Here is my story:
Being that I am from Armenian descent, I come from a long line of large noses. More specifically not only large, but with a hump. A roman nose / hawk nose...my original was very similar to Steve Perry (the lead singer of the band Journey). Eek, right? My nose really began to blossom when I was in middle school. I was teased quite a bit during this time, called big nose, etc. I always tried to put on a brave and happy face, but the cruel words, along with how I already felt about my nose, really took a toll on my confidence and self esteem. So at 13 years old I begged my parents to let me get a nose job. They agreed and found someone willing to take on someone so young. Surgery #1:The procedure was just a minor one...just filing the hump barely. Just enough I believe to appease me. It did make me feel better for the time being, but it was truly so minor that I knew when I turned 18, I would have another surgery.
By 19 years of age, I found my surgeon. He was considered to be the best plastic surgeon in Connecticut and noses were his specialty. A friend of mine had her rhinoplasty done by him and it looked great. I was completely sold. So he did Surgery #2...Bandages came off and I could see the difference. I was pretty happy for sure. A year passed swelling went down and I was somewhat content...except that I was having trouble now breathing through my left nostril. Scar tissue had built up a little too much. I revisited the surgeon and he said he could do a minor procedure to go in and clean out some of the excess scar tissue. So I agreed....and right before he put me under I asked if he could revise the tip a little more. This was a mistake that I will forever regret. The bandages came off and immediately I could see that he took to much off. My Dad actually sobbed. I refer to it as being Michael Jackson-ed. I vowed I would never go under the knife again after that day. That was surgery #3.
Fast forward now 20 years later...
My nose got even weirder looking as I aged...what I learned through the years was that too much cartilage was taken from my nose. It was a technique that was quite popular back in the 80's-90's along with giving the nose an upturned look. Basically projecting the tip up - I think it was considered cute back then. But one size does not fit all, which was certainly the case with my situation. As I aged along with having such a high projection, it also was quite crooked. Crooked to the point that I was asked if I was in a car accident, did I have a stroke? So with the support of my husband I decided to start the search again for the best surgeon that could make even the slightest improvement. I being in my 40's now, was completely realistic of my goals for this. I wasn't looking for beauty at this point..if we could just get it to look more normal I would be happy, just even a little better I thought.
I was once told that the nose should really not be noticed on a face, it's functional...You should just notice the more attractive parts when you look at someone - their eyes and smile. When a nose is off you don't see their face anymore. The focus goes to what is off.
Looking for Surgery #4...
So, my search began...first seeing a couple local plastic surgeons in the Rhode Island area with great references. During both visits they told me that they would not touch my nose, too risky, and that I needed to consult with a specialist in revision rhinoplasty. I was given the name of someone in NYC. At this time the words of these two surgeons started to ring in my head, a difficult nose, too risky, etc... I started to feel overwhelmed and that I should just give up.
Then, a friend who knew I was struggling encouraged me to make an appointment with her brother, an ENT specialist / Plastic Surgeon in Cambridge, Ma. just for another opinion before I truly gave up. He examined me thoroughly and felt that it absolutely was doable and that my best chance for a successful outcome would be with Revision Rhino/Septoplasty specialist Dr. Jaimie DeRosa. He shared with me that he has sent the toughest cases to her resulting in fabulous results. So with cautious optimism I agreed to go and have a consult.
First, I must admit that I had some weird preconceived notion that a woman would not be as good as a male surgeon. Where the heck in my upbringing did this slip into my consciousness? I'm honestly not sure...it's ridiculous and I am embarrassed to say it, but I'm glad I am because other friends have admitted that they have shared the same thoughts as well. So maybe it needs to be spoken about..perhaps not in this article you are writing, but in another to celebrate fabulous women surgeons!
On to my consult with Dr. DeRosa...I step into this great aesthetically pleasing lofty office space. White and bright with contemporary abstract art covering the walls. Most as I remember with different shades and textures of beautiful blues. A calming and happy effect for sure. The receptionist was equally as pleasant as she guided me on filling out the usual heath history forms on the Ipad. I thought wow how hi-tech everything has become. I haven't even met Dr. DeRosa yet and I'm already feeling truly engaged and excited about this whole experience. This place felt different from all my other office visits.
I am then escorted to the beautiful well designed room, my heart starts to beat fast while I wait for Dr. DeRosa to make her entrance. Then in Dr. DeRosa walks...she greets me with the biggest and warmest smile...I begin to smile and probably speak way to fast, and then she too begins speaking fast and smiling more. I think we were like two school girls at that moment.. her energy was just so exciting, so relatable and simply comfortable. What a nice feeling and opening for a consult.
Then to the meat and potatoes...
Photos were taken: straight on, 90 degree, profile and chin up to get the nostrils - no biggy...Dr. DeRosa makes you feel completely comfortable doing this.
She then brings in these photos and next to it another photo that she has created of what she thinks with surgery can be obtained. This blows my mind. It's looks like a pretty normal nose.
She then with a full on focused energy explains in detail all the nuances that make up my nose. What she believes happened to my nose to make it so odd looking. She is articulate and clear in every detail that she explains. She offers her expertise and confidently says I can make your nose look like you have never had a nose job. It's going to take a lot, but if you trust me, I know we can get you there, and I will be with you every step of the way. She told me that I would hate my nose when the bandages came off, and I would probably hate it for 3 months, but with patience and her guidance it would eventually be fabulous and truly look like I never had any kind of nose reconstruction and along with that my breathing would be better(I also had a septoplasty for my deviated septum).
Booked my My Surgery for January 20th-
I swear I think I felt like a movie star the way I was treated at the Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston (I hope I have that name right - you might want to check with Dr. D on that.)
What a great facility, and Dr. DeRosa's team was magnificent. I felt completely like I was in the best of hands. Truly knowledgeable and skilled from the nurses to the anesthesiologist - professional, confident, skilled and warm - I truly didn't even have time to be nervous...their expertise and kindness made me feel completely at ease. I believe my surgery took 5-6 hours in total being that I was a total reconstruction..as I spoke about earlier to much cartilage in a prior surgery had been removed. This had to be put back to create a better form. So they do this by taking cartilage from a rib or ear. I believe it was determined that I needed a rib at that time maybe because the ear cartilage wasn't big enough for what I needed? I'm not totally sure.
When waking up in the recovery room I felt a little pain for sure. I was then immediately given oxycontin through the IV. That completely took every bit of pain away. It was pretty incredible. Dr. DeRosa spoke to me briefly to tell me how well the surgery went and that she was so excited when she placed my skin back on my nose to see how it would look...she said it looked perfect. She also told me how she had to open my nose fully because of all the scar tissue - basically she had to cut through a lot of it , which potentially would mean more swelling. I think I may have left the hospital within a few hours after that since this was an outpatient procedure. My husband drove us back home to Rhode Island. Although a little looped up from the meds I was pretty pain free the entire day, until maybe that evening that I took one Vicodin prescribed. I then slept and slept and slept.
I have to say that the next day I was able to walk around. I was just pretty sleepy so I honored my need to rest and did just that. Ice was applied as well to my eyes which were already black and blue and just about swollen shut. I was a sight for sure. Dr. DeRosa and her staff did some check in calls during this time. I think I only took one more vicodin that night and the the following days was just regular tylenol. The pain was surprisingly manageable.
6 Day - Bandages come off...
The big reveal and a reveal it was. Dr. DeRosa warned me. We both said wow it looks like a big blob. Phew, really took my breath away. I had insane swelling - only because she had to do so much cutting of the adhesions...a nose that hasn't been touched, as with first time rhinoplasties would most likely not experience this kind of swelling. My nose, it's tissue and capillaries were already compromised from the previous surgeries I had. She really was a rock for me through this. Realistically I knew the swelling eventually would go away but wowza it was something to behold. This is the time you need that rock of a surgeon to look you in the eyes, and tell you that this is temporary, we are in this together, you are going to be alright. Trust me after three months you will love your nose....and so it was - each day that passed was more and more of an improvement.
I was back to work by 2 and a half weeks...I have a very physical job as a massage therapist so I stayed out a little longer that perhaps someone with a desk job. My nose fairly quickly did start to take shape and with a little make up contouring I felt comfortable in public. At this time, I and family and friends were seeing how truly different and pretty wonderful my nose was going to be. I felt all that Dr. DeRosa had said to me on that first consult was truly happening before my eyes. I had a few more appointments with her as months past. She was always available to me if I needed to ask a question in between our appointments as well. I felt so supported and knew that this was the best thing I could have ever done for myself.
Dr. DeRosa felt different from any other surgeon I have consulted with in the past. She embodies not only the fierce skills of the best there is in surgeons but also the heart. She is and artist, a nose is probably the most complicated surgery for a plastic surgeon to perform, because there are so many angles and projections you have to look at to get it right. It takes not only a certain trained formula and expertise to accomplish this, but also someone dedicated and passionate that will stay as many hours as it's gonna take to get it right. I know from experience that most plastic surgeons are looking to spend no more than hour and a half, two hours max on someone’s Rhinoplasty. It generally takes much longer truly to get it right. A nose with all of its intricacies needs to be finessed in a way that only an artist’s eye can accomplish, it takes time. Dr. DeRosa cares so much, her heart is in it... a perfectionist that truly dedicates the time because she wants to help a person feel better about themselves. She truly changes lives.
I have sat with Dr. DeRosa countlessly thanking her of how she has changed my life. A abnormality on ones face can be a big deal...for me it meant hiding behind my hair, extra makeup, not looking someone in the eyes when speaking to them...eek and forget about being in a photo, thank god for photoshop. I know now at 51 about 3 years after my surgery I feel so much more confident. My nose simply looks normal. I wear my hair back now...I'm fine without makeup...my confidence has shown up in so many ways. I feel like I have this whole new life now truly thanks to Dr. DeRosa.