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I Gifted Myself Ethnic Rhinoplasty for My 30th Birthday

Why maintaining my Indian look was a non-negotiable in my rhinoplasty journey.

I Gifted Myself Ethnic Rhinoplasty for My 30th Birthday
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Unfortunately, many of you can likely relate to the fact that I spent a good portion of my childhood and teen years getting made fun of for my nose. There was only so much that Photoshop and contour could do for me. I asked for rhinoplasty on my birthday and holidays every year, then began saving up the second I started making money. By the time I turned 30, I was ready to give myself the gift that my 13-year-old self had been lusting after for decades.

I didn’t just wake up and decide to get a nose job the second I had the means, though. I had begun doing consultations with plastic surgeons three years before I was ready. I’m Indian, so I wanted to ensure I’d be working with someone who had worked with Indian clients before and who would make sure that I would still look Indian post-surgery. I traveled to multiple cities to talk to a range of plastic surgeons, asking them all for a variety of before-and-after pictures of Indian women they’d worked on.

I didn’t want to do anything extreme, and wanted to keep looking like my Indian self. I hoped to get some bumps removed to have a straight bridge, but I didn’t necessarily want my nose to be much smaller. The most important thing to me was that I continue to look like my family members. Unfortunately, I encountered a lot of plastic surgeons who suggested a more “European” nose for my face—till I met board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Barry Weintraub.

What Is an Ethnic Rhinoplasty?

Weintraub says that every rhinoplasty is technically an ethnic rhinoplasty. “Every person has a facial aesthetic associated with their genetic heritage, so creating a nose that does not reflect their ethnicity would be a disservice to them because it would look fake and aesthetically incongruous.” However, not all surgeons have the same ethos. For me, rhinoplasty had to take into account the preservation of my ethnic look. I didn’t want the tip of my nose to be turned upwards, for example, as that is more of a European trait. “Many people want to keep their ethnicity to honor their families, while others wish to keep that look because of their sophisticated understanding of aesthetics.”

Indian candidates for rhinoplasty typically have a longer and more lifted bridge, and both grow with age. I remember Weintraub telling me that smoothing out my bridge, shortening the distance between my cheeks and bridge, and giving the tip of my nose a slight lift would give my face a more feminine appearance. It would also provide more space between my mouth and nose, drawing more attention to the former.

There are several options for changes you can make to your nose when you opt for rhinoplasty. You can alter your dorsum (bridge), tip, columella (the little bone between your nostrils), and nostrils. (There are other aspects, too, but we’ll stick to these for simplicity.) You can change one of these things, a couple of them, or all. I wanted to smooth out the bumps in my dorsum and lift my tip only slightly. The second part was extremely important to me because if the tip was lifted too much, it wouldn’t match my ethnicity. The goal, for me, was to get a natural look.

The Consultations

I had my first consultation with a plastic surgeon in 2019—before I even thought to consider my ethnicity when getting this surgery. There was a popular surgeon in my (not-very-diverse) hometown who was recommended by some friends. Still, something felt off; I noticed all of his before-and-after examples were of white people. When I showed him examples of some Bollywood celebrities whose noses I liked, he scoffed at their faces, saying he could do much better and would prefer to turn the tip of my nose up more. I have to confess that a small part of me—the part who’d internalized old-school, Western standards of beauty—wanted to do it. Thank goodness, I didn’t have the cash at the time. It made me wait and ponder my decision further. It took seeing another person’s nose job to realize I didn’t want to change as much as I thought I did about my face.

When I went to consultations after that, I first made sure to only see people who specialized in rhinoplasty. I came armed with images of my beloved Bollywood celebs and my mom, aunt, and sister. I specifically asked for pictures of Indian women they’d worked with and made sure that they had done noses that looked exactly the way I wanted mine to look. I did a series of consultations with talented surgeons for a few years. A few of them even ticked the boxes I was looking for.

However, I went with Weintraub because he had the most examples of working with Indian women, in addition to women from the Middle East who also have a similar face structure to me. He even talked me out of my desire to shrink the length of my nose, something that would have made the rest of my facial features look too large and out of place. I had three consultations with him, during which we reviewed and narrowed down images, and he told me which of my #nosegoals would be most realistic. He even told me that those images would be projected onto a screen for him to look at and reference during surgery.

I also like that he told me he and his team would be available for me 24/7 via text or call on their personal phones post-surgery, if need be. As a single person who lives alone and was admittedly a bit nervous, I felt a lot of relief working with him.

The Results

In the month after my nose pads were removed, I saw Weintraub three times—once to make sure the surgery went smoothly, another time to make sure I was healing correctly, and then a final time to remove the bandages and see the end result. Though it would still take another month for the swelling to go down, the grand reveal was still thrilling. Before this surgery, my nose was broken in three different places, and I also had a deviated septum. Now, it looked way more smooth and I could finally breathe. Yes—five years after living in New York City, I could finally smell the hot garbage, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled about it.

My Honest Review

Not all surgery goes exactly how you plan, and Weintraub will be the first to admit that. I appreciate that he was very real with me about this from the beginning. I still have a tiny little bump on one side of my nose, but it’s something I’m proud of now. Of course, it makes me look a lot more natural. But, *cue the violins* it’s also like I’ve brought a piece of my young, insecure self into the confident, empowered present with me. The point was to maintain my sense of identity, and that’s precisely what happened. Will I get a revision surgery one day to get that little bump removed? It’s not out of the question, but it might also not be worth having cotton balls stuffed up my nose for weeks post-recovery. Either way, I got what I wanted all along and learned about the importance of advocating for myself in any doctor’s office.

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