I got a nose job nearly 10 years ago, on the brink of turning 17. I had spent the years between puberty and that point hating the bump people swore was unnoticeable and the way my nose widened (comically so, in my mind) across my face when I smiled. This was around the time when Facebook was just becoming a big thing and I spent my weekends constantly signing in to check if I'd been tagged in any photos and then frantically removing them if I had.
I remember one particularly pathetic incident, in which I broke down in hysterics at a party after a friend refused to delete a group picture I hated from her camera, and how upset I was for days after. Looking back now at photos of myself, I can see how exaggeratedly warped my view was, not only about my nose but all the other hormonal teenage girl stuff—I wasn't fat, my eyebrows definitely never needed to be tweezed that thin, my parents weren't the most horrible parents in the universe. Still, at the time, it was all I saw when I looked in the mirror.
According to my mom, the I-hate-my-nose thing had been at a fever pitch for two years when, after seeing Ashlee Simpson's transformation, I started seriously asking for plastic surgery. Dr. Raj Kanodia, who was then on Dr. 90210 (which I watched religiously, could you have guessed?), was rumored to have done Simpson's and my plea was convincing enough that my mom let me book a consultation with him.
That's not to say she was sold: Aside from the obvious—I imagine letting your child go under the knife to fix her appearance is a scary thing—her biggest fear was that I'd be even more unhappy after. "I thought you looked beautiful and distinctive," she said when I told her I was writing this. "Your nose was big, but it had a nice shape. I actually think you were more striking before—now you're prettier, but less dramatic-looking." But during the consultation, Kanodia, who's known for his artful, subtle approach (no cutesy, ski-jump noses ever emerge from his office) and is one of few surgeons who specializes in "closed rhinoplasty" (meaning everything is done internally through the nostrils, so there's no scarring), won us both over by promising to make only the most minimal changes for major improvement.
We scheduled the surgery for a couple months later, over winter break. In the meantime, I talked about it non-stop to anyone who would listen; I'm pretty sure my entire all-girls high school knew I 'd be coming back in the new year with a new nose. Though I turned down the proposal from Kanodia to be featured on an episode of his show without hesitation, it didn't even occur to me to keep the decision private in my personal life—I've always been an open book and figured it was better to just come out with it rather than let people speculate. Plus—and perhaps it's an L.A.-specific mentality—I didn't see what the big deal was: If something really, truly bothers you and there's a fix, why not take it?The morning of my surgery was like Christmas: I remember feeling excited and totally at ease as I was wheeled into the operating room, which is something I'm fairly certain I'll never say about a procedure ever again. A few hours later, I was awake, bandaged up and being wheeled back out to the car. Clearly loopy, my mom tells me I spent the whole drive talking about how great I felt, how I couldn't believe it was so quick and easy and why didn't we go grab lunch or go to the mall?
Reality hit when I woke up the next day. The worst thing about the recovery was the congestion; there wasn't any sharp pain, just a constant swollen, heavy-headed feeling from not being able to breathe through my gauze-packed nose. The second worst thing was seeing myself in the mirror. My face was bloated, my skin had an all-over yellowish tinge and I looked like I'd been punched in both eyes. It was jarring every time because, for the most part, I felt like I just had a really bad sinus infection.
After a week, I went in for my follow-up appointment, during which Dr. Kanodia removed the cast from the bridge of my nose and the gauze from my nostrils. [A quick note: People tell you about the bruises, the swelling, the mouth-breathing, but no one mentions the gauze removal. I'm telling you now: Far and away, this is the weirdest, grossest and most uncomfortable thing about the whole process.] I reclined back and he used forceps to slowly pull what seemed like yards of gauze out of my nose—it felt like my brain was unraveling is the best way to describe it. But then it was over and all of a sudden, I could breathe, at least somewhat normally, again.
sLooking in the mirror after the cast came off was surprisingly anticlimactic. I loved how straight the bridge was, but the swelling and bruising made it hard to see any other differences for a few weeks. Once everything settled, I could see that my new nose opened up my eyes and made my face look thinner and more defined. There were days I complained about the results being too subtle and my nose still being big, but I know it's a good thing that no one has ever suspected I had surgery, and a tiny nose wouldn't work with all my other strong features.
I hardly ever think about my nose now, unless someone brings up the subject or confesses to hating their own, in which case I take a fully pro-rhinoplasty stand. It's not a light decision, but it's also not such a huge one, either, and the relief that comes when you stop spending every day fixated on one feature is well worth it.
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