When Marya was only 22 years old, she was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis. Seventeen years later she has undergone two total knee replacements, as well as replacement of all of the metacarpophalangeal joints in both of her hands.

“The arthritis had destroyed virtually all the cartilage in my nose,” she says. “I had no septum at all and was in pain much of the time. I couldn’t wear sunglasses because of the pressure on my nose.

“My immune system is compromised by the medications I’m taking for arthritis, and I was getting one sinus infection after another, along with severe nosebleeds. When my colds and infections continued to worsen, my rheumatologist referred me to Dr. Fakhri, who referred me to Dr. Ho.”

Internationally recognized rhinologist Samer Fakhri, MD, is a board-certified otorhinoloaryngologist in the UTHealth Otorhinolaryngology Texas Sinus Institute.

Tang Ho, MD, is a fellowship-trained facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon in the UTHealth Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Program.

In a six-hour surgical procedure, Dr. Ho made a very small incision under the breast and harvested a small piece of rib cartilage, which he then carved and shaped into several pieces of cartilage to rebuild Marya’s nose.

“Because Marya had a severe deformity caused by almost complete resorption of her septum, we needed a significant amount of straight and durable cartilage grafts to achieve the desired functional and aesthetic outcome,” says Dr. Ho, who is an assistant professor in the department of Otorhinolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery at the Medical School.

“Recovery was easier than I imagined it would be, and the difference is amazing,” Marya says. “Dr. Ho was just wonderful. He explained every step of the procedure very thoroughly.”