My (Mis)Adventures with Plastic Surgery Part Two

PART TWO: The First Surgery

After talking it over with Jacob, I decided to do it. He really thought I should, this being the only chance I might have since it was all paid for. The lawyer thought I should, because it would mean getting more money from settling. I waffled a lot because I was terrified of going under but hated my nose hump.

Here’s the before and after difference in my nose. It’s not a huge difference, but it nevertheless bothered me:

profile nose before accident_thumb[5]Kalli nose profile after accidenr_thumb[3]

We were in lovely Vancouver:

 Vancouver-Acquarium 085_thumb[2]

when we decided it was a go. I started looking up doctors in the area. There were massive wait times even to get a consultation. That’s the stereotype, isn’t it. Well, it was true even for plastic surgery. I was able to get a consultation by waiting about three weeks with one doctor who didn’t necessarily have the best reviews. His demeanor was cold and his face oddly artificial looking. But I was out of time and I was ready to sign up.

He told me that I shouldn’t do much because it could interfere with my breathing—just shave down the hump. And then trim the tip up a bit for good measure.

I look back and realize it was actually very good advice. I wish I had followed it.

I was ready to jump on board that ship, even with the crazy high quote he gave me—something like $9000 which is extraordinary for a primary rhinoplasty.

But they ended up calling me and telling me they couldn’t work with Americans, even insured ones, which was lame because I told them I was American before coming in. But, something to do with the insurance in the surgery room, it simply wasn’t an option. So, the States it would be. But which state?

It was either Texas or Utah because I wanted family and friends nearby. I contacted lots of doctors.

It was naivete and not vanity that has caused me a lot of health problems over this, and so if I can advise anyone on this subject please know:

Your surgeon matters.

Just because it is a developed country—the States, doesn’t mean he is qualified. Just because he has some degree, doesn’t mean he is qualified. Just because he has a website with testimonials, doesn’t mean he is qualified. It’s the number of surgeries performed, the experience, that matters. Not personal skills. Not kindness.


(Note: I debated whether or not to share my doctor’s real name and decided to do so, because long before getting the surgery done I had decided I would write a review of the experience for better or for worse.)

I ended up choosing a Utah doctor, Dr Bitner in Layton, out of convenience—I wanted to spend more time in Utah. He was the most persistent of any doctor, calling me, answering my emails immediately. I’ve since thought that though that’s a great technique for some sales jobs, it’s not a great sign for a surgeon. Because it means he’s got too much time on his hands and not enough patients.

He was also the least expensive. $5500. Which shouldn’t have mattered to me because my settlement was covering it. But I’ve long been frugal and often go for the cheaper choice.

Repeat after me: Never use a budget plastic surgeon.


Anyway, I was sold with that and talking to one of his patients on the phone who gushed about how NICE he was.

So I went into the appointment. He strolled in, a very small, unimposing man, grasped my hand, looked up my nose, and talked about my deviation to the right.

“Left.” I said. “It’s deviated to the left.”

“Left” he corrected himself.


He didn’t have a way to develop pictures in the office. So we set up our surgery appointment, and he said he would send the pictures once developed.

The doctor in Canada showed me the pictures and the alterations right in his office.

Dr Bitner didn’t send the pictures until the night before.

“It looks so beautiful” his email gushed.

And there was a big ole scoop in all of the pictures. You know how some noses have scoops rather than straight lines? He decided he wanted to add a scoop to my nose without me requesting it.

I emailed him back and said I didn’t want a scoop.

He brought the pictures with the scoop into the surgery room anyway, assuring me that he wouldn’t give me a scoop, although he did think they were more beautiful. He told me he was going to do all kinds of things to my nose like turbinoplasty, breaking bones and so on. I said, ‘Sure!” Again, not realizing in the case of healthcare, more procedures for less money is not necessarily better.

His nurse never set up the health insurance as she promised, so that I was unable to be reimbursed because she didn’t submit it beforehand.

So many warning signs with this doctor, but here’s the rub: I needed to get the surgery done before my insurance ran out, and I was in a hurry, not taking into account that nose surgery is the hardest plastic surgery there is, and it has the highest revision rate.

I went into the surgery room, cold in my robe, scared. The anesthesiologist messed up. My arm started squirting blood. The last memory I have is of him laughing as he tried again.

When I awoke, Jacob was there telling me Dr Bitner assured him everything had gone as planned.

I immediately noticed I could no longer breathe out of the left side of my nose.

It was taped up like this:


When this was removed, it was so swollen, waxy, and puffy—which is normal directly after removing a week-old cast—but what was not normal was how the doctor gasped, “It is so beautiful” while Jacob and I silently stared at each other both thinking the same thing (nope. not beautiful). The day it was removed:


What did I get myself into? I thought as I walked out of his office.

Kalli Hiller

Article by Kalli Hiller

Kalli Hiller is a voluntary vagabond who, with her husband Jacob, has traveled full time for the last eight years.

Kalli has written 369 awesome articles for us.

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