I Spent $17,000 on a Nose Job and It Didn’t Change a Thing

To spite my face, it seems, I didn’t even get anything in return. 

After years of joking about making ACC claims on a cocaine-worn septum or taking a spade to the face and getting a brand-new schnoz, I decided to take the plunge, drop the money and get a nose job. Call it shallow, call it what you like – but the world has pushed a mould of female beauty on us and I bent under the pressure to fit it. 

I had lofty dreams of the perfect nose and was feverishly anticipating what my face would look like with a drastically altered feature. 


But when the bandages were stripped away my nose looked almost exactly the same. And it was crushing. 

This whole process goes back a few years, when I pushed my hard-earned thoughts of self-acceptance aside and decided to look for a surgeon. 

I spent half a day browsing websites and reading testimonials until I found a local doctor who performed medical and cosmetic facial surgeries. I booked to see him at the earliest chance, a horrifying stretch of half a year away. 

The appointment was uninspiring at best, something that on reflection should have turned me away. He was dismissive of the images I’d brought and barely talked about what his ideal outcome was. He was constantly skewing me away from what I wanted, saying it would look unnatural or obvious – and in my wavering feminist fragility, I was swayed.  

Having waited 6 months and paid a now inconsequential $500 for that appointment I just wanted to keep the ball rolling, so we locked in a date. 

Without any breathing issues, there was no way I was getting this done with any financial aid, but I felt like the change would be worth whatever costs it incurred. When the $17,000 provisionary invoice came, made up of a surgeon's fee and the various equipment costs of the hospital, I ploughed on. I had the option to pay in instalments, but with my grandpa’s passing, I’d received a royal flush and decided to pay upfront. I imagine a new nose was just what working-class, Yorkshire-born John had endeavoured for me to spend it on. 


There was one more appointment in between to confirm the plan. Very little was said about the actual state of the nose, brushed away with ums, ahs and being told we can definitely make changes I think you’ll be happy with. No drawing an elaborate map on my face like a cut of meat, no reassuring smiles or excitement from the surgeon. 

The day came. I signed a form that said I understood the dangers. It also outlined that for every piece of equipment used and minute spent in the operating theatre, I’d be charged. Next, the anaesthetist gave me a very thorough analysis so they could prepare the right juice to put me to sleep with. 

I sat for an hour or so in the hospital, ready in my gown and cap, waiting to be wheeled. I was nervous, excited and emotional – and then I was in the theatre, out like a light. 

Waking up from the surgery was excruciatingly painful and I stayed in bed for days, drinking soup through a straw. But it was gonna be worth it. 

And… it wasn’t. 

After all the swelling, my nose looked almost exactly the same and the surgery had actually left me with a lump of cartilage on my septum that wasn’t there before. And, believe me, I had a nose with plenty to change. It wasn’t like it was barely different because it was already straight and symmetrical and I just didn't like it: It was a Disney witch nose. And if you think it’s shallow for me to have such a problem with it, ask why the only relevant comparisons for hooked and wonky noses are hags and goblins. 


When I seemed clearly uncertain at the reveal, and months later in follow-up appointments, the doctor assured me that it looked natural and that he didn’t want to overdo it. I’d wanted a straight nose without a hump, which I didn’t feel was a wildly unrealistic or unusual request,  but he made every effort to say that my still bumpy breathing apparatus was “right: for my face. 

The doctor seemingly had no interest in what I’d requested and I was left confused as to why he ever took me on as a patient if he didn’t want to give me the kind of nose I wanted. The nose I paid almost 20,000 dollars for. 

A few years on, I often find myself analysing the whole situation and where it's left me – financially and emotionally.  

The minor differences are improvements in some ways and damage in others. My septum is straighter but lumpy and the bridge flatter from the side profile. Either way, it’s nothing that anyone else would notice. 

I feel constantly torn between telling myself it looks better, questioning if I should do it again, and giving up on chasing a better face. All the things I was insecure about are still there but now there’s the added complication of guilt that I tried to throw away my family's nose. To spite my face, it seems, I didn’t even get anything in return. 

But the core feeling I have is not dissatisfaction with the outcome. It’s the financial regret – something I wishfully think I wouldn’t feel had bigger changes been made. $17,000 is a huge amount of money and something I was only able to save because of a familial death. There are at least 3 holidays in there, or more practically, a whole year's worth of rent. 

Instead, I feel like the sum went to a twisted lesson in vanity. And perhaps that’s a good thing in the grand scheme of things, but it doesn’t feel great. Now I’m just sad, poor and looking at the same face in the mirror that only I know I tried to change.

But, weirdly, I haven’t had a blocked nose since. So maybe there was a problem on the inside after all.