Regardless of the type of rhinoplasty, open, closed or even non-surgical, swelling is expected following the procedure and is a normal component of the recovery process. The extent of any swelling depends on a number of factors including the type of reshaping technique, the surgical approach and individual skin properties. With non-surgical rhinoplasty there may be some minor swelling, bruising and itching, particularly around the injection sites. However, this will be minor in comparison with surgical rhinoplasty.
During the consultation process at The Harley Medical Group, your surgeon will explain and discuss the anticipated level of swelling in your personal circumstances but here we will take a look at what you can expect, the stages of swelling after rhinoplasty and what can be done to reduce swelling.
It is no secret that the rhinoplasty recovery process requires patience and determination to achieve your desired results. This is due to the masking of final results by postoperative inflammation due to facial trauma and longer-term swelling as a result of fluid retention.
Here we have created a timeline of rhinoplasty swelling week by week to guide your expectations either in preparation for your procedure or to support you during your recovery period. In a study published in the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, more than 97% of facial swelling resolved within 1 year of rhinoplasty surgery, and 95% within 6 months. It is clear then that the time it takes for the final facial contours to be revealed varies between individuals.
Immediately after rhinoplasty, bed rest and elevation of the head are essential to reduce swelling as much as possible. A splint will likely be placed over the bridge of the nose for support and protection. Cold packs may also be placed over the eyes to reduce any bruising or swelling. The splint and dressings will prevent you from seeing your nose at this point, but the splint will be removed between days 7 and 10.
Once the splint has been removed, it is normal for your nose to appear very swollen. You may also notice swelling and bruising around the eyes, cheeks and other areas of the face. This happens because the tissues and blood vessels surrounding the eyes and nose during surgery become disrupted and inflamed. Any bruising and swelling will begin to subside as recovery progresses.
Week 3 and 4
By the end of the first month, the majority of your facial swelling will have subsided. A number of factors will influence the time taken for swelling to subside and skin thickness is one of the most important. A study published in the Ear Nose and Throat Journal found that patients with thicker skin had worse swelling and bruising after rhinoplasty.
Month 2 – 6
Although it has been shown that more than 65% of facial swelling will have resolved by the end of the first month, residual swelling will persist into the following months and this is entirely normal and expected.
Pavri S, Zhu VZ, Steinbacher DM. Postoperative Edema Resolution following Rhinoplasty: A Three-Dimensional Morphometric Assessment. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2016