.Leah Cambridge, 29, was keen to have the work done as she was "paranoid about her body" and had seen it advertised on Instagram but was unaware of the risks involved, Wakefield Coroner's Court heard on Wednesday.
The beautician, a mother to three young boys, travelled to Izmir in Turkey last August to have the "butt lift" done but died during the operation, the inquest was told.
Her partner, Scott Franks, said he travelled to see her body and meet those who conducted the operation as soon as he heard she had died.
He told the inquest that the surgeon who undertook the procedure, Dr Ali Uckan, had appeared "nervous and scared" when they spoke a day after Miss Cambridge's death.
Mr Franks told the inquest the surgeon said of the operation: "It's a guessing game, you can't see where you are going into."
He said Dr Uckan's "exact words" were: "It's a matter of life and death when you are doing it."
The surgeon said in a statement that he had performed the procedure "in the region of a thousand times", with no complications like those suffered by Miss Cambridge.
Asked about his reaction to his partner's death, Mr Franks said: "You don't think it's real, and I still don't now.
"You never expect something like this to happen to yourself."
Mr Franks said his partner had been keen to have the operation - which reshapes the buttocks by transferring fat from areas including the stomach and back - and had saved up thousands of pounds after he refused to pay for it.
He added that he was "not very happy" when Miss Cambridge, from Leeds, told him she had put down a deposit for the surgery through Elite Aftercare, a company which acts as a go-between linking clients and surgeons.
Choosing to stay at home and look after their children while his partner underwent the procedure, he said he became panicked after searching Google for information and discovering an article on fatalities resulting from the surgery.
The court heard how Mr Franks's grief was compounded when his solicitors received a letter from Elite falsely claiming Miss Cambridge had died after taking "illicit drugs".
Giving evidence, Miss Cambridge's mother Theresa Hall said she and her daughter had flown to Turkey overnight on August 26 last year.
She said they were taken to the hospital upon arrival and handed over £6,500 for the operation.
Miss Hall said that after Miss Cambridge was taken down to theatre, she fell asleep, and was woken by a member of staff who said there had been "a complication" during the operation and that the patient had died.
Breaking down at the end of her sentence, Mis Hall told the inquest: "One of them put a tablet in my mouth and gave me a drink of water."
Miss Hall added that after taking the pill she felt dazed and sleepy and, after being taken to a hotel, woke up the following morning.
Dr Lisa Barker, a consultant histopathologist for Leeds Teaching Hospitals, said Miss Cambridge died after fat entered her circulatory system and eventually blocked the pulmonary artery to the lungs.
The inquest, which is due to last three days, continues.