The quest for beauty should never end in tragedy, and yet sometimes it sadly does. A young woman has lost her life whilst undergoing a cosmetic procedure. Leah Cambridge, who was a 29-year-old beautician, and mother of three from Leeds, England, died on the operating table in Turkey, whilst undergoing a butt lift procedure.
Cambridge travelled to Elite Aftercare, a private clinic in the city of Izmir, and is thought to have died early in the operation, according to her partner Scott Franks. Speaking to the UK’s Sun, Franks described himself as a “broken man.” Results from a post-mortem are pending, with the official cause of death unknown, with Franks noting he was “still waiting for answers.”
It is thought she went to Turkey for the procedure for the cheaper costs. In the UK, a butt lift can set you back as much as £8,000 (around $13,600 CAD), but may have been as cheap as £3,000 (around $5,100) in Turkey.
In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy and amid press speculation of the exact cause of death, the clinic released the following statement, expressing their condolences:
The clinic also put out a further statement, expressing the desire to keep speculation to a minimum and to reassure existing clients:
The so-called ‘Brazilian’ butt lift procedure, whilst technically legal, can be risky. It involves taking fat from one part of the body (rather than silicone implants as you might find in a breast implants procedure), and injecting into under the subcutaneous layer of tissue within the buttocks.
So what exactly are the risks associated with this particular procedure? Dr. J. Peter Rubin, professor at the University of Pittsburgh, and board-certified surgeon, explained the procedure and its potential pitfalls to Buzzfeed News. “The fat is supposed to be injected into the subcutaneous tissue layer, which is where your fat normally sits… But when surgeons go too deep and inject it into the muscle layer beneath it, the results can be deadly.” Namely, the fat can be mistakenly injected into veins, which means it can pass into the bloodstream and around the body, including the lungs, blocking blood vessels and leading to all sorts of complications.
Sadly, it’s certainly not the first time we’ve seen such news. Earlier this summer, a well-known Brazilian plastic surgeon was arrested and charged with murder, after 46-year-old Lilian Calixto, died under his care. She’d also gone to see him for a cosmetic butt lift procedure.
There have been a number of other risky and tragic cases in the last few years associated with lower-cost butt lifts sought abroad. In 2014, 24-year-old Joy Williams from London, England, died under anaesthetic whilst undergoing a butt lift surgery in Thailand.
In 2011, another young woman from London, 20-year-old Claudia Aderotimi, died after her butt lift went wrong after a procedure at a hotel in Pennsylvania. In her case, silicone was injected, which travelled to her lungs.
And just last year, 25-year-old Ranika Hall lost her life at a clinic in Florida from complications due to, yet again, a butt lift procedure. Another woman, 29-year-old Heather Meadows, had died at the same clinic the previous year.
According to an industry taskforce, which represents a variety of plastic surgery associations, the butt lift procedure carries a risk, and recently warned that it could be harmful for as many as 1 in 3,000, making it the riskiest cosmetic surgery going. Just to give you a sense of what this means, the next most dangerous is a tummy tuck, which is harmful for around 1 in 13,000. Yep – exactly.
Sadly, it seems like changing cultural body image ideals have some part to play in the increased demand for such procedures, with celebs such as Kim Kardashian West, Kylie Jenner, and Cardi B being celebrated for their hourglass figures. The emphasis on a tiny waist and bigger, rounder behind has clearly gotten women going to extreme lengths.
Cardi B has spoken up about her own experience with risky and illegal surgery. Before she shot to fame, she underwent a butt lift, ending up in unbearable pain, with the implants leaking for five days. Despite this, she went back for a top up, but the woman who’d administered her procedure had been arrested following the death of another client under her care.
It’s unimaginably tragic, but if there’s any good whatsoever to come out of circumstances such as these, it may be in knowing steps might now be taken to increase safety for those undergoing the procedure, and awareness of risk increased for those considering it.