Rhiannon Langley documents her recovery from rhinoplasty surgery in Thailand. Ouch.

Image: Rhiannon Langley before and after (via Instagram).

Over the past few years there’s been a lot of news coverage dedicated to the emerging trend of ‘cosmetic tourism’.

It’s been estimated that 15,000 Australians head overseas every year to have cosmetic procedures — including Botox, breast implants and tummy tucks — at a fraction of the price they’d be paying at home. Often these treatments are included in packages arranged by travel agents.

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Melbourne-based Rhiannon Langley has recently returned from one of these trips, and she’s documented the entire experience on her popular blog and Instagram account.

Langley in April, before her surgery (via Instagram)

After years of feeling self-conscious about the shape of her nose — "Every time I took a photo the first thing I would check is if my nose looked big... to me it was everything I hated," she recalls — Langley began researching the cost of rhinoplasty in Australia.

When she saw the ballpark figures, the 24-year-old turned her attention to another, less expensive, destination: Bangkok, Thailand.

"A few of my friends had gone over for their boobs and I also knew someone who had a tummy tuck. I sussed all their photos and messaged them for their opinions on medical tourism, all of them said it was awesome," Langley writes.

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She eventually decided on an agency called Cosmeditour, and made her booking. Last month, Langley shared the news with her almost 200,000 Instagram followers and kept them updated on her surgery experience using the hashtag #RhiannonGetsRhino. (Post continues after gallery.)

The six-hour surgery focused on re-shaping Langley's Hanging Columella, a 'drooping' at the tip of her nose which she believed made it look too long for her face. Langley wrote a detailed, day-by-day account of her recovery, which she's published on her blog along with some post-op selfies that will make you wince. You can read her full account here.

"I woke up [from my first sleep] so so swollen, burst a blood vessel in my eye from all the pressure and my left eye was almost closed over, my right was huge too," she writes on the first day. "I took one look at myself and wanted to cry, I knew I would bruise but not this much."

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When she left the hospital, Langley was provided with five different kinds of tablets to take, along with a syringe to flush out her nose and avoid infection. She also had to sleep upright to avoid putting pressure on her face.

"Not a bad way to recover." (via Instagram)

In the first few days Langley experienced intense bruising and swelling, and underwent a number of 'laser showers' to help this subside. She also lost her taste and smell, although notes this is a normal side-effect.


Despite her quite dramatic side-effects, Langley didn't rest in bed for the whole time — she was also able to leave her hotel room to relax by the pool and visit local street markets with her fiance Jody, who had flown over with her.

Langley's cast was removed one week after the procedure, an experience she describes as "absolutely the worst part of the entire surgery" and a feeling not unlike being punched in the face. Doctors told Langley she wouldn't have any sensation in the tip of her nose for a least a couple of months.

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"It’s going to take around two months for the bone structure to set properly, and I have to keep pushing the nose slightly in the direction I want for the last 10 per cent of perfecting it," she explains.

Langley is now back home and feeling "on top of the world". (Instagram)

Langley is now back at work in Melbourne, and despite having a bloodshot eye and a little remaining bruising she says she's feeling "on top of the world". The last of her swelling is expected to heal within six months, and Langley has promised to continue updating her followers on her recovery.

Even reading her story is enough to make your eyes water, yet Langley is adamant it was the right decision for her.

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"Overall my experience was a crazy roller coaster, but I am so happy with my decision to go overseas and get my surgery done, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done! I already feel so much more confident and can’t wait for the end of the six months."

Although it seems Langley's rhinoplasty was a success, there have been high-profile reports of botched cosmetic procedures abroad.

“Complications can occur even with the best surgery. Recuperation can take a long time."

Earlier this year, Australian woman Evita Sarmonikas died after undergoing a 'Brazilian butt lift' in Mexicali, a popular cosmetic tourism destination in Mexico. Meanwhile in October last year, an English woman died during a corrective procedure in Thailand that was allegedly carried out by an unqualified surgeon.

There are mixed opinions about the safety of cosmetic surgery in developing nations, but the question of what happens if something goes wrong has been concerning for local experts.

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“Complications can occur even with the best surgery. Recuperation can take a long time. We monitor some patients for 18 months after surgery," The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons president Rodney Cooter told Fairfax Media in 2013.

He added that even though complications can happen regardless of where cosmetic surgery is performed, the safest option for locals is to have it done here in Australia.

Have you ever had a cosmetic procedure overseas? What was your experience like?

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