A mum-to-be has revealed how a botched tummy tuck could put her pregnancy at risk after sepsis left her an hour from death.
Kerrie Wilkes spent £4,200 on abdominoplasty in 2017, in a bid to be “Insta perfect.”
The 27-year-old travelled to Poland to have the surgery, but became so ill afterwards that she was taken straight to the Royal Infirmary in Glasgow where she was diagnosed with sepsis.
Medics told her that if she had waited just an hour longer to get to hospital she could have died.
Following the infection, which started in her belly button, Kerrie from North Lanarkshire, feared she would never have children.
But, now she is expecting her first child, in April 2020, the mum-to-be is concerned the cosmetic surgery and resultant infection may put her unborn baby at risk.
“I didn’t think I could even have children after the infection, because it was so bad,” Kerrie explains.
“Because the infection began in my stomach through my belly button, my belly button opened up and I had to have a new one constructed.
“With this being attached to the umbilical cord, my doctors have told me that my baby is potentially at risk.
Kerrie says she contracted an infection a few weeks ago, but it was thankfully prevented from reaching her baby.
Another risk Kerrie faces is her belly button potentially opening up before birth. “Every morning I wake up and feel my stomach to make sure it's still intact,” she says.
At the time she went under the knife, Kerrie admits she was chasing an idea of perfection inspired by social media, where a friend had posted photos following a similar op.
“I had lost a lot of weight, I was looking good, was single and had my own flat and business,” she explains. “I thought it would be the best thing ever and it turned out to be the worst thing that ever happened to me.”
Kerrie says the surgery changed everything.
"It has ruined my life,” she explains. “I was successful in business and achieved a lot but I took so much time away from work being ill that no one could help me.”
With hindsight the mum-to-be admitted she ignored warning signs about the potential risks, including the location of the clinic.
“The surgery was horrible,” she says, explaining that the building was in a business park. “I didn't think about it because I wanted it done so badly,” she continues.
“But I woke up and thought, ‘what have I done?’.
“I was shaking, I couldn't breathe, and was offered no medical assistance at all. I was asking the nurses, 'where are my antibiotics? Where is my IV drip?'
“They kept telling me everything was normal, but I couldn't stop being sick and my stomach was in so much pain.
“It was horrific, a nightmare.”
Now Kerrie is sharing her story in a bid to warn others about the potential risks of not choosing a reputable clinic.
"I went abroad and now I rely on doctors here to help me,” she says.
“People have to stop going abroad for plastic surgery and it would mean the world to me if it was out more.
“I hate the thought of someone getting surgery.
“You need to go to someone that you trust.
If people are keen on the idea of plastic surgery Kerrie recommends Ross Hall, the Nuffield, or an NHS doctor.
The mum-to-be is now trying to put the experience behind her and focussing on the rest of her pregnancy.
“I appreciate my life now and live every minute of it,” she says.
“I just want to have a healthy birth and if my baby survives this I'll be so happy again.”
Chris Hill, a consultant plastic surgeon and a member of the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), said: “Every cosmetic surgery or procedure has potential complications whether it is at home or abroad, and patients need to be aware that risks are involved in having surgery of any type.
“I would not recommend going abroad for plastic surgery,” he continues. “There are significant dangers in going abroad for cosmetic surgery.
“Who knows what type of cleanliness or qualifications the surgeon who worked on Kerrie had?”
For those who are set on getting surgery abroad Mr Hill says BAPRAS has a checklist of recommendations to research before you go.
“If you are going to go abroad, please at least make sure that you are going abroad safely,” he adds.