Girlfriend called up Sydney local Alex, better known on YouTube and Instagram as influencer Pretty Pastel Please, to bust some myths about plastic surgery after her nose job went painfully wrong.
Alex was only young when she decided she wanted a nose job one day. Her “big, masculine” nose made her a target for cruel bullying as a kid, and she even changed schools eight times to escape the bullies who called her “hawk beak” and worse.
“That’s all they would call me… they wouldn't call me my name. I would think, ‘when I get my nose done, they won't be able to call me that anymore. That'll make it go away’,” she tells Girlfriend.
After years of saving money and researching, Alex was in her mid-20s when she booked in for a nose job. By then her nose had been broken five times (ouch!) and she was having serious trouble breathing because of it. She had to get that fixed and decided she may as well get the shape of her nose changed at the same time.
But with over 710k subscribers on Youtube and 104k Instagram followers, Alex knew people would notice. At first, she was anxious that getting a nose job meant she’d lose thousands of subscribers, as well as brand deals and sponsorships.
After all, other influencers and celebs who get plastic surgery face some serious backlash. Even the ones who refuse to admit they’ve gone under the knife (ahem, Kylie Jenner… allegedly) deal with surgery scandals.
“I always find it hilarious when celebrities have plastic surgery, then say they haven't when you can see quite clearly that they have,” Alex says, but she gets why some try to hide it.
“I think the reason they don't admit to it is purely the stigma behind it, the shame associated with wanting to change your appearance.”
Despite worrying about how people would react, Alex went ahead with the surgery in February of 2020. She then spent weeks with swelling, bruising and intense pain before finally getting the cast taken off her ‘new’ nose.
Throughout the recovery she filmed everything, planning to turn it into a YouTube video… but it wouldn’t have the happy ending she hoped for.
“I remember how happy I was [when the cast came off]. It was almost like a decade of self-hatred washed away… but it all went downhill from there,” Alex says of the day she first saw her nose.
Sadly, she’s one of a small percentage of people who experience serious complications after rhinoplasty. First it was bumps on her nose, then fluid leaking out of it – and things only got worse. In the months after her surgery, a curve appeared in Alex’s nose and she even found out she had a severe staph infection, which can turn deadly sometimes.
The scariest part is that Alex didn’t even know about complications like these until she was experiencing them. Why? Because no one really talks online about what happens when plastic surgery goes wrong.
“I've had a terrible experience, and I would give anything to take it all back and never have [the surgery] done in the first place. But in all my years of research, I hardly found anything about negative experiences,” Alex explains.
Like most of us, she had only really seen the perfect before and after photos, because that’s all people want to show online. They don’t talk about the very real – and very scary – risks. Part of that is because of the stigma around getting surgery, but if you’re going to show off your surgery online, shouldn’t you be honest about the risks?
Alex certainly thinks so, saying: “It’s so dangerous to gloss over details that can be life-threatening sometimes. If you have an audience online - whether it's a few hundred people or a few million - you have a responsibility to inform them of the risks.
“You see people on TikTok showing their nose before, then after surgery… and they're smiling and beautiful. It almost feels like [surgery] is this quick instant thing… but it’s truly not.”
After her surgery went wrong, Alex decided to share her story – complications and all – on YouTube. She posted two videos that racked up over 1 million views between them and was flooded with messages from girls saying they never knew how risky a nose job can be.
“It’s crazy the number of comments I've received from people saying, ‘I had an operation booked in and I've cancelled it after watching this, I had no idea the recovery was so brutal’,” Alex tells us.
Now she’s urging girls to think twice before deciding to get a nose job, or any other plastic surgery. While you may feel like everyone is doing it these days, many plastic surgeries are irreversible and come with serious risks. These operations shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially if you only want one because of what other people think.
“There's not a surgeon on this planet that I could go to with a picture of what I used to look like and say, ‘can you please put it back?’. It’s not physically possible,” Alex says of her own surgery.
“If the only reason that you’re not happy about your looks is because of what others are saying, the issue doesn't lie with the way that you look, the issue is with them. They're the ones that need to change. You don't need to change for anyone else.”
Here at Girlfriend we’re all about people being allowed to do what they want with their own bodies, and so is Alex! But it’s important to realise that what we see about plastic surgery online doesn’t show the whole story, and you shouldn’t feel like you must get any surgery just because it’s trending on social media.
“If you are having an operation to change your appearance, it should be for you. The way that that [surgery] can change your life is priceless, and I don't think anyone should deny that… But these days I see plastic surgery as a gamble,” Alex says.
She adds that while plastic surgery shouldn’t be normalised, if it was less stigmatised celebs and influencers may be more honest about what surgery is really like. And that could help spread some much-needed education.
“The responsibility lies on both sides. People should be more open about their procedures - the good, the bad and the ugly. There’s also a responsibility [for other people] to let them do what they want with their own bodies,” Alex explains.
Though she regrets her nose job, she wants to use her experience to educate others. Late last year she had a second surgery to correct some of the issues from her first operation, and she may need two more in the future.
It’s a scary prospect and Alex says it’s had a massive impact on her mental health, but she’s determined to keep sharing her story in the hopes it will save other people from experiencing the same thing.
“I have worse breathing now than I had before. I've got a huge curve it in my nose. I've got a staph infection that won't go away. The front of my face is so different now that I don't recognize myself in the mirror. I'm not happy,” she says.
“But it's better for me to share this, whether it's good or bad… and potentially help other people in their journey. I want to do it, even if it's a bit uncomfortable for me.”
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