A WOMAN who travelled to Turkey for gastric bypass surgery says she ‘can’t stop losing weight’.
Tracey Hutchinson, 52, weighed 16 stone before going under the knife – now she’s ‘skin and bones’ and worried about her health.
The mum-of-two from Washington, near Sunderland, had originally planned to have a gastric bypass in the UK.
But, after spending three years on the waiting list, it was decided she would only qualify for a gastric balloon on the NHS.
Tracey, who owns her own business, said: “I’d been waiting for three years for the NHS to approve gastric bypass surgery.
“My weight meant dangerous pressure was building up around my brain, but all they offered me was this gastric balloon.
“I gave it a go and lost two stone. But as soon as the balloon was taken out, I put all the weight back on again.”
Frustrated, Tracey then decided to have a gastric bypass abroad and travelled to Turkey early last year.
She said she was happy with the surgery, the aftercare she received – as well as the price.
“The surgery went smoothly and I was put up in a nice hotel afterwards.
“When I did get back, I immediately started seeing results.”
Tracey recalled: “I lost so much weight in the beginning. I couldn’t believe it.”
By June 2022, the mum-of-two had reached her ‘dream weight of 10.5 stone’ – and felt great on her wedding day.
But, after her marriage, Tracey began to grow concerned that she was shedding a few too many pounds.
“After reaching my perfect size I couldn’t stop,” Tracey explained. “And I’ve now gone from one extreme to the other.”
Since her wedding night, she’s gradually been getting thinner and thinner – now describing herself as all ‘skin and bones’.
Tracey currently tips the scales at just six-and-a-half stone and is dangerously underweight.
Her surgeon in Turkey suggested she takes Imodium to stop her going to the toilet so she can gain weight, she claimed.
But Tracey said so far it’s made little difference – and she is “really scared”.
The mum decided to speak out and seek help over fear for her wellbeing.
She said: “I’m at the point now where I’m not sure how much more weight I can physically lose.
“I’m hoping someone can help me who reads my story, as I’m out of ideas on how to stop this. It’s terrifying.”
It’s understood a detailed assessment of Tracey’s case was made by the NHS and it was decided gastric bypass surgery was not in her best interests.
She was offered an alternative procedure, which she accepted.
Dr Neil Jennings, clinical director of Surgery at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Any form of weight loss surgery is a major operation.
“It has to be very carefully considered by a team of health professionals in line with national guidance.
“Patients have to go through a series of checks to make sure that surgery is the right option for them.
“This includes a full health check, counselling and support and commitment to lose weight before any procedure can take place.
“For some people surgery will not be in their best interests. This is usually the case where the risks of the operation outweigh the potential benefits.
“Many people will be offered alternative treatments, but this may not always be effective.
“We have seen a rise in the number of patients who have had complications from surgery abroad.
“We would strongly recommend that anyone considering travelling overseas for private care researches their options carefully and understands the risks involved.”