Conrado Ramos Estrada grew accustomed to wearing a facial mask long before the COVID pandemic. That’s because his nose had grown so bulbous that he chose to hide it from the world.
“They would stare at me,” Estrada, 57, told the New York Post. “Children would ask their mothers what happened to me — and I would get around it by using a face mask all the time.”
His large nose also made it difficult for him to eat, breath, and speak. It had reached his lips and he would take a bite every time he ate.
Estrada is now free from the clutches of his large sniffer. Thanks to a kind surgeon, Estrada can finally smile for his family and friends.
Dr. Thomas Romo, Lenox Hill Hospital’s director of facial plastic reconstruction surgery, met Estrada about five months ago when Estrada showed up at his house with a painting crew.
“This was a bad one,” Dr. Romo said of the growth, which appeared as if Estrada had a male appendage on his nose, according to the doctor’s honest description.
“It was a smoldering infection … and it would have just kept going,” he said.
Dr. Romo couldn’t just let Estrada leave that day, so he pulled him aside to tell him about his observation.
“He saw me, and he gave me a hug,” Estrada recalled of their meeting. “He said, ‘I’m going to help you.’”
As it turns out, Estrada’s disfigured nose was caused by rhinophyma. Due to their enlarged oil glands, individuals with this condition develop thickened, pitted, and pimpled skin near the tip of their noses.
It’s unknown what causes rhinophyma, although it has been classified as a form of rosacea, an inflammatory skin disease.
This rare condition is most common in men. It can develop without surgery and can become severe in the middle of life.
“I had spent six years seeing doctors and skin specialists and nothing would get better,” Estrada said.
Rhinophyma is also not an effective treatment. In extreme cases like Estrada’s, surgery was the only way to bring his nose back to its normal size.
“I hadn’t seen a rhinophyma in maybe 20 years. This has to be affecting his life, his relationship with other people … and his ability to get work, and [his] self-esteem,” said Dr. Romo, who performed Estrada’s nose operation.
This isn’t the first time that Dr. Romo has performed pro bono surgeries. His Little Baby Face Foundation, which is dedicated to providing surgery for underserved children who have facial deformities, has performed it many times.
“Not many people know how to fix this thing,” he said.
Estrada had to wait only a few days before he could sign forms and go in for surgery. Now, he’s back to work and living his life—more confident and happier than ever.
“You’d think he won an Olympic gold medal,” Dr. Romo said of Estrada’s photos post-operation. “Chest is out, face’s out, he’s a smiley guy. I feel great for him!”
Dr. Romo said that confidence makes “a better and more productive person in society.”
“I’m doing everything I can to help my community. I want this community to flourish,” he added.
Estrada said his loved ones had “enormous” reactions when they saw his new nose.
“I believe God sent an angel to take care of me — and that’s how I see Dr. Romo,” he said.
Visit his website or Facebook page to learn more information about Dr. Romo.
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