You all deserve a medal if you’ve managed to read this whole thing, I’m sorry it’s ridiculously long – but I wanted to put together a comprehensive guide all over again explaining WHY I am going under this surgery, what surgeries I am undergoing and lastly, what each surgery involves (for anyone who is interested to know).
I only want to be honest here as all this is relating my personal life story and this isn’t something I or anybody else would lie about. I’m definitely not sugar-coating anything! I honestly wasn’t even sure if I wanted to write about myself as being born with a cleft, the surgeries I am going under to get it fixed, all my decisions as it was quite a personal one, however, I think it’s important to be honest – especially if you once begin to write about every other aspect of your life online – and something on your face that looks different is definitely not something you can hide (or that I’d want to). I have started this blog for myself mainly as I wanted to record this tough journey so I could look back at it in the future and remember this journey.
Anyways, I sit here with feelings that I don’t know how to really describe.
So before we get going, let’s start at the very beginning… I’ve always hated my nose. As a kid, I had a cute little button nose which suited my features (as I’m sure all kids do) and then as soon as I hit 12, it just grew and grew – in the most unfortunate fashion. It had been knocked several times and I had a deviated septum, which meant that my front view was always a bit crooked. Although I wouldn’t describe myself as being ‘bullied’ at school for the size of my nose, there were a few comments made in passing and those comments have stuck with me and whenever I was having an already unconfident day, they would play over and over in my head. Some of the comments I’ve gotten are “Have you been in an accident?”, “Did your mom drop you when you were a baby?” or “Did you fall on your face?”. But, most people never realized that I was actually born with my birth deformity. I guess some people feel that asking about my lip is rude. Actually, I don’t really mind. Things like these always happen to those who look different. but, we were born with it, we didn’t ask for it. Once I was reading an article in which this person with a deformity said “All I want is to walk down the streets without anyone staring at me”- I could totally relate to that. Not many people realize how it feels when people stare at you because of your face. It hurts enough not to be “normal” but, people don’t have to remind you!? My confidence was already knocked down at a very young age as I struggled for years with a facial disfigurement but something I’ve only managed to finally escape from this year.
In a week, once again, I will be facing the hardest thing in my life. As I mentioned in my previous post that I will be undergoing “Plastic Surgery” and something that’s going to affect me for the rest of my life. Nevertheless, this operation is going to help correct my Cleft Lip and Palate forever- I have a scar on my upper lip (that I’m sure all of you have noticed), my nose is wide and flat, along with a deviated septum. Previously, I had a terrible underbite as well which got corrected with Jaw Surgery last year in July. Due to having an underbite, I also developed a lisp in my speech because of which I was not able to pronounce certain words which had constant sounds of “C” “S” and “X” as my tongue couldn’t touch my bottom teeth properly. This surgery will help improve my aesthetic result by reconstructing my nose and injecting fat into my upper lip, help fix my hypernasal speech as well. I’ll explain a few of my surgery procedures that the doctors told me they would perform-
- Rhinoplasty- Commonly referred to as a “nose job”. It is a surgical procedure to improve its function due to trauma or birth defects.
- Upper Lip Augmentation- To fill in some fat in my upper lip to make it even with my lower lip. They will also lengthen the philtrum (the vertical groove between the base of the nose and the border of the upper lip).
- Ear Cartilage Bone Grafting- During this procedure, some soft cartilage tissue will be taken out from my ear and will be used to reshape and elevate the nasal tip/bridge and columella.
- Rib (Chest) Cartilage Bone Grafting- During this procedure, some hard cartilage tissue will be taken out from my rib and will be used to correct the alignment of my deviated septum in order to improve airflow through my nose.
Once again, I am going through mixed emotions. My feelings still haven’t changed. I really don’t know how to react to what’s going to happen to me. Maybe, I am scared? After getting these surgeries in the past seventeen years, I am scared that I don’t want to regret all the hard work I, my doctors, and my family have done. I have no idea what to expect. All I know is that one thing that’s going to help me through this is, my dream. My dream is to become the person I want to be. But sometimes, I can’t be that person. After 7 days, maybe I won’t have to worry about not fulfilling my dreams. That’s not to say I’ll be 100% finished after this as I’ll still have couple more Orthodontic treatments (including revision surgeries, if needed) to go in the future. I don’t know how long I have left to be done with all these surgeries and treatments but I do know that I am at the 95th percent mark and I’m going to go through this with all my heart. Moreover, this surgery will 99% change my appearance. I will completely transform looking like “not myself” anymore. While I’ll still remain the “same old Niharika”, I’m not going to see myself that way anymore. I just can’t visualize. I just have no idea what the future will bring. Future is uncertain. Whatever my future holds, I hope it’s only for the good!
This wasn’t just a spur of the moment “ooh, I’d love to get a nose job and lip fillers one day, let’s go for it”.
This was to correct a very obvious problem- my birth problem due to which I had so much problem in breathing, getting fed as a baby and didn’t have the natural good looks as I grew older.
If you see the pictures on the left- This is how I was born. Now if you look at the top photo, you can see there was a hole from my nose to my lip and if you look at the bottom photo, you will see that I have a split down the middle of my palate. Honestly, for someone who is born differently, It takes a lot of courage to post such pictures for everybody to see and judge. But at the same time, It is NEVER easy to define what a cleft lip and palate is without having the support of pictures to help explain how and what it is being born this way. Very few people know what a cleft palate actually is. It is one of the most common birth deformities and is when the tissue of the roof of the mouth doesn’t fuse together in fetus development. It can extend all the way to the lip which then is classified as a cleft lip.
Many people don’t realize the struggles that come with having a cleft palate.
There’s constant name calling and judging. Many people born this way will rarely talk about the struggles they face. The struggle of wanting to have a “normal smile”, the struggle of not wanting to show your teeth when you smile for pictures because there’s a missing tooth, the everyday thought that we’re not good looking and that we will have very fewer friends, the countless numbers of surgeries that we undergo just so that people could start accepting us just a little. No one talks about that. We have been through more surgeries than any child should go through. No one pays attention to any of that, no one asks about the pain we go through. All we get to hear is “What’s wrong with your face?” or “Why do you speak like that?”. Truth is, No one has ever understood us. Many people think that making fun of people for being different makes them better than that person but in reality, it makes them a coward for making fun of something someone cannot control. I once got a question on “Ask.fm” saying “Do you get all these surgeries to get attention from people? Now let me make it very clear- I get these surgeries done for myself, not for anyone else to get their “attention” or “sympathy”. What others think of me does not bother me. Nor will I ever care about such comments. I’ve had so many struggles to deal with, that have actually made me who I am today and I am pretty damn proud of how far I’ve come.
Rather, I’m going to “buy” my looks with money and yes, I will definitely have haters for this. I wouldn’t really consider this surgery if I didn’t need it but I am doing this to have some aesthetic improvements in my face and to help myself breathe through my nose better. Personally, I think our nose is the center part of our face and is pretty much the first thing we see when we look at someone. In regard to that, my nose was way too big in proportion to the rest of my face, it was horribly shaped, it didn’t suit me. Secondly, I’ve always been self-conscious of my upper lips. I have a naturally very full bottom lip, but my top lip was always very thin and ‘flat’. I felt that I didn’t look good with lip products on and often didn’t even bother wearing lip products for this reason. It definitely got me down more than you would think and because of that, my photos were extremely unflattering from certain angles. I was forever dreading those candid photos catching me at a bad angle (despite regularly taking photos of myself, weird right?), and I can remember every single little comment people have made about my nose over the years – and those kinds of comments don’t go away. One thing I could not stand was when I would grumble and people would say “Oh Niharika, your nose is fine!” “There’s nothing wrong with your lips!” – this would honestly annoy me. Did I really spend 17 years of my life lacking self-esteem, being depressed over my nose for you to tell me “it’s fine”? NO! Don’t tell me my nose or lips are fine when it absolutely isn’t – you have no idea. I’m sure some of you can relate – if someone picks at something you hate about yourself, you don’t forget about it, ever! I was finally at a point in my life when I was sick of being insecure, worrying about it wherever I went. I was completely ready for it, and with no work or uni commitments, I could take as much time as I needed to recover.
MAKING THE DECISION?
On 8th of December, I flew to Taipei, Taiwan for my regular follow up. I had my usual check up that involved- checking my oral hygiene, changing the arch wires of my braces, x rays and such. However, during this visit, my doctors had surprised me with a news which had me crying in happiness. They had finally given me the green light for my next surgery (as mentioned in the starting). I literally had tears of joy. I could not help but keep smiling like an idiot, as my doctor kept speaking. I clearly remember him starting off like “So Miss Jain, are you ready for your final surgery?”. At that moment, I was slightly puzzled and I had asked him to repeat what he said. He repeated, “Yes. You heard me right. You’re having your surgery next year in the month of May, are you up for it?” I, of course, said YES! Hearing this news was probably the best moment in my life. But now, I am sort of a person who likes to know as much as possible about something. Meaning, I will ask a million questions before placing an order for something I’ve never had before so you can imagine the amount of questions I had about Rhinoplasty. I started by googling ‘Rhinoplasty Surgery Experience” and looked up for as many references sites as I could. I tried to find real stories of people who’ve had the surgery as I wanted a real life document of the process, not just a 2 sentence testimonial on how someone was glad they had the surgery. I also looked up illustrations and diagrams of the procedure, and that helped me understand a lot.
When I consulted my surgeon, the first thing he did was to touch the area just beside my nose, around my smile lines before looking closely at the rest of my face and the photos.
Finally, he said that I should get fat taken out from my abdomen and get it injected on my right cheek and upper lip because they will help lift up that area so my mouth does not seem so protruded. Moving on, he said that I actually have a pretty nice nose shape except that it needs to be more defined, which I completely agreed to! So he drew the outlines of the nose and explained carefully how he would make an incision there to put in the silicon implant for a higher bridge and take some cartilage from my ears and ribs and put in some for the tip and septum of my nose so that overall, I will have a more defined and sharper looking nose. And that’s it! The consultation was actually quite fast. I was then brought to another room where we discussed my options and preferences regarding the surgery. I decided to go for the procedure that my doctor recommended because they are professionals and know what is BEST for your face. Go big or go home, right?
Moreover, I would also want to encourage people who are considering such surgeries/want to change something about the way they look. GO FOR IT. But at the same time, I would NOT recommend this to ALL because it is not only a painful and tiring process but also a long time commitment of hard work, months and months of dealing with painful swelling, worrying about the final results, numerous re-corrections, and generally feeling unpleasant for the duration of recovery which can take 6 months up to a good one year. For those of you who are already perfect looking but feel you need some sort of improvement. Think more than twice. Plastic surgery is only a pleasurable process, not a justification of your looks. Our faces will always be a “work in progress”. Before confirming anything- Do lots of research, read other people’s real life experiences and get an idea through that. Talk to people about your concerns and know you’re not alone. Yet, if you’re somebody like me then, it’s a totally different thing. I know that everybody says “You are born the way God made you” which is true. However, what I realized is- I am my own person, I have waited all my 17 years of life to get done with this. As far as God made me…I think God would be pleased to know that I am more confident and bold in taking such a step forward and make myself happier to have a more natural look that would bring out my other features after surgery. Stand up for yourself. People who have the guts to do such risky yet rewarding things to improve themselves and to add more happiness in their life, should be appreciated and not criticized. Truth is, people will always criticize and make others feel horrible for pursuing things such as “plastic surgery”. People get bored and want something or the other to gossip about because they can and it’s “entertaining” but HEY! If it’s you that is the topic one day, it’s else body another day and maybe one day, you’ll talk smack about someone else. We have all been there. It’s the human in us all and at the end of the day, we all die one day and it’s best to live your life the way you want and you should live it happily. Just don’t go overboard. Too much of anything is also bad.
My theory is that I’ve already gone through so much pain, bleeding and swelling in the past seventeen years so why should I settle for anything less than what I set out to achieve?
Finally, On 19th of May 2017, I will be undergoing this operation and I don’t expect much of miracle to happen but definitely, hope for everything good.
I will be putting up my next blog post one month after this surgery, six months post-op post and lastly, a one year post with before and after pictures. So if you think you’re interested to see how I cope with everything, how the surgery/recovery goes and all of those things- go ahead and follow my blog! I’ll be more than glad.