British mum who died during 'Brazilian butt lift' op 'may not have been told risks'

A mother-of-three who died during a "Brazilian butt lift" operation may not have been appropriately informed about the risks involved in the controversial procedure, an inquest heard.

Leah Cambridge, 29, had saved up thousands of pounds in order to have the surgery done in Turkey last August. Picture: SWNS
Leah Cambridge, 29, had saved up thousands of pounds in order to have the surgery done in Turkey last August. Picture: SWNS

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

But she died while having the 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.

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The inquest into her death, at Wakefield Coroner's Court, heard how the beautician, who has three young boys, had booked the procedure through Elite Aftercare, a company which links patients to surgeons in Turkey.

Scott Franks the fiance of deceased Leah Cambridge outside Wakefield Coroner's Court, West Yorkshire. Picture: SWNS

Giving evidence on Thursday, Simon Withey, a consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital in London, explained how there is a moratorium - a temporary ban - on performing the procedure in the UK, until more information on its dangers can be obtained.

He said that this followed a report by a US taskforce, which suggested that the procedure could be about 10 times as dangerous as the next riskiest cosmetic operation.

Earlier in the inquest, Miss Cambridge's mother, Theresa Hall, said that she and her daughter had travelled to Turkey together on the night of August 26 last year.

When they arrived they were taken to the Izmir Private Can Hospital, where Miss Cambridge, from Leeds, had documents and forms about the surgery thrust in front of her, the inquest heard.

Georgina Neville, a director at cosmetic surgery firm 'Elite Aftercare' outside Wakefield Coroner's Court. Picture: SWNS

Miss Hall said it "all felt like such a rush", and that she believed her daughter was pressured into reading and signing the papers, which outlined some of the safety risks associated with the operation, as quickly as possible, so that the surgery could start.

Although Mr Withey was not directly involved in Miss Cambridge's case, he said that she may not have been fully aware of how dangerous the butt lift is.

"She was a willing participant, but as to whether she was informed appropriately, I have my doubts that she was," he said.

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The surgeon said that medical professionals need to take into account the excitement of young, potentially vulnerable patients, who are desperate to have cosmetic work done.

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."

Discussing the dangers associated with the butt lift procedure, he said: "There are reasons in this surgery which are not entirely clear, which mean that surgeons who know what they are doing and are doing things very safely will still have deaths."

The witness said that a US taskforce was set up in 2015 to look into the risks associated with the procedure, and it suggested that the operation had a mortality rate of between one in 2,600 and one in 6,000 surgeries.

Mr Withey qualified this by saying that this figure could be an underestimate, as surgeons potentially overestimate the number of procedures they have done and underestimate the number of fatalities.

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The surgeon said that the next riskiest cosmetic procedure 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.

He added that in the light of these figures and further assessment of the potential risks, 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.

Asked whether Miss Cambridge's death had played a role in the making of that decision, the witness said: "We had discussed a moratorium, but it just so happened that the death was reported shortly before a meeting, and it focused everybody's minds, this tragic death."

The inquest continues.