Before you read this I would like to warn you this is a very honest and personal account of my rhinoplasty journey which includes, what some of you may find, very graphic, bloody and shocking images. If you do not want to see theses types of pictures or hear the stories, please do not read any further.
Some of you who know me well will know I always hated my nose, I spent a lot of time getting upset about it, using makeup to try to make it look smaller, and checking every single photo taken of me to see how big my nose looked. As sad as it sounds I was only about 13 when I first said I was going to get a ‘nose job’, but of course never thought I would actually go through with it, or I hoped that I would ‘grow into’ it.
However when I got to 21, it was an even bigger insecurity of mine and something that was seriously knocking my confidence and self-esteem. So I decided to bite the bullet and go for it, but it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Growing up in Thailand, a place that is very popular for cheap but great results from cosmetic surgery, my first thought was going there for my procedure. But I have a hereditary medical condition (Protein S deficiency, which means thick blood, which means an increased risk of blood clots) which makes going under general anesthetic, and a long haul flight undesirable, or much more risky than usual. After lots of discussions with my GP and cosmetic surgeon, a few blood and medical tests, and a very worried mum, a decision was made that I would have my surgery in the UK. Yes it was more expensive, Yes I wouldn’t recover in paradise on a beach, but at least it put my mind at rest and I wouldn’t have to worry about the increased risk of blood clots that can occur from flying and from undergoing general anesthetic.
That being said, it still wasn’t easy having surgery in the UK. There was one less worry as I wasn’t flying, however we still had to take a lot of precautions before surgery to ensure I was as safe as possible. I was warned that a week before surgery I should not take any herbal/health teas, aspirin or smoke or drink alcohol, as it can all affect your blood. I was also given a blood thinning injection before and after surgery, and had pads around my calves that squeezed my legs to keep the blood flowing as much as possible throughout my whole surgery, and the whole night after. In addition to that, I had to wear medical compression stockings at all times for a full week after my op. This was probably one of the worst parts about the whole experience, it was June – they were hot, itchy and tight and I felt uncomfortable enough as it was so all I wanted was to get them off. But they meant that I was able to have the procedure with my medical condition.
The Run Up.
So it was all booked up, I had my date. I had constantly butterflies for about 2 weeks. I was thinking so many different things.What if I dont like it? What if it completely changes the shape of my face? What if it goes wrong? What if I hated it and wanted to go back for more? But I know now that that is normal. It would be strange not to have doubts.
The night before I had an early night, as I was booked in for a morning op. I was to get up at 6am and have a light breakfast, just fruit, cereal and a bit of toast. My mum was with me so we just sat around for a couple of hours and then she drove me to the hospital. I had my procedure done at Springfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex and my surgeon was Ms. Kallirroi Tzafetta. She was incredible, she made me feel so at ease and after the surgery gave me her personal mobile number to call at any time if I had any worries, concerns, pains, nose bleeds or whatever – which any good plastic surgeon should do! When I first met her I explained that it was the tip that bothered me, when I smiled it drooped and this is all I wanted changing (which is called tip plasty.) After examining my nose and face, she said that she thought I should have full rhinoplasty otherwise my nose would look out of proportion and ‘top heavy’ as the top part of my nose was quite wide. This shocked and scared me but thinking about it, it completely makes sense. If I was going to go for it, I might as well go the whole way
The morning seemed to last forever, I couldn’t sit still and felt sick but I just wanted it over with now. Ms. Tzafetta came in to have a chat with me, go through a few things and I was introduced to my haematologist to discuss what procedures he would take throughout surgery to ensure I did not have a blood clot. Then before I knew it it was time. I got changed into my robe and got into my bed that was wheeled down to theatre. My mum walked alongside the bed with me, holding my hand for as far as she could and then we got to the doors and we had a hug and I was taken into theatre. I felt like I could cry, but put on a brave face and remembered why I was doing it, how unhappy I had been all those years.
Two anaesthetists were chatting for me, I think we were talking about the weather?! Then they started giving me anesthetic through a mask and just like you see in the movies, I was out by the time I could count to 6.
The Week After
I was in surgery for about 3 and a half hours, and it took me almost 2 hours after surgery to come back round. I kept drifting back to sleep and when I fully woke up I was back in my room with my mum. My mum was brilliant, she stayed up all night helping me to the toilet, helping me drink or do whatever I needed to do because I was weak. Neither of us got much sleep, I had to sleep pretty much upright as it reduces the swelling so it wasn’t the comfiest. After seeing Ms. Tzafetta in the morning and checking all was okay, I was discharged and we drove back home, which was about 5 hours away. I was told we needed to stop almost every hour and have a walk and stretch to keep my blood circulating, it wasn’t nice going in service stations with a big cast on my nose.
I never realised how awkward it would be the first week after with the cast on. I couldn’t get it wet, which meant I couldn’t really wash my hair. I washed it once in the middle of the week in the bath with help from my mum. I couldn’t wash my face, which meant baby wipes, which played havoc with my skin for weeks after. Although I was never in any real pain, the week dragged. It was uncomfortable more than anything and I was tired because I couldn’t sleep. I ended up sleeping on the sofa all week as I could prop myself up easily and just sit and watch TV all night without bothering anyone. Having lots of pillows and some good TV ready to watch is so important. I spent most of my first couple of weeks after surgery watching TV. I had packs up my nostrils so I could only breath through my mouth, so walking around and moving too much made me out of breath as I couldn’t breath properly.
Throughout the week my face got more swollen and my eyes got more bruised. Usually if you have full rhinoplasty, they break your nose so this is why you get black eyes. By about day 3-4 I was totally unrecognisable. My nose itself was never really painful, it was the swelling that made my face sore.
My throat was very sore and swollen also but that was from having the tube down my throat throughout the operation, ice cream is your best friend the first week after. I started to lose my voice and at day 3-4 I couldn’t talk or see much because my eyes and cheeks were so swollen.
After about day 4, everything quickly started to get better. The bruises were vanishing before my eyes and the swelling was going down every second.
We drove back down a week after the op to have my cast and stitches removed. The cast was so itchy by the end of the week it felt amazing getting it taken off. Mz. Tzafetta removed the stitched from my septum and left the dissolvable ones inside my nostrils. Before she went to pull the packs out of my nostrils she asked me to take a deep breath. I now know why, it was the most painful thing ever. She pulled them both out at the same time and it felt like two slugs coming out of my nose. I thought they would only be short but they must have been pushed back as far as possible. But it felt great (and a bit cold up there) to be able to breath through my nose again.
I was given antiseptic cream to use and shown massages and other stuff to do as often as possible on my nose to keep the swelling to a minimum. I left with a few nude coloured strips on my nose. Ms. Tzafetta told me I wouldn’t get the full results for a year, which I was so glad about because the first time I saw it I could have cried. It was so swollen and upturned, I looked like a chipmunk.
I followed my aftercare as much as possible, doing my massages all the time, keeping my head elevated as much as possible, making sure to get no knocks to it and just keeping healthy in general. The hardest part of recovery was not exercising really. As someone who loves to keep fit and active, I couldn’t do any exercise for a month so I was starting to feel really groggy and down.
The Months After.
I was so lucky with my recovery, for all the worry we had previous to the op I had no complications and recovered extremely well. Every morning I could see a difference in my nose, less swollen, less hard and numb, more definition, more like myself. My lips stayed swollen for a long time (which I LOVED haha) but be warned you cant smile properly for a good few weeks due to the swelling around your cheeks and lips. You just have to be patient and not rush your body. Although I did a 4 week professional makeup artistry course just two weeks after my op!
It will be a year in a couple of weeks and I couldn’t be happier, my self confidence has increased massively and I am so much happier in myself, and do not regret it one bit. My nose is still slightly sensitive and the tip still a little hard, I regularly do my massages and keep seeing little changes.
Thank you for reading and please let me know if you have any questions and I will answer them as honestly as I can. I want to also say a huge thank you to my mum who made the whole process so much easier for me, I couldn’t have done it without her.
Lots of love,