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Holiday surgery dreams can end in nightmare

Patient Left with Lopsided Face after Cheap Surgery Abroad

London, UK - 14 August 2008 - On New Year's Day this year, 47-year-old Business Management Trainer Anna Zanella expected her dream of a new, youthful look to finally come true. She had considered having a facelift for months and thought she had found the right company to help her achieve it at a cut-rate price. The UK website she chose offered cosmetic surgery holidays to Prague, promised to set up accommodation, airport pick-up and a comprehensive consultation with a highly qualified English speaking cosmetic surgeon. Unfortunately, Anna was unaware of previous warnings from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (, which has cautioned patients about cheap holiday surgery packages and instead of returning home with a new, refreshed look, her face was left lopsided, lumpy and scarred.

According to Anna, a native of Perth, Australia;

"When I landed in Prague on New Year's Eve, there wasn't anyone waiting to meet me at the airport as promised so I made my own way to the hotel. The next day at the clinic not only did my surgeon not speak any English, he had no idea who I was or what I was doing there, had never heard of the company I had booked with or the UK advisor who had assured me she knew all the surgeons personally."

Anna had been told she would enjoy a thorough consultation but the practitioner only brought in the receptionist as a translator for a brief, and rather aggressive, 20-minute session. Anna explained she was particularly interested in having her 'lower cheek fat deposits' removed, as promised in the company's website and as part of the facelift package she'd paid for, but the doctor claimed that such a procedure did not exist.

According to Anna, who currently resides in Milan, Italy;

"The website and the UK advisor had made everything sound so great. She promised that the company thoroughly vetted all surgeons and that he was one of the best in Europe. After so many things had gone wrong to start with, I'm sure one would wonder why I still went through with it, but the truth is I felt quite vulnerable and intimidated. The doctor's manner made me feel like I was asking irrelevant questions, and I suppose in the end I didn't want to give up my dream. So when they gave me an ultimatum - 'you decide now!' - I just assumed I was being paranoid and all would be fine once the procedure was completed."

Within 24 hours of the so-called consultation she had the surgery and according to the physician everything went to plan, although under the bandages Anna worried that her face looked considerably lopsided. She was told that this was just due to the swelling.

Since leaving Prague, Anna began to notice that the left side of her face was pulled much tighter on the right and she only had cheek hollows (the indentation on your face below the cheekbone) on one side of her face. She also had lumps and bumps along the sides, and could see clear asymmetry when she blew out her cheeks. Anna became extremely self-conscious and tried numerous times to inform the company of her disastrous experience but the only advice she received was to contact the surgeon again to do revision surgery. No further help was offered.

Anna says;

"What they're saying is that the same doctor who did this to me would get a second attempt at my face - which is very scary since I have now also found out he wasn't even an actual surgeon. There's no way I will give him permission to touch me again!"

Anna has since sought advice from an independent expert in her native Australia who was so appalled at the results he thought two separate surgeons had operated on each side of her face. She will be travelling there soon to hopefully find someone who can correct the surgery.

According to Douglas McGeorge, consultant plastic surgeon and President of the BAAPS;

"Cosmetic surgery is a serious, life-changing commitment and with a reputable surgeon, all risks and benefits should be explained before the patient makes any decision. As a surgeon I frown on holiday surgery and am disappointed that people continue to go for these so-called deals. As in Anna's case, counselling for the patient is usually inadequate, the patients have no idea of the standards of care in the country they are visiting and no knowledge of the abilities or experience of the surgeon."

The website chosen by Anna for her holiday package also promised that 'scars rarely remain' and that any patient dissatisfaction is usually due to the patient's unrealistic expectations.

According to Norman Waterhouse, consultant plastic surgeon and craniofacial specialist;

"Surgery will always leave a scar. Although they may fade with time, promising patients that 'scars rarely remain' is a warped version of the truth. A qualified surgeon will advise the patient on caring for their scars so as to minimise, but never completely erase, their appearance."

For further information on cosmetic surgery or to find a BAAPS surgeon in your area, please visit or call 020 7405 2234.


The BAAPS (, based at the Royal College of Surgeons, is a not-for-profit organisation, established for the advancement of education and practice of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery for public benefit. Members undergo thorough background screening before they can join. Information about specific procedures and surgeons’ contact details can be found on the website, or by contacting their office at 020 7430 1840. Further materials can be posted to members of the public seeking specialised information. BAAPS is also on Twitter:   and Facebook:

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