Yet another visit to the plastic surgeon

The first time I went for a consultation with a cosmetic surgeon, I wore high heels. When he held the mirror up to show me where my nose had failed at beauty, I liked my face. I wasn’t supposed to. But just in the moment when I was supposed to hate my face the most, I thought it was beautiful. I thought that he must be thinking, “Why would this girl ever want to change anything about the way she looks? Oh well, I’ll make some money…” He probably wasn’t thinking that. Except the last part.

Maybe it was some sort of perverted little survival instinct. My brain was like, “HE’S GOING TO CUT YOUR FACE OPEN!!! QUICK! SELF-LOVE!” It didn’t work. I went ahead with the surgery. I’d made my decision. I felt empowered. Hey, being able to decide to change yourself can be very empowering. Penelope Trunk and I need to have a conversation about this, when I become famous enough to talk with her a lot. In her last post, she said she was obsessed with the idea of plastic surgery, but she’s squeamish, like me. Honestly, I’m not sure at this point what I’d tell her.

When he took the cast off my face, I thought I’d look completely different. I was so ready for it, I almost saw it. I mean, I did look different. I had giant bruises under my eyes. But I could see the new beauty, just behind those bruises.

But my nose wasn’t ready to change. It hadn’t given up the fight. It had been put on this earth for a reason. To torment me. To celebrate my proud Jewish heritage (what is with those Orthodox girls with the tiny noses? I look like ten times more religious than them). Anyway, it refused to be tamed. And he did another surgery, this time with local anesthesia, so that I could feel the seven or eight giant needles being forced through the bridge of my nose, and then the grotesque, if not precisely excruciating sensation of him hacking at the cartilage inside my nose. Let me clarify something: I am so squeamish that as a kid I made my mom check Reader’s Digest for pictures of surgery before I read it. (For some reason my grandfather bought me a subscription to Reader’s Digest when I was ten. It depressed me for other reasons, too.)

The second surgery didn’t really work either.  I mean, my nose looked different, but not like a nose that has had a nose job. I wasn’t surprised. My nose had proven by then what it was made of. Steel. Or something.

And then, today, over a year after the second surgery, there I was, sitting in the chair across from a cosmetic surgeon. A different one. With a big office up high, overlooking the city. He was saying that the ENT specialist who had referred me to him was definitely right, another surgery was in order. For my breathing, and for my—face. The ENT had said, “Obviously, you’re attractive. This isn’t about that. It’s about giving you the nose you wanted to begin with.” It was a great compliment, I thought. I was surprised at how much it meant to me.

The cosmetic surgeon was saying, “How does your fiancé feel about it?”

“He doesn’t want me to do it.”

He nodded and smiled a little. “Most loved ones are uncomfortable with the procedure. They always think it’s ridiculous that the patient wants to change her appearance.”

“Yeah,” I said, not sure what to say.

“Y’know,” he said offhandedly, “They love the way you look now. It’s normal.” He looked like someone who’d had to sit through the silly, unrefined love people had for one another a million times. And a million times, he’d had to patiently explain, “No, no. You only THINK she’s attractive.”

But that was the part that left the biggest impression of me. I thought of all the women who had sat in that chair before me. Armies of women who wanted to change their faces. And the people who loved their faces just the way they were. And I felt kind of happy. It’s nice to think about all that love.

I walked the approximately one hundred and fifty blocks home. I wanted time to think. I didn’t feel as ready to commit as the first time I went to a cosmetic surgeon. Maybe more than just my face has changed.

before

after

*  *  *  *  *

Have you ever had a consultation with a plastic surgeon and then decided against surgery?

Un-roast: Today I love my back. I think I have some slight scoliosis, but it’s really quite attractive. Makes me look like a dancer. At least, my back does.

25 Comments »

Kate on July 15th 2010 in beauty, nose

25 Responses to “Yet another visit to the plastic surgeon”

  1. Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday responded on 15 Jul 2010 at 3:52 pm #

    Today I love my ass.

    As I was walking out of the bathroom this morning I saw the profile of my butt and thought: “Daaaaamn, Gina!” (a la Martin Lawrence)
    Then when I was making breakfast my husband said, “nice butt!” and I felt validated.

  2. ashley readings responded on 15 Jul 2010 at 5:23 pm #

    I have the exact same nose as you. Except I’m not jewish. It’s the ‘family’ nose. My cousin had it. Then got it changed and now she hates it.

    I’m just learning to accept what i was born with. Plus my dad is pretty cool so i’m happy people know we’re related.

  3. Ellie Di responded on 15 Jul 2010 at 5:36 pm #

    I’ve never had the courage to go into the office for a real consultation, but in the past I’ve spent hours perusing before/after pictures and even signed up for a quote on the surgery I wanted. I’m a bit ashamed of that now. The areas I wanted to change are still places I struggle with, but rather than going in to cut them off, I’ve decided to work with them and, dare I say it, someday love them.

  4. Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot responded on 15 Jul 2010 at 6:56 pm #

    I can’t tell the difference in the before and after pics – probably my eye strays more to the lovely big brown eyes more than the nose. I hope you’re happy with it now and don’t have to have any more painful ops. Ouch! Glad the site is up and running again:)

  5. B.T. responded on 15 Jul 2010 at 10:31 pm #

    Wow, that was a really touching moment, when you think about how the women in that office are loved for who they are and how they look, by the people in their lives. It makes me want to yell, “Don’t do it, women!” Because it would be better if they could figure out how good they already looked. If they could listen to the people who love them.

    What a beautifully written post. As always.

  6. Jen responded on 15 Jul 2010 at 10:38 pm #

    Don’t do it! Don’t put yourself through that again! That description of the second surgery was so awful….I would’ve fainted. You’re a lot braver than me.

    And you’re beautiful! You don’t need surgery!

    But I have to admit, I’m sort of fascinated, reading about your experience.

  7. Jessa responded on 15 Jul 2010 at 10:50 pm #

    I sometimes feel like I’m being radical when I say this, but I think that women should get plastic surgery if they feel like it. It’s your body. And no one should be able to tell you what to do with it. I mean, as long as your not killing yourself. If you feel better after getting the surgery, then who’s to tell you that you shouldn’t have?

    I like that Penelope talks openly about this stuff, and I like that you do. You’re honest, and that’s what makes it interesting. Good for you, for talking about this.

  8. Jen responded on 15 Jul 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    I’m back. Can’t stop talking, lol. I sort of agree with Jessa actually. And I didn’t mean to sound like I was criticizing your choice. It’s hard to know how to sound supportive with a subject like this!

  9. Kate responded on 15 Jul 2010 at 11:07 pm #

    @Jen
    That’s sweet of you, but I’m not at all offended! I know cosmetic surgery is a tough topic, and people have a lot of strong opinions about it, and I’m fine with that. I just want to be able to share my experience and discuss it openly, without having to either completely defend or completely critique the practice of cosmetic surgery.

    Thanks for being sensitive, though!

  10. Sarah responded on 16 Jul 2010 at 11:09 am #

    A girl I was friends with in Hebrew school got a nose job as a gift from her parents for her Bat Mitzvah. I remember how shocked I was when I realized she was totally serious about doing it, and actually went through with it. I haven’t ever considered plastic surgery, but I think the epiphany you had is absolutely beautiful.

  11. d. responded on 16 Jul 2010 at 5:25 pm #

    I’d just like to say I’d kill for a nose like that. Seriously.

  12. Emily responded on 16 Jul 2010 at 7:09 pm #

    i love the thought of all the people who love the faces of people who want plastic surgery. it’s so true. when you love someone, their face is so beautiful. I was thinking about this lately with my boyfriend Josh. we were friends for over a year before we ever started dating. We dated other people and hung out together but never considered each other as a possibility. I remember thinking that he was attractive but I could see all the flaws and could analyze them with the cold detachment that comes from not being personally invested in someone. I would think that his teeth were too spaced apart or that his mustache looked absolutely ridiculous or other things. then we fell in love and i could feel everything shifting. I would look at his face and be surprised by the way it seemed to glow. suddenly every nuance of his face, every subtle (or often dramatic) expression that I came to recognize as belonging to him sent waves of giddy pleasure through my brains. I think it’s something like what happens to people when they see babies smiling. you know it’s something you are supposed to take care of and so your brain rewards you for making it happy.

    but its ok. he will get used to your new nose, if you choose to change it again, and then that will make him feel just the same way.

    on a happiness researcher note, studies show that plastic surgery tends to promote increased happiness on a daily basis. if it is something you worry about all the time and feel constant shame or embarrassment over, you should do what you need to do to fix it. Let’s get real. it would be nice if you could just come to terms with it, but maybe it would just be easier to get the surgery. there is an endless supply of psychological maladies we all must deal with. why not get rid of this one the easy way? if it will make you feel better, do it. especially since it messed with your breathing.

  13. amanda responded on 17 Jul 2010 at 2:38 am #

    Talk about timing! I just went in for my aug one year post op appointment today.

    Say what you will about plastic surgery. I effin’ love my boobs. I had a congenital deformity before. I felt like they were just weird fleshy freeloaders. I feel like my new ones are 100% mine. Like that is how they were always supposed to look. Mind you, my surgeon is amazing and they can totally pass for totally natural. My self love is at an all time high.

  14. Wei-Wei responded on 17 Jul 2010 at 6:07 am #

    I hope you’re happy with your new nose :) I can’t really tell the difference, though… I think you have a lovely-looking face in both. :)

    Wei-Wei

  15. Kate responded on 17 Jul 2010 at 10:06 am #

    @Amanda
    Good for you! I’m 100% behind happiness, and like Emily was saying, people tend to be happy about their surgeries. I’m happy for you!

  16. Kate responded on 17 Jul 2010 at 10:07 am #

    @Wei-Wei
    Yeah, most people can’t tell the difference at all. I think my dad is the only one who can.
    On our third date, I made a joke about my Jewish nose, and my fiance said, “I love your nose, don’t ever get a nose job.” Um, too late.

  17. Rebecca responded on 19 Jul 2010 at 5:55 pm #

    Girl,
    that is an awesome nose.
    It’s not *just* beautiful,
    but striking as well.

    (That said, if you want to get another nose job,
    and believe it will make you happier, it is your decision to make…I mean, if I could, I would get lipo on my upper arms without any hesitation.)

  18. Eat the Damn Cake » The secret life of my ugly self responded on 21 Jul 2010 at 12:01 pm #

    [...] I was standing on the subway platform at 72nd, transferring to the 1 train. I was returning from the cosmetic surgeon. So it was sort of justifiable. Not that I don’t occasionally feel the same way on days when [...]

  19. joanna responded on 21 Jul 2010 at 1:52 pm #

    I too am Jewish and have a stereotypically larger nose. I actually love yours, by the way. When I graduated from high-school I asked my mom for a nose job as a graduation gift. I’ve always had very very bad self-image issues, most of which center around my nose, breasts (32C – apparently not large enough for the mainstream media) and my thighs. I went in for a nose job consultation and to this day I don’t know what happened. The surgeon was fine – not overly friendly, not mean or harsh. I had hated my nose all my life but for some reason I just didn’t do it. I just couldn’t cope with not being natural anymore (whatever that means – I wear make up and dye my hair still). Sometimes I wish I did but mostly I’m glad I didn’t. There was no accepting “I’m beautiful” epiphany – I still hate my body and my face as much as ever (I’ve been told I may have body dysmorphic disorder, fyi) but I just can’t do it. I discussed this with my mom recently and she said she’d still help me pay for it if I wanted but I just don’t know if I ever could. Maybe it’s because I have a very kind and supportive boyfriend. I really don’t know. It really baffles me.

  20. Eat the Damn Cake » People Who Live on Hills responded on 29 Nov 2010 at 12:33 pm #

    [...] up on our children’s faces if my own nose genes aren’t a lot stronger (which they probably are. Nothing defeats my nose). It’s such a sweet, boyish nose, and yet, this is no boy it’s attached to. This is my husband. [...]

  21. Chloe responded on 20 Jan 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    I absolutely love the way you look, before and after!You kind of have that look I’ve always wanted. I have the whole cutesy thing going on, but I’ve always wanted to look kind of exactly like you, if that isn’t weird.
    I loved this post. My favorite so far, actually. Even though I’m too young, only eighth grade, to do plastic surgery, I’ve always been counting down the days until I could make myself “perfect” (a nose job to get rid of the dreaded little girl nose, a little breast reduction for comfort), but I read this and kind of stopped wanting it so badly. I can’t even imagine how my mom would feel about me changing the things she loves most about me. I like how I can read this blog and immediately feel a bit more confident with each post :)

  22. Avery responded on 15 Mar 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    Okay, this post is, like, six months old, but I’ve become addicted to your wit, and romantic (seeming?) life from here in an agricultural town in the south area of San Francisco bay, and thought that I should say that you look really (for lack of a better descriptive phrase) pretty. And exotic. And interesting. Like you could take an out-of-towner on a tour of the city, and you’d know all the staff in a cool little cafe that opens at 8 pm.
    Thanks for the post, and sharing bits of your life.

  23. Eat the Damn Cake » Perfecting the face responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    [...] me it always applies first and foremost to my face. I wrote about my nose job originally here, and here, when I went back for a consultation with another [...]

  24. Eat the Damn Cake » the toe hair story responded on 08 May 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    [...] she could tell I was Jewish from my nose, because it was big. And then again, when a girl told me I should get a nose job. When I learned that my breasts were small. And much, much, later, when I learned that I had too [...]

  25. Eat the Damn Cake » glasses giveaway and a little story responded on 16 Oct 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    [...] I still have a big nose. The nose job didn’t work. [...]