Oh, my! Life has been intense the past month.
If you have been reading my previous blog posts, you would know this is the second surgery I have undergone after my double jaw surgery. Well, actually totally transparency: another MAJOR surgery.
Surprisingly I’m a very private person in many ways but ever since I came up with the idea of “blogging” and sharing about myself being born with a craniofacial deformity, I realized I’ve become a lot more open (maybe that’s age too?). The reason I decided to share my birth deformity story and surgery experience is because, maybe, it will help someone out there who’s going through something similar. And for some of you guys? I know all my posts including this one will likely be boring but I’m hoping you are going to bare with me on this.
So first things first…
It’s been a month since my surgery. How am I feeling? I feel great. I can finally breathe through my nose which I’ve never been able to do properly before and that it is honestly the best feeling to be able to finally sleep with my mouth closed. So breathing is no more an issue for me.
Besides, septorhinoplasty for my nose and fat transfer to my upper lip was a success. They fixed my deviated septum and now I can breathe perfectly. However, for those of you who don’t know, a rhinoplasty takes around a year and a half to see the final complete result and right now, I am only one-month post-op so naturally, my nose is still very swollen. The only way I can describe it is that the tip of my nose feels like a heavy rock on my face- It is hard to touch it. Every time I touch my nose- It feels like I am touching my elbow, and not my nose. In terms of the Septal Rhinoplasty part of my surgery where I had my septum re-aligned and had my bones reset is why I still have some swelling as I had both of these bones broken in. The scar above my lip is healing really well, however, it hasn’t faded yet but it’s going to become lighter within the next few months and I’m not really bothered if it stays because that is the ‘cleft scar’. It’s not that noticeable unless you see me closely from that specific angle. I no longer feel self-conscious about it and I don’t care that it’s a “telltale” sign that I’ve had a nose job as I have made it very blatantly obvious and been very open about it on social media platforms and through my previous blog posts so almost everyone in my life knows and anyone that I meet in the future, I would not mind telling them that I have had a nose job so it’s just not something I am ashamed about. I’m not sure how I can really put into words how much it meant to me to fix my nose. It gave me anxiety beyond words. I used to cry to my parents, my sister and to myself to sleep so many times over this. When you hate something about yourself, the last thing you want to do is draw attention to it. So that’s exactly what I tried doing for so many years- I rarely stood up and spoke about it unless I got my friends and strangers on the streets ask me about my face.
I underwent this surgery on the 19th of May. It was indeed quite difficult to put all my trust on someone for my face so before finalizing everything, I had a 30-minute consultation with my doctors where they patiently explained how they would perform the surgery on my face and finally, after all the discussions, I was confident to take the plunge. Few hours before my surgery, I was feeling very nervous and excited and just a little bit doubtful. Did I make the right decision? Am I crazy? Is this too extreme? What would people say? These were just some of the thoughts I had racing in my mind but, I also thought about how this is something I am doing for myself to feel confident, and not for others.
BEFORE THE SURGERY
On the 18th Of May, I arrived at the hospital and I was so thirsty but had to ignore it due to the 24 hour “no food/drink” rule for the surgery.
It was only a few hours before the surgery when the anesthesiologist that was going to be assisting the doctor explained to me everything they would do. A few minutes later, my surgeon came in and immediately drew on my nose for my Open Rhinoplasty. I was then wheeled into the operating room and they shifted me from the moving bed to the operating bed. It was the most surreal and the most nerve-wracking experience of my life, as I knew that in less than 5 minutes, I’d be in a medically induced sleep and be operated on. I was feeling quite like the cold embrace of death. When the anesthesia goes in your veins you can feel it burn into your blood vessels. Then it hits your brain, especially the part that controls breathing and you start to get short of breath like a huge weight has been put on your chest. Cords here, there, IV started, people hustling about- but all I could hear was the calming voice of the anesthesiologist talking to me. I don’t remember what she was saying at all, as at that point, I was feeling like I was being ‘drugged’ and was out in a second.
RIGHT AFTER SURGERY
The next thing I knew I was being lifted from the operating bed to something else. I was so tired, yet felt so good I didn’t care. It’s like that feeling of waking up, but still being able to sleep and just be comfortable.
I woke up in the ICU, to the sound of the nurse’s voice. She was asking me what my level of pain was on a scale from 1-10. I tried to speak but I felt like it took longer than normal. Finally, I mumbled 7 or 8. She explained that I already had quite a bit of morphine but she gave me another painkiller through the IV. I felt incredibly dizzy and nauseated. No real pain, just too much discomfort. My doctors were thrilled at how everything went.
My rhinoplasty required 4 hours (I also had some cartilage taken out from my right rib (chest) to rebuild the bridge and columella of my nose) whereas, fat transfer into my top lip took about 1 hour under general anesthesia. Just three days of stay in the hospital was advised, which was pretty eventful. The only hitch was that I had to be kept bandaged tightly for around 2 weeks. My nose and mouth were very stiff and numb because the muscles between my mouth and nose were severed in order to let the nose heal without any movement bothering it. All the initial swelling and inflammation did, of course, scare me, but I was told that over a short period of time, the scars will fade and the results will become a lot visible. I just needed the patience!
I will go bit by bit of how each day of my recovery went by…
Day 1 (20th May)
The first night was pretty sad because I had got some packing in my nostrils to soak up the excess bleeding and a cast on, to support the newly reshaped nose and to protect it from accidental contact for the first 2 weeks. My throat felt as though I’d been swallowing razor blades and because I couldn’t breathe through my nostrils, it meant sleeping with my mouth open which resulted in horribly dry lips and my throat would get really sore (because the airways couldn’t clear themselves). I felt really tired mostly. 10 hours after the surgery, my face started to swell a bit more, and the bruising around my cheeks turned red. The nurses took my blood pressure every 2 hours and kept asking to make sure I was feeling ok. The nurses gave me ice packs to help with the swelling. Spent the day applying ice packs to my face on and off. All I could see was the tip of my nose, as the rest was covered with the cast.
Day 2 (21st May)
A little more pain. My whole body felt achy. The swelling increased, bruising still looked the same. I went to sleep at about 11ish last night. I woke up several times because of my lack of ability to breathe through my nose. I think that has been the HARDEST things to deal with. I didn’t really have a good sleep because I kept waking up from having a dry mouth and throat. It was the most uncomfortable night.
Day 3 (22nd May)
Feeling horrible and so emotional, no pain just swollen, hungry and over it, sick of being in the room, sick of sleeping. Just having one of those days. Though a few hours later, the nurse came in to tell me I would be getting discharged today and gave me five different tablets to take home- 2 antibiotics, 1 anti-inflammatory and 2 pain killers and several hours later, I headed back to the apartment and continued recovering. For the first few days, I was pretty much bed bound and constantly feeling drowsy as the pain-killers were very strong, but the only discomfort I had was the fact that I had the cast and dressing on and had to sleep upright for a week. My body was so tired and achy. I spent the whole day sleeping.
Day 4, 5 & 6 (23rd-25th May)
Body aches were pretty much gone. Bruising started to fade. The swelling got worse. Day 4 is when swelling decides to balloon up the face. Next morning, I took a shower. It was a difficult task- I felt like a really old person, moving really slowly. The next day, my nose started to bleed but it wasn’t very bad, just got a little sore.
ONE WEEK POST OP- Exactly on the 7th day after my surgery (26th May), I was supposed to have my first official post-op appointment with my surgeon where I would have also gotten my cast removed, however, he urgently had to fly to China for an emergency surgery, so everything got postponed and I was asked to wait until the 30th of May. Knowing that did upset me a little but I knew I had to adjust and just deal with whatsoever was happening.
Finally on the 1st of June, I went to see my doctor in the afternoon, and he removed some of the surgical sutures which stung and made my eyes water a bit, after which he also took my cast off which honestly did hurt A LOT as there is a constant pressure on your face and the cast was itchy. The nurse began by applying some oil with a Q-tip to the tape beneath my cast to begin removing it. Honestly, this was not fun. It was so painful as the bridge of my nose was so tender and sore that every time she ran the Q-tip over my bridge to lift the tape, I squeezed my own hand. My nose was cut open during the surgery which caused the nerves to be tampered with and damaged, so having someone touch my nose did hurt quite bad. I couldn’t get my head around the fact that my nose had literally been cut open and broken, but I felt absolutely fine after some time. This day was a big one for me, as I was finally going to see the nose I’d spent so long dreaming about. I was also so anxious to see what my new nose looks like, that I was shaking like a leaf. Getting the cast removed was surely the most painful thing out of the whole ordeal since I had an open rhinoplasty and was also having my stitches removed at the same time.
AND THEN THERE WAS THE REVEAL….
Finally, everything was removed and the nurse picked up the mirror to reveal my new nose. I couldn’t comprehend on what I saw at first. I was in shock as my face looked completely different and in that slightest moment, I totally wondered if I had made the right or wrong decision to get this done as it was really hard for me to see the nice new nose with my swollen and discolored face, and swollen nose for that matter but all I could possibly think at that point was that- I finally started feeling like me again, which is probably the weirdest thing to say- because it wasn’t like me. But my nose was absolutely exemplary- I no longer had this awful, big nose taking over my face. It finally fits my face- My front profile finally looks symmetrical and straighter.
I was told not to expect miracles on the day of cast removal as there isn’t usually a huge amount of difference after just 1 week, but I noticed a huge difference straight away. The bump had been removed, the nasal sidewalls had been narrowed, the tip was lifted and my nose was a shape that I had always wanted it to be. It was honestly one of the best feelings of my life and the whole way home was spent staring at myself in the mirror as I couldn’t quite get my head around it all. It felt as though someone had stuck a fake nose onto my face with sellotape.
Day 18 (6th June)
I felt better yet still swollen, bruising was gone. The day after cast removal, my nose swelled up again. I was given nasal splints to wear for 6 months.
I looked like an avatar from the front, however, I knew it was going to shrink back to how it looked when the cast was removed and this could take anywhere between 6 weeks to 12 months. During the first week after the surgery, I was not really concerned about my appearance. Perhaps because I had the nose cast on which covered a good amount of my face. I remember sitting in front of the mirror and looking at a face staring back at me that I did not recognize. I almost fell sad in a way. I was so used to my previous nose- and even though I hated it, it was still my nose.
As about swelling, I was told that it takes about a month or two, to dissipate. BUT it can take up to a year for the entire swelling to go away completely and to see the final 100% result. I had to constantly remind myself that I still have a long way to go and I just needed to be patient.
Day 20-24 (12th June)
At this point, the swelling on my lip as well as nose went down a little and I started to see a bit of change in its shape. The way that the nose changes with time is pretty amazing. At first, it was definitely really weird looking at the mirror and seeing a so-so different face looking back. My bridge was still very swollen and very rigid. It hurts to touch it. The tip was rather stiff and hard like a rock. The first thing my doctor said to me was “You are still so swollen” which I thought was a good thing because it assured me that I wasn’t going to look like this forever.
Day 25 & 26 (13th-14th June)
My nostrils had still not returned to its normal size nor did the columella come down so my nose still looked upturned. The next few days were a bit strange for me, I had times where I’d look in the mirror and absolutely love my new nose, but also days when I thought I looked like a pig but that’s completely normal and the piggy-ness goes within a couple of weeks when everything settles. Some swelling and the feeling of stiffness in my nose was still present- I’ve read that in most cases, it takes about 2 years for a rhinoplasty to completely heal. So I definitely have a LONG way ahead of me and that I just needed to trust my doctors because they know the best for me.
It will take a year or two for my nose to fully heal and go back to its normal size, but being just 6 weeks post-op, I couldn’t be more pleased with how my nose looks and it’s a satisfying feeling knowing you still have your best results to look forward too.
My main concern at the moment is waiting for the swelling of my nostrils to go down as they appear to be uneven and slightly big in size. I can’t wait to watch how my nose changes over the next 12 months to get to the final result.
Overall, I couldn’t be happier and more proud of myself for going through the procedure. It has completely changed the way I feel about my appearance and sparked a confidence in myself that I never knew I had. As much as some people may not agree with ‘plastic surgery’ – which is a term that I don’t like to use as I wouldn’t categorize myself as being fake or plastic in any way from doing this, I think it’s up to the individual to make these decisions for themselves. I’ve been extremely lucky as everyone around me have been so supportive, but I know there will be others that may judge me for having it done. Which honestly, I couldn’t care less about. Everyone has their own insecurities that I’m sure they’d love to change given the opportunity, and I took my opportunity to do something about it, which I hope people can respect.
To conclude, here’s a collage of some of the pictures from way before my jaw surgery, months after jaw surgery/before rhinoplasty AND currently 6 weeks after my nose job!!
If you attentively compare all the pictures one by one- you can see the difference in my cheeks, nose, lips, and jawline. Yes! The differences are very prominent. My face and facial features look much more balanced, don’t they?
Hopefully, you can realize now that there is a little more than just having a plastic/cosmetic surgery procedure solve all of your (balance) issues. It takes an aesthetic eye to truly see what’s needed in order to achieve the beauty you desire. All that worry is exactly why it’s so important to choose a doctor who understands your needs and concerns. I decided to go to Dr. Philip and it’s truly rare to find a doctor that is knowledgeable and honest, on top of being so down-to-earth. When you go to his office, he makes you feel like you are sitting down with a long-time family friend. Call me crazy, but that makes me feel a lot more comfortable with a person who is about to cut me open.
I will be loading my progress (with more photos) through the next 6 months until I mark my one year and I am more than happy to answer any questions that you may have! Comment below or you may even message me!