Now before the body positivity movement comes for me, I just want to make it clear that I have wanted a nose job for about 12 years, and no, I was not influenced by Bella Hadid’s nose. It was something that has always bugged me, and as a girl who takes solace in nature and takes pride in being the best, most natural and authentic version of herself, I struggled with the fact that fixing my nose would detract from that, and go against my belief and effort of loving myself as I am.
In the past year, I went back and forth over whether I should go through with it or not, and I finally decided that yes, I would – because if I didn’t, it would always bug me, like it has for the past 12 years, and I would always wonder.
First piece of advice: VISIT THE SURGEONS. And no, I don’t just mean one, I mean multiple. Find which one works for you. Just because your friend of a friend recommended this guy because her cousin got one there, does not mean that it’s the surgeon for you.
I visited one surgeon who was mentioned in all the highbrow magazines being the person to go to. When I got there, I sat next to a machine with a tube coming out from it smeared with blood. He proceeded to tell me what I should do with my nose, what the trends were (Trends? For your permanent facial structure? No thanks) and didn’t really listen to what I wanted. Thank you, next.
I mean it. Visit the surgeons. I settled with Mr. David Roberts, a soft-spoken and kind surgeon who listened deeply to my worries and thoughts, and gave me real advice tailored to my nose. I was wary to mess with the tip of my nose, which is bulbous and has a bit of a drooping tip. It’s never bothered me too much, and I was more caught up with the bridge of my nose looking like it had been broken. From front on, it had a slight curve to it, and in the profile I had a large hump. My worst possible nasal outcome would be to end up with a little piggy nose, which plenty of influencers seem to favour these days, with a big ski slope and a turned-up tip. I would rather not have the world see up my nostrils, thanks.
Mr. Roberts told me that the tip is the hardest part of rhinoplasty to get right, so the more you mess with the tip, the larger the chance of client unhappiness with the final result, and the more it looks “done.” We settled with just fixing the bridge, and slightly fixing the inside nostril on one side, as yes, I did have a very deviated septum (the classic excuse for people to get a nose job, but I really did, thank you very much).
Due to Covid, the thing we all would give our left arm not to think about again, I had to quarantine for two weeks leading up to the surgery. I cheated a little bit and only started quarantining on the first Thursday, when I should’ve started on the Monday, but I did my best. By the first Sunday night I was ready to sack it all off and head to the pub, especially when I got a message that there was a big party happening on the Friday night before my surgery, and I had friends that I hadn’t seen in years flying in for it. Extremely sad for me, but I pushed on.
Breaking quarantine again, I met with my surgeon for the final time before my surgery, just to make sure we were on the same page. I picked Mr. Roberts because he understood exactly what I was trying to convey to him, and didn’t attempt to sway my opinion based on what was “hot at the moment” like a couple of other surgeons I met with.
The night before my surgery I did feel a little emotional. Whether it was the fact that I had been isolating alone for two weeks beforehand, and the fact that I wasn’t allowed any visitors at the hospital during my stay made me feel quite alone, or the fact that I felt I was losing my face, my true face – I’m not sure. The people around me seemed to feel like this was quite a normal thing to do, and I felt like shaking them to say, “But I’m losing my face! It won’t be me anymore! I’ll be different!” A little melodramatic, I’m sure, but as someone with a relatively distinctive face – big, crooked nose, and more freckles than you’ve probably ever seen on anyone in real life – my face is a large part of who I value myself to be as a person. Yes, it’s my choice to make my nose “better,” and throughout the process I have more or less felt confident that this is the right decision, but the night before, I felt like I was standing on a precipice, and if I took the further step, like I knew I would, my person will be forever changed. As someone who likes to commit the least amount possible and keep all doors open and all opportunities at the ready, this was a big deal for me – especially to change something so distinctive and evocative of my very being. There was no undoing this once done.
But following my decision that I knew to be the right one, I showed up at King Edward VII’s Hospital at 7 o’clock on the dot, mentally waving goodbye to my face, knowing that I would walk back out those doors literally a changed woman.
Having woken up that morning by the ringing sound of not one, not two, but three ringing alarms because I was irrationally nervous that I would sleep through all of them and miss my surgery, I was wired and ready to go. It all happened pretty quickly, with several different nurses coming to check through my information, and then at around 9 o’clock I was standing at the door of the surgical theatre in compression socks, disposable undies, and a hospital gown that was baring my disposable-undie-clad bottom to the world.
In the two hours before my surgery, I had spoken to my grandparents on the phone in New Zealand, and my grandfather jokingly told me that when he had surgery earlier this year, they had to put him under twice as it didn’t take the first time. “They asked me to count down from 10, and when I got to 1 I was still awake and looking at them like a lost lamb, so they had to hit me again!” Thank you very much, Jim, of convincing me that resistance of general anaesthetic runs in my family so I can realize my greatest fear of having surgery fully paralyzed and awake without the ability to tell anyone about it. Not nightmare inducing at all!
Following this, when they injected me with the anaesthetic, I was very aware of how I was feeling and was determined to tell them that if after 5 seconds I didn’t feel anything I would tell them. 2 and a half seconds later I was out, and came to with a kindly nurse saying softly over me, “Wake up, Claudia… It’s time to wake up…” Naturally I thought I had indeed slept through my alarms at home, and tried to vault myself off the surgical table, ECG wires and canula’s be damned. After some panicked nurses explained to me that I was indeed on the surgical table, and it had already taken place, I nestled back down and tried to get a feeling of my new face.
First impressions were that my throat hurt. Unexpected considering I thought they were doing surgery on my nose. Turns out, they put a pipe down your throat to make sure you can breathe during the operation, and it sure felt like that too.
Don’t be fooled, this is a full-on surgery. I didn’t realise how much it would knock me around. I was expecting to be itching to get out of the house, and to go for at least 30-minute walks every day to get some fresh air, but after the surgery, even walking to the bathroom and back was a lot, as I felt unstable and my head felt quite top-heavy.
In the hospital you’re put on meds consisting of Ibuprofen to lessen the swelling, and hydrocodone, an opioid and a sister of Oxycodone, which after taking it twice (the first time unknowingly) I refused to take any longer, as I’m not a fan of strong medications – as a Taurus, a New Zealander, and my father’s daughter, I’m more of an over-the-counter and suffer-in-silence type. They give you Panadol, Ibuprofen, and hydrocodone to take home with you for the following week, just to lessen any pain you have – but I found there wasn’t that much pain out from the hospital.
Personally, although yes, there was a little pain, (your nose has just been broken, shaved, and rearranged after all) I don’t think it warranted an opioid for moderate to severe pain, as it was more the uncomfortable feeling of having a bad bruise.
Within 8 hours of the surgery, I had started to develop two nasty black eyes, but whether you develop black eyes or not depends on the person, the surgery, and the surgeon. My nose had to be broken and work done on the bridge, but say if you’re focusing on the tip more, it’s less likely you’ll get black eyes.
My nose wasn’t plugged, and I consistently (but slowly) bled out of them for about 4 days. Throughout the day I kept trying to softly breath out of my nose, to clear the clotting blood. My nurse told me that it’s better to get the blood out rather than keep it in and swallow it, but obviously vigorously blowing my nose was out of the question. You’re not allowed to blow your nose for the next week and a half, and now I will forever be grateful at the satisfaction of a good, nasal sneeze.
I had a solid cast over my nose, including the tip, and a thick strip of gauze was taped underneath my nostrils like a moustache for the first couple of days to catch the bleeding.
Word of the wise? Drink as much water as you can, and sleep as much as you’re able. You will have to sleep propped up for the first few days, and during the nights it takes some getting used to, so definitely try and nap throughout the day. Rest and water are the best things for you, and promote the quickest and smoothest recovery.
Only after a solid week did I come right again. It takes about a week for general anaesthetic to wear off, and I found I had serious brain fog during that time. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t write, and I could barely focus on reading a book. I had to build my walking back up, and thankfully I had my sister to help cook my meals and take the dog out for the first few days.
By the 8th day with this awful cast on my face, I was ready to have it removed and to never think of it again. After vicious itches deep under the cast, not being able to have a shower or wash my face (no skincare! Disaster!), not being able to blow my nose, and the ever-slowly but ever-surely peeling back of the crust that you just so desperately want to pick at, I was ready to snatch it off my face, and fling it into the far bushes, not caring if my new nose went with it.
Luckily for me, my doctor removed it, and my nose miraculously was still attached to my face.
I cannot explain to you how disorienting it is to look at your face for the first time after surgery, and recognize but also simultaneously not recognize the face staring back at you. Many apologies to my surgeon, but I kept laughing at myself in the mirror repeating, “I just look so strange!” He was like, “…In a good way, I hope?”
It’s already been almost two weeks since I had the cast removed, and my nose looks drastically different to the way it did directly after I got my cast off. Do not freak out if your nose looks a little wack at first – it’s only been a week after it was literally cut open and fiddled with, and it’s been compressed in a cast for a week. Take a deep breath. Relax.
I felt that my nose was too wide (that’s because it’s swollen babe), and that the tip was too raised (that’s because it’s paralysed babe), but two weeks in it’s looking much more normal. I went in wanting a version of my nose, just better, and that’s exactly what I’ve gotten. It’s not a Bella Hadid nose, it’s not a Gisele Bündchen nose, it’s not a Jennifer Lawrence nose – it’s my nose, just slightly improved. It suits my face, and contrary to what I first thought on first glance, I look like me – perhaps slightly more elfish (which I absolutely do not hate considering that I basically live in fairy land through Sarah J. Maas novels and rewatching Lord Of The Rings five thousand times).
The final look takes up to a year for it to settle. As my doctor said: sometimes you’ll have bad days, and sometimes you’ll have good days. It’s a lesson in patience. No yoga, pilates, or anything that involves you hanging upside down for at least the first month, and definitely no contact sports for at least three months, but after that it’s pretty much life as normal. I do feel more confident, and after a few wavering moments and wobbly bottom lips, I’m so thrilled that I had the courage to do what I’ve been wanting for years.
Will I be getting face lifts, boob jobs, butt implants, etc etc etc until we all collapse into a beauty-and-endless-youth-striving heap? Probably not, but I do have a newfound respect for those who do. It’s not a small feat to undertake, and you have to have serious dedication to want to achieve your best self to go through such intense surgery in the name of beauty.
I was quite surprised at how many people I knew actually had had a nose job. It’s not embarrassing; it’s not something to be ashamed of, and if anybody makes you feel that way for wanting to like the way you look, then they’re clearly dealing with some self-love struggles of their own.
Alright, I’m finally signing off. Peacefully and elvish-ly yours,
Miss. Rhinoplasty 101
Feature image via The Face Magazine 1998, Bridget Hall by David Sims