Surgical SagaCategory: General   Jun 8th 2016  08:29AM   0

I was born with a decent looking nose. It was my dad's, and, though my mom's is prettier, I had no real complaints until my teens, at which time the dictates of conventional standards of beauty kicked in. 

Again, it wasn't unattractive, per se. I had a barely noticeable bump and wide bridge (in my opinion). Overall, it suited my face, and unless you were viewing it from a precise 45 degree angle, you'd be hard-pressed to find something "wrong" with it. In fact, the tip of my nose was flat-out gorgeous. One of the nicest body parts I had next to my collar bone and tits.

At age 23, I moved to Los Angeles to live with my boyfriend at the time, an older man and successful musician, a rock star, actually (and all that implies). Flawless beauties were a dime a dozen in his world, and though we were very much in love, I was young, insecure, and intimidated. One day I pointed out the bump in my nose and said I wished it weren't there. He slapped down an AmEx card and offered to fix it. Beverly Hills was right around the corner, after all, and I wanted to be beautiful for him. I'd seen pictures of his exes and didn't think I compared, so was delighted by his offer and took him up on it. The result was an improvement, though honestly, not much of one.

Whatever, I was fine with it and life moved on.

This all took place in the early-90s, shortly after it came to light cocaine was addictive and could cause long-term damage. My boyfriend had been a cokehead for 20 years. I had only to adopt his lifestyle for three and a half to wreak permanent damage. The worst of it occurred all at once, just weeks before my first rhinoplasty* appointment. This highly regarded, Beverly Hills surgeon assured me the damage wouldn't get worse, as long as I stopped snorting cocaine, and also, not to worry, our scheduled surgical procedure wouldn't affect it. The coke damage and my dorsal bump were in 2 different places.

He was right on both counts. And though afterwards my bridge was still too wide and the bump not fully smoothed out, more than 20 years passed before another issue came up. Due neither to his work or my past cocaine use, it was caused by an Austin surgeon in 2012, now retired, who simply didn't know what he was doing. 

Four years ago, I scheduled a blepheroplasty, a minor nip/tuck to my upper eyelids (another unfortunate feature from Dad's side of the family: early onset droopy lids). The surgeon I used came highly recommended and had done fabulous tummy tucks on two of my yoga girlfriends. He'd also done a simple rhinoplasty on an old friend of mine, and her results were subtle and lovely. Two weeks before surgery I asked this Austin surgeon straight-up if the damage inside my nose (stable by then for 20+ years, with no issues) would make this 2nd rhinoplasty dangerous or ill-advised. Reason being, I mainly wanted my eyelids done. Fixing both issues at once (my nose and eyelids) was a last minute idea, for the sake of time and convenience. Meaning, this horribly botched surgery I ended up with, was an impulse buy. I only wanted him to smooth out the last of that old bump and narrow its width the teeniest amount. He assured me, straight-up, it wasn't risky at all, then proceeded to do such piss-poor work every part of my nose was now damaged.

He crushed so much perfectly healthy cartilage that he weakened the entire interior structure, restricting my breathing and significantly marring appearance. My beautiful tip was ruined, forever, though last summer I was able to have some of his massive damage corrected. The worst part though, is that it's possible the botched surgery of 2012 has permanently restricted blood flow to the area, so the damage from my 20s may now someday get worse. I've been clean and sober since 1997, yet 2 decades later am facing an unknown future, thanks to the recklessness of this "expert."

He retired recently, and thank God for it. I've since heard many other patients' stories and found scathing online reviews detailing his horrific handiwork. He's a hack and a millionaire who had the gall to once complain about needing repair for the swimming pool in his new 7,000 square foot house. This conversation took place before a true picture of his botched surgery came to light (my nose was still too swollen to reveal the extent of damage) and, not knowing any better, I'd empathized with his tragic swimming pool plight. Later, when his hack job became more apparent, I went to him and he denied it, though I saw in his eyes, he knew what he'd done. I'd like to shove his head in his swimming pool and drown him.

Last year I found a new surgeon (#3, if you're keeping track) for my third (and hopefully final) rhinoplasty, a $25,000, 4 hour revision to fix what could be fixed. All told, I've spent $40k for 3 surgeries resulting in a nose on par with the free one God gave me. The issues are inverted, meaning the bridge is finally perfect, yet tip a little too wide for my taste. 

To look at me you'd never know there was a issue at all. You'd probably say my nose is lovely, though with a mediocre tip. I keep a picture of my original nose on my cell phone, glancing at it once in a while like a deceased pet I still miss. I'm aware that to some, this is a "privileged person's problem" so I try not to complain and to have some perspective about it. My breathing is no longer labored and I can finally sleep at night again. Recently I started feeling like things weren't healing correctly, but my (new, 3rd) surgeon assures me I'll be fine. He may have to tweak things next year, he says, but it's too soon to tell, as I'm still technically healing. 

The reason I'm sharing this is, well ... I'm not really sure. It's been frustrating and expensive, and caused me to lose trust in doctors and our judicial system (what little I had of the latter to begin with). The best malpractice attorney in Austin happens to be close friends with that hack (and how unbelievably convenient for him). Every lawyer I know (and I know a LOT of them) tells me that, thanks to tort reform, I'd not stand a chance in court, nor would anyone take my case for the paltry settlement I might win. All I'd've asked for was fair compensation, though in truth I think that fucker owes me a million dollars for emotional pain and suffering. (Seriously, you should've seen my gorgeous nose tip, way back when.) Ah, well, thankfully I've still got my collar bone and tits.


*Rhinoplasty was first developed back in 800 BC, yet spell check, for whatever reason, doesn't recognize it.

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