Sculpting Identity: Rhinoplasty

We all have some type of anxiety at some point in our lives. All anxieties live in our bodies, but when it comes to anxieties about our bodies, we are apprehensive and feel somewhat sensitive towards certain features of our bodies that we may not like and would like to change. We constantly see celebrities […]

We all have some type of anxiety at some point in our lives. All anxieties live in our bodies, but when it comes to anxieties about our bodies, we are apprehensive and feel somewhat sensitive towards certain features of our bodies that we may not like and would like to change. We constantly see celebrities on magazine covers, ads, billboards and the like to sell products such as soft drinks, cosmetics and clothes, setting higher standards of how our bodies should look like and what some of us even strive to attain. We embrace these standards because it has now become the norm of society, even though celebrities themselves sometimes cannot maintain these standards without some type of intervention. Often, this type of intervention comes in the form of cosmetic surgery,rhinoplasty.

For centuries, people have used cosmetic surgery to improve or even protect their place in society. Plastic surgery offers consumers the opportunity to recreate their appearance. Change a part of yourself that you think may need fixing. It sells norms of youth and beauty and it promises to fix socially undesirable physical features. Plastic surgery promotes a youthful appearance and can even delay the point at which we begin to show aging. When you really think about it, many people who undergo plastic surgery want their results to be viewed, however at the same time, they don’t want to draw too much attraction to themselves, meaning for it to remain undetectable. There are even a number of people who are completely against plastic surgery and promote the fact that we should accept what we’ve been given and to love ourselves just the way we are. Sounds too familiar doesn’t it? We live in a society where at times, people just don’t accept others for who they are which makes us succumb to these pressures. Time and time again is it said to accept and live with our differences and not change in order to please everyone else.

Rhinoplasty, or more commonly known as a “nose job” is a cosmetic surgery procedure that is meant to correct and reconstruct the nose. Our nose is a prominent feature of the face. The shape of the nose can be instilled with assumptions about one’s character and place in society. For over two millennia, various efforts and attempts have been made to fix undesirably shaped noses by means of cosmetic surgery. Rhinoplasty can include reforming the shape of the nose, restoring the functions of the nose, or correcting congenital defect or nasal trauma. Not all nose jobs are performed with the intention of enhancing one’s appearance. Despite rhinoplasty seeming like a modern medical advancement, in one form or another, it has been around since ancient times. One of the very first instances of rhinoplasty development was in India, where the procedure was performed in the sixth century B.C. A Hindu surgeon used skin from the forehead of a patient to form a new nose. Rhinoplasty was then developed throughout history and was used to reconstruct the nose after an accident or punishment. Different methods were used to reconstruct the nose and one of the most popular procedures involved taking skin from the patient’s arm and attaching it onto their face in an effort to make a new nose. It was until 1898 when rhinoplasty was first used for cosmetic purposes. A surgeon had successfully performed rhinoplasty for a patient who disliked his nose and from then onwards this unique cosmetic procedure was further developed.

By the 20th century, the advancements in war including sniper rifles, poisonous gases and trench warfare, made the noses, lips and jaws of soldiers vulnerable. As a result of facial injuries, it drove surgeons to experiments with technique to replace damaged or lost body features. Even though surgeons could only do so much then with the technology they had, individualised metal masks were also created to cover missing or deformed noses, eyes, lips, and jaws of wounded men. Plastic surgery did in fact help soldiers with wounds to reconstruct their faces which allowed society to accept cosmetic surgery. The benefits of medical advancements made in reconstructive surgery during the war were available internationally, however, plastic surgery boomed in America during this time. It became common among Hollywood actors and actresses from the 1930s. Plastic surgery began to gain popularity and Americans wished to cure themselves of socially undesirable features such as large noses, undistinguished jaw lines or any other features that did not conform to modern ideals of beauty. By doing so, they sought out doctors who would cut and sculpt their face to their desire. From then, plastic surgery has been perceived as something that only those who are wealthy (such as celebrities) are able to afford. Today, rhinoplasty is considered the second most popular type of cosmetic surgery, right after breast augmentation.

Going back to what was mentioned before, not all rhinoplasty procedures are solely to improve one’s appearance. There are many different types of rhinoplasty surgeries which depend on the desired results. Some of the most common procedures include:
Revision rhinoplasty: This type of nasal surgery is performed when problems develop or persist after a previous rhinoplasty procedure.
Reduction rhinoplasty: This procedure is performed on patients who wish to reduce the size of their nose.
Tip rhinoplasty: This surgery is for patients who wish to have a more refined and elegant nose tip.
Augmentation rhinoplasty: Patients who want to increase the dimensions of their nose opt for this type of procedure.
Non-surgical rhinoplasty: This type of procedure is used to alter the shape and appearance of the nose without surgery; this is achieved with injectable fillers.

The plastic surgeon is essentially a sculptor who can change and remake the body in a way that looks natural. However, we all know that they don’t always succeed. We’ve heard and seen the unfortunate stories about surgeries that have gone wrong. This is when the plastic surgery is noticeably visible (not in a good way) and the patient is unhappy with the end result. In situations like these, people tend to judge the appearance of those with an unsuccessful surgery which creates social fears of disfigurement. The aesthetic value of a person’s nose ultimately reflects historical and cultural beliefs on beauty.

There is always a degree of risk when choosing to undergo rhinoplasty. No one want to spend thousands of dollars on a surgery that doesn’t meet their expectations. Wasting their time, money and in some cases, leaving them with a nose that is much worse than what they originally had. No surgeon can guarantee a 100% successful surgery, but there are things you can do before you choose the surgeon and clinic to deliver the procedure and aftercare. Any type of plastic surgery is expensive. Typically ranging in the thousands, well-developed countries such as New Zealand, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom have excellent facilities to perform cosmetic surgery. However, a lot of people cannot afford or don’t want to spend on the price of surgery in their own home country. Plastic surgery has come a long way since the ancient times, and as technology continually advances, more and more countries are able to offer the same kinds of services for a fraction of the price.

This is where medical tourism comes in. If you knew a medical procedure could be done at the same quality but half the price internationally, would you jump on a place and have it done? Not surprisingly, many people will take the chance. Medical tourism is having a significant impact on global healthcare where the health system in developed countries is straining under the weight of an ageing population and very long waiting lists for surgery. Thailand is currently leading the world as a medical tourism destination. With millions of people visiting Thailand purely for plastic surgery, Thailand is earning billions of dollars in revenue from the industry. This revenue allows for hospitals in Thailand to constantly have the latest technological equipment to deliver quality plastic surgery and care. People want value for money, and if it means travelling to a foreign country to get it, then people will do just that. Cost is a huge factor when it comes to any purchase, especially for those who wish to have rhinoplasty, or any other type of plastic surgery. Research is absolutely necessary when it comes to choosing where you want to have your surgery done. It is crucial to know the background of your chosen surgeon and clinic to ensure you get the results you are after. For example, hospitals with international accreditations such as the Joint Commission International (JCI) are better options than clinics without any accreditations or surgeons that aren’t members of an international society of plastic surgeons.

In the end, choosing to have rhinoplasty or any other type of cosmetic surgery is your decision. A decision you should not take lightly where you should consider all the possible options and outcomes. Everyone is different, we all have different appearances, features and personalities, and it is ultimately your own decision when it comes to your actions. If cosmetic surgery is what you are after to help reduce your anxieties and how you feel about your own body, then it is only you that can decide how you choose to live your life.