In summary: What is it like to recover from rhinoplasty? Learn about what happens after surgery and what to expect in the hours, days and months following a rhinoplasty.
This is the most common subject discussed in most plastic surgery blogging sites.
So let’s dive in with the recovery room and the first day or two to begin
Most rhinoplasty surgeons, including myself do not use packing in the nose. However you will still be stuffy or congested from a breathing perspective. And that’s because there is swelling Inside the nose, a small amount of blood and mucus crusting. Although the crusting and mucus production is minor, it can last for several weeks after surgery. Your surgeon will clean your nose with regular frequency in the first few weeks to help you breathe better.
Most patients are discharged from the recovery room within 45-90 minutes. It’s normal after nasal surgery to be a little nauseous. That will disappear by that evening or the next morning.
Almost immediately the nose swells up, as do the cheeks and under the eyes. This is very normal. Bruising can also occur soon after getting into the recovery room. The bruising is usually limited to under the eyes, but sometimes a larger portion of the cheek is involved. It typically last for 7-10 days and fades from purple to green, to yellow and then finally disappears. Sometimes the bruise follows gravity and heads down towards the jawline. The cheek swelling last a few weeks, but fades fast after the first week.
After the first week the cast is removed. This is exciting because it’s the first time you get to see your new nose. But remember it’s still quite swollen. This swelling will come down significantly over the next several weeks. A general rule is to expect 60-70% of the swelling to come down within 6-8 weeks. Then it takes a full year for the rest of the swelling to come down.
Now as the swelling comes down, it doesn’t always come down symmetrically. You may notice that some days your nasal tip changes in shape, your left side may be more full while other days your right side more full. These fluctuations can be scary (but still minor) and are completely normal. These changes always settle down. Sometimes your surgeon may put small amounts of medicine in areas that bring down the swelling in a controlled fashion. These fluctuations can be present for several months, which is why I often tell patients who are worried and come in for second opinions to hold out at least until 9 months post op, because that’s when the swelling is nearly gone.
If you have had functional work on your nose (e.g. septoplasty or turbinate reduction) your nose may not only swell up but also produce lots of crusting. This is also very normal and usually your surgeon will periodically clean your nose. Sinus rinses and saline can also be incredibly helpful in keeping your nose breathing for the first few weeks.
I like to see my patients pretty frequently in the post op period to make sure everything is healing well. this means we see each other every 1-2 weeks for the first few months. Then it’s usually every 3 months unless otherwise instructed.