Written in partnership with Shannon Sparks
What makes a perfect nose? It’s slim, elegant and flawlessly straight in profile. Of course, it’s also symmetrical in every sense of the word. The perfect nose is a striking feature, something we notice on supermodels and celebrities alike. It’s no wonder people opt to go under surgery to emulate it. But is this button nose really what everyone should strive for? Not if you ask Dr. Raj Kanodia, a world-renowned plastic surgeon and rhinoplasty specialist.
“If you study that human face like a sculpture or a painting, what you see is that the center of the face is the nose. It dictates the character of the face, dictates the personality of the face and the beauty of the face,” says Kanodia (whose A-list clientele includes everyone from Khloe Kardashian to Ashlee Simpson to Charli and Dixie D’Amelio and Britney Spears). “I want to enhance noses. I don’t want to change noses.”
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, nearly 220,000 rhinoplasties are performed yearly, making this the most common facial plastic surgery procedure by a landslide. While Botox and filler have steadily increased in popularity over the last decade, interest in rhinoplasties has remained constant. There are a litany of reasons people get nose jobs: some are medical in nature, i.e. fixing deviated septums and nasal obstructions that can cause difficulty breathing. “Functionality-wise, breathing is critical to every cell in the body,” says Kanodia. Medical necessities aside, there are also plenty of people who get nose jobs for the cosmetic effects AKA a journey to the Perfect Nose.
Most plastic surgeons do their best to oblige: straightening, lifting, correcting asymmetry and slimming down the overall shape of the nose to get that adorable ski slope shape. But striving for perfection is not without its downsides.
“It creates very mediocre or subpar rhinoplasty that we are taught in our residency programs to create this one particular nose, which is pointed tip, slightly scooped, slightly turned up, this is the ideal nose we should strive for instead of doing an individual analysis of the patient,” says Kanodia. The perfect nose, as society tends to define it, is a myth and it’s a harmful one.
Our faces are all completely and totally unique. While the beauty industry has a long history of prioritizing western standards of beauty, Dr. Kanodia prefers to honor the natural bone structure of his clients, with a few subtle tweaks. “10% of the patients that I see, they ask ‘can you file this little tiny bump down?’ And I would advise them, ‘no, I like the bump,’” says Kanodia. “That imperfection in your nose and the bump of your nose is perfection for you.
Unlike a great majority of his surgeon peers, Kanodia approaches his work with a ‘less is more’ mentality. The idea is not to get rid of the bump, but to shave it down ever so slightly, leaving you with a nose that actually looks like you — but better.
For every celebrity that has raved about their procedures with Dr. Kanodia (Khloe Kardashian has been quoted as saying her only regret in getting a nose job, was not getting one sooner), there are a slew of others whose nose jobs are completely undetectable to even the most scrutinizing of eyes. His signature technique is extremely delicate, all the work is done from inside the nose so it leaves no scar. His approach to plastic surgery is not one that strives for extreme makeovers, but one that lovingly embraces the idiosyncrasies of each patient he works on.
It does not matter if you are an A-lister or a bank teller, Kanodia treats all his patients’ noses (which total close to 12,000 now) like a work of art, something to be carefully shaped based on their facial structure. If doctor and patient can’t reach a consensus on what kind of shape works best, Kanodia does not do the surgery. “You cannot cater to the patient’s desire when they are unrealistic,” says Kanodia.
Today, we have more access to celebrities than ever before. Social media offers us a constant stream of aspirational content, especially when it comes to beauty. The public obsesses over figuring out exactly what procedures the Kardashians have undergone to look the way they do so that they too may seek these treatments out for themselves. In the plastic surgery industry, it is more and more common for young people to arrive for their consultation armed with a photograph of their favorite celebrity and a request for Bella Hadid’s nose or Kylie Jenner’s lips. When we attempt to superimpose celebrity features on our own faces, things tend to look out of place or unnatural a lot of the time. Especially when it comes to the nose.
While it might be tempting to bring a photograph of Hailey Bieber’s nose and ask your plastic surgeon to replicate it exactly on your face, the reality is that even if they were successful in creating a copy, her nose will look completely different on your face. “It has to be in harmony with the other features,” says Kanodia. “The nose is not an isolated structure.” This is not the way he operates with his clients because he understands the risks of giving people what they want blindly.
When you attempt to build an entirely new face through plastic surgery, the results are often obvious or overdone. Kanodia is an advocate for minute shifts rather than full-scale transformations. “One of my mantras is to fool the mother’s eye. The mother’s eye is the keenest eye, she knows the child’s face and the nose. I will work on a patient and they will return back home and their mother won’t know they have had work done,” says Kanodia. “I’ve succeeded many times because I do such subtle work.”
While it might be tempting to eradicate the bump on the bridge of our nose entirely, this bump is what makes our nose special, it is what makes us us. It is worthwhile to preserve our personalities, our character and embrace our natural beauty, nose bump and all. It’s what your mother would want.
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