I had heard of Botox for sweat, fillers for eyes, and even vampire facials for cell renewal. As a consumer who has grown up with viral beauty trend stories at every turn, not much surprised me anymore. Until I saw the effects of a nonsurgical rhinoplasty in motion.
I first witnessed the treatment scrolling through my Instagram feed. With just a few needle pricks, a doctor I follow was able to drastically change the shape of a patient's nose using filler in just minutes. The process looked relatively painless, easy, fast, and, most importantly, reversible — all things a surgical rhinoplasty is very much not.
As a woman who spent three decades being not particularly fond of her nose, but also as a woman who spent three decades mitigating all risks in life, the nonsurgical rhinoplasty seemed like a game-changer. The ability to test-run a more permanent procedure without having to suffer through a long recovery process, and the stress of possible regret? At the very least, I had to try it to be able to appreciate the science of it myself.
So, I committed — to a non-committal treatment, of course. I made an appointment with New York-based, board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Lara Devgan, a doctor who performs both nonsurgical and surgical rhinoplasties for patients who often resemble me mentally. "It’s kind of like who’s going to buy a house and who’s going to buy an apartment," Dr. Devgan says. "You think that everybody is renting so that they can buy. But if you just live in New York for more than six months, you know there’s a whole cadre of people who are fine renting, and even if they can well afford to buy a place, they are going to continue to rent because it gives [them] flexibility [and] the option to move. So the nonsurgical rhinoplasty is almost a way of renting or leasing without making a permanent commitment."
The other benefit to a nonsurgical treatment of the nose is the ability to use your voice. Dr. Devgan says she likes being able to administer nonsurgical rhinoplasties in order for the patient to feel more involved. "When you’re having surgery, all the important decisions are being made when you’re sleeping," she says. "So you obviously need to trust your surgeon. But with a nonsurgical rhinoplasty, not only is it completely reversible, but you’re also awake and participating in my decision-making with me."
And that was one of the more comforting pieces of the process of a nonsurgical rhinoplasty. Before beginning the procedure, Dr. Devgan not only asked me to describe what I would change about my nose, but also communicated what she could or could not alter without surgery. For example, filler might be able to straighten the bridge of my nose, but not have a meaningful impact on my nostrils. The conversation allowed me not only to have control over the procedure, but also gave me reasonable expectations for the final result.
Still, the reasonable expectations were far exceeded. The procedure itself was indeed fast (no more than five minutes), and only slightly uncomfortable (the needle pricks on the tip of my nose simultaneously made my eyes water and gave me the sensation of needing to sneeze). Most impressively, it delivered results that I would never imagine possible outside of the operating room.
So how was this possible? To give me the above results, Dr. Devgan used dissolvable hyaluronic acid filler, underlining that nonsurgical rhinoplasties get the best result using a dense formula with a high G prime — a measurement that indicates how well a filler can lift tissue. "Imagine different hair gels in your cabinet and there are 30 different hair gels that you can use," Dr. Devgan says of the type of filler she chose for my treatment. "You want to choose one that’s stiff, thick, will support weight, and won’t move very much. Those are the ones I use with the nose."
And, of course, it's best to visit a doctor who has experience and expertise in nonsurgical rhinoplasties, a treatment that's much more difficult and sophisticated than most.
There is, however, a downside to the nonsurgical rhinoplasty. The best thing about the treatment also happens to be the worst thing — its impermanence. Generally, according to Dr. Devgan, results can last anywhere from three months to three years. Where you fall depends on several factors, most of which are beyond one's control. How long someone retains filler depends on their metabolic rate — the faster your metabolism, the faster your body will absorb filler.
But there are some ways you can help your nonsurgical rhinoplasty last longer. Following the treatment, patients will want to avoid putting too much pressure on the area for the first few weeks, and avoid wearing heavy eyeglasses. But don't hold off using that tissue if it's needed. Dr. Devgan says the force needed to mold filler is akin to smashing a jelly bean — blowing your nose shouldn't require that much force.
As for my nonsurgical rhinoplasty? Unfortunately, though the average patient sees their nonsurgical rhinoplasty last one to two years, my metabolism did not allow my results to make it through a calendar year. After approximately six months, I noticed my nose shape starting to revert back to its original form.
But, like most New Yorkers, I felt comfortable renewing my lease.