Rhinoplasty (Nose Surgery) Recovery: What to Expect
Reviewed by Yael Halaas, MD
Your surgeon likely discussed the rhinoplasty recovery process and healing time with you during your initial consultation. There are really no hard and fast rules about rhinoplasty recovery. Everyone heals differently, and in their own time.
Your road to recovery begins almost immediately after your nose surgery.
A small splint will be placed on your nose. This splint's purpose is to protect your nose and to keep it stable for at least five to eight days. Some surgeons may use nasal packing to help reduce swelling and bleeding. This packing is placed inside your nose during surgery and removed the morning afterward.
Some mild to moderate discomfort after your nose reshaping surgery is common. This is usually controlled with your prescribed pain killers. Most people are able to stop taking pain medication within 48 hours of their rhinoplasty. Nausea is also common following surgery, especially if it was done under general anesthesia. Your surgeon can prescribe medication to alleviate your symptoms.
You may also feel extremely stuffed-up after nose surgery. The challenge here is that you should not blow your nose for at least one week. Decongestants may help relieve your stuffiness. Try to avoid decongestants that also contain other active ingredients, as some combination products may contain aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that increase bleeding risk. Ask your surgeon for guidance before taking any medication.
Rhinoplasty Recovery: Bruising and Swelling
There will be some bruising and swelling in the days and weeks after your nose surgery. You may even develop two black eyes. Try applying cold compresses on the sore areas. Bags of frozen peas or frozen raspberries may also do the trick. Ask your surgeon what else you can do to help minimize swelling and bruising. Some surgeons may recommend homeopathic remedies such as Arnica Montana or bromelain.
Your surgeon will give you specific instruction on how long you need to keep your head elevated after rhinoplasty. You must sleep on your back for a few weeks following surgery to avoid placing any pressure on your nose.
Be careful to avoid any trauma to your nose after your rhinoplasty. This means no contact sports, and you should be careful around small children or pets that may move suddenly when in close proximity. If you are not sure if an activity is permitted, ask your surgeon for guidance.
You can likely return to work within 10 days after your rhinoplasty.
If you wear glasses, do not wear them for the first three weeks after your cast has been removed. Ask you surgeon for specific instructions about how and when to wear your glasses after your nose surgery. Contact lenses are OK immediately after nose surgery. The opposite is true with eyelid surgery.
Be careful washing your face and make sure to apply sunblock to your nose once your surgeon says it's OK. Your nose will be very sensitive for a while after your rhinoplasty.
Your Rhinoplasty: The Results
Most of the swelling resolves within two weeks, and the rest tends to go away within a month, but it can take up to one year for all the residual swelling to abate. Be patient. You should wait at least one year before considering revision rhinoplasty.
Rhinoplasty Recovery: Red Flags
Certain red flags may indicate that your rhinoplasty recovery is not going smoothly. For example, a fever is a sign of infection. It is important to monitor your temperature regularly, and to take your antibiotics as prescribed.