I remember being 16 years old and walking home from school when two boys slowed down as they rode by on their bikes. One looked at me, turned to the other, and said: "Shame about her nose."
Though it was a passing comment from a teenager, it’s etched into my memory a decade later. This wasn’t the first time I’d had comments about my nose: A classmate once referred to it as a "beak" and my dad, from whom I inherited my nose, had joked about its "witchy" appearance more than once. As someone with quite petite features, I felt like my nose completely overshadowed my face, and rhinoplasty was always in the back of my mind.
Why are nose jobs becoming popular during the pandemic?
After years of deliberation, I finally chose 2020 to do something about it. Until then, I’d never had surgery for so much as a broken bone, so the decision to undergo a major procedure — in the middle of my face and during a pandemic, no less — wasn’t one I took lightly. While everyone else was baking banana bread and learning TikTok dances in quarantine, I was watching nose job vlogs. I spent hours researching everything about the recovery and trawling through before-and-after pictures online. Why now? Personally, it made sense: From a practical perspective, working from home meant that any money I would have spent on Pret lunches and socializing was squirreled away into savings for the procedure, which can cost over £5,000 in London (nearly $7,000 USD).
It turns out, I wasn’t alone in doing this. In a global phenomenon being called the "Zoom boom," 2020 saw a 70% increase in requests for video consultations for cosmetic procedures, according to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. Experts argue that this can be attributed to the never-ending stream of video calls: We’re all seeing ourselves more than ever before, and subsequently any insecurities we have about our appearance are magnified.
Dr. Tunç Tiryaki, clinical associate professor and consultant plastic surgeon at the Cadogan Clinic in London, says, "I have seen an increase in all types of plastic surgery, such as facial aesthetics, mini face lifts, micro-lifts, and, of course, rhinoplasty." Dr. Tiryaki chalks the latter up to face masks and people finding themselves with increased time on their hands. "Face masks enable the wearer to cover up during the healing process," he says, partially concealing the intense swelling, bruising, and redness that comes with a nose job and persists for a while after the procedure.
With clinics closed sporadically thanks to the pandemic, I initially spoke with a surgeon I was interested in over Zoom and planned to meet him face-to-face after Christmas. However, travel restrictions and the introduction of lockdown 3.0 in January meant he was stuck in Italy indefinitely; it was back to the drawing board. I found another surgeon and fell in love with his work, so I booked in to meet him IRL straightaway. Until the time came for him to assess my nose, I had to wear a mask throughout the consultation (a must for any type of surgical procedure, to ensure you're fully prepared and happy with your chosen surgeon). His knowledge and demeanor instantly put me at ease, confirming my decision.
What happens during a nose job?
Pre-operative health checks are pretty routine but, in addition to the usual checks, I had to have a COVID test five days before my surgery. As soon as this test was complete I had to go into self-isolation, as a negative rapid test was required on the morning of the surgery for it to go ahead. Although the pandemic definitely added a few extra steps to the process, Dr. Tiryaki stresses that for plastic surgeons and their teams, who have always worn PPE as standard, not much has changed. "As surgeons, the operating theatre is always scrupulously clean and sterile; it has to be," he says. "We have adhered to COVID precautions in line with the requirements imposed."
Before I knew it, the day of my surgery had arrived. The rules differ depending on the hospital but, in my case, I wasn’t allowed anyone with me. This didn’t faze me too much, but when I unexpectedly had to stay overnight due to anesthesia complications, I did feel pretty sorry for myself in there on my own. The next morning, it was time to go home and I was weirdly surprised to feel fine. Even though I’d been told by my surgeon (and by others who have had it done) that a nose job is one of the least painful surgeries, I was still anticipating much worse.
How long does it take to recover after a nose job?
The next two weeks were a blur of sleep, watching The Office, and drinking all the pineapple juice (good for bruising, apparently). When I had to return to the clinic a few days later to have the packing taken out and for the cast removal the following week, I was grateful to be able to cover up with a face mask on the Tube. Plus, it meant I didn’t have to worry about putting concealer on my lingering bruises if I needed to pop to the shops. For all the negatives of the past year, rather selfishly, the pandemic has allowed me the time to recover at home without the pressure of having to rush back into the world before I felt ready.
Of course, when it comes to a nose job, safety is paramount. The most important thing to look out for, Dr. Tiryaki says, is that the surgeon is board-certified, has the relevant academic and professional certifications and qualifications, and is registered to practice. He also advises checking to see if they have been featured in any international publications or conferences, as this is often a good indicator of a reputable surgeon.
It takes up to a year to fully heal from a rhinoplasty, so I still have a way to go before the final results. However, I’m already so in love with my cute little nose, and the improvements are much more than just aesthetic. The psychological effect of no longer having to worry about people seeing my side profile feels like a weight has been lifted. Though this past year has been difficult, I’m so glad I finally did it.