With nearly eight million subscribers and 3.5 million Instagram followers, YouTube personality Gabi DeMartino is no stranger to scrutiny. What’s surprising, however, is that for years, the criticism came not from her fans, but from herself. We spoke to the social media sensation about the influence of family, friends, and Internet fame on her quest to finally become comfortable in her own skin.
“I wasn’t happy with my face for forever,” says Gabi, 24, the host of YouTube's wildly popular Fancy Vlogs by Gab and Niki and Gabi. She spent much of her early teens fantasizing about fixing the features she found so unpleasant. “I didn’t even know what surgery was, and I was in seventh grade saying, ‘Mom and dad, let me change my nose’, and they were like, ‘What?’”
Despite her insecurities, Gabi started creating makeup tutorials for YouTube alongside her identical twin sister Niki when the two were just 17. She was enamored by the transformative power of makeup, yet frustrated with herself as a model. “I didn’t have that makeup face,” Gabi explains. “I didn’t have lips to put lipstick on. I didn’t have a tiny, cute little fairy nose that makes everything look proportionate when you do makeup. I had a bulbous nose, thin lips, and tiny teeth. The only feature I was actually not ashamed of was my eyes, so if you look at my older makeup videos, everything is about the eyes.”
Becoming a successful beauty vlogger may have magnified Gabi’s dissatisfaction with her appearance, but it also inspired her to do something about it. “People might think it would make me feel more insecure, but it actually made me feel empowered to follow what I want to do with my life.” It also afforded Gabi the money she needed to make those cosmetic changes she’d been longing for all through high school.
As soon as she turned 18, Gabi used the money she’d saved to get lip filler (without realizing it required periodic upkeep) and dental veneers, but the YouTube star was afraid to go under the knife because of the risks and the stigma associated with plastic surgery. Her parents, both well-known dentists in their small Pennsylvania town, were adamantly against it. “I think they were insecure about looking like bad parents,” she says, “and I feel like my mom has wanted to change her nose for her entire life, but felt she couldn’t.”
Gabi also experienced blowback from some of her friends, even the ones who’d expressed interest in having their own cosmetic procedures. “There were friends I knew wanted to get their lips done, but told me I'd changed and I was full of myself,” she says. “I told them I just modified something that I never liked and that doesn’t change me. I did lose some friendships over it.”
And in a candid episode of Niki and Gabi last year called The Truth about Gabi's Face Transformation, the twins talk openly about the profound effect Gabi's non-surgical cosmetic procedures have had on their relationship as identical twins. Niki “has the same insecurities as me,” Gabi says, but she's become more accepting now that she's started to get cosmetic procedures too.
The more Gabi's look changed, the more some began to accuse the YouTube star of trying to look like Ariana Grande, her pop idol. Online, she was labeled Ariana's doppelgänger by some and her stalker by others. When Gabi made a parody video entitled i lived like ariana grande for a day, it inadvertently set off a Twitter feud between @gabcake and @ArianaGrande that was ultimately cleared up amicably. Grande apparently held no grudge, inviting Gabi to be in her Thank U, Next music video. Gabi later gushed on YouTube, “She looks like a Snapchat filter, I look like when you take the Snapchat filter off.”
It was a very public reference to Gabi's continuing insecurity about the one thing she hadn’t crossed off her cosmetic wish list: her nose. “I was getting non-surgical nose jobs for the last two years, but no matter what we did with it, I was still completely miserable with the nose I had.”
Last fall, Gabi had an epiphany. “I remember thinking, do I want to go through another Christmas with this nose? Do I want to go through more birthday pictures with this nose? Do I want to go through more screenshots from fans with this nose?’” She finally realized that although approval from her friends and family was important, it was also holding her back. “My parents aren’t the ones putting themselves out there for eight million followers to see. They’re not the ones doing what I’m doing. It’s so easy for them to say it’s not a big deal, get over it, don’t be vain. But they’re not the ones trying to deal with something that makes them very upset.”
Gabi confided in her injector, who recommended she make an appointment with board certified plastic surgeon Jason Bloom, MD. She’d already been to six consultations with surgeons in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and beyond, but none of them felt right. That changed, however, once she met Dr. Bloom. “First, I made sure that I found a doctor that I felt comfortable with to put me under anesthesia and cut open my face,” she says. “Second, I found someone who could make my nose look like it was mine, like I was born with it.”
During the consultation, Gabi looked through before-and-after photos of patients who had a similar anatomy and aesthetic goal to hers. “What I try to do in a consultation is to show patients particular pictures which are going to match what their needs are,” says Dr. Bloom. “Once they see that I can do something that they’re interested in, then it’s a match.” He also provided Gabi with 3D imaging of her nose, which allowed her to see just how she’d look post-surgery. “3D imaging really lets the patient see what their nose is going to look like in all dimensions,” he says. “The main reason I do it is so that my patient and I are both headed towards the same goal.”
For Gabi, seeing how Dr. Bloom's 3D images matched with the post-surgical results is what sold her. “That gave me so much confidence,” she says. “If he’s able to do this 3D imaging in a consultation and then actually make your nose look like what he showed you at your consultation, then this is the guy.’”
Gabi scheduled her surgery immediately, but was sidelined for four months due to pneumonia. It was worth the wait. “It was the most painless, comfortable, and easy thing I’ve ever done,” she gushes. “Lip injections hurt more than a nose job did. I had absolutely no pain, barely any bruising, and no swelling.”
Dr. Bloom attributes Gabi’s smooth recovery to his endonasal surgical approach, which causes less nasal trauma, and therefore less swelling, than an open rhinoplasty. The day before the surgery, Dr. Bloom dissolved the filler in Gabi’s nose so that he could accurately gauge her anatomy. He determined Gabi's nose “was overall wide, flat, lacked a little bit of definition, and her bridge was a little bit higher than she wanted it. So I brought the bridge down, both the bone and a little bit of the cartilage,” he recounts. “I shaped the tip cartilages to make it a bit more defined, and I did some tip suturing to give some projection and support to the tip. I narrowed the nasal bones and lastly, I did internal nostril base reductions to bring the nostrils more toward the midline.”
Gabi credits her post-procedure comfort level, both physical and emotional, to her years of experience in the public eye (“I was used to being stared at,” she says) and to Dr. Bloom’s expertise. “I didn’t take any painkillers, because I felt no pain at all,” she says. Dr. Bloom also sent Gabi home with OcuMend arnica pads to help with healing. “Those patches saved my life,” she exclaims. “I’d seen those videos of people with big eggplant-colored bruises around their eyes. I was so fortunate to have those patches because the only bruising I had was for the first two days and it was very minor.”
Throughout her entire rhinoplasty process, Gabi was completely forthcoming, walking fans through her surgery plans in a YouTube video called i lied to you all of 2018 NOT clickbait and chronicling the procedure in another called I just got a nose job. my entire nose job experience (so fun). Gabi also posted pics, cast and all, to Instagram, including a video of herself at a store listening to an Ariana Grande song, which the superstar reposted to her own account. “She thought it was really funny,” explains Gabi. “Ariana even asked me about my nose job process and how I was doing. She was really sweet about it.”
The public response to Gabi’s nose job has been overwhelmingly positive. “I really haven’t gotten any bad comments,” she reveals. “The only negative comments I got in the past were before I owned up to my lip injections.” The lesson wasn’t lost on Gabi. She feels a moral obligation to be honest about everything she’s changed. “I think people are cowards when they try to hide it,” she says, “especially when they’re public figures. They could really be helping people by sharing their experience.”
Now that Gabi’s family and friends have seen how happy she is after her rhinoplasty procedure, they’re more accepting. She hopes to dispel the belief that cosmetic surgery is all about vanity. “A lot of people look at the vanity and not the internal happiness aspect of it,” she muses. “I finally found peace within myself the moment I changed my nose. Yes, it's a lot of money, but at the same time, it’s on your face – something you wear everywhere, every day, and it’s something that will make you feel so good about yourself if that’s what you truly want.”
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