Finally there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you’ve been following my jaw surgery journey, you will already know the length of the journey, the ups and downs I’ve been through and that so far it’s all been worth it and I am so very grateful for that. Although, if you’re someone new, you can view my blog posts here, here and here.
Soon, I’ll be taking that long walk to be knocked out once more to finish my journey to a better and more presentable looking appearance. A few months ago, I visited both my surgeon and orthodontist for my regular follow up where they also gave me a date for my next surgery. It was a fight or flight moment and I certainly didn’t want to let this opportunity go away so I jumped at the chance. This surgery is however not like jaw surgery where teams of people get together to meticulously plan how my jaws will fit together.
This time, my surgeons will be performing a Rhinoplasty and Upper Lip Augmentation surgery on me. These two surgeries are well known as being called “Plastic Surgery” that is categorised under ‘Department of Reconstructive and Craniofacial’. This surgery was initially meant to happen during my double jaw surgery however my face decided to balloon up, increasing the risk of nerve damage in the face, so the procedure was postponed. I’ve been told that, these two procedures isn’t as bad as the jaw surgery but it certainly isn’t going to be a walk in the park. My feelings towards this surgery are completely different compared to my previous surgery. I’ve been so blase about this whole thing and I think that’s down to how this surgery came about.
Everyone has a different opinion on plastic surgery. I personally feel it is quite taboo to talk about plastic surgery for many asians, especially Singaporeans since we all know that Singapore lacks information about plastic surgery but it is expanding and becoming such a common procedure in other parts of the world. Our society values how we look over who we are, so why do people act so shocked when we conform to the standards they set? A certain level of vanity is not a sin, but a must these days. Just as we feel the pressure to whiten our teeth, the same pressure motivates us to go under the knife. This blog is something that was started because we all live in a time and society where getting any type of ‘cosmetic’ surgery to correct a specific part of your face/body has gotten a bad wrap. Unfortunately, there have been many cases in public’s eye where people have gone overboard with surgery and other cosmetic procedures- and quite frankly yes, those are the people who have made us all afraid, right? Because of which, there are also plenty of people out there in despair who are afraid to give plastic surgery or cosmetic procedures a try. Look guys, In spite of bad media- there ARE good doctors out there that are changing people’s life and repairing individual’s self-esteem.
Now, I am 100% sure that many of you may be wondering what this surgery is about and why someone would put their body through such an inhumane, invasive process, right? Well, a number of people have asked me this question along the way. When it comes to facial symmetry, we clefts don’t always fit in with that. Although, in general- most people will tell me “You are exactly the same as everyone else” but a part of me highly doubter their sincerity. I was always left wondering- Do they really mean it? Or are they just trying to be nice? The most I would and still get from people is “You have such beautiful eyes”. I think maybe I have been endowed with fantastic eyes…or on a negative slant maybe that was the only nice thing they could find to say.
Besides, I have always believed that if you don’t like something, change it, and it was time to apply that theory to my nose and lips. And why not? I don’t think anything is wrong in achieving something you want. We all want luscious Angelina Jolie lips, right? Haven’t you ever wished that your nose was a little more prominent, your chin was a little less pointy, or that you had curvy full luscious cupid bow lips but you could do nothing about it except let out a sigh when you saw people who had those features? Well, I am not exaggerating it over here. I have been salvaged by plastic surgery and I am glad now that I took this precise decision of going under the knife to get my very prominent bee-stung nose and flat and thin lips rectified, which needless to say was a curse of embarrassment for me.
It’s always a little easier to see what I mean so let’s take a look at Kylie Jenner. Whether you agree with how far she’s gone with plastic surgery is up to you, but her chin and lip injections helped balance out her facial features. Initially, her square face and small forehead put a lot of attention on the middle of her face, and when you looked at her you saw: “A short wide face”. But after correcting the proportion of her lips, it added softness in a way that balanced out the harsh lines which plague a square shape. The chin injections also helped elongate her face.
I’ve also had several people ask me how I made my decision (or decisions rather). And there are definitely a variety of reasons that a person can have. You may have been in an accident, maybe it’s genetic, maybe it’s a functional problem, a birth condition, or maybe it is just purely cosmetic. There are two types of people who undergo plastic surgery: Those who tell the world about their transformation, and those who try to take it to the grave. Unfortunately, most of those who keep it a secret feel ashamed due to societal scorn. Do we really have reasons to shame people who get surgery for cosmetic reasons? Do we have a right to? And are the motives for undergoing these procedures a result of “societal beauty” standards or personal ones? The majority of people thought I was insane to “waste” an obscene amount of money. But, a small percentage of people often told me that they thought I was brave for doing it and being so confident about it – These were people who also wanted to change something about themselves but felt the judgement by others wouldn’t be worth it.
Regardless of motive, one thing is clear- We need to CHANGE the plastic surgery conversation.
1. Your confidence and self-esteem should be a first priority. And if surgery can improve how you see yourself, then why is it not as accepted as any other form of self-care? One can get plastic surgery for lots of reasons, which ranges from removing some unwanted fat to erasing scars or burns that remind you of trauma every day. Some women turn to surgery to repair their body after being the subject of abuse. I have a friend in India who had his nose violently broken by a man at the age of 16. This left him with breathing problems, as well as self-esteem issues. Either way, after the surgery, your self-esteem will increase, which will positively impact every part of your life. This also has a huge impact on your emotions, leading to a healthier version of you. The principle of getting plastic surgery is the same as the principle of going to the gym and taking care of your body and health.
2. Nobody has the right to judge you- Women and teens are undoubtedly criticized by every person they run into. We judge how much or how little makeup a woman is wearing. We judge if her hair color is flattering or if we can see her natural roots. We judge if a woman is dressed in a conservative or provocative manner. There is no winning regardless of what you do, and the same rule applies to plastic surgery. Whether you get it or not, there will be people judging your choice.
3. Standing up for your own self- A women, regardless of who she is or what she does, is always a subject of objectification. Because of this, we as women tend to feed into the double standard and criticise each other. By doing this, we bring other women down, which then gives men permission to continue objectifying us. By boosting our own self-esteem and being comfortable in your own skin, you are able to leave behind all the things that have been holding you back.
If you don’t want plastic surgery, do not let society tell you that you need it. And if you do want plastic surgery, own it. Plastic surgery CAN be natural looking. Whether someone wants to embrace plastic surgery or not, doesn’t particularly matter to me, but I just want to share the positive side of plastic surgery to inspire, renew and ease some anxiety. Your surgery will not change anyone’s life other than your own. So the decision should be entirely yours, regardless of the potential reactions of others. However, I also think it’s important to consider the full picture as changing one facial feature may not end up as you hoped. Meaning, you may need to change another feature as well to restore ‘harmony’ to the rest of your face.
So, you NEED to to understand WHY you’re wanting to move forward and WHAT you are hoping to achieve in return.
Let’s look at the why first
I think there is definitely a ‘healthy why’ and an ‘unhealthy why’. It’s important that you truly identify which category your ‘why’ falls into. For me personally, besides having a crooked nose and flat lips due to my birth condition, I chose to get Rhinoplasty (nose job) because I also wanted to help myself breathe better. Also, since the nose is the center of the face, rhinoplasty is often the first thing people think of to improve proportion among their facial features. My first step was to acknowledge the desire. I wanted to get rid of my nose shape since I was twelve, when my ‘cute little button’ nose started to change. Second of all, the desire of getting my upper lip rectified with some volume in it. Being so many years later, and with that desire still there, it was time for a self-assessment. I asked myself if the ‘why’ was for me or if I felt like I was “pressured” into it somehow (peers, family, social influence, media, etc.). After I decided that it was truly for me and me alone, I asked myself if I really thought it was going to make me look better/feel better.
A few weeks ago, I watched this documentary on BDD and a very pretty girl kept getting surgery in hopes that it would change her self-image. In-spite of having the surgery, she soon returned to feeling ugly and found a new thing (sometimes the same thing) to pick on. The issue clearly was not physical in nature but mental. Seeing that documentary so many years ago really impacted the way I make cosmetic-based-decisions. I saw how important it was to be brutally honest with myself (even though it is sometimes a hard thing to do). After a little soul searching I decided, “This is just for me. I don’t care what others think or say, what others have thought or said, what others will think or say. While I do hope for self-improvement, this isn’t a bandaid for deep seated self-esteem issues. I want a better looking appearance which would help me feel a lot more confident and outgoing at the same time. For that, I am willing to take ALL the risks for what I want.” (How’s that for a pep talk?)
Now let’s look at the what.
Let’s do a little exercise, and I mean really do it.
- Fill in the blank: I just want to look ______ (prettier, younger, etc.) I want ______ (perfectly smooth skin, a smaller nose, etc.).
- Answer the question: is what you are really trying to achieve something reasonable/realistic? (Hint: if you used words like perfect, no wrinkles, etc. in the blank above then the answer is no.)
This is where the line between “enhancement” and looking “overdone” is drawn. For me personally, this is how I made my decisions on which procedures I wanted to have done. I have a round face shape but it appeared a little on the slim/long side due to a down-turned nose and the jawline dipping in right before the chin. Additionally, my profile seemed a bit convex (receding forehead/chin) due to my nose. My lips, which are so thin/flat/short that I can barely close them together. When I attempted to keep my lips together, I looked like I was trying to hold a mouth guard in. In order to correct and balance my facial features, I chose to get plastic surgery procedures like- rhinoplasty, juvederm lip injections, and fillers (fat transfer) into my cheeks to help counter fullness in the lower portion of my face). Aside from the rhinoplasty, everything else was minimal but again really made a difference when considering the overall balance of my face.
Plastic surgery doesn’t always end in traumatic experiences, and definitely doesn’t make you look ‘fake‘ (as long as you chose the right doctor and don’t go for unrealistic results). I feel that most people view plastic surgery as some dark, terrible thing in today’s world- people that have had such things done are either looked down on or labeled.
Bottom line: A person could look very bad if they get surgery with unreasonable/unrealistic expectations or they could go in for something small and still look ridiculous if the doctor isn’t good. It takes an aesthetic eye to truly see what’s needed in order to achieve the beauty you desire. That’s why it’s so important to work with a doctor who understands your needs and concerns.
That being said, move forward with a decision for surgery with reasonable and realistic expectations. Sometimes your expectations might be far-fetched, and other times they may just be out of the realm of what the doctor can really do. I’ve sat at my doctor’s office many times whining about a small adjustment and he’s had to tell me, “It doesn’t work like that“. So don’t feel stupid or alone if and when you come across the answer as “no”.
So ‘why’ are you wanting to move forward and ‘what’ are you hoping to achieve? I hope your ‘why’ is firm and that being your decision alone. I hope your ‘what’ is reasonable and realistic so that you can achieve a more natural looking result and will be pleased afterwards, and not feel guilty.
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Do keep your eyes open for Part 2 which is going to cover clarity and MORE in depth explanation/insights on what I just spoke about. I’m super excited for the next post. I hope you are too?