A recent question on my rhinoplasty blog post about the “other side” of rhinoplasty (the emotional and mental) made me decide to share with you what I personally experienced. There are plenty of people all over the internet sharing what to expect physically, but there doesn’t really seem to be much on what to expect mentally. So, I’m going to take you back on my journey with me—this time however, I am going to cover it from inside my mind.
During the week after my surgery I wasn’t really concerned with my appearance. Perhaps it was because I had the nose cast and it covered a good amount of my face. The day that the cast was removed was when I realized it really takes mental strength to recover from rhinoplasty. I still remember having the cast removed, walking up to the mirror and thinking, “Oh, gosh. What did I do?!”
The girls at the doctor’s office were telling me how great my nose looked, and I remember thinking, “Are you kidding? I look freaky.” Of course, it’s easier to understand about swelling when you see people with rhinoplasty on a daily basis, but I had never had a rhinoplasty so I was just freaking out inside.
The Reveal of My “New Nose”
I had asked a good friend of mine to drive me to the appointment because I felt too weird to drive after being on Vicodin for a week—not to mention, I don’t think I was legally allowed to drive because of that. When we got back to the car I pulled down the visor mirror and stared at my frightening appearance.
I turned to my friend, “I look like an old baby. Look at this, I have jowls! Why aren’t you freaking out??” And I’ll never forget his response—which actually really helped me more than he knows. He said, “I’m not freaking out because you are going to be fine. The swelling will go away, and you’ll get used to having a different nose.”
He dropped me off at my house, I waved bye, unlocked the front door and was dreading having to be teased by my family. It was right then that I realized I needed to be able to laugh at myself. I thought, “This is a temporary situation, and in a few years when all the change has happened, I’ll look back and see how silly I was being”—so I went in. And we did, we all had a good laugh at how insane the swelling looked.
Here let’s have another laugh:
Quick side note: When I took this picture I thought I would NEVER EVER show it to anyone. But now, I show it to everyone because I’ve come a long way and I can see the comedy in this.
Later on that day, I remember sitting in my room looking in the mirror and feeling pretty freaked out about my decision to have surgery. Then, I remembered what my friend had told me.
I had to mentally coach myself. I said, “Of course you look ridiculous right now. Your body just experienced a lot of trauma. It is expected, and normal, to be swollen and bruised. And it makes sense that seeing that would feel scary.”
My thoughts drifted back to an experience I had when I was younger, and I’d tried to play a prank on a friend.
I had turned off all the lights and ran full speed down the hall, in an attempt to hide and pop out to scare her.
However, I ended up running full speed into the corner of a wall! I, of course, tumbled backwards and fell. She came out and turned on the lights (go figure) and found me holding my face, lying flat on my back on the floor. I got up, went to a mirror, and removed my hand to take a look.
It looked like someone had put a golf ball under my eyebrow—I seriously looked like Quasimodo. It was the ugliest thing I had ever seen, and therefore, the funniest. We laughed for 15 minutes straight!
I looked ridiculous, but eventually the golf ball swelling went away, and I returned to my normal-looking self. So, I knew that I had to face the same thing here. I would be fine. The swelling will be gone, the bruises would go away, and I’d soon look back on the experience with the details fading away. I needed to be like that younger version of myself. I needed to take a step back, keep calm, and find the comedy in the situation.
The Emotions That Come With A Rhinoplasty
The “old-baby fiasco” (as I like to call it) was on Saturday. I didn’t look at myself again until Monday because I didn’t want to obsess over it. But of course, in-spite of that, it was still depressing being swollen and bruised.
Monday night I had class and I had to figure out what I was going to do about me, the old-looking-baby. LOL
Washing and doing my hair, along with putting on makeup, made a BIG difference. I felt way better already. I could still tell that my face was swollen but I knew that people who had never seen me before wouldn’t know any different. It’s hard facing the public when you think you look terrible — so, for your own sanity it’s important to stay positive.
A few days later I was sitting in front of my bedroom mirror and looking at a face staring back at me that I did not recognize.
I almost felt sad in a way. I was so used to my other nose—and even though I hated it, it was my nose. It was unexpected to have a completely new-looking nose. Additionally, it seemed like my entire face had changed. My eyes seemed rounder and less almond like they used to be. I obviously still had swelling in my face, so everything looked really round—all the nice angles I had before were gone. It’s hard coming to terms with a “new appearance”, and nobody really warned me about that.
While I was healing, I had to constantly remind myself that I had “a long way to go and this was not the final result“.
All the research that I did prior to the rhinoplasty had taught me that it takes at least a year for most of the swelling to go away, and up to two years for the rest. That is a long time to wait, but I had wanted a rhinoplasty for longer than that — I could wait again.
I just needed to be patient and not obsess over my current appearance. That takes a lot of will power. You have to be aware of and in control of your thoughts. (It really helps if you stay away from mirrors and keep yourself busy.)
As I mentioned in my rhinoplasty journey post, the swelling in my face stayed for at least a month. So yes, I had days where I felt ugly and weird, but I just kept reminding myself that I was still healing and this was not the final result. I also found it helpful to intentionally point out something I did like.
After the month mark the “roundness” really started to disappear, but then I saw a flipped up nose. It felt like one bad turn after another. I talked to the doctor about the flippy-ness, and he assured me that this was just the swelling (and he was right btw).
Around the fourth month, my nose started to look a lot less flipped up or “piggy”. It was then that I really really liked the new shape that it was taking on. I kept looking at my before pictures and thinking, “Even though my nose is not completely healed now, it definitely looks a hundred times better than it did before.”
Then around the six month mark I started to see a resemblance of my “old nose”. It was a little depressing and made me feel a little freaked out. It wasn’t like the hump was growing back (that would be really freaky) but the tip was starting to look similar to the way it was before (a bit of a round bulb tip). And to top it off, the swelling had become so uneven my nose almost looked a little crooked. Talk about a roller coaster of emotions.
My Two Cents About Rhinoplasty Emotions
With all the ups and down, I realized that your brain needs time to adjust to seeing something new. I observed how, at first I hated how I had a “new nose”, and then when my “old nose” made a subtle appearance I hated that. And it was really because I had started to adjust to the current way my nose looked.
I had to laugh at myself, and remind myself that I still had at least six months to go. From then and all the way to the one year mark my nose was not at “its best & final stage”, and I honestly didn’t love love it. Don’t get me wrong, I always thought it was an improvement, but I suppose there was a mismatch between what I had expected and what I was actually seeing.
What really helped me was to keep looking at my old pictures and seeing what a difference this nose was making. Even if my nose had imperfections, my overall appearance had improved by my standards—and that’s what counts. During the journey, I had to teach myself to not be a perfectionist (still working on that but I am much better) and enjoy the “good side” of things.
There was definitely a lot of self-talk & coaching. I learned a lot during that period.
The truth is: We are our own worst critics. We pick ourselves apart, compare ourselves to others, and many times let negative emotions control our minds.
Eleanor Roosvelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” And that includes you—don’t allow yourself to make yourself feel bad. Rhinoplasty can really do a number in your head if you let it. You have to accept change. You have to look for the positive, and maybe most importantly, you have to let go of perfection and accept yourself at the state that you’re currently in.
At the time of this post, I am currently at two years and six months, and even now, my nose is different from how it was a year ago. So, do your best to mentally prepare for a butterfly effect, where you’ve basically just got to wait out all the swelling.
Help Yourself Have An Easier Emotional Journey
Before I chose my doctor I had looked at A LOT of doctors, and like I’ve already said: when you make the decision to get surgery just make sure you like the doctor’s work — I liked my doctor’s. Even though doctors say they don’t cookie-cut, they do. They still use similar techniques, they still design from their perspective, and their take on what is beautiful. Some doctors do really deep flippy noses, others do really straight, and everything in-between. Bottom line: there are many different doctors delivering all types of different looking noses.
I personally think this really explains the phenomenon of two people going to the same doctor, and one loving the result, and the other not loving the result.
I chose Dr. Grigoryants because in my opinion, he leaves a little resemblance of the old nose, and he gives a nice slight curve from the bridge to the tip of the nose—in addition to the fact that he was personable, honest, knowledgeable, and experienced in rhinoplasty.
I seriously implore anyone who hasn’t had rhinoplasty not to go to a doctor and ask for a specific-looking nose. If you want a straight nose, then you need to go to a doctor who consistently does that. If you want a supra tip, go to a doctor who does supra tips. Trust me, if you are looking through a portfolio and thinking, “These noses look too flippy” you’re in the wrong office. I don’t care what the doctor promises you, there’s a very good chance you end up looking like the patients in his/her book—so it’s imperative that you like his or her work.
Having said that, you need to know what you want and what looks best for you. Go have different consultations—ask the doctors what they would like to do and take it into consideration. Don’t have surgery and blame a straight nose guy for giving you a straight nose; honestly, that is your fault. You wouldn’t go to Pablo Picasso and ask for a duplicate of the Sistine Chapel would you? Gosh, I hope not.
So the point is: seeing your face changed/change is an emotional experience, and if you didn’t do your due diligence, then I could see how much harder the whole experience would be. And that’s not what I want for you.
How I Coped With Rhinoplasty Depression
Now, for those of you who have had rhinoplasty, patience is your biggest friend. Healing takes A LOT of time. Let me say that again: healing takes A LOT of time.
Definitely 1-2 years at the very least. I still feel like I have a tiny bit of swelling inside my nose, and my nose still does that whole swollen in the morning thing. Everyone experiences different stages at different times, so don’t worry. Just be patient.
If your nose is still on your face, you can breathe, and it’s far from “jacked up”, then you’re in good shape. My nose is not perfect. There are little things about it that occasionally bugs me, and there are still unknowns that I sometimes get freaked out about (like what if my nose gets really skinny or the tip goes crooked with time)—but I can say even with the imperfections, I like my nose thousand times more than I did before surgery.
I think sometimes we get stuck fixating on small details instead of looking at a bigger picture. So zoom out, and take a good look because I’m sure you’re beautiful.
As a close to this journey, here’s my five simple tips I used to cope with the “depression” of rhinoplasty:
- Don’t obsess over it. I can’t say it enough: you have to be patient.
- Focus on the positive. There are going to be things you don’t like. That’s ok. It’s when you only see the things that you dislike that you mentally/emotionally take a hit.
- Look at the BIG picture. And old pictures. Look at what a difference the rhinoplasty has made for your overall appearance. P.S. That might be in a few months time.
- Accept yourself. We are all beautiful in our own ways. Those who believe they are beautiful will be, and those who don’t, won’t. If you allow yourself to love your new look, you will be happy. If you tell yourself how much you hate it, you will be miserable. It is simple. Not necessarily easy, but simple, yes.
- Take care of yourself and find balance. Give your mind positive thoughts. You have to give your body nutrients, exercise, and water. You have to nurture your soul. When we lead balanced lives it is easier to be happy and fulfilled. So take care of yourself and find the balance.
Hang in there because things do and will get better!