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What does it mean to have a “natural-looking” nose job?

Rhinoplasties, colloquially referred to as “nose jobs,” are some of the most common surgeries in the United States each year. Rhinoplasty is designed to enhance facial harmony and the proportions of your nose, or sometimes to correct impaired breathing as a result of structural difference. As the American Society of Plastic Surgeons summarizes, rhinoplasty surgery can change the appearance of your nose in a variety of ways:

  • Nose size in relation to facial balance
  • Nose width at the bridge or in the size and position of the nostrils
  • Nose profile with visible humps or depressions on the bridge
  • Nasal tip that is enlarged or bulbous, drooping, upturned or hooked
  • Nostrils that are large, wide, or upturned
  • Nasal asymmetry

For these problems and more, the American Academy of Facial and Plastic Reconstructive Surgery estimates that half a million people seek consultation each year for the appearance of their nose. As with most cosmetic surgeries, the patient and doctor work together to find create a cosmetic appearance that imitates the patient’s desired look.

However, there’s certainly a cultural stigma around “poorly done” nose jobs (and other cosmetic procedures, too). All it takes is one Google search for a “botched nose job” and you’ll find plenty of photos of rhinoplasties gone wrong. One of the most common complaints from patients who are unhappy with their nose jobs is that it looks “fake.” In an article for Elle Magazine, patient Hope explains why she wishes she had her original nose back: “He gave me a too-thin nose with a pinched tip,” she said bitterly about her plastic surgeon. “I looked like I’d had a nose job. It was the Diamond Nose.” The term Diamond Nose refers to Manhattan plastic surgeon Howard Diamond, MD, who “churned out cookie-cutter conks instantly recognizable by their uniformly scooped-out bridges and turned up ends.”

Most patients who want a nose job, or rhinoplasty, essentially desire for the physician to create a nose job that doesn’t look as if it’s a nose job, or a nose that simply looks natural on their face. From shape to size to width, the ultimate goal of a rhinoplasty is almost always to correct features without making them look artificial.

Creating a “Natural” Look

As plastic surgeon MD Richard Davis explains, “All good rhinoplasty outcomes have at least one thing in common — a natural appearance. The most attractive nose is one that is in harmony with your other facial features. It should blend in, not stand out.” For most patients, the key to harmonizing their nose with their other facial features is taking their own unique appearance into account. Rather than requesting a look like an upturned nose, or tiny nose profile from a celebrity photo, patients should look at old photos of themselves or other “normal” people before deciding what will look natural for them. Celebrity Instagram and Facebook photos have made it easier than ever before to set unrealistic standards for one’s appearance, but the most successful requests will be ones derived from real people, with realistic expectations of what their rhinoplasty can achieve.

Part of creating a “natural” appearance involves accepting what parts of the nose are already fine. Dr. Parham Ganchi notes that while many Hollywood celebs have pinched tips and ski slope noses, the goal is not to redo the patient’s entire nose, but to bring the parts that are out of proportion back in line with the rest of the nose and face: “This is another case where “more” is not better. If other parts of the nose are fine, they should be left alone to maintain a person’s unique look.” If you’re already happy with parts of your nose, note that rhinoplasty does not have to be comprehensive, but rather, should only fix specific areas like the nostrils or bridge that may need some work.

Taking Ethnicity Into Account

Another factor in whether a nose job looks natural is ethnicity. For people who are proud of their heritage, a nose job should maintain their ethnic look and conform to the physical attributes of the ethnicity. Traditionally, fixing contours and changing an overall look as only possible through surgical rhinoplasty, but in recent years, non-surgical rhinoplasty has helped many patients change the contour of their nose in the shape of their ethnicity without changing the underlying structure.

In Los Angeles, where diversity is extraordinary, surgeons Dr. Rivkin and Dr. Cohen emphasize that as responsible cosmetic surgeons, part of their duty includes avoiding “westernizing” the noses of their patients. Rather, for any non surgical nose job in Los Angeles that they perform, they carefully honor the cultural identification of the patient to make the end results both individualized and unique.

For example, patients who self-identify as Latino commonly wish to correct a lack of definition in the tip of the nose or lack of symmetry in their noses. They also notice thicker skin in the nose area, leading to less “radiance.” On the other hand, Rivkin notes that the most common request from self-identified Asian patients is to raise and better define a low or wide nasal bridge. You can read more about other non-surgical approaches to common ethnic requests here, but the most important note is that no patient should ever feel as if their nose job looks inappropriate or their ethnicity. A natural look is only possible when it enhances the patient’s existing features.

If you have questions or comments about other aspects of a “fake” looking nose job or how to find a surgeon that can give you a natural appearance, leave a comment in the section below, anytime! We’d be happy to help answer your questions.

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