Friday, 6 April 2018

Darling, don't you go and cut your face

Plastic Surgery and Beauty Treatments Gone Awry

This is a post that I've been intending to write for some time now, it's about beauty and it's about naivete. I wanted to share it with people so that they know that nothing in the beauty industry if ever straightforward. In our fashion blogging community we see a lot about different beauty creams, techniques and procedures, and unfortunately we only really see the filtered side of things, the endorsements and the exaggerations; we don't get to see the cold hard truths. 

While over for a visit the other day, my mother spent an entire hour prattling on about a 50 something year old YouTube vlogger who looks the same age as me. She told me that this woman does all these beauty treatments and that's why she looks the way she does. Yet, when I posited to my mother that the woman is probably bullshitting it all, because none of us can possibly prove otherwise, she instantly came to this person's defense, and I ask why? What for? There are beauty bloggers making money hand over fist by throwing some products on a screen and insisting that it's the reason they look so good. We can't contest any of it unless we try the products for ourselves, right? We have no proof to the contrary, we don't know if these bloggers are flat out lying to us about procedures (but knowing what I do about a lot of these treatments, I can spot the fakers pretty easily now). It's weird how much power we give other people, just because they're prettier or more popular than us. Frankly, it's fucked right side up.

I'm thirty now. I know that's a baby to some, but I've entered what has often been referred to as "the danger zone". This is an age when women are at their sexual peak, it should be fun, yet we tend to feel disempowered because it's also the time when we (allegedly) begin to rapidly lose our good looks. We're constantly reminded of how our youth is draining away and that, unless we buy products x, y, and z, we'll end up as the oldest looking woman in our group of friends.

It's sad because I think it's a time when we could be supporting one another and carrying each other through the difficult years. I mean fuck, we think the 30's and 40's are distressing, wait until menopause. I make jokes at my mom's expense all the time but in reality it's not very funny being over 50. She has conversations with me about bladder control and that her pubes are turning white and not growing anymore. Seriously.

Yet, despite my own growing awareness of how bullshit and fucky the pressure to look good is, I still fall victim to it every single day. Any time I see a wrinkle get a deeper groove, or my skin looks thicker and drier, or my hair falls out some more, I'll be on my phone googling remedies. I can't kick it. I've even gone as far as concocting my own rules for dieting and skin care regimes (and no, it's seldom worked in my favor).

Yes, I'm aware it's like body dysmorphia. As a former anorexic I admit that most days I'm playing with fire. Whenever I teeter on the brink of losing control I try to ask myself if what I'm doing is causing more harm than good. That's why when I calorie count I'm not depriving myself but making sure what I'm putting into my body is healthy, or when I'm working out I'm not doing it to the point of physically breaking. I know the boundaries, but it's never enough. Nothing is.

My own experiences

Here's where I want to share a few of my own experiences with beauty treatments, so that you can understand it's not all it's cracked up to be. 

Laser Hair Removal - We all have hair in unwanted places. Whether it's the back of your knuckles, or neck, or your top lip. For me it was my vagina. I was sick of catching my pubes in zippers and doing the maintenance myself (through shaving or waxing). My techniques were only causing long term irritation, so I said fuck it, I'm getting it permanently removed. I was in school and working part time, and had no reason not to try laser hair removal. During the referral I was evaluated by the aesthetician who said I was a perfect fit. She even adjusted a payment plan so it was easier to afford on my minimum wage salary. I was told how baby smooth and perfectly hairless I would become. After a year of bi-monthly sessions and $1200 CAD I was kicked out of the shop, completely disillusioned with a patchy crotch. We had reached a point where the asethetician felt we could go no further and with no real discussion beforehand she cut me off. She said that my hair was too troublesome and that "it doesn't work for everybody". A complete change in tune from her initial claims that everything would go perfectly. It turns out that there's no such thing as permanent laser hair removal, it's referred to clinically as laser hair reduction, because it's results are so inconsistent they can't make any guarantees. It's been years and I still have to shave down there, but since the procedure I do have less to shave and therefore I almost never have to worry about ingrown hairs, but I feel ripped off and mistreated. I've never stepped into a beauty spa again since. 

Braces - I had an accident as a child which left my teeth disfigured. I had an overbite, crowding and one of my teeth had damn near turned completely backwards. My parents were low income and - according to my mom - couldn't qualify for enough coverage to get me braces. I had to wait until I was an adult in my early 20's to pursue dental work. I really wish that I had had it done it as a child, when people used to wear metal braces... Unbeknownst to me, I was entering into the ever popular "Invisalign" phase of dentistry. This is where dentists with damn near zero orthodontic experience can take a mold of your teeth, send it off to California, and have braces trays made up for you to wear daily (changed bi-weekly). I wasn't given the option for traditional braces, as you will see in many dentist offices these days. It costs the same, but I guess dentists are fucking lazy and can't be bothered to do it the old fashioned way. The truth is that Invisalign is incapable of doing 50% of the work, it can shift teeth but it can't rotate them, and your dentist will probably leave it to chance and wait years before finally calling it quits and strapping on metal braces to finish the job. Thankfully my dentist has never charged me extra for their orthodontic miscalculations, but it hasn't made up for the social duress of being an adult woman with braces for six years. They're a bitch to clean and they hoard bacteria worse than my old tongue piercing, they make my breath stink. I'm happy that my teeth are straighter than before, I don't cover my mouth when I smile any longer, but the journey to get here was a fucking joke. They could've easily done this in two years on normal braces. I'm told I'll only be able to wear Invisalign retainers which I hear don't actually retain anything and will inevitably lead to the need for braces again later in life.

Rhinoplasty - It's something a lot of people forget I've had done. I underwent a septoplasty/rhinoplasty/scar revision procedure for my deviated septum. I requested that we make a few cosmetic changes, as there were flaws in my nose that I wasn't happy with and septoplasty only actually covers the realignment of your septum and not any deformities. We agreed to get rid of the hump and pick up my drooping tip (which in turn would reduce the bulbous appearance of my nose). The surgery went swimmingly, at first. I healed faster than any of his patients and we were both pleased with that. I remember my mom was freaking out saying that she didn't recognize me because the swelling made me look like some kind of freaky sub-human creature. It wasn't until a year later that I experienced the dark side of rhinoplasty, the shit you never hear about. For starters, turning the tip up revealed my nose hairs which I now have to trim, gross and a pain in the ass. Secondly, my mucous runs out of my nose at unprecedented speeds. You know when you have a runny nose and you feel it coming so you grab the tissue box? Not for me, now it just comes out and sometimes I'm not even aware of it, it'll crust up around my nostrils and I look like a slob. And that's not the worst of it.

In order to lift the drooping nose tip, he used my existing cartilage and shifted it forward, projecting just a little too far as now it's poking through my skin. On really cold days the right cartilage appears as a large bump, almost like a cyst or pimple. They call it the "shrink wrap" effect, when an implant or part of the nose has shifted or the fascia hasn't managed to cover it, the swelling goes down and the skin shrinks back around it. I told my doctor immediately and he initially dismissed it. When I returned to complain a second time he told me that it probably was happening and that it could get worse in ten years and that I should wear makeup, focus on my smile or my eyes. I don't know if he was fucking with me or what. He's hot and I like the way he talks to me but completely dismissing my concerns has eroded any confidence that I had in the man. He also shrugged off the fact that the dorsal hump, which I believe he forgot to close up properly, is showing as a dark oval in my photographs on the bridge of my nose.

I discussed my options with him, he told me he could revise but we run the chance of only making things worse. Okay...why the fuck didn't he mention that before? When he was all fucking chipper pre-surgery and said if there were any problems after a year we'd work through it together ♥.  Now he's evasive and doesn't want to commit to surgery. I can tell he's scared shitless. You see he's not a plastic surgeon, he's an ENT, he's does some pretty amazing shit for people, nose jobs are just like a hobby he picked up, he generally does them for medical reasons and not cosmetic. You can find the reverse issue when you go for a surgeon who is strictly cosmetic and forgets to sustain the structure of your nose, which is why there are countless stories of men and women with severe breathing issues after a botched nose job. I forgot to mention, statistics have indicated that 1 in 20 nose jobs fail, and given the high volume of nose jobs preformed each year you can only imagine the sheer volume of crooked, collapsed and deformed noses.

Because my surgeon is nervous and reluctant to help, I'm hesitant to use him but at the same time I'm painfully aware that revision surgery elsewhere is impossible for me to afford. He offered to waive his surgical fee (this is commonplace) but I'd still have to pay $2000 for the anesthesia team and operating room. If I pursue a surgeon specializing in rhinoplasty revision I'll be paying their fee plus the operating and anesthesia fees, and as far as I can tell these specialists will cost me in the neighborhood of $10,000. My original surgery fee was $4000. I just can't afford to fix it. I might be stuck with my busted nose job forever and it will only get inevitably worse as my skin ages.


Please hear what I'm trying to tell you, I have spent roughly $20,000 CAD on self improvement procedures and they all have had drawbacks. Nothing is as perfect as these assholes online like to make you believe. You could buy the creams, the rollers, the injections, and you'll never look sixteen again, you'll never look like Angelina Jolie or some fucked face Kardashian. You'll just end up sore, broke, and wanting more.

Always wanting more.

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