Ummar Mukhtar, 31, of central Kashmir’s district Budgam has known since he was 12 that he would get a nose job one day. Recently, after years of being teased and bullied for his distinctive nose, a feature he developed post his birth says that undergoing rhinoplasty brought back his lost confidence.
Like Ummar, Shakeela, Shazia, Shezan, and Haroon from various areas of the Kashmir region have undergone rhinoplasty surgery at the government-run facilities in Srinagar and south Kashmir’s district Pulwama—which according to them helped them to restore their restore self-esteem and self-confidence, besides helping them medically to avoid unnecessary headaches, nasal blockages and chest congestions.
In Kashmir, many people, mostly youngsters, get nose jobs done because they want to look good and “reshape” their noses and also build their lost confidence, says a prominent ENT specialist and Rhinoplasty surgeon, Dr Shafqat Islam.
In a detailed interaction with the Greater Kashmir, Dr Shafqat Islam narrates how over the years there has been a spike in the cases related to nose deformation and nose jobs. He says that with the help of the media and rising awareness among the masses through social media platforms, many youngsters, who were earlier reluctant to visit private hospitals or clinics outside, got an opportunity to get themselves treated at government-run facilities.
“I must say with the advancement in science, we could achieve a lot in the medical field. Rhinoplasty has been famous for increasing people’s confidence. From athletes to actors, nose reshaping has been transforming thousands of lives all over the world,” he says. “Unlike the traditional nose job, rhinoplasty is intended to change the appearance of the nose without diminishing its cultural and ethnic markers. The end result is usually more subtle than a typical nose job.”
He adds that in places like the Kashmir region, this (procedure) was considered an elite process. However, with the advancement in the public health sector, it is easily available and done even at government-run hospitals.
“The quantum of such cases was always there and significant also but the amount of awareness has increased significantly recently probably because of the digital and social media,” Dr Shafqat says, adding “Since I have been doing these cases and presenting papers and now as a National Operating faculty for Rhinoplasty, the patients are now aware of Rhinoplasty to a great extent. We also have referrals from my colleague in the fraternity,” Dr Shafqat, who has had around 3,500 surgeries to his credit in the last over one decade.
Dr Shafqat says that rhinoplasty was bringing back smiles on many faces. However, the first signs and cases are the cases with the correcting nasal obstructions. “During years of practice and experience, I have mostly seen patients coming for correcting nasal obstructions and trauma caused by accidents, who later come to perform the surgeries also,” says Dr Shafqat, who also heads the ENT department of the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Hospital (JLNM) in Srinagar. “In such cases, most of these nasal issues cast a shadow on one’s appearance. These patients feel extremely happy after the correction surgery. And then, there’s this urge to look better and perfect now. It only makes rhinoplasty one of the busiest and fastest-growing surgeries in Kashmir.”
“Being a conservative society, my patients are shy about discussing rhinoplasty but now a lot has changed and because of the digital and social media boom. Also, the significant change in personality and attitude has given great hope to all those patients,” he says. “Some people are born with certain conditions that negatively affect nose functions. The most common of these conditions is a deviated septum. In a gist, uneven nostrils characterise a deviated septum. This leads to many problems such as difficulty breathing and nasal infections. In a few cases, it aggravates sleep apnea, a potentially fatal disease. Deviated septum surgery helps you avoid these problems.”
Dr Shafqat, along with other surgeons, spreads awareness among people in rural areas through regular workshops and consistent social media posts.
Pertinently, rhinoplasty commonly called a nose job or nose reconstruction is the procedure in which the tissue is gently raised off the structure of the nose and a shape is given to the bone and cartilage to improve the facial appearance. He says that there are two types of rhinoplasties—reconstructive surgery that restores the form and functions of the nose, and cosmetic surgery that changes the appearance of the nose. What has led to the growing popularity of the surgeries is that it is performed free of cost in government hospitals while it costs about Rs 50 000 Rs 60,000 and above in private hospitals.
Another prominent ENT specialist of the valley, Dr Irfan Ul Shams, who works as a Consultant at the Department of Health Services, Kashmir, says that in the quest of looking better and younger, more people want a “better look”. “Nose being a central and pivotal pillar of face holds an important position as to how a person looks,” he says, “That is the reason more and more cases are coming forward,” he says, adding “People want to look better, feel more confident and don’t want to be ridiculed and the quest of these has turned more people to cosmetic surgery and rhinoplasty in this case.”
“I must have done around 30 such cases in district hospital Pulwama. We visit many villages and encourage people to avail themselves of the ENT help so that they can regain their lost confidence,” he says.
“I must say if you are one of these people, knowing how nose reshaping improves your life helps. Sometimes in some cases, we have to create more projection and reduce the size of the prominent nose, cartilage from the rib is removed to form a stiff graft that the skin would heal against.”
Experts say that the need to harvest cartilage from elsewhere in her body is often a component of an ethnic rhinoplasty, which differs from a traditional rhinoplasty.
Director, Department of Health Services, Kashmir, Dr Mushtaq A Rather, told Greater Kashmir “A robust mechanism has been put in place and such surgeries by Kashmir-based surgeons are bringing smiles to the patients and laurels to the department.” “We need a lot of improvisation in the system and several measures are being taken to upgrade our facilities in this regard.”
The New Nose & Work Performance
Ummar who got his nose job done says that when you don’t feel good about yourself after getting bullied by people around, your work performance also takes a hit. “An unsightly nose can lead to low self-esteem. In turn, low self-esteem can lead to poor work performance. In addition, an unsightly nose can affect an appearance-based job.”
“I have a friend who was a stage former and the looking and blockage greatly interfered with his source of income. Nose reshaping helps one to solve all such issues and it also improves work performance,” he says, “Accidents, botched nose jobs, or any other source of severe trauma leads to a deformed nose. When your nose breaks, its function and appearance get ruined. In addition, a broken nose can lead to more complications. These complications can affect your daily life, so you must seek help. Nose reshaping surgery helps you solve this. Fixing a broken nose renews its function and appearance.”
Senior Consultant and known anaesthetist, Dr Masood Rashid, says that some of the Kashmir-based surgeons, especially those conducting rhinoplasty surgeries are on a mission to treat nasal trauma inflicted by accidents and congenital nasal obstructions, especially among the rural population. He says that despite the dearth of rhinoplasty surgeons in Kashmir, ENT specialists are available in the primary health centres even in remote border areas and are providing remarkable services.
“People have become more conscious about looks nowadays. Young boys prefer to go for rhinoplasty for cosmetic purposes. Many went for rhinoplasty, especially before marriage. Rhinoplasty is showing an increasing trend these days. Mainly patients are going for rhinoplasty along with Septoplasty to remove the nasal blockade and cosmetics simultaneously,” he says. Dr Rashid gives credit to Dr Shafqat, Dr Shams and the like for rebuilding confidence in such cases.
Dr Masood emphasised that Rhinoplasty and reconstructive surgery – were often portrayed as an exclusive playground for the elite. “Every day, our surgeons are making a difference in real people’s lives by creating confidence in individuals that have struggled with body image, restoring function to individuals born with congenital defects or acquired traumatic injuries, renewing self-esteem through surgical reconstruction of deformities,” he says.
‘Jump in Nose Jobs’
There is a jump as government hospitals are witnessing such cases who want to undergo rhinoplasty, commonly known as a nose job, a surgery that changes the shape of the nose.
Doctors are unanimously saying that self-esteem is one’s attitude towards oneself. “It is one of the most important psychological aspects of rhinoplasty, a common aesthetic operation. Our constant follow-ups have indicated an improvement in patients’ self-esteem after this operation.”
Is Rhinoplasty Safe?
Doctors say that nose reshaping surgery or nose job is safe as long as it’s done by a qualified surgeon, adding further that rhinoplasty is a safe and effective procedure that has been performed on thousands of patients.