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Friday, 7 August 2015

My Plastic Surgery Experience

Some people who have plastic surgery are embarrassed by it, or like to pretend it didn't happen. I'm not going to do that, as my whole face changed so it would be stupid to even try, but mostly I'm not ashamed one bit, so why would I hide it?

I remember exactly when I became aware of my nose (which is a weird sentence in itself). It was a random weekend, I must have been maybe 12 or so, and I was sat with my parents watching Saturday morning telly whilst they read the paper. I was sat on the floor and my dad was on the sofa and he leant forward and gestured to my nose and said, "You're getting a Redman nose!" That doesn't mean much to anyone but Redman is my mum's maiden name and the hereditary feature of her side of the family is a larger nose with a bump/crook in it.

I had never thought twice about my nose before - I'd never even noticed it. But suddenly someone had pointed it out as some sort of noticeable feature and it felt like I'd been punched in the gut. My poor dad was of course only joking around and had no clue of the nerve he'd touched, but I remember going up to the bathroom later and looking at my nose in profile and feeling such horror. I'd always been a chubby kid growing up and had been called 'fat' plenty of times, but to have something else to feel self-conscious about and potentially be made fun of for was just awful. And there was nothing I could do about it.

Time passed, teens hit, I got terrible acne and had that to feel self-conscious about, too. I envied the pretty girls in sixth form with their symmetrical features and perfect skin whilst I battled chub, spots and a nose I could no longer see past. We went to visit my aunt in Bristol and I surreptitiously looked to see if she had the fabled 'Redman nose', but hers was missing. Why? I asked my mum and she replied that Aunt Carol had had a nose job, that's why hers was no longer there - two, in fact! That confused me a little. I didn't think normal people had nose jobs, just celebrities.

I went off to uni, and made super close friends and we complained together about the bits we didn't like about ourselves and the things we'd love to change if we had time, money and the balls to do it! "Complete overhaul" was every girl's general consensus, which says a lot about female body image these days. I was paranoid about being the fattest amongst all of the female freshers (which is a ridiculous concern) and became obsessed with my weight - for the first time I was living away from home and was in complete control of my diet. I lived pretty much off of a tin of soup a day and went fanatically to the gym and exercise classes. I dropped about 3 1/2 stone in around 3 - 4 months, but it wasn't healthy, hence why I've ended up putting it all back on. I thought it made me feel better about myself - it made me feel more confident to a point, but I still picked myself apart in the mirror and merely moved my goalposts the minute I achieved them. I got down to 10 stone something, so then I aimed for 9 stone something - suddenly I was aiming for 8 stone something and as a bigger-boned girl to begin with it didn't look right and it was all a bit stupid. On a night out a boy came up to me and said, "So when did you break your nose?" and I was utterly inconsolable. I thought I'd never feel good about myself.

My old nose in its full glory!

Finally, I told my mum how I was feeling and how much it bothered me. I thought she'd laugh at me but she was so supportive, and started researching with me. Surgery wasn't unheard of in my family because of my aunt, but my dad was dead against it. My mum just wanted me to be happy. We found a well-respected surgeon who specialised in rhinoplasty and who was local; we went to meet with him and he took photos and explained the procedure to me frankly and realistically. He told me I would not get a perfect nose, that that didn't exist. He measured my face, said that I still needed a "strong" nose to suit it, but that he could fix my bump and sort out the what-I-saw-as misshapen end. But that he could make no promises of the end result and that he would rather do too little than too much. I agreed, I was scared to have a "ski-slope" if he took too much away and frankly a little scared about it all. But I wanted it more than anything - I had learnt that with dedication I could change my body shape, but bone was something I could not change without help. We booked the surgery.

I had it in 2013 and it was super scary, I'm not going to lie. But I was also so, so excited. I threw a 'goodbye to my nose' party. I had no idea what my face would look like - that was honestly one of the scariest parts. My surgeon explained all about the hammers and how it was quite brutal and that often your bones had to be broken to allow the nose to sit smoothly after the bump had been chipped away. This was all words, really, it didn't particularly sink in - I just wanted to go for it.

The morning of the operation I wasn't allowed any food, just water. I was booked in to be the first operation of the day which was comforting as I thought my surgeon would be mostly fresh for the day and not tired after a long shift. The hospital was private and just outside Swindon. I had my own room with a little en suite where I had to put on the anti-blood-clot sock things and change into my surgery gown. My parents then had to leave which was the worst part! The surgeon came to meet me and then a little later the nurses wheeled me to the elevator and down to surgery. When  we passed people in the corridor I wondered what they thought I was going to have done.

The room just before the operating theatre was the scariest part. There were bright, cold lights that made you squint and a lot of people busying around. My anaesthetist was talking away to his assistant and I lay there while machines beeped and thought, what the fuck have I got myself into. I for the first time thought, what if I don't wake up? Which I know is ridiculous, but at the time it didn't seem it. I remember the anaesthetist asking what I wanted to do when I finished uni (it was the Easter holidays of final year) and I said be an author and they joked and said, "Like J K Rowling? Fair, you'd earn more than us." I remember the canular hurting like hell, really a lot more than I thought it would, and them starting to count down from ten, then nothing.

When I woke up I felt like a bus had hit me. My head and face were just so....heavy? Just thick and fuzzy and I felt bruised and swollen and sore. I could barely keep my eyes open as the nurses chatted to me - they told me I was in recovery, and then that I was being wheeled back up to my room, but I just felt so out of it. I remember leaning to one side and seeing people in the hallways again and thinking that I must look fricking awful. Later, my parents came to visit me and my mum told me afterwards that that was the point she thought, "What have I let her do?" I suppose it's scary to see your child with bandages all over their face! I had padding under my nose too to stop any leaking and I was just so uncomfortable - all they could give me was ibuprofen which was a little underwhelming. I expected morphine or something I think. I remember peeing was a nightmare as I could NOT use a bed pan - I was clearly just far too well trained as a toddler - so I had to drag my drip to the loo with me and felt very light headed the whole time.

Overall, though, recovery was sore, and I felt very bruised, but it was not too bad. I was home the next day and propped up on pillows on my sofa. Within a couple of days I was up and about and actually this was when me and Tom first got together - he's a keeper if you take into account what my face was like at this stage! I had black eyes and a very puffy face. But I refused to act like I was ill. I wasn't. I'd chosen to have the surgery, and after the first two days I honestly felt fine. The massive padding was gone from my face and I just had the splint on my nose and flesh-coloured plasters keeping everything in place. So, I went out and about. I went over to Tom's house - for the first time ever I may add. He was scared of hurting me when we kissed but we figured it out. We spontaneously decided to join his step-brother and his girlfriend on a trip to Bournemouth. I was nervous of going but I thought, fuck it. I feel fine. I forgot I was wearing the bandages/splint and was surprised when people kept looking at me funny. It was honestly shocking how many people came up and asked me what had happened, whether it was a car accident, a fight. I would never ask someone who I saw with 'injuries' that, but maybe I'm the unusual one there?! At a bar a poor drunk girl came up to me and slurred that her boyfriend "beats her too".

About 8 days after the surgery I went back to have my splint, stitches and plasters removed. My heart was in my throat. I was so scared my whole nose would come off with the padding - literally. I had no idea what I would look like.

I was ever so disappointed. I expected a magical transformation to beauty and a lovely, face-changing straight nose. Instead my nose was puffy, swollen and misshapen from the plasters. I had terrible white-headed spots where the plasters had been keeping my skin trapped, sweat and dead skin and all, for eight days. I was convinced there was still a huge bump. I hated it. I went outside and sat with my mum and cried. And actually the results are great, but it was a very emotional time.

The lesson here? Don't expect a miracle. Be realistic. Surgery is surgery. You need time to heal. Rhinoplasty can take six months to a year to settle and show the true, final result. I'm so glad I had my mum to support me and to help me research, and I'm glad there is the tiniest hint of bump left on my nose instead of a concave slip. It's still my nose, and it means my doctor stuck to his word and wanted it to look natural. You wouldn't be able to tell I've had a nose job which is exactly how I wanted it to be. But I have, and I'm so glad I did. Although as a girl I still have body woes and confidence issues, it has genuinely helped. I now have more confidence with new people and new situations - I feel I am being whispered about and judged a little less, as crazy as that sounds. It has given me the confidence to go for my PGCE and become a teacher - I know that kids can be cruel, and it's scary as hell to stand in front of a room of 30 grumpy teenagers and try to make them like you and listen to you. And having the nose job has made me feel more confident in doing so.

This is very long and rambly but I thought I should share. I do not regret my surgery and feel that it can genuinely be the option for some people. But you need to do your research, meet your surgeon first and be realistic with your expectations. It isn't something that should be gone into light-heartedly but if anyone has any questions about my experience then do pop me an email!

My nose now!


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