NY man with severe deformity gets new nose for Christmas

Conrado Estrada had grown used to wearing face masks long before the rest of us.

His nose had grown so bulbous that the 57-year-old painter and construction laborer had trouble eating and breathing, so he preferred to cover it anyway.

“They would stare at me,” the Portchester, NY resident told The Post. “Children would ask their mothers what happened to me — and I would get around it by using a face mask all the time.”

Not just a cosmetic nuisance, his outsized schnoz could also obstruct breathing, cause snoring and, functionally speaking, just get in the way. “It had reached my lips and whenever I took a bite when I ate that would touch the spoon,” he said.

Now, with the mask — and his nose — out of the way, friends and family can finally see Estrada smiling.

It’s all thanks to a chance meeting with plastic surgeon Dr. Thomas Romo, director of facial plastic reconstructive surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital.

Dr. Thomas Romo, director of facial plastic reconstructive surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, said Estrada’s “smoldering infection” made it look like he “had a penis on his nose.”
RICH KANE

Romo told The Post he “was sort of excited” to meet Estrada when he showed up at his home in Bronxville with a paint crew about five months ago.

“This was a bad one,” he said of Estrada’s “proboscis,” which appeared as if he had “a penis on his nose,” according to Romo’s description. “It was a smoldering infection … and it would have just kept going.”

He couldn’t resist pulling Estrada aside.

“I don’t mind telling people what I think,” Romo admitted.

For years, Estrada had suffered his disfigured nose caused by rhinophyma. People with this condition have thickened, pimpled and pitted skin at the tip of the nose due to enlarged sebaceous (oil) glands. The cause of the condition is unknown, though it’s been classified as a form of rosacea, an inflammatory skin disease.

“I had spent six years seeing doctors and skin specialists and nothing would get better,” said Estrada. There is no efficient treatment for rhinophyma. For extreme cases such as Estrada’s, surgery was the only way to shrink his nose.

Conrado Estrada
Rhinophyma as extreme as Conrado Estrada’s case is rare, and requires surgical intervention to deter further growth.
Courtesy Dr. Thomas Romo

‘I believe God sent an angel to take care of me — and that’s how I see Dr. Romo.’

Conrado Estrada, referencing the surgeon who changed his life

Rhinophyma is rare, and predominantly affects men. It usually begins to develop mid-life and can grow unchecked in the absence of surgical intervention.

“I hadn’t seen a rhinophyma in maybe 20 years,” said Dr. Romo, who performed Estrada’s operation.

“This has to be affecting his life,” Romo thought, “his relationship with other people … and his ability to get work, and [his] self-esteem.”

Romo is used to doing “pro bono” work through his Little Baby Face Foundation, dedicated to providing surgery for underserved children with facial deformities. He added, “Not many people know how to fix this thing,” and health insurance won’t necessarily cover it.

“He saw me, and he gave me a hug,” Estrada told The Post. “He said, ‘I’m going to help you.’ ”

It only took a few days and forms to sign before Estrada was in the operating room. Now, at close to four weeks since surgery, he’s back to work and living his life.

It’s not just the shape of his face that’s changed, said Romo. “You’d think he won an Olympic gold medal,” he described of Estrada’s post-op photos. “Chest is out, face’s out, he’s a smiley guy. I feel great for him!”

Confidence makes “a better and more productive person in society,” said Romo. “I’m doing everything I can to help my community. I want this community to flourish.”

Estrada said the reaction from loved ones has been “enormous.” He told The Post, “I believe God sent an angel to take care of me — and that’s how I see Dr. Romo.”