Rhinoplasty Recovery: What You Need to Know

Regardless of the type of rhinoplasty that has been performed the recovery process requires patience, and adequate time must be allowed for recuperation following a procedure as complex as nose reshaping.

You will notice results after a few weeks when the swelling and bruising starts to reduce, however the the entire recovery process can take up to a year to complete, breaking it down into manageable portions and milestones can help with understanding: what is involved, the typical rate of progress, and how results will change and improve over time.

Immediately after surgery

Following completion of the rhinoplasty, bed rest and elevation of the head are essential.

There will be some variation in postoperative management depending on which surgical approach was used but a splint will be placed over the bridge of the nose for support and protection in most cases. Cold packs may also be placed over the eyes to reduce any bruising or swelling. Sterile gauze may have been placed inside both nostrils to absorb any fluid; this is called nasal packing. A sensation of congestion and inability to breathe through the nose are common whether or not packing has been used. There will also be tenderness around the eyes and cheeks. Appropriate medication will be offered to manage any pain felt after surgery.

You can read more about the different types of rhinoplasty here.

Day 1-3

During the first few days, bed rest in an elevated position is required; extra pillows can be used to maintain this position. This will help reduce any swelling and give the body the rest that it needs. A week off work or other obligations is recommended, although it is important not to rush this process and longer should be taken if necessary.

Avoid:

  • Bending down
  • Getting the splint or dressings wet
  • Showering
  • Activity as much as possible
  • Tampering with the splint or any scabs that have formed
  • Sneezing through the nose
  • Resting glasses on the bridge of the nose

Try to:

  • Rest in an elevated position
  • Take a lukewarm bath rather than a shower
  • Increase fluid intake to avoid a sore throat

Day 4-7

During the first few days, bed rest in an elevated position is required; extra pillows can be used to maintain this position. This will help reduce any swelling and give the body the rest that it needs. A week off work or other obligations is recommended, although it is important not to rush this process and longer should be taken if necessary.You may notice swelling or bruising around the eyes and cheeks, this is common and happens as a result of disruption to the blood vessels surrounding the eyes and nose during surgery. Any bruising and swelling will begin to subside as recovery progresses. At around day 7, the surgeon may decide to remove the splint covering the bridge of the nose and remove any stitches that aren’t dissolvable, this will take place during the postoperative appointment.

It is at this point when the first signs of results can be observed. However there will most likely be significant swelling in the nose, so it won’t be possible to fully appreciate the results of nose reshaping just yet.

Avoid:

  • Sun exposure – it is especially important following rhinoplasty (even more so once the splint has been removed) to protect the nose from the sun as the skin will be more susceptible to sunburn, and exposure can worsen any scarring. Apply an SPF30 sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB.

Try to:

  • Maintain a healthy diet – Increased fiber intake can help prevent constipation and reduced salt intake can help reduce swelling.
  • Continue practicing the postoperative care routine as directed by the surgeon.

Week 2

Depending on the individual, it may be possible to return to work and other daily activities at the beginning of week 2. However exercise should be avoided, and activity kept to a minimum until at least the end of week 3 depending on the surgeon’s advice.

Week 3-4

Any swelling or bruising may begin to subside, but it is not uncommon for this to persist for longer especially in the tip of the nose. The overall shape of the nose will continue to evolve towards the final result as the swelling reduces. By the end of this time period there will often be very little evidence of surgery.

Month 2-3

Depending on the advice of the surgeon, it may be possible to resume any strenuous exercise or activity. It is possible that the tip of the nose may still be swollen or feel numb, but this will continue to resolve as recovery progresses.

Month 6

By 6 months, the post-rhinoplasty healing process is considered completed and any visible scarring will be in the process of fading.

The extent of scarring will vary depending on the type of rhinoplasty, you can read more on this here.

One year

It can take up to a year to fully appreciate the final results of rhinoplasty because swelling continues to dissipate in some areas of the nose for as long as this. At this point, the final results and renewed sense of self-confidence can be enjoyed.

If you are considering rhinoplasty, a library of before and after images from patients who chose rhinoplasty at The Harley Medical Group is available for viewing here. There is also the opportunity to view images of results achieved by specific surgeons during a free consultation.

Posted August 16, 2021
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