 times as dangerous as the next riskiest cosmetic operation.

Buttock lifts came with a a mortality rate of between one in 2,600 and one in 6,000 surgeries - which could be an underestimate.

The next riskiest was the abdominal blast, known as “tummy tightening”, which, according to the taskforce’s report, had a mortality rate of between one in 20,000 and one in 30,000.

Earlier in the inquest Miss Cambridge’s mother, Theresa Hall, had explained how when she and her daughter had arrived at the Izmir Private Can Hospital, documents and forms about the surgery were thrust in front of Miss Cambridge.

She said it “all felt like such a rush” and she believed her daughter was pressured into reading and signing the papers, which outlined some of the safety risks, as quickly as possible so surgery could start.

Mr Withey said while not directly involved in the case, he had doubts that she was fully aware of how dangerous it was.

The surgeon said some patients were desperate to have the cosmetic work done and it could be a struggle to “get them to slow down.”

He told the inquest: “One of the things which anyone undertaking surgery in this area is aware of is the enthusiasm of the patients, which is almost a frenzy of excitement.

“It’s important that they spend time talking about their wishes with the surgeon, and seeing whether they are going to be met, and then talking about the risks of the surgery.

“Sometimes it’s a struggle to get them [the patients] to slow down and really think about it carefully.”

In October the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) advised its members in October last year to not perform the butt lift until more information could be obtained.

Mr Withey said Miss Cambridge’s death, reported shortly before a meeting, had “focused everybody’s minds”. The operation is still being performed in the UK by some surgeons, including those who are not members of the BAAPS.

Asked whether he felt buttock lift procedures should be outlawed completely, he said that any ban would have to be international in order to prevent UK patients from going to less-safe countries to have it done.

Miss Cambridge died after fat entered her circulatory system and eventually blocked the pulmonary artery to the lungs, the inquest was told on Wednesday.

The hearing is expected to conclude on Friday.