I woke up screaming on table in Turkey – there’s a reason plastic surgery is dearer in the UK

I woke up screaming on table in Turkey – there’s a reason plastic surgery is dearer in the UK

A MUM has claimed that she woke up screaming during a botched plastic surgery op in Turkey.

Traumatised Harley Johns, 24, is now seeking therapy after suffering constant nightmares following the horror procedure that left her with a collapsed lung and fearing for her life.

Harley couldn't wait for her dream body and paid £5k for surgery.
Harley couldn’t wait for her dream body and paid £5k for surgery.Credit: supplied
The mum documented her journey and took this selfie in Turkey.
The mum documented her journey and took this selfie in Turkey.Credit: supplied
She was soon in hospital in Scotland with a collapsed lung.
She was soon in hospital in Scotland with a collapsed lung.Credit: supplied

The hairdresser, from Glasgow, shelled out £5k on a tummy tuck, lipo and fat transfer in Istanbul.

But now she’s warning other Scots to avoid any foreign nip/tuck after alleging her body was butchered last month.

Harley, who has a seven year old son, said: “I woke up screaming for help. I was shivering. I burst all my mouth open.

“I was begging for help but none of them spoke English so they couldn’t help me.


“You could tell they were panicking.”

Harley is one of a growing number of Scots opting to go abroad for cut-price surgery.

The ‘’medical tourism’ trend sees folk given an all-inclusive holiday style package where surgery, accommodation and meals are all wrapped into one seemingly glamorous offering.

But the reality is very different from the dream being sold – as it was recently revealed by foreign minister Leo Docherty that 28 Britons have died since 2019 following elective procedures abroad.

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One of the victims was Shannon Bowe, a 28-year-old from Falkirk who passed away in Istanbul in March 2023 after surgery to have a gastric band fitted.

While Carole Keenan, 54, from Glenrothes, Fife, had a tummy tuck, Brazilian butt lift and abdominal repair in Turkey in April 2022, and died following a cardiac arrest as she went for her fit-to-fly home letter.

Woman grateful for new surgeon after botched surgery

Harley chose the Estetik Global Exclusive clinic after seeing rave reviews online.

Now she’s horrified at the hellish experience after claiming she was discharged too soon – leaving her body filled with fluid and infected wounds.

She said: “They didn’t weigh me and didn’t do my BMI. You need to weigh someone to know the amount of sedation needed, so that probably explains why I woke up during surgery.

“I knew I wasn’t right because I was on oxygen. They tried to get me to stand up three hours later and as soon as they tried to take the oxygen away I couldn’t breathe and fell to the ground.

“They put alcohol acetone over my nose to try and get me to breathe but I still couldn’t stand so they put me straight back on the oxygen.

“They kept me on oxygen and drains until I left for the airport. I was leaving for the airport at 3pm and at 2.55pm they removed my oxygen, drains and morphine, and that’s when I knew I was in trouble.

“When I landed in Glasgow I went home and knew I wasn’t well. My boyfriend took me to hospital and they said my heart rate and pulse were through the roof.”

Harley added: “They did an ECG and chest X-ray and realised I had a collapsed lung.

“I was told they’d need to open me back up to remove the fluid and do surgery again.

“But because of everything, I wasn’t sleeping, I was waking up and having nightmares thinking I was on the surgery table again.

“When I woke up I had wounds all over me. I have a scar from the tummy tuck, a scar that goes halfway down my leg and chunks of skin missing on my back and legs.

“There are five wounds that are not explainable. I’ve not had panic attacks since I was 15 and I started having them really badly after surgery.

“When they removed the cannulas my arm was swollen and black and blue, I thought I was going to get a blood clot on the flight home and die.”

With growing numbers of patients relying on revision from the NHS after botched operations abroad, it’s hoped cautionary tales like this will dissuade people from making similar choices.

The trend is putting a big burden on the NHS, with the average cost of emergency care following failed foreign ops estimated to be £15,000 per patient.

NHS Scotland states that it does not recommend choosing to pay to travel abroad for surgery as part of a packaged holiday.

Guidance from NHS Inform warns they’re under no obligation to provide pre and post-operative care other than emergency care.

However, political figures have accused the Scottish government of failing to act quickly enough to prevent more tragedies.

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP said: “It is deeply concerning that Scots are continuing to be harmed by botched cosmetic surgery abroad.

“Far too many are being left permanently disfigured, and in extreme cases dying, as a result of medical tourism overseas and our already overwhelmed NHS is being left to deal with the consequences.

“The SNP Government must cut waiting times for bariatric surgery in Scotland, at the same time as delivering an effective information campaign about the dangers of cut-price surgery abroad. We also need to see strong regulation of non-surgical cosmetic treatments in Scotland.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government is aware that some patients do seek treatment abroad for general surgery.

“However, we do not recommend that patients and families seek clinical treatment or care for themselves overseas.

“Anyone who does so should be aware that standards may not be as high as they are in Scotland. They should have insurance and check their package includes aftercare from the initial provider.”

A spokesperson for Estetik Global Exclusive has denied the allegations of both Harley, claiming she declined their request to stay in hospital longer, never had any issue with surgery or aftercare, and that she never woke up during surgery.

They said: “We make sure we send all our patients away in the best condition.”

Harley is now desperate to stop other people making the same mistake as she did – as she can’t even look at herself in the mirror.

She pleaded: “I had just wanted to get surgery. I was always insecure.

“Nobody could have changed my mind. Now I’d rather go back to being the way I was before.


“I wanted my teeth done after this and I’d never go abroad for anything now. I wouldn’t even get my hair done abroad.

“There’s a reason people get surgery done in the UK. I know it’s dearer but it’s much safer.”


Colan Lamont

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