An important element of the Rhinoplasty recovery process involves preventing infection. Although infection rates following this kind of surgery are low at around 0.62%, if the complication does occur it can lead to a number of unwanted effects. Wound infection can impair the healing process and if allowed to spread, even cause sepsis. This is why it is important for all patients to understand what they can do before and after their surgery to avoid infection.
In this article we’ll take a deep dive into how to prevent infection, what to look out for in recognising an infection and what to do if you suspect an infection.
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Although it may seem like infection prevention is only relevant after surgery, there are steps that can be taken in the run up to the procedure. The most important change to make is to stop smoking if that is currently an issue. Smokers are more likely to experience serious complications during and after surgery, including impaired wound healing and increased susceptibility to infection. So it is a good idea to bear in mind how much time will be needed to engage with a smoking cessation program when booking a procedure.
The most likely site of infection when it comes to Rhinoplasty is in and around the incision site. So, it makes sense that the mainstay of infection prevention is proper wound care. Ensuring that you adhere to your surgeon’s advice around cleaning your incision site is the single most important thing you can do to prevent infection. There is no need for harsh, alcohol-based solutions or abrasive cleaning materials. Clean, lukewarm water with a mild antimicrobial soap is sufficient. According to your surgeon’s instructions, you may need to keep the wound covered after cleaning. If so, ensure that the skin is rinsed properly and allowed to air dry before covering. Regular, effective handwashing with warm soapy water can also help to ensure things stay as clean as possible.
In the initial few days after surgery, it is important to keep any dressings, splints or packing dry and untouched. Careful facial cleansing is permitted during this time providing that this does not disrupt the incision site. Once the bandages have been removed you will be able to clean the incision site according to the instructions and clean your face more thoroughly. It is important to only use lukewarm water for at least 2 weeks after surgery to avoid irritating the wound.
If your surgeon has prescribed antibiotics for you to take after surgery, it is essential that these are taken properly, and the course completed entirely. It is common for patients to feel so well following surgery that they feel antibiotics are no longer necessary. However, ending a course early increases the chances of developing an antibiotic-resistant infection.
The answer to this question depends on one major factor, the type of rhinoplasty that has been performed. You can read in detail about the differences between open and closed rhinoplasty here. In summary though, open rhinoplasty involves incisions being made on the external skin of the nose and in closed rhinoplasty incisions are made inside the nose. Makeup products and applicators commonly harbour bacteria, even if cleaned regularly, so it is essential that no makeup is applied on top of, or around incision sites. This is especially important in open rhinoplasty.
Exactly when makeup can be applied will be confirmed by your surgeon or nurse counsellor on an individual basis, but after 1-2 months of recovery, most patients will be able to apply makeup as normal excluding the incision site.
Being aware of how to recognise an infection is crucial for all patients following surgery. Commonly, infected wounds can become red, swollen and painful. There may also be an unusual discharge that appears pus-like, yellow or foul smelling. If the skin begins to change colour, especially dark brown or even black, this is considered an emergency and immediate medical attention should be sought. Signs that the infection has become more widespread are fever, sweating and even confusion.
If you don’t have any of the worrying symptoms but are simply concerned that things don’t look or feel right, you should contact your nurse counsellor or surgeon at The Harley Medical Group here. However, if you experience any of the more severe symptoms, it may be necessary to seek emergency care straight away.