Kelli Johnson started modeling when she was 10 years old — a career the Michigan native entered into on the advice of her mother, who thought her spunky personality would make Johnson a natural in front of the camera.
But when she was 16, a photographer told her she should change her physical appearance in order to meet the beauty standards of the industry — and Johnson took the advice to heart. Eventually she decided to get a nose job.
“I didn’t think I needed a nose job and I was actually kind of insulted,” Johnson explains in PEOPLE’s exclusive sneak peak of Thursday’s Botched. “After I moved to New York to pursue modeling, I just kept getting the same feedback. And I notice that the girls who got the jobs had thin noses. So I faced the fact that I do need to get a nose job if I want to book more jobs. I felt like if I don’t do it now, my career may never take off in modeling.”
The surgery did not go well.
“Immediately after the surgery, I knew something was wrong,” Johnson remembers. “First of all, there was a piece of cartilage sticking out. He kept telling me, ‘Oh it’s just swelling. Don’t worry!’ But I knew something was wrong because my nostrils were different sizes and shapes. I was mortified.”
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A year after her first surgery, Johnson returned to the same doctor for a fix. He agreed to do the fix for free — but during the operation, things went from bad to worse.
“He numbed me and covered my eyes, so I was going to be awake. About two hours into the surgery, he got a call or a page that he had to see another patient and he left me in the room alone,” Johnson says.
After getting up and going to the bathroom, Johnson caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. “I could see bone, blood — I was just like, ‘Oh my God, what am I doing?’ ” she says. “But I had to go back in and let him finish.”
Though her nose looked straight immediately after her second surgery, it started leaning to the left days later. “I just said forget it,” Johnson recalls. “I gave up my modeling dreams.”
Find out if Dr. Paul Nassif and Dr. Terry Dubrow can fix it for Johnson when Botched airs Thursday (9 p.m. ET) on E!.