Psychology of Rhinoplasty

There is a fear that people will notice a change in your nasal shape and spot out that you underwent rhinoplasty. Surprisingly, even a dramatic change in a nose can oftentimes be “unseen” by even your closest friends. If the nose is proportional and natural in shape to the face, which is the goal of nose surgery, the end result is often undetected by others. The most common observation by onlookers is that you look a lot better but they cannot determine why that is the case. A way to further camouflage the fact that you had rhinoplasty if you are wanting to do so is to simultaneously change something about yourself that may distract the viewer and give that individual something else to blame for the change in appearance. For women, it may be coloring your hair and choosing a different hairstyle. For men, it may be growing facial hair or also changing your hairstyle. It may be losing weight or something else like change of clothing or style of clothing. Unfortunately, parents are the one exception, as they know your face probably as well as you do, and they will notice the change in most cases. Of course, there is no guarantee that some or many people will not notice, especially if the change is more dramatic in nature.

Psychology of Rhinoplasty

Like any cosmetic facial procedure, it is important to “own” your decision and to be proud that this decision is the right one for you. The week after the procedure during the recovery period you may doubt your decision or wonder if it was the right one for you. It is important always to be confident of your choice. If you are worried about someone else judging you for your choice or commenting on your decision, then your recovery may be more difficult. It is important to be accepting of your decision and not let others comment negatively about your choice.

For men, the psychology of rhinoplasty is more complex for many reasons, some of which have already been explored in the section on Male Rhinoplasty. Dr. Lam will touch upon these points with you during your consultation to make sure that you are the right candidate to undergo rhinoplasty. A larger hump on a nose may be considered a masculine trait but it may not be proportional to your face. At times, Dr. Lam may opt to show you a reduced hump leaving a slight convexity or leaving a higher nasal bridge. Sometimes a nose job can be combined with chin augmentation to balance the face and achieve a more masculine appearance to offset any reduction in the nasal bridge. Further, as men get older past 35 years of age, straight men may have a harder time accepting a radical change to their nasal appearance, whereas many gay men have less of an issue with change after this age. Dr. Lam may recommend a less dramatic nasal change and that can be a point of discussion using imaging to ensure that both of you are on the same page when it comes to an aesthetic objective. In contrast, women psychologically do very well with almost any nasal shape change throughout their entire life, even changes that may be more dramatic in nature.

All of these changes and more should be well thought out in advance and will be points of discussion with Dr. Lam during consultation. The psychology of why you want rhinoplasty is as important to Dr. Lam as what you want with your rhinoplasty. Rhinoplasty should never be a decision made hastily. It should not be something that your parent wants for you or that your spouse insists that you undergo. It should be something that you have considered for quite some time and that represents a deep-seated desire to undergo this change.

Finally, Dr. Lam will not operate on you if you have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). This condition is usually a psychological disorder in which someone has an over preoccupation with a physical problem that leads to social issues but in which that physical problem does not truly exist to others. For example, if you have a very large hump on the nose and feel as if that detracts from your appearance and may feel some mild social anxiety about this condition, that does not qualify typically as BDD. However, if you are overly obsessed with a physical trait, especially one that Dr. Lam believes may be hard to detect by others like a very small hump on the nose that is barely perceptible and you have profound social withdrawal because of this condition, then this may qualify as BDD and you may not be a good candidate for rhinoplasty. Dr. Lam is not a psychologist but if he suspects BDD he may enlist the aid of a psychologist or psychiatrist to help tease out this diagnosis because if you truly have BDD you will not be happy after having a rhinoplasty.

In general, most individuals are truly happy having a rhinoplasty and believe that it was one of the best decisions in their life. In Jonathan Haidt’s book The Happiness Hypothesis, he found that those who had a cosmetic procedure actually were much happier in life for many years if not indefinitely. This stood in contrast to many other examples in which the individual was actually not happier like more money, etc. Dr. Lam is very passionate about not only the technical aspects or the artistry of rhinoplasty but equally importantly he loves changing peoples’ lives for the better.

Once you have decided to have your rhinoplasty with Dr. Lam, you will contact Amanda, Dr. Lam’s nursing director who is in charge of scheduling your procedure. Her email is [email protected]. She will work with you to decide a mutually agreeable date that fits your schedule and Dr. Lam’s as well. She will ask for a deposit to hold your date and will advise you on how to attain a medical clearance if needed. Usually a medical clearance is needed if you are 45 years of age or older or alternatively if you have a medical condition that should be medically evaluated prior to surgery. She will also coordinate with you a preoperative date when you return to the office for preoperative photographs (all kept confidential and not for the public without further consent), instructions, and consent. If you are out of town then most of these instructions will be conducted via a phone interview and you should plan to be at Dr. Lam’s office the day before surgery to undergo a final in-person preoperative session. All of these details will be coordinated with you well in advance of your surgical date.

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