Donna Drake 0:01
Joining us now is Dr. Gregory Dibelius, and we’re going to be talking about our nose. How are you today?
Gregory Dibelius 0:06
Hi. I’m really good. Thanks for having me.
Donna Drake 0:08
Yeah. I was smiling because it’s the one organ, for me, or the one piece of my body that actually has bothered me my whole entire life, since the age of 12, because somebody made fun of me and said that I had a big nose, and I was like, “Ugh,” and it held me back for a really, really, really long time. It was hard for me. Now, I feel at the age of 58, I’m okay with my nose. But when do you know that you need to get a rhinoplasty? How does it work? Is it not just for cosmetic, it’s also functionality?
Gregory Dibelius 0:42
Yeah, so I’m really sorry that that happened to you.
Donna Drake 0:44
Thank you, that hurt my feelings, it still bothers me.
Gregory Dibelius 0:48
That’s actually a common story. It is one of those things, it’s very entwined with your identity, it’s right in the center of your face, it takes up that really important real estate. And when someone’s talking to you, that’s the thing they see if there’s something sort of a little different about it. We want people to look at your eyes, and stuff, but if it’s a little larger, or not maybe what they are expecting, then it stands out. And I think, for young people, it can be very difficult to deal with those little teasing, and stuff like that. So you hear that a lot. I think, in terms of deciding to do it, I think it’s like when people reach that stage that you just referenced. When they say, “Well, I’m comfortable with this, and I’m comfortable with who I am, but this is something I’ve always just wanted to change. I’m over the teasing, it doesn’t bother me, I know who I am, but I’ve always wanted to make this change.” And, for them, it’s about just being who they feel like they really are. It’s about empowerment and making a decision for themselves. And you brought up another point, which is, if there’s a breathing issue, then frequently that happens much earlier.
Donna Drake 1:57
Right, like it’s a broken nose, and then you can’t breathe very well. So, those things also have to be fixed. It was a deviated septum, is that what it’s called? Okay.
Gregory Dibelius 2:05
A deviated septum is… The septum is the wall that separates your left and right sides in the middle. And it’s very common that it’s congenitally deviated, like you’re born with it. It affects people to different degrees depending on just how much they think about it, or if they’re athletic, or something, and maybe they frequently breathe through their nose, it may bother them more. But it’s a really common thing. And yes, there’s a huge aspect in nasal surgery that’s what we call functional, or has to do with breathing, which I think plays a lot into your physical health and your well-being.
Donna Drake 2:42
You were saying that, during your undergrad, you did that in Massachusetts, and then you decided… So, at what point did you decide that this was going to be your specialty? Because, at some point, whether it’s your residency or something, you have to go into a track, right?
Gregory Dibelius 2:54
Yes. That’s the whole… It’s a very long track in medicine. And I would say, I think it started very early when I was very young. I had an interest in the sciences, and also, even before that, in art. I remember going to cartooning class on Saturday mornings. But once I got into the sinus sciences in high school, the question was, how can you sort of merge these interests? And my first thought was, actually, medical illustration, which is kind of a unique career. Obviously, didn’t end up doing that. But, once I sort of made it into medical school and residency, and I realized that there was a field of plastic surgery called facial plastic surgery, it seemed more and more like the right fit. And, I would say, somewhere in the middle of residency, you really decide what your practice or your career is going to be, what you’re going to specialize in. So, it was around then.
Donna Drake 3:53
Did you also, in your residency or in your own practice, see where you actually had to repair someone’s nose? Because a lot of times it’s injured. They could have an electrocution, they could have some sort of reason that their nose got damaged.
Gregory Dibelius 4:08
Yeah, that’s really common, actually. I think we talk a little about reasons for when people decide to do a rhinoplasty, but it’s really common that maybe they were involved in sports in high school, they had an old fracture that they didn’t really repair at the time, or didn’t think it would be an issue. But it’s maybe 15 years later, it still looks crooked, and the breathing has been compromised. And it’s just that they went off and did their own thing, and they haven’t gotten around to it. So, from that standpoint, it’s actually quite common. We do see more severe things too. And one of the common examples is cancer, skin cancer on the nose. So, there’s a whole other field of reconstructive surgery which deals, not only with the shape of the nose, but also replacing parts of the skin that have been removed from cancer surgery, for example.
Donna Drake 4:59
And when you do that, do you do skin grafts from maybe the inside of the thigh? Or, are they using other technology now? How are you able to help someone build a nose back?
Gregory Dibelius 5:09
It’s a really huge field with a lot of different interesting things. A lot of the tissue to reconstruct the basic defects on the nose are actually from local tissues from around the area… Either from the nose itself, ideally, there are some more creative things that come from the cheek area, or even the forehead. And there’s a lot of very interesting, creative stuff that people have come up with.
Donna Drake 5:32
I know that you’re very well-read, what type of medical journals, and things, and you’re going to lectures, you’re doing all types of things to help you be the best in your industry?
Gregory Dibelius 5:40
So, I think that’s a really important part of being any type of doctor, but especially being a surgeon because, in surgery, it’s more like being sort of an artisan, or a craftsman. You spend your career building upon your technique, trying things that work better or worse, and you want to see what everybody else is doing. So, a lot of the conferences, the journals, it’s almost like ‘this is how I do it’ type of stuff. So, that stuff is endlessly fascinating, and it always contributes. You’re always evaluating, “Is this directly applicable to my practice? Do I feel like this is good? Do I don’t think it’s good?” So, we always are all reading, and sort of seeing what everyone else is doing because all the other surgeons in my field, they’re doing incredible stuff.
Donna Drake 6:29
Yeah, it is an art form. I started out as a graphic artist myself and thought it was really interesting to draw a face, draw a human face and to figure it all out. So, congratulations to you on all the success that you’ve had as a surgeon and how many people you’ve been able to help.
Gregory Dibelius 6:46
Donna Drake 6:46
And I’m glad that you came here to speak with us.
Gregory Dibelius 6:49
Thank you so much for having me.
Donna Drake 6:50
Yeah. And I even boldly said that I was bullied. So, if you’re someone that feels that you just might want to look a little different, or if you’re going through a medical reason that you would like to have a rhinoplasty, please reach out to Dr. Gregory Dibelius. Thanks for watching.