In my junior year of high school, I was sitting in a spin class when I had an epiphany.
In the middle of the class, I looked to my left, and the girl next to me had smooth hair and a perfect nose, and I was so f*cking jealous. TBH, the frizzy hair was not that big of a deal to me because I had Keratin scheduled the next week—it was the nose that pissed me off because no matter what Kardashian-Jenner bullsh*t contour tip I tried, I was always going to have a f*cking beak on my face.
Usually, I’m really against workout instructors trying to be super inspirational, but I guess that day when the teacher tried to convince me that I truly was in charge of my own destiny, something changed inside of me. I realized that it wasn’t like there was nothing to do about my nose—helloooo plastic surgery.
That wasn’t the first time I’d thought about getting a nose job. From the boy who told me I looked like a toucan in my eighth-grade art class, to the one who didn’t slow dance with me at a bat mitzvah in seventh-grade because I was “kinda cute but had a weird nose,” I definitely had some pent-up insecurities.
It got to the point where I would spend hours watching makeup videos on YouTube trying to contour my nose and getting pissed off because it only made it look more obvious. At some point in ninth or tenth grade, I started covering my nose in pictures, opting for a pose that I thought looked cute or candid but was just there to mask (what I saw as) the enormous trumpet on my face.
So, my eventual nose job was always pretty much always an unspoken thing. When I came home and told my parents that it was time, they weren’t exactly surprised. It was not like they encouraged me to get one before I expressed interest, but a nose job was pretty much always on the table.
The fact that I had a nose job isn’t new or revolutionary information to my friends—it’s like my number one personality trait (having a nut allergy comes in as a close second). My relationship with my nose has always been a huge part of my life, more so before my surgery than now, and the insecurity it caused me was incredibly consuming.
While I literally regret nothing about the decision I made, there definitely are some things I wish I looked into and knew before I had the surgery. Some of these seem pretty intuitive, but trust me, when you’re on whatever pain med your doctor gives you, and you have a weird pad thing under your nose, you aren’t thinking rationally. Whatever, you live, and you learn… right? Here’s what I learned from getting my nose job that I wish I’d known beforehand.
It’s Not Going to Be What You Expect
It’s not like in that episode of Glee when Rachel Berry brought Quinn to the plastic surgeon to show him what she wanted to look like. My doctor actually didn’t really take my input and didn’t show me a picture of my future self that I could have made on FaceTune.
In so many words, my surgeon (WHOM I LOVE) said to me, “if you really have a vision that you’re committed to, you can show me, but I’m basically just going to balance out your features. You’re not going to look like a whole new person.” At the time, I might have wanted that, but he was totally right—I just needed to trust him. He also asked me if I wanted a chin surgery because I guess those normally go hand-in-hand, and to that, I said thanks, but no thanks.
There Is No ‘Right Reason’ To Get Plastic Surgery
TBH: I got a nose job because I was insecure. I was aware that my insecurity made me quite
bitchy intolerable. I didn’t like how I looked, and I really didn’t like how I projected that onto other people.
Okay, even that wasn’t completely honest. While my insecurity was the rationale for me thinking about the potential of having a nose job, that isn’t why I pulled the trigger. As my surgery date grew closer, and I let more of my friends in the loop, I started becoming more aware that the people in my life didn’t think I would go through with it.
So, yeah, my rationale for actually getting on the operating table and actually going through with my surgery was the same rational frat guys use when they jump off a roof onto a folding table: “do it b*tch, you won’t.”
In all seriousness, I don’t regret getting my nose job. I wouldn’t change a thing about the way I approached it, but I do wish I treated this life-altering decision with a little more gravity. There really are no wrong answers or justifications for getting plastic surgery (but, like, maybe the “do it, you won’t” thing wasn’t my best call).
Okay, I lied. There is one wrong answer: your reason to get plastic surgery should not be that you think it will fix everything in your life. Not to be gross and cliche, but plastic surgery should never be the answer to finding happiness, but it can be something that helps you get there.
Recovery Might Not Be the Hardest Part
Everyone’s process is different, but the surgery itself and my recovery weren’t the hardest parts of my nose job experience. Recovery wasn’t like a trip to the spa, I had to go back to the ER having to go on my first night due to aggressive bleeding, and I went to my first ever OB-GYN appointment with my cast still on. That said, it wasn’t awful. It was comparable to, like, an especially bad hangover.
The hardest parts were making the decision to go through with it, and the day I got my cast off. As ridiculous as it may sound, I assumed that the minute I looked in the mirror with all the surgical tape and packing off of my face, I would look hot as sh*t and feel, like, complete. This was not the case.
I was swollen, there was blood caked on parts of my face I hadn’t seen in a week, and I couldn’t blow my nose. The most shocking thing about looking in the mirror was that I couldn’t smile. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but some people get minor temporary nerve damage. So, when you smile, you end up looking like someone who is being forced to smile in a ransom video to prove they are alive and well.
I started my senior year of high school a week after I got my cast off. Truthfully, I was mortified. I felt as though I went through all of my internal debate about the surgery, pain, and discomfort for nothing. It felt like everyone knew that I was getting a nose job, but I had nothing to show for it.
But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was my perfect side profile. It turns out that you have to wait for the swelling to go down and the nerves to heal before you really get a sense of what you’ll look like. While it felt like months before this happened, it was really only a few weeks, and I came out the other side looking and feeling really good.
There’s No Right Narrative
There’s no right and wrong reason to have your nose done, and there is no right or wrong thing to tell people about why you got it done. But, just a tip, you might want to keep it consistent.
Initially, there were plenty of people who realized I had surgery on their own, and, feeling a little uncomfortable with my decision to have it done, I lied to them. Most frequently, I told people I wasn’t close with that I had a deviated septum. If that’s what you want to do, there is nothing wrong with fudging the truth a little to create a narrative you are comfortable with, but lying just made me feel more insecure. Like, we all know how believable it is when celebs claim they “fixed a deviated septum”. Blaming my nose job on a fake problem just brought about more feelings of insecurity (can they tell I’m full of sh*t?) and shame (for not owning my decision).
Now, I’m more vocal about my experience. (I mean, obviously, I’m writing an article about it.) Partly because of my personality and partly because of the circumstances that contributed to my decision. I go to college close to 1,000 miles away from my high school, where I’m the only one from my graduating class. I got to have a fresh start and reinvent parts of myself—one of those being the way I talked about my surgery.
Going through with my nose job made me a more confident and better person, but as I said, those changes didn’t happen overnight. I’d like to think that the 21-year-old version of myself is above falling victim to stigmas against plastic surgery and hope that I would be more confident in owning my decision today.
At the end of the day, I would undoubtedly do it again, but I wish I handled it differently. I literally hate people who talk about their *journeys, * but that’s what this was for me. For some people, getting a nose job stops being important as soon as your black eyes and swelling are no longer visible. For me, it took a little longer, but I came out the other side just fine.
The most important lesson that my nose job taught me was that it didn’t make me superficial or stupid to want to like how I looked. We don’t call people who dye their hair or start working out those things. I think that it’s probably time to stop treating people who get plastic surgery like they aren’t deep or smart or confident.
In the meantime, there’s a lot of satisfaction to be gained from the guy who called me and my “big ass nose” ugly at camp one summer thinking that I’m hot now.
Images: Max Andrey / Unsplash; Giphy (2)