A PRESTONPANS mother-and-daughter have lost more than 14 stones in weight between them following gastric sleeve surgery in Turkey last year.

Taylor Murray, 22, and her mother Joanne Cluness, 46, travelled abroad after years of waiting for NHS weight loss surgery in Scotland.

The duo say that the weight loss surgery has changed their lives and mindsets for the better, even though travelling overseas for private surgery is considered by many to be increasingly risky.

Taylor, a business banker in Edinburgh, said that she felt intense pressure to fit in as a teenager after struggling to lose weight from childhood, despite eating well and exercising.

East Lothian Courier: Taylor's weight loss has changed her life completely

Taylor before and after her weight loss

She said: “I have been trying to lose weight for my entire life but nothing has ever worked – I would lose a few pounds but I would just put the weight back on again.”

The women’s respective operations lasted 45 minutes each and took place in September last year.

Taylor, a former pupil of Preston Lodge High School, said she rarely experienced any bullying during her school years but felt disadvantaged emotionally because of her weight.

The sleeve gastrectomy surgery, which involves removal of part of the stomach to reduce its size by up to 15 per cent, creates irreversible change to the body and the lifestyle of the recipient.

Taylor said the startling life adjustments left her uneasy about opting for surgery, adding: “I was scared I would be unable to socialise with friends, eat meals in restaurants and drink alcohol, but I can still do all those things in moderation.”

The duo said they chose to fly overseas due to the cost difference between surgery in Turkey and surgery in private UK clinics.

Taylor said: “I had spoken to Scottish doctors and they had put me on the waiting list for the weight loss management clinic who offer gastric sleeves on the NHS, but that waiting list is years long and you may not be guaranteed surgery at the end of it.

“I had also investigated getting it done privately in the UK, but the surgery does cost around £10,000 so it was a lot of money.”

Joanne, a start-up lead in clinical research, has lost almost seven stones since September. Both preferred if their before-and-after weights were not made public.

East Lothian Courier: Taylor's mum, Joanne, has lost almost seven stone since surgery last September (before and after)

Joanne before and after her weight loss

Joanne said: “I chose to travel for surgery as I could not afford to get it done in the UK and I know someone who had been abroad for surgery who put us in touch with The Health Store in Turkey.

“They are a British-run company and, after many discussions and seeing incredible results from others through a support group, we decided to go for it. It was not an easy decision, as for years I had thought it was an easy way out and felt I had to sweat, starve and berate myself for getting too overweight.”

The cost of the surgery plus travel and accommodation costs was £3,500 each.

Joanne said she believed a sleeve gastrectomy was the right option for herself and her daughter:

“When we started discussing surgery, we knew this was a journey we would take together,” she said.

“I have always felt responsible for my daughter’s weight gain and I am so proud that we get to be on this journey to a healthier life together.”

The mother and daughter say their family and friends have been supportive through their weight loss journey, but the pair wish to warn others to consider the risks before committing to surgery in a foreign country.

Joanne added: “I would say to anyone thinking about having surgery to research more, make sure you trust your doctor, have a great support network and by no means is surgery an easy way out.

“Having a gastric sleeve is difficult and still requires control and a massive change of lifestyle.”

Taylor has lost over 100 pounds so far – more than seven stones – but aims to lose more in the future.

East Lothian Courier: Taylor Murray, 22, has lost 100 pounds since life-altering surgery in September 2020

Taylor celebrates losing over 100 pounds

She added: “Losing weight is great but it’s the little things like being able to shop for clothes anywhere or going out with my friends and not feeling like the ugliest person in the group.

“I feel more comfortable in myself, I feel better, and I have the confidence to walk alone, which I never would have attempted to do before because it would have killed me, but all the small victories over and over again are the best thing about this journey I am on.”