Expert Advice: Rhinoplasty Recovery Tips
The main reasons for undergoing rhinoplasty are to change the shape of your nose, improve your breathing or a combination of the two. This surgical procedure not only changes your appearance, but it can also boost your confidence level. Regardless of the motive for your nose job, post-surgery recovery is something that needs to be dealt with. You can expect more discomfort than pain, a lot of swelling, especially the first week after surgery and some bruising around the eyes. Depending upon the procedure there might also be some nasal packing or a splint inside your nose for a couple of days or a splint or cast on top of your nose as extra protection the first week post-procedure. Some doctors will also prescribe an antihistamine for a few days to help ease some discomfort. Usually, after one week, all packing and splints are removed as well as any non-absorbable sutures. As swelling and bruising decreases nasal breathing starts to normalize. Approximately 80% of the facial swelling is gone after 6 weeks, but it might take as long as 12 months for all the nasal swelling to subside.
I turned to New York City-based board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Robert Tornambe, to find out about possible complications and how to avoid them as well as the dos and don'ts to help in your recovery.
"Postoperative bleeding is the primary concern, and can occur as late as 2 or 3 weeks after surgery, but usually happens within days after surgery," says Dr. Tornambe. To prevent this from happening he recommends you avoid heavy lifting and exertion for at least 3 weeks post-op and avoid bending over which can increase nasal pressure. He also says you should try not to sneeze and emphasizes you do not blow your nose or stick anything up it. A salt water nasal spray can help prevent crusting after surgery that might tempt you to pick your nose.
Another possible complication is having the nasal bone moved out of position. Dr. Tornambe cautions you to be extra careful when in crowds and around people who talk with their hands to avoid having your nose banged or accidentally struck.
To Recover Faster:
- Do keep your head elevated as much as possible after surgery, sleep with 2 pillows at night.
- Do take pain medication and antihistamine as needed, but try to switch from pain meds to Tylenol as soon as possible, to prevent constipation from pain meds.
- Do be certain to carefully read all preoperative and postoperative instructions given to you by your surgeon.
- Do stop taking aspirin, Advil or any other medications that thin your blood for at least 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after surgery so you do not bleed excessively.
- Do take lots of deep breaths, wiggle your toes occasionally when in bed right after surgery, and walk around a bit, all to keep circulation going to prevent blood clots.
To Help Healing:
- Don't lift heavy objects, over exert yourself with activities like heavy housework, or exercise for at least 3 weeks post-op.
- Don't put anything smaller in your nose than your elbow!
- Don't blow your nose or sneeze for a couple of weeks. If you have to sneeze, expel the sneeze through your mouth, not your nose.
- Don't be impatient! Understand that a rhinoplasty is a process, and you will continue to look and feel better as time goes on.
- Don't be in arm's reach from your friends who talk with their hands for at least a couple of weeks.
Rhinoplasty can change your appearance and the function of your nose for the better, but because it has such a major impact on your looks -- it is front and center after all! -- it's important to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon and make sure you share the same aesthetic goal. Then, if you choose to move ahead with the procedure you'll be armed with these and any additional recovery tips from your doctor. Click here for our Find a Surgeon tool.