Two nose jobs later and Delaney Aby Saalman still hates her nose.
Saalman, a Kentucky-based photographer and writer, received two rhinoplasties when she was 16 and 17.
Most of Saalman’s young life revolved around feeling physically unattractive. The photographer said she fixated on her looks so much she could not “focus on much else” about herself.
Multiple nose jobs later, and her teenage self couldn’t shake the insecurity.
“I felt massive waves of disappointment and sadness because I somehow still didn’t look like all of the beautiful women that I wanted to look like even after two nose jobs,” Saalman told Insider.
In an interview with Insider, Saalman said she regrets her nose job — and a growing number of former cosmetic surgery patients are speaking out about wishing they never went under the knife.
Some regretful plastic surgery recipients want their “ethnic” features back. Supermodel Bella Hadid said she regrets getting a nose job at 14 because she no longer has the nose of her Palestinian ancestors, per an interview with Vogue.
Saalman similarly feels like she lost a connection to her Jewish relatives. “I now long to look like my family, past and present, and wish I had embraced what made me a part of them instead of abandoning it for more ‘conventionally attractive’ standards of beauty.”
In lieu of a a new car or big party, Saalman convinced her parents to get her a nose job soon after turning 16.
Saalman said she found a highly rated surgeon online and booked an appointment with her parents approval.
Though the doctor answered her questions and explained possible complications, Saalman said she wished he spent more time “managing her expectations.” His approach to nose jobs was a more natural look, and Saalman could barely see the difference in her nose after the gauze and bandages came off.
“Most people could never guess that I’ve had work done, which I think is a good thing in hindsight, but at the time when I was a teenager, I was very upset about this fact and longed for more clarity from my surgeon,” Saalman told Insider.
Saalman said aside from a joke here and there, her friends at high school didn’t talk much about her nose job. But internally, she said felt insecure about “faking it” to fit in by spending money to look like “them.”
“No doors suddenly opened,” Saalman said. “There wasn’t a line of girls wanting to be my friend or a line of guys wanting to ask me out on a date.”
Saalman went in for a second procedure a year later hoping for more noticeable results, but continued to feel dissatisfied. The procedures also left her with minor breathing issues and frequent nosebleeds, Saalman said, which added to her feeling of regret.
At 19, she went to a different plastic surgeon to ask about a third plastic surgery. The doctor declined to take her as a patient due to her history, and advised her to find validation in ways that don’t involve “going under a knife.”
The surgeon’s comments left Saalman stunned — the doctor passed up an opportunity to make money to gently tell her she’s a beautiful young woman setting an unattainable standard for herself.
“It was after this that I began to slowly but surely learn that I feel much better about myself when I improve on who I am as a person than I do when I try to improve on my reflection in the mirror,” she said.
Saalman stopped obsessing over her image in a mirror and used that time to work towards her career goals and improve her relationships with friends and family.
Saalman, now 23, said she wishes she spent her teens learning self-acceptance and finding inner beauty instead of getting plastic surgery. Though she doesn’t blame her parents and appreciated their support, Saalman said she wishes they stopped her from getting plastic surgery.
“I find it dangerous that we allow young people who can’t even legally drink or smoke for years to come the availability to undergo surgeries that are strictly cosmetic and permanently alter them.”
Saalman said she stopped indulging the negative self-talk when she looks in the mirror, and finally feels fulfilled in life. But the writer said she will always regret the surgery and wishes she could reverse the permanent change.
“The sad thing for me is that before I was even able to reach an age where I could mature, I was allowed to go under the knife to change myself so that I will always know that I will never be able to be 100% authentic,” she said.