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Warning against travelling abroad for surgery after woman duped by UK website

August 22, 2008

A businesswoman has warned against using cut-rate websites to find cheap surgery abroad after suffering a botched face-lift operation.

Anna Zanella, 47, travelled to Prague on a cosmetic surgery holiday over the New Year after being assured a first-class service by a UK website.

They promised to set up accommodation, an airport pick-up and a comprehensive consultation with a highly qualified English speaking cosmetic surgeon.

But instead of returning home with a new, refreshed look the business management trainer was intimidated into having the operation by an unqualified surgeon and was left with a scarred and lopsided face.

‘The website and the UK advisor had made everything sound so great,’ Miss Zanella said. ‘She promised that the company thoroughly vetted all surgeons and that he was one of the best in Europe.

‘When I landed in Prague on New Year’s Eve there wasn’t anyone waiting to meet me at the airport as promised.

‘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. He had never heard of the company I had booked with or the UK advisor who had assured me she knew all the surgeons personally. I have now also found out he wasn’t even an actual surgeon.’

Miss Zanella claimed the website had promised her a thorough consultation, but instead the practitioner used the clinic receptionist as a translator for a brief, and rather aggressive, 20-minute session.

She explained she was particularly interested in having fat deposits on her lower cheeks removed, as promised in the company’s website and as part of the face-lift package she’d paid for, but the doctor claimed that such a procedure did not exist.

‘After so many things had gone wrong, one would wonder why I still went through with it, but the truth is I felt quite vulnerable and intimidated,’ Miss Zanella, who lives in Milan, Italy, said.

‘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. ‘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 operation Miss Zanella was concerned that her face appeared lopsided. The left side of her face was pulled much tighter on the right-hand side and she only had cheek hollows 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.

When she contacted the doctor to complain she was told to simply book an appointment for revision surgery.

She refused and is now being forced to undergo corrective surgery somewhere else at an added cost.

Tanveer Jaleel, founder and partner at TJL Solicitors, said: ‘Anyone considering cosmetic surgery must thoroughly research their surgeon before they go under the knife.

‘Many of the cheap deals offering holiday cosmetic surgery are often too good to be true and patients, like Miss Zanella, are left suffering serious and costly side effects.

‘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.’



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