Why is weight loss surgery cheaper in Turkey?

Why is weight loss surgery cheaper in Turkey?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

“Why is weight loss surgery cheaper in Turkey?” is a question that we come across on a regular basis. We have published on this topic so many times and our response is always the same. Medical equipment and standards simply aren’t as highly regulated in Turkey as they are in the UK and EU countries. As Turkey isn’t part of the EU, they do not comply with the strict guidelines that we see in countries like France and Germany. You might be able to save a bit of cash, but the risks of a cut-price procedure greatly outweigh the benefits. It is unlikely you will be covered if a complication were to arise, you are not protected by the CQC or EU law, and in many cases, there is no aftercare whatsoever.

The scenario

Why is weight loss surgery cheaper in Turkey?

I’m going to fly to Turkey for my weight loss surgery…

The UK has restricted flights to and from Turkey due to the pandemic.

Why is weight loss surgery cheaper in Turkey?

I’ll wait until flights are available again…

Self isolation should still be required to ensure you’re not incubating the virus.

Why is weight loss surgery cheaper in Turkey?

I can travel to Turkey 10-14 days before to make sure I’m safe…

Ok, but make sure you self-isolate, in Turkey, after your operation too. 2-4 weeks extra stay abroad will add up.

Why is weight loss surgery cheaper in Turkey?

I’ve checked and I’m not required to self-isolate…

Ok, but you should! UK COVID protocols are a lot stricter than Turkey and for a reason. We have “green pathway” hospitals, meaning all staff are tested regularly to ensure their and your safety.

Why is weight loss surgery cheaper in Turkey?

Fine, I’ll wait until I don’t need to self-isolate because it’s still so much cheaper than the UK…

You’re right, but why is it cheaper?

Instruments and equipment

Let’s take gastric sleeve surgery as an example. The standard equipment costs for this procedure are between £1,500 and £2,000 yet some Turkish hospitals are charging as little as £3,000 for gastric sleeves including “5-star” accommodation for several nights. The quality of the instruments probably doesn’t vary much between the UK and Turkey but the main difference is that UK surgeons dispose of their instruments for each procedure whereas surgeons in Turkey are likely reusing disposable instruments such as staplers. If they are not reusing disposable instruments then they are using inferior quality instruments and equipment. Regardless, the price of equipment is one of the biggest cost-saving factors for bariatric surgery in Turkey, but it’s not the only one…

Surgeons and Staff

Turkey isn’t exactly a poor country (20th richest by GDP in the world) but they must be paying their staff (surgeon, anaesthetists, nurses, porters, ward staff) less to complete surgical procedures at this price. Why? There are several factors here: the country’s currency crisis has meant that the value of Turkish Lira has declined drastically. Surgeons aren’t paid as much partly because they aren’t held to the same standards as here in the UK. All EU countries must recertify their surgeons each year but when it comes to data governance (i.e. checking that surgeons are delivering high-quality outcomes by looking at their performance), Turkey doesn’t adhere to the same standards as the UK Bariatric Registry which scrutinises a surgeon’s procedures every year.

The bigger picture

Take a look at some other EU countries before jumping on the quickest flight to Turkey. There are fantastic bariatric surgeons in Germany, France and the Netherlands. The best in these countries might cost closer to £20k and availability is very limited. Dr Bruno Dillemans is a great example of a top surgeon who’s performed over 10,000 procedures. His Center of Obesity in Belgium is a world-renowned practice and adheres to the highest standards of care. 

The best surgeons overseas are more expensive than the UK and less available, this speaks volumes about the importance of a high-quality procedure and a robust, lifetime aftercare package as opposed to the in-and-out culture that we see in Turkey. Surgeons in Turkey seem to be able to carry out lots of procedures, but many of them go wrong.

When you have weight loss surgery with a trusted UK provider, you are paying for a high-quality procedure carried out by some of the most experienced and renowned bariatric surgeons in the world. You are paying for a comprehensive aftercare package and will be covered should any unfortunate complications arise. And most importantly, you are not just a patient, you are a patient for life.

Image of Medical Director, Mr Rishi Singhal, carrying out weight loss surgery

We see news story after news story of people travelling abroad to countries like Turkey for weight loss and cosmetic surgery only to come back to the UK to find out something was “botched” as the papers like to put it. But without any aftercare, where do they go? In most cases, straight to A&E, putting even more strain on an NHS that’s already on its knees.

Just this week, the BBC released an investigation that found a cosmetic surgery company based in Turkey were offering a social media influencer free procedures in return for positive reviews. The investigation found that a number of women in the UK, mainly from BAME backgrounds, were left with life-changing conditions after returning home from having a procedure of their own. The influencer even admitted her own surgery was “botched” after she was left with lumps on her thighs. Watch the BBC investigation here.

At Healthier Weight, we pride ourselves on the quality of our bariatric surgeons, dedicated nurses and devoted patient care team. All of our reviews are genuine, from real people who have had their procedure with us. We actively seek new reviewers and are proud to be rated “excellent” out of nearly 700 reviews on Trustpilot. You can read some of our reviews here.

Weight loss surgery should change your life by helping you lose weight and allowing you to rediscover who you are, not by leaving you with permanent health conditions. We will never condone going abroad for a procedure that requires so much more than what these countries can offer. Learn more about the risks of going abroad for weight loss surgery below.

Blog: The Risks of Travelling Abroad for Weight Loss Surgery

Before choosing where to have your procedure, it’s important that you ask yourself the following:

  • Are all surgical instruments single use?
  • Are the surgeons undergoing regular appraisals?
  • Is their data available on the public domain?
  • Do they publish their outcomes?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, you may want to consider the risks that you are taking. After reading yet another horror story in the news this week, is it really worth it?

If you’re looking to start your own weight loss journey in 2021, we’re here for you. Why not call the Healthier Weight team on 0800 313 4618? Get some information on the surgical and non-surgical treatment options available, or Get a Quote below.

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    Last review: 15/01/2021. All content on this page is reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team lead by Mr Rishi Singhal.

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    Rishi Singhal

    Rishi is an expert bariatric surgeon based in the West Midlands and also Medical Director at Healthier Weight

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