About the Surgery
Your rhinoplasty recovery depends upon the surgical approach used and how invasive the surgery was. Some rhinoplasty procedures are extensive, requiring shaving or grafting of bone, which requires separation of cartilage and tissue from the nasal bone. Others are less involved and may require only local anesthesia and minimal incisions.
Because your surgeon is causing trauma to the nasal areas of your face, your body may respond with swelling and bruising as it works to heal itself following surgery. Your surgeon will minimize bleeding by applying cotton or packing inside your nose and putting a bandage and splint over your nose that can keep it as still as possible. These bandages will remain on your nose for about a week.
Immediately after surgery, you can expect your nose and surrounding facial tissues may feel swollen, sore and slightly bruised. Instead of a sharp pain, the sensation is more of a dull or uncomfortable sensation. Your surgeon will likely recommend pain-relieving measures, such as applying cloth-covered ice packs to minimize swelling and taking pain medications to minimize discomfort post-surgery. Because you may experience some skin sensation loss, limit ice pack application to 10 minutes at a time and refrain from applying ice directly to your skin.
“Keeping your head elevated as much as possible is another measure that can reduce swelling,” says A. Dean Jabs, MD, Ph.D., FACS, an American Board of Plastic Surgery-certified plastic surgeon practicing with Cosmetic Surgery Associates, P.A., based in Bethesda, Md., and McLean, Va. “Keeping your incisions covered with a thin layer of recommended antibacterial ointment, such as Neosporin, also can help to minimize infection.”
Rhinoplasty Recovery and Precautions
Your physician will give you a list of measures to take after rhinoplasty to ensure you do not disturb your nose post-surgery. Anything that involves hitting, touching or straining your nose should be avoided. This includes:
- Blowing your nose
- Eating foods that require heavy chewing, such as tough meats
- Engaging in strenuous exercise, such as running or high-impact aerobics
- Showing exaggerated facial expressions, such as smiling or laughing
- Wearing clothing that requires pulling over your face and hitting your nose
Treating your nose delicately post-surgery can help to speed your recovery process and avoid discomfort and pain. Even an everyday activity such as placing your sunglasses or eyeglasses on your nose can place extra stress on your nose and should be avoided until your physician gives you the okay to resume these activities. Your physician can recommend a special taping method that allows you to wear your glasses without them having to touch the bridge of your nose.
Once you’ve endured the recovery process, you will likely wonder when you can experience the full results of your rhinoplasty procedure. The answer depends on your unique recovery process and how extensive your surgery was. Bruising and swelling may take between two to three weeks or even up to six months in extreme instances to subside, according to Mayo Clinic. The nose can take some time to heal, meaning it may take up to a year for your nose to fully set in place. This can be especially true if your physician applied a bone or cartilage graft to your nose because these can take some time to fully incorporate into your nasal cavity. Your surgeon should schedule regular follow-ups post-rhinoplasty to ensure your nose is healing properly.
Because complications can occur with any surgery, it’s important to inform your surgeon if you experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing, bleeding that does not subside with pressure or tissue application, extreme swelling, fever or drainage from your nose that continues a few days post-surgery.