This review is long. But if you’re anything like me, you’re looking to read everything you can find because this is a huge decision you’re trying to make. Instagram photos and a pleasant office staff only tell you so much. I needed real reviews with lots of information. So this is to help others make the same, exciting, frightening, overwhelming decision that I made about 10 months ago.
I had been thinking about getting a nose job since I was a teenager and my nose first began to outgrow my face. The rest of my features, while prominent and vaguely ethnic began to recede in the background as my nose took over my face. I went from being the girl with the big, blue eyes and the full, pouty lips to The Nose. At least that’s how it felt. And isn’t that why we do this? We’re doing this because we want to change what we see and what we think everyone else sees when they look at us. When I looked in the mirror, all I saw was Nose. Whenever I took a picture, the first place I looked was my nose. How big did it look? Was I having a big-nose-day or a small-nose-day? How was the lighting and how did it affect my nose?
I was born in Los Angeles, was raised in Miami, and currently live in Orange County. Between these three places that I’ve called “home”, there has been no shortage of plastic surgeons that I could obsessively research. For me, I always felt that I would get a nose job if, and only if, I was ever able to find the right doctor. That was the linchpin to the entire ordeal. And I knew this would be difficult, sort of like that scene in Practical Magic where Sandra Bullock dreams up a man she believes she’ll never find so she can protect herself from the pain of falling in love. I imagined a doctor that I almost figured didn’t even exist.
I needed a doctor who was skilled, well-respected, board certified, and honest. I didn’t want someone to “sell” me a new nose. I wanted someone who could look at me, and objectively see the flaws I saw and could see how to fix them. I didn’t want someone who would immediately upsell me to a bunch of other procedures. I didn’t want someone who gave me a 3-D representation of what I “might” end up looking like. I didn’t want a snake oil salesman in scrubs. I didn’t want a doctor who was more concerned with his TV appearances than his clients. I didn’t want a doctor who made me feel uglier just by going to a consultation (some doctors/practices manipulate you into convincing you NEED them to give you a new nose, a bigger butt, etc. otherwise you’re hideous). I wanted someone who was direct. And I needed someone who would explain my surgery to me and explain what he was doing. If he couldn’t look at my surgery as a series of steps and plans and reasoning and properly explain it to me, then how was he going to be able to execute it in the operating room?
I know. I’m ridiculously picky. But shouldn’t I be? Shouldn’t I research this more than I research my next vacuum, or my next laptop computer purchase? It’s a permanent surgery, and a nose is the center of your face. So I knew finding the right doctor would be tough. Next to impossible. I was 34 years old when I found Dr. Rahban. You could probably say that I’ve been looking for him for about twenty years.
I also knew that my surgery was going to be trickier than most. We’re all special and unique little snowflakes, but my nose was going to be a tough one. I had researched enough online to know that I have a perfect storm of qualities that made my nose undesirable to work on. I didn’t have the type of nose that looked like a “home run.” You know, the kind where if you just shave off the hump then you’re left with the petite little turned up nose that the woman was born to have. That wasn’t my situation. I didn’t have a hump. I had thick skin and a bulbous, amorphous shape. A thick, oily, blob of a nose. Short nasal bones and a boxy tip with no real definition or shape. And again, it would be difficult to give the nose any shape because of that ridiculously thick, sebaceous skin of mine. The perfect storm. It’s the kind of nose that most doctors take one look at and say, “No thank you.”
I have made about five different consultation appointments with various plastic surgeons over the years. And then I would always cancel. Something didn’t look right in their before and after photos. Or a patient mentioned something in a review that didn’t sit right with me. When I found Dr. Rahban, I had already looked at his photos about four dozen times. Here is what I saw: each new nose was distinctly different. And each nose was a distinct improvement from the original nose. That’s what I was looking for. There are so many doctors who show picture after picture of the one-size-fits all nose job that they give to all their patients. Sometimes it looks great and sometimes it looks awful. And sometimes it looks great after the first year and then over time, it looks hideous. The nostrils begin to collapse and face takes on a pained, pinched appearance. I had seen enough bad nose jobs over the years to know that my original nose, as bad as it was, would be better than that fate.
There were three things that I wanted to change about my nose. 1) I wanted it to be less wide. I hated how my nostrils spread even more when I smiled. It looked like my nose swallowed my face. 2) I wanted it to look less blobby. Less bulbous. 3) The indent above my nose/between my eyes (the radix) is very, very deep. When I’m concentrating or reading, people comment that I look angry. It looks harsh and unwelcoming. It makes me look unhappy.
I made my appointment with Dr. Rahban after looking at all of his gallery photos. And I actually kept the appointment. When I met with Dr. Rahban, he breezed in the room with frenetic intensity. As quick-moving and as fast-talking as he is, he doesn’t miss a thing. He takes in every detail swiftly and begins assessing and analyzing.
He asked me what I wanted to change about my nose. I told him my three things: 1) the width; 2) the blobbiness; 3) the angry radix. He studied my face and said that he actually agreed with my assessment. By his estimation, I didn’t seem to be seeing things that were off-base. Then he told me how difficult the surgery would be. Not in a “this is gonna be real hard so I gotta charge you real money” kind of way. Just factually explaining the pitfalls and challenges for my particular nose. Many of which I already knew. Other insights were new information for me. Then he started outlining how he would tackle those problems. He demonstrated how my thick skin would respond by laying a stack of paper over a pen. He drew some sketches of what the tip of my nose would look like and how he would achieve it.
It felt so fast. Not rushed. Just fast. Because finally, after all these years, here was a man with a plan. A plan to give me a better nose.
I met with Sally, who is every bit the doll that she’s described to be in other reviews, just like everyone in the office. Sally gave me my price quote, and I choked a little bit on my saliva. My aunt had a nose job in the 1970’s. That was $5000. This was much, much more. This was more than many of the surgeons I had researched in OC and LA. But this was my Practical Magic doctor. And when it came to my surgery, saving a few thousand dollars just didn’t seem to make sense. I had already decided to do it. It’s easy to choose between the polyester Forever 21 blazer, the wool-blend Banana Republic blazer, and the wool Stella McCartney blazer. Sometimes you need an investment piece and sometimes you need a disposable wardrobe. A nose job is not disposable. So I set a date.
My surgery took about 6 hours to complete. It was scheduled for 4 hours. There weren’t any dramatic complications. I just had a tricky nose. And Dr. Rahban wasn’t going to close unless everything was perfect. That, right there, should tell you everything you need to know about this surgeon. How long will he operate? Will he treat you like you’re his only patient? Or are you just one nose, or one pair of boobs on an assembly line? That’s important. Because this is the only nose job I’m getting. This will be the only boob job/nose job/mommy makeover you’re getting. And that’s just how work is. You ever get assigned a task and think it’ll only take an hour and then three hours later you’re still working on it? Happens all the time, right? Apparently, it happens to surgeons too. I needed a surgeon who would keep on working until the job was complete, even if the amount of time he allotted for my surgery had already expired.
I hesitate to share this last bit. Throughout my obsessive process of researching various plastic surgeons I began following a ton of the big names and well-reviewed ones on Instagram. There’s one, very prominent surgeon, who posted his surgery schedule for the day. I was shocked. He had four back-to-back surgeries scheduled. Two rhinoplasties and two breast augmentations. He was proud. His caption was something like “So blessed to be able to help so many amazing people. #changinglives” I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the idea.
What was supposed to be a happy post humblebragging about his surgery schedule was one of the largest indicators that this was not a surgeon for me. Had I been this surgeon’s patient, there’s no way he would have given my surgery the time and attention it needed to be successful. Doctors who have a full day of multiple surgeries can afford to charge less, but you’re getting a Banana Republic blazer, not Stella McCartney. Truth be told, I don’t actually even own any Stella McCartney clothing. But my nose is different. It won’t get tossed in the back of my car after a long day. It won’t get passed on to my cousin when I get tired of the cut. It’s there. Forever.
My nose job was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. When I take a picture, I don’t hate what I see. I got married in May of this year, and I love my wedding photos. I still have big-nose-days and small-nose-days and a lot of that is because my swelling is still going down. I”ll post some pictures, but what you’ll see isn’t even the final finished product. That thick skin still has a way to go to get to where I need it to be.
My friends and family describe my nose as “me” just better. A lot better. And that was exactly what I wanted. A nose isn’t a bookshelf. You don’t pick one out in a catalog and then hope it will just go with the rest of the room. Dr. Rahban studied my face, my vaguely ethnic features, and gave me the nose that I was always meant to have.
I read once that Michelangelo said that every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to release it. That’s what Dr. Rahban did. He released the nose I was meant to have from the blob. And like a great artist, he used his knowledge of medicine, and architecture, and art to set it free. Thank you, Dr. Rahban. In setting my beautiful nose free, you’ve set me free, in more ways than you’ll ever know.