A mother-of-two claims she nearly died after undergoing two botched breast augmentations in Turkey.
Holly McCulloch, 28, from Greasby, Wirral, always felt down about her B-cup chest, particularly as she got older.
She booked herself into an Istanbul clinic last July after seeing an Instagram advert charging just £2,700 for a five-day, all-inclusive stay.
But when she arrived in August, Ms McCulloch was shocked to discover the ‘amazing villa’ was rundown, with the nurses speaking to her via Google translate.
After requesting G-cup implants, she woke in agony and immediately asked them to be removed because her ‘chest was on fire’.
She returned in January to get more natural D-cup implants fitted and was initially thrilled with the results. However, Ms McCulloch soon had ‘green gung’ coming out of chest, as well as a black blister that left a ‘huge hole’.
Back in the UK the implant began to smell like ‘rotten meat’, with doctors warning it had to be removed immediately after the skin around it ‘died’ and could potentially kill her. This has left Ms McCulloch with a ‘wonky’ B-cup and D-cup chest.
Holly McCulloch has been left with a ‘wonky’ B and D-cup chest (pictured left) after undergoing two botched breast augmentations in Istanbul. The mother-of-two (pictured right before the procedure) was always self-conscious of her breasts, particularly as she get older
When she arrived back in the UK after her second surgery, Ms McCulloch had ‘green gung’ coming out of chest, as well as a black blister (pictured) that left a ‘huge hole’. She claims it smelt like ‘rotten meat’ and even ripped, exposing her implant, while she dressed her son Brad
Speaking of why she opted for the procedure, Ms McCulloch said: ‘I’ve been self-conscious about my boobs, it’s something that began to really bring me down as I got older.
‘When I saw the ad pop up on Instagram I thought it looked amazing.
‘There were pictures of this lovely villa and loads of gorgeous girls who had had work done there.
‘There were even a few celebs and I thought it couldn’t be dodgy if high profile people were choosing it.’
Ms McCulloch – who used to work as a barista – was seduced by the cheap deal, which was considerably less expensive than the £3,000-to-£7,000 most pay in the UK. This also rarely includes the cost of consultations and follow-up care.
She flew from Manchester to Istanbul on August 17 after exchanging Whatsapp messages with the clinic.
‘I thought it was a bit weird because it didn’t seem very official, but I never paid a penny until I got there so that reassured me,’ Ms McCulloch said.
‘There was a phone call at one point with a man with a London accent and that put any worries I had to rest.’
After being picked up at the airport, Ms McCulloch was immediately disappointed when the clinic did not meet her expectations.
‘It definitely needed a lick of paint, but it wasn’t bad enough to put me off,’ she said.
‘After I’d gone up and settled into my room the coordinator came to see me and get payment – £2,700.
‘He just said don’t eat after 12pm and that someone would come and collect me at 7am the next day to take me and the other girls to meet the doctor.’
Feeling nervous, Ms McCulloch waited five hours for what she believed was a consultation.
‘It was a lot less formal than I’d expected,’ she said. ‘I just had to take my top off and tell them what I wanted.
‘I just said “big boobs” and he gave me a high-five – I thought it was bizarre, I was still topless! I then said the cup size I wanted – G – and that was that.’
Ms McCulloch claims her uneven chest (pictured left) has made her feel ‘disfigured’ and like a ‘total freak’. Pictured right before the surgery, Ms McCulloch was seduced by the £2,700 deal, which included a five-day, all-inclusive stay in a villa. The advert also featured ‘gorgeous girls’
IS BREAST-IMPLANT REMOVAL SURGERY FREE IN THE UK?
Breast-implant removal surgery is regarded as a low priority and is not generally paid for by the NHS.
NHS England will typically pay if patients are experiencing the following:
- Breast disease, which causes lumps and bumps
- Recurrent infections
- Hardening of scar tissue with severe pain
- Hardening of scar tissue that affects medical imaging
- Rupturing of silicon gel-filled implants
Patients with PIP implants should contact their GP or the private clinic that fitted them.
PIP implants were withdrawn from the UK in 2010 after it was discovered they were fraudulently manufactured with unapproved silicone gel that made them up to six times more likely to split.
Ruptured breast implants have no long-term health risks but could cause pain, tenderness, redness and a change in breast shape.
Some private clinics have agreed to remove PIP implants free of charge if medically necessary.
Source: NHS Choices
Ms McCulloch claims she felt too ‘intimated’ to even question why the medics were not showing her the size of the implants.
‘I was anxious because it all felt strange and rushed, but I had made my decision and at the end of the day, more than anything I was just so excited,’ she said.
‘The doctor came to get me four hours later with the trolley and wheeled me down.
‘The first time I really started to feel worried was when they sedated me in the elevator – I didn’t expect that at all.
‘Obviously I started to get woozy pretty quickly and the last thing I remember from before the surgery was the doctor saying to me “you wake up with big boobies!”‘
But rather than waking to the chest she always dreamed of, Ms McCulloch could ‘barely breathe from the pain’.
‘I woke up in the dark in absolute agony and immediately noticed I’d wet myself and vomited on my chest,’ she said.
‘It hadn’t been cleaned up and I remember thinking I looked like I’d been through medieval torture.
‘I noticed my boobs were massive but was in too much pain to be happy.’
A nurse tried to wash Ms McCulloch but that only made matters worse.
‘Each time she touched me, I was in agony, it was like my chest was on fire,’ she said.
‘I frantically typed into the translator on my phone ‘I can’t take anymore’. I could barely breath with the pain.’
Ms McCulloch was then wheeled back to surgery where medics removed her implants, leaving her with loose, saggy skin.
‘The pain was mostly gone, but I was terrified,’ she said.
She even claims a consultant blamed her for the botched operation due to the implants being too large for her petite size eight, 5ft 6ins frame.
‘He said “I told you no big boobs!” – but he hadn’t,’ Ms McCulloch said. ‘I was confused and frightened and he made it feel like it was all my fault.
‘He suggested I go home to heal and come back for free for replacement implants – I just quickly agreed, feeling like I was to blame for requesting such large implants.’
‘I’m not a medical professional, so how was I to know those implants were too big?
‘Had a doctor told me that what I wanted was crazy, I’d have been fine and just gone for the largest possible for my body.’
Ms McCulloch is pictured left before her first surgery to have G-cup implants fitted. She woke from the procedure in agony and insisted they be removed. She flew back to have D-cups put in, which ended with her having a 7cm infected blister along the incision (seen right)
‘I couldn’t believe I’d paid so much money just to leave so much worse than I’d come there,’ Ms McCulloch said.
‘I felt physically okay – which was a relief after the pain I’d been in – but emotionally I was a wreck.’
‘If I had been self-conscious before, it was nothing compared to how I felt now. All I had was loose skin and scars to show off – it was humiliating.’
After resting in the villa for two days, Ms McCulloch flew home ahead of her second surgery in January.
‘This time they looked great,’ she said. ‘I was immediately happy – it looked like what I’d always expected.’
But the very next day Ms McCulloch began to suffer cold sweats and a sky-high fever, just 24 hours before her flight home.
IS BREAST IMPLANT ILLNESS REAL?
Neither the NHS or the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledge a single condition called breast implant illness.
They do, however, provide long lists of potential – and publicly known – side effects of having breast implants.
Implants are not designed to last a lifetime, the FDA says, and the longer a woman has the implants in her body the higher the risk of complications occurring.
Complications occur in around one per cent of all patients and can happen at any time after the surgery.
As well as changes to the appearance and feel of the breast some potential side effects include pain, infection, swelling or irritation, swollen lymph nodes, skin rashes or bruising.
Reported symptoms of BII include fatigue, chest pain, hair loss and headaches chills, light sensitivity, chronic pain, anxiety, brain fog, sleep disturbances and depression.
The NHS urges any women suffering side effects to contact the clinic where they had the implants put in, and to report it through an official Yellow Card Scheme, to add to information on the safety of implants.
‘I was laying down in the back of the cab on the way to the airport and felt like I was dying,’ she said.
‘During the flight I became extremely nauseous and I leaned forward at one point to vomit – but fell forward right on to my boobs.
‘I screamed out in pain – I’d never felt anything like it, it was like being hit with a car.’
Cabin crew gave Ms McCulloch oxygen and arranged for a wheelchair to be waiting for her at her connecting flight in Amsterdam.
Once in Holland, she was taken to a medical room in the airport, and given antibiotics, painkillers and a cooling gel.
After resting for a few hours, she was allowed to fly home.
‘Staff in Amsterdam made me promise I’d get myself to hospital as soon as I landed – it was terrifying,’ Ms McCulloch said.
‘The cabin crew for the second flight gave me a whole row so I could lie out, and an ambulance was waiting for me in Manchester to take me to Wythenshawe Hospital.’
Doctors immediately spotted a large blister along the incision mark of Ms McCulloch’s left breast.
She was sent home with antibiotics, but her health continued to deteriorate.
‘Each day I was waking up with a top soaked in green and yellow gung,’ Ms McCulloch said.
‘The skin across the blister turned black – it was like a huge hole under my breast.’
Ms McCulloch was eventually admitted to Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral, on February 1, where she stayed for five days.
She was then transferred to Countess of Chester Hospital, where medics informed her the black blister was dead skin.
Ms McCulloch was once again sent home but started to smell ‘rotting meat’ coming from her chest, which was also seeping a yellow liquid.
Things then took a dramatic turn for the worse when she was dressing her six-year-old son Brad on February 22.
‘I lifted my son’s jeans up and heard a ripping sound – I looked down and the implant was poking out,’ Ms McCulloch said.
Left with a 7cm hole, Ms McCulloch returned to Arrow Park and was transferred to a cosmetic surgeon in Cheshire.
‘The surgeon came over almost immediately when I was settled in the ward with a consent form,’ she said.
‘I asked what it was for and he explained they had to remove the left implant. I asked what the alternative was and he told me if it wasn’t removed, the infection would end up killing me.
‘I signed it and sobbed all night. I was so heartbroken that, after all I’d gone through to finally feel happy with my body, I was going to look worse than before.’
Devastated, Ms McCulloch went under the knife the next day. ‘I didn’t need to look in the mirror to know I looked disfigured,’ she said.
‘I booked in for breast implants so I could feel more confident about my body, but I’ve been left feeling like a total freak.’
Ms McCulloch was discharged five days later with antibiotics and painkillers. She is now on a three-month waiting list for a replacement implant, which will cost £1,000. And has been left unable to work due to her surgery’s complications.