HEALTH officials have issued an urgent warning about a cheap weight loss procedure being offered in Turkey after a spate of deaths.

Turkish clinics are offering 'Botox' injections designed to banish wrinkles for weight loss for as little as £850.

People from other countries travel there for the treatment because it is frequently much cheaper.

For comparison, the same procedure costs around £4000 in the UK.

A person from Norway died after receiving the injection in Istanbul, according to The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

At this stage, the agency said it was unsure if the most recent case is connected to the previous 87 cases, which have occurred in the past year.

Read more on botulism

What is botulism?

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All were struck by botulism, a rare condition triggered by a type of bacteria that can lead to paralysis and even death without treatment.

Most of the cases with known data have been reported in Turkey itself (53), followed by Germany (30) with two from Switzerland and one more each in Austria and France.

Turkish authorities had traced most of the cases to two clinics;60 had treatment at a private hospital in the capital Istanbul, and three went to a private site in Izmir. 

All of the patients were given stomach or gastric botulinum toxin injections, otherwise known as Botox, which are typically used to freeze wrinkles in the face.

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But btulinum toxin also freezes the muscles in the digestive system, making a person feel fuller for longer after eating, making it easier to eat less and lose weight.

Botox is one version of botulinum toxin, made by US pharma giant AbbVie.

But it is unclear if the clinics involved were using Botox or another brand of botulinum toxin.

Botox is made with a toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum – one of the most poisonous biological substances known.

It's the same toxin that causes a life-threatening type of food poisoning called botulism.

In very rare cases, anti-ageing injections can cause botulism when botulinum migrates from the intended target to other cells in the body.

Botulism is a rare but serious illness in which the toxins attack the body’s nerves, causing difficulty breathing, muscle paralysis, and even death in up ten per cent of cases, according to the NHS.

If left untreated, botulism can be fatal in five to ten per cent of cases.


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In July, the UK foreign office issued a separate warning to Brits travelling to Turkey for medical treatments after 25 people are known to have died there in the last four years.

All of the cases were logged between February 22 and September 1 2023.

Symptoms of botulism

BOTULISM is a rare but life-threatening condition caused by toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria

Without treatment, botulism eventually causes paralysis that spreads down the body from the head to the legs.

Symptoms can include:

  • drooping eyelids
  • blurred or double vision
  • facial muscle weakness
  • difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • slurred speech
  • breathing difficulties

Affected babies may also have a weak cry, find it difficult to feed, and have a floppy head, neck and limbs.

Source: NHS

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