Soraya Louisa Putra is a 39 year-old entrepreneur who’s had her hand in every artsy profession possible. After a modeling stint, she dabbled in interior design furnishings and later commenced a cake business called Sugar Boutique where she baked and designed her own confectionaries. Soraya now owns a nightclub called Under9 which features “proper underground”, non-cookie-cutter music, and also has shares in establishments like Pinch on Jalan Bangkung and Nosh, Tipple, Brew in Jalan Ampang.
Despite being a gloriously gregarious woman with an unwavering wit, Soraya battled many inner demons growing up, and was never comfortable with the body she was born into. Having to live with a mirror image that didn’t reflect her true self, Soraya turned to cosmetic surgery in pursuit of personal bodily perfection, a perfection that she could identify with on a physical, emotional and psychological level. In this candid, no-holds barred interview, Soraya talks about her physical shortcomings, and how each cosmetic procedure slowly brought her closer to the real self who she feels reflects how she truly feels within.
You say that you grew into “weird shapes and proportions” at the age of 12. What can you tell us about these physical challenges and how it affected you at that age?
I used to get teased a lot, mostly because of my nose and acne. When you’re 12, you really look for the acceptance of your peers. So, despite my physical issues, I managed to gain social acceptance by being the class clown. I was always quite outgoing but yet an outsider as well. It was always an onus of mine to maintain a balance between being both an outsider but yet, being accepted. So I made it my thing where if everyone wore green, I had to wear another colour. When it came to the teasing however, my classmates were quite cruel. In junior school, some of the boys used to call me ‘Plug’ who is a character from Beano. The comic wasn’t particularly well-drawn and Plug was the least well-drawn out of all of them.
The teasing may have been the first thing that made me question how I looked because no one ever disputes their physical attributes when they’re a kid. Whether it’s parents telling you you’re attractive or classmates cruelly saying otherwise, you don’t really think about beauty until your teens. Only then can one judge on their own and personally critique what may be physically acceptable or even normal. After my late teens I grew into my ugly duckling features and it was then I understood what I liked about my body and what I didn’t. Because I’m an artist who can make something pretty out of nothing, it was difficult for me to identify with the body I was born into, especially my nose.
What do mean by “not identifying” with the body you were born into?
Not identifying with the physical means having a face or body that doesn’t match how you feel on the inside. This is very tricky to explain. For example, if I had an obvious protruding jaw, people would understand why surgery was necessary. However, if you had minor discrepancies of a few millimeters here or there, many can’t fathom how one can’t be happy with their natural self. What people fail to understand is the relationship I had with the mirror every morning. It was really those brief moments of glimpsing my reflection that made me realise how little my face reflected who I truly was. Suffering from this plight has made me empathise with transsexuals; I can only imagine how difficult it is to be born into a body they downright don’t identify with.
When did you decide to undergo plastic surgery?
Although the teasing may have been the reason I questioned my looks, not identifying with my body was the ultimate catalyst to choosing surgery. The thought of undergoing surgery was always at the back of my mind since my early teens. I even spoke to mum about getting a nose job. She understood my dissatisfaction and always said, “When you’re old enough” or “If you find the right doctor.” Mum actually paid for my first rhinoplasty when I was 23. It really took a good seven years before that decision was made. I’m actually glad I didn’t undergo surgery earlier because you need that trauma and certainty to ensure surgery is what you really want. If you’re 25 and have tried your hardest to live with what you got but can’t, then why not make the change?
Your first procedure was a nose job. What result did you expect and were you satisfied with the outcome?
I was definitely not satisfied. I expected perfection as soon as the cast was taken off and assumed I needn’t see my doctor ever again. Unfortunately nobody explains that you’re only going to achieve a millimeter or so of a difference with each surgery. Here’s some advice people, if you’re looking for big physical changes in one sitting, that’s never going to happen. While I wouldn’t say my first rhinoplasty was botched, I did want revisional surgery, as results didn’t meet expectations. I’ve undergone three rhinoplasties thus far and with each surgery have come closer to what I perceive as perfection. My fourth procedure is coming soon and hopefully, that will be the last.
I’ve had multiple rhinoplasties and my nose has been broken twice. I had one silicone implant put in, but it has now been removed. I’ve has an endoscopic brow lift, various types of liposuction on my thighs and inner thighs and fat transfers to my breasts and face. I’ve also undergone minimally invasive treatments such as Botox and filler injections, as well as numerous laser treatments. Although I have also undergone many non-invasive therapies, I don’t really recommend them because they don’t work and are a waste of money. In my opinion, if patients are going to spend RM6,000 for non-invasive body contouring treatments, they might as well double that amount and undergo liposuction, as results are visibly obvious.
Why have you undergone multiple procedures in the same areas. And why choose varying forms of liposuction?
Single procedures can’t give me the results I want. In terms of the multiple liposuctions, I chose to undergo follow-up procedures because I suffered hormonal fluctuations in my early thirties and gained 10 kilos in a short period of time. It was only after my first Vaser Liposelection on my legs that I realised I had thyroid issues, as fat quickly returned even after watching my diet. Understanding that something was amiss, I visited the doctor to have my underactive thyroid fixed. Still, problems do come up in varying degrees and though I’ve never regressed back to my initial size, pockets of fat still collect here and there.
I’ve undergone Vaser, water jet and conventional liposuction. Of the three types, Vaser is my least favourite, and actually quite horrific. This method of fat removal is something I’ll advise against because it’s incredibly painful, with high levels of post-surgery damage. In fact, the left and right sides of my legs that have undergone Vaser are completely uneven. There are lumps and bumps and you can even feel where the cannula scars are. This happens when surgeons stick the cannula in as opposed to guiding it along the veins. My inner thighs were treated with water jet, which was fine. Recovery was admittedly very painful, but I didn’t suffer any of the lumpiness I did from the Vaser. Lastly, my inner thighs endured one more round of fat removal with normal liposuction. Thankfully that went fine.