By Nicholas Pyke
Thousands of Britons tempted by cheap surgical "package tours" abroad have been warned they risk huge medical bills and permanent disfigurement.
The UK conducts more cosmetic operations any other European country. But the high cost has led to an extraordinary new market in surgical vacations abroad, combining cheap facelifts with sunshine holidays.
Now Britain's leading cosmetic surgeons have told would-be patients to think twice before taking their seat on the plane.
"I have a patient who has just been torn to bits in Istanbul," said Norman Waterhouse, vice president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.
"I have another lady who went to Cuba and, on the spur of the moment, had a facelift which was frankly a disaster. One eye higher than the other, that sort of thing.
"People are free to do whatever they like. But I very much regard plastic surgery as being like any other kind of surgery. It requires infrastructure and care. People need to be extremely careful about this."
Surgeons point out that there can be no extended period of after- care, even if complications arise. And they fear that specialist destinations abroad may be tempted to offer surgery even when the patient should be turned away.
The victims, who may know little or nothing of the doctor who carried out the procedure, are often left with large medical bills and painful reconstructive work back home.
South Africa is emerging as the market leader in surgical tourism, combining high standards with sunshine and game reserves. …