My Experience Having Rhinoplasty Surgery With Before/After Pictures and a Video of My New Nose!
My name is Nikki, I’m a 31 year old woman from Long Beach, California. I’m writing this review to help anyone considering undergoing the decision of facial cosmetic surgery, specifically rhinoplasty.
I’m a makeup artist and work full time for a very popular cosmetic brand, so I’m in the mirror all day and interacting with clients face-to-face. When you’re in this environment and industry the unspoken rule is “the more attractive you are, the more popular and trustworthy you are”. Due to the rise of Instagram and YouTube and the photo-shopped perfection of readily available images, makeup artists and women in general have more competition and to keep up their appearance than ever before. This was one reason, (but not the only reason) I began considering rhinoplasty for myself.
I used to model a lot from 2009-2013. Often times when I’d get photos back from a photographer I noticed that they had photo-shopped certain features without asking me, and specifically my nose was one feature that tended to get tweaked often. I always knew my nose was unconventional and different, and there were days when I really liked my nose because it was different. However as I got older, my nose started to look bigger and there were less days when I liked it. Not sure if it was the fact that my nose was actually growing or more that I was seeing all of these perfect women around me on Instagram and subconsciously comparing myself. When taking photos, I started posing in such a way where I thought my nose looked smaller, and eventually started using FaceTune to change the shape of my nose. I actually went on a date where a guy verbally attacked me on several fronts including telling me I had a “Big Bird nose” after I told him I didn’t feel chemistry and a second date wasn’t in the cards. Although he was lashing out at me because he was upset, there was an element of truth to his statement. I thought to myself that maybe other dates that I did hope to go well didn't pan out because of my nose. I also started getting photos back of me doing makeup on clients and seeing my nose from angles I wasn’t “controlling”. It was indeed too strong for my face and too big compared to my other features. I think almost anyone would agree. I tried contouring it with makeup, but that only made it look slightly slimmer from the front view, and didn’t alter it’s overall size.
Friends of mine were using Botox and Dysport for forehead wrinkles and many co-workers and customers I knew had already gotten boob jobs, nose jobs, and even their whole bodies done with the brazilian buttlift. Plastic surgery was quite taboo 10 years ago, and felt reserved only for celebrities, pin-up models I looked up to, and wealthy older women back then. Now it seemed quite normal, and easily affordable if you could make payments. I was intrigued and excited by the possibilities it could offer me but also felt nervous about taking the plunge.
After thinking about it for awhile, I decided I (for SURE) wanted to get lip injections, and my nose and boobs done to improve my appearance. I decided that my nose was a scarier sounding procedure, so I did my lips and boobs first, in 2015. Without going in to all the details, I was extremely satisfied with the result. I paid off my lips and breast augmentation and two years later I decided I was ready for my rhinoplasty surgery.
The plastic surgeon who did my breast augmentation unfortunately doesn’t do noses, but he did refer me to another surgeon, Dr. Nikolas Chugay, (who specializes specifically in facial plastic surgery) in Long Beach. Dr. Nikolas Chugay and his son Paul Chugay have an overall good reputation and offer surgery at a reasonable price. The most important things to me when choosing a surgeon for my rhinoplasty were to go to a doctor nearby my home so that I didn’t have a long journey home with a freshly broken nose. (I have a fear of getting into a car accident post-op.), and someone affordable…(I couldn’t afford a $10,000 new nose). The Chugay office was running a seasonal special on rhinoplasty in particular, ($1,000 off the regular price, if you book within the next 6 months), so that was a big selling point for me. Another thing I had to make a choice on was going to a doctor who preferred to perform closed rhinoplasty or open rhinoplasty. Closed rhinoplasty is less invasive (done through your nostrils) and has a shorter healing time, so that sounded like the best option. Dr. Chugay prefers closed rhinoplasty, and was a check mark for both of my other important priorities. He also set the bar pretty high in many other areas. In fact, after meeting him, I was so sure that I wouldn’t be able to find a better, more knowledgeable doctor in my price range or area that I decided to go with him without even going to a consultation with anyone else.
Dr. Nikolas Chugay has been practicing for over 30 years and is board-certified in facial plastic surgery, so he is quite experienced. He has many certifications and degrees and is also an “ear, nose and throat” doctor so he understands how the face needs to work, not just how it needs to look. His office in Long Beach is not only a consultation center but also a surgical center with an operating room. You literally have your blood-work done and your surgery performed in a hospital room right there on site, which means no hospital fees! Another patient described his office to me as a “Santa’s workshop” and I couldn't agree more…so cool. Each time I visited his office it was extremely busy with patients waiting, coming in, and coming out, yet they always took me in on time for my appointment or even early. The nurses and medical staff were all very friendly and accommodating. At my consultation, Dr. Chugay took a look at my nose and told me all of the things I was already going to ask about! I was hoping that he would have a way to snap a photo, upload it to a computer and then collaborate with me on using Photoshop or FaceTune to do what he thought would be best to my nose, but he’s a bit old school. Even though I physically couldn't see our plan for my nose, I still felt confident that this would be a walk in the park for him.
With the seasonal special, and an offer of an additional $500 off for booking within a specific month, my grand total for the surgery plus general anesthesia came out to $4,800. (I’m guessing the normal price for rhinoplasty with his office would be about $6,300-$7,000.) Most of my friends had paid upwards of $7,000 for their nose jobs in Beverly Hills years ago, or traveled to other countries to have it done, so I was really pleased with this offer. Prescription drugs were separate and totaled about $200 (Kaiser insurance wouldn't cover these because they were prescribed by a non-Kaiser doctor.) The office requires you to pay $2,000 upfront to secure the date (this amount goes toward the final cost for your surgery). You can use a CareCredit card for this payment if you wish.
The morning of the surgery, I was more nervous about doing it than I had ever been, but I knew there was no backing down and that it was something I wanted to do. My check-in was at 9 am. I was put on IV at 10:30am, went in for surgery at 12 noon and was out the door by 1:15pm. When I got home, I was in a mild amount of pain…it mostly felt like the inside of my nose was scraped raw. I felt very sleepy due to the anesthesia still in my system, so I took some pain medication and fell asleep for a few hours.
For the rest of my rhinoplasty recovery time, I felt zero pain. The cast was annoying and I couldn’t wait for it to come off. It was hard not being able to wash my face or hair properly, but I did enjoy just relaxing and bumming it for a week. When it was time for my cast removal, my nose had a lot of swelling and was huge! It looked bigger than my original nose. It was hard to look at myself in the mirror without feeling like I betrayed myself by changing my appearance so dramatically. It felt like half of my face was cut off, and that maybe he had taken too much. I felt almost like an alien with huge eyes, and (although it was swollen) a much tinier nose. At this moment, I missed my old nose and second guessed my decision to do it. I asked several of my friends who had undergone rhinoplasty if they felt this way when they initially got it done, and they said they absolutely did. One of my friends said she could hardly look in a mirror for months, and seeing herself in photos was the weirdest thing. She says now though, seeing old photos of herself makes her feel strange. She told me that I just needed to be patient, that rhinoplasty wasn’t really instant gratification. That made me feel better.
The swelling and bruising went down more and more each week as my nose took shape and became more defined. It was about a month and a half post-op when I started getting used to it and liking my nose.
In retrospect, if I had done one thing different I would have gone to at least 3 or 4 other consultations with surgeons slightly further out than my own city, just to make sure that I was making the right decision and had explored and exhausted all of my options. You want to do whatever it takes to find a good surgeo, because this is your face! At this point, I am very happy I underwent surgery and am happy I chose Dr. Chugay, but I'm still getting used to looking at my new face. I would say this feeling is akin to getting your hair done: If you’re a deep brunette and have had long hair for years, but all of a sudden really, really want a platinum blonde bob, be prepared to feel strange about yourself for a little while.
I hope this article helps anyone who is considering nose surgery decide if it is right for them, or if it is the right time for them to have it done. I also have a video up of my recovery week as far as a few afterthoughts that is packed with information and real in the raw experience. Feel free to check it out above.