Death of British BBL patient: inquest update

The dangers of increasingly popular cosmetic surgery tourism have been highlighted during the inquest into the death of British woman Leah Cambridge, who died after complications during a Brazilian butt lift (BBL) procedure in Turkey in 2018. 

The inquest heard that Cambridge was likely to have been dangerously uninformed about the risks of the surgery, where fat taken from the stomach or other areas is injected into the buttocks. 

It was reported that Cambridge suffered three heart attacks while under anaesthesia; while the inquest heard that she ultimately died from a pulmonary embolism after fat entered her circulatory system and blocked the pulmonary artery to the lungs. 

Speaking at the inquest though not directly involved in the case, consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon at The Royal Free Hospital, Simon Withey said he was doubtful Cambridge was fully aware of the dangers. 

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."

Cambridge’s mother travelled to Turkey with her daughter for the procedure. She told the inquest she believed Cambridge was pressured into reading and signing documents and forms about the surgery in a rush, potentially missing crucial safety warnings. 

Aesthetic Medicine isn’t aware of details around any consultation that may have taken place before Cambridge’s arrival at Izmir Private Can Hospital, where the surgery took place. 

In a statement released in September 2018 as the story of Cambridge’s death broke, The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) commented in a statement: “The Association cannot comment on individual cases, however in light of the increasing popularity and interest in the treatment, we must reiterate our previous warnings about the danger of surgery abroad; and raise awareness to the potential for serious complications relating to BBL surgery – the risks of which are minimised, if at all mentioned, by many offering it."

Last month, BAAPS announced it is to undertake a formal review of emerging evidence into the safety and techniques of fat-grafting buttock augmentation.