Rhinoplasty Recovery: Tips + What To Expect

Written by Minas Constantinides, MD, FACS, Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon on January 14, 2022 32 Comments

recovering from rhinoplasty

Originally published July, 25, 2017. Updated on January 14, 2022 with addition information.

Rhinoplasty, or nose surgery, continues to rank among the top 5 most popular plastic surgery procedures in the United States. One of the reasons for the popularity of rhinoplasty is its ability to yield dramatic results since the nose is a major focal point that determines facial appearance. Additionally, rhinoplasty can be performed to address a variety of issues including nasal deviation (often through injury) and breathing issues.

As with any surgical procedure, the recovery process differs from individual to individual. This post will give you a general idea of what to expect after a rhinoplasty procedure, along with some tips on making your recovery as pleasant and painless as possible.

Rhinoplasty Recovery Basics

Nose surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia as an outpatient procedure. Although you’ll be able to return home the day of your surgery, you’ll need to have a friend or family member drive you and stay with you for the first 24 hours.

Expect to take one week off from school, work, or other commitments. For the first several days, keep your head elevated and use ice packs to reduce swelling and bruising. Nasal dressings, sutures, or splints (if used) are usually removed at the end of the first week. By 10 days, remaining bruises can be hidden with make-up, making this the time when most patients feel comfortable returning to public activity.

Depending on the extent of your procedure it may take 4-6 weeks for the majority of swelling to subside. However, some degree of swelling could continue for up to 1 year 1 year post surgery. Numbness or abnormal skin sensation around your nose may also occur for as long as 3-6 months. Nose appearance may continue to improve over the next 2 to three years post procedure, contingent on the thickness of the skin and the exact rhinoplasty technique performed.

Recovery Timeline: Milestones & Restrictions

Most rhinoplasty patients can expect to return to work (non-strenuous physical activity) within two weeks of their procedure. However, depending on the extent of your procedure it may take 4-6 weeks for the majority of swelling to subside.

Here’s a basic recovery timeline:

2 to 3 Days After Rhinoplasty: During this period, you will feel moderate pain (which can be managed through medication) and swelling. You may also experience nausea immediately following your procedure. This is usually from a combination of anesthesia effects and swallowed blood. We advise patients to sleep on their backs with their head elevated by pillows so it is higher than their hearts to limit swelling. You should limit physical activity and refrain from taking aspirin or ibuprofen. Staying hydrated during this time minimizes pain and improves recovery.

1 Week After Rhinoplasty: You can resume normal daily activities, although heavy lifting and strenuous activity should still be avoided. Any splints or stitches are typically removed by the end of the week. Pain, bruising, and swelling diminish greatly, however it still will be hard to see the final results of your procedure.

2 Weeks After Rhinoplasty: Bruising and swelling is significantly reduced to the point where it’s not noticeable to the casual observer. You will feel comfortable enough to return to work by the middle of the second week. Mild exercise may be resumed.

3 Weeks After Rhinoplasty: By now the swelling has settled enough so that you are happy with what they see and are confident in all of your social interactions. However, nasal obstruction may still be present, although far better than during the first week.

1 Month After Rhinoplasty: You are cleared to resume normal (moderate) exercise and physical activity. Swelling is improved over the bridge, but the tip of your nose is still swollen and poorly defined.

3 Months After Rhinoplasty: 80% of the swelling is gone but the tip of your nose will continue to feel numb and very stiff.

1 Year After Rhinoplasty: Most of the nasal swelling is gone. The tip appears better refined. However, the final result may take up to 2 or 3 years, depending upon the thickness of your skin and how much surgery was done. This is particularly true in revision rhinoplasty patients.

Returning to Exercise After Rhinoplasty

Everyone heals on their own timeline based on genetics, age, and the extent of their surgery. Returning to exercise typically goes as follows:

  • Week 1-2: Return to light activity such as walking. Avoid bending over or lifting heavy objects. Protect your nose from impact.
  • Week 3-4: If you exercise, you may resume low-impact cardiovascular activities. Continue to avoid contact sports.
  • Week 5-6: Resistance workouts and strength training may resume. Consult with your doctor before returning to strenuous, high-impact activities.

Rhinoplasty Recovery Tips

Complying with the following tips can improve recovery time and final outcomes.

Follow All Post-Surgical Instructions

Follow your surgeon’s post-operative instructions above any other information you’ve received, including this post. Your surgeon will send you home with specific instructions regarding medications and when to take them, wound care and infection prevention, and when to return for your follow-up exam.

Don’t Smoke

Smoking and other nicotine products constrict blood flow, making it challenging for your body to heal. For the best rhinoplasty results, quit smoking at least 4 weeks before your surgery. Continue to abstain for as long as possible after rhinoplasty, but a minimum of 4 weeks more is prudent. Who knows, maybe you will even manage to quit after that.

Get Hydrated

A well-hydrated body heals faster. Water helps flush out toxins post-anesthesia and reduces swelling by prompting the wound to drain properly. Remember that you will be dehydrated at the beginning of your surgery because you will not have eaten or drank anything for at least 8 hours. Although you will be partially IV rehydrated during surgery, you will still be dehydrated. Reduce your dehydrated state by pushing the fluids for 48 hours before surgery. Drinking electrolyte-balanced fluids (sports drinks or Pedialyte) is the most effective way to hydrate. Then vigorously rehydrate after you get home and you will minimize postoperative nausea and dizziness.  Avoiding salty foods and alcohol is also key to remaining hydrated. Excess salt leads to blood pressure increase which can exacerbate swelling. Alcohol thins the blood which can increase bruising and interfere with healing.

Practice Diligent Incision Care

Properly caring for your incision sites not only speeds healing, but minimizes scarring. If you’re sent home with tape over your stitches, leave it on until it falls off naturally. After your stitches and staples have been removed, gently wash the area daily with mild soap and water and pat dry.

Keep Your Head Elevated

Keeping your head elevated above your heart reduces bruising and swelling for a quicker recovery. For the best outcome, keep your head elevated at night for at least 6 weeks following your procedure. You can do this by sleeping in a recliner or by propping your head up with pillows or a foam wedge.

Avoid Side Sleeping

Sleeping on your side after rhinoplasty is not only uncomfortable, but puts you at risk for increased swelling and bruising. It also puts you at risk for nose displacement. If you move a lot when you sleep, keep your head in place with a travel pillow, or by surrounding your head and neck with rolled up towels.

Use Cold Compresses

Icing the nose reduces swelling and bruising, and is most effective when applied within the first 72 hours. Wrap ice in a light towel and apply to the cheeks not the nose, to avoid accidentally shifting bones or cartilage.

Get Plenty of Rest

Allowing the body to rest and focus on healing is one of the best things you can do to speed your recovery. Take a break from activity as often as you can and get plenty of sleep. Avoid sports or any movement where bumping your nose could occur.

Avoid Anti-Inflammatory Medicines

While it may be tempting to take anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling (like ibuprofen or naproxen), these drugs actually increase blood flow which can lead to bleeding or slower recovery. Discuss the use of pain medications with your doctor, even over-the-counter ones.

Avoid Pain Medications Unless Prescribed by Your Surgeon

Your surgeon will send you home with pain medications to reduce discomfort during the first few days of your recovery. The dosages and medications are specifically chosen so as not to interfere with your recovery or lead to adverse reactions. Avoid taking any medications which haven’t previously been approved by your doctor. Typically, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is a safe, non-narcotic pain medication to take for lower grade pain (less than 6 our of 10).

Take Baths Instead of Showers

When you first return home, you may have bandages, splints and supports in and around your nose. During week 1 of your recovery, take baths instead of showers to keep these in place and avoid getting them wet. If you must wash your face, use a damp cloth to carefully wash around your nose to keep your bandages dry. Bandages and splints are typically removed at the end of the first week.

Keep Yourself Cool

Heat causes the tissues in your nose to swell, which can interfere with recovery and outcomes. While steaming hot showers, a relaxing sauna, or a day in the sun might feel good, it’s best to wait until you’ve healed.

Avoid Sun Exposure

Excessive sun exposure is never a good idea, but it’s especially important to avoid the sun while healing from a nose job. Your nose is not only more prone to sunburn during this time, but sun exposure can lead to swelling and may cause scars to darken.

Choose Walking for Exercise

Avoid strenuous exercise, which can lead to swelling, increased bruising, and risk of injury. This includes avoiding inversions, such as downward dog or forward bends in yoga. Most patients require 6 weeks for the bones to completely heal, so avoid contact sports completely until approved by your doctor.

Walking gently increases circulation which helps fluid and oxygen move through the body for quicker healing. Walking can also reduce stress or restlessness.

Eat Healthy

Eating a wide range of whole foods, fruits and vegetables provides your body with the essential fats, proteins and amino acids it needs to rebuild. The more hydrated you are, the more efficiently your body delivers nutrients and oxygen to each of your tissues.

Avoid Spicy Foods

Spicy and peppery foods can dilate blood vessels which increases risk of bruising and swelling. Spicy foods can also irritate the sinuses, causing the nose to run. In the early stages of healing, do everything possible to avoid blowing your nose.

Resist Blowing Your Nose

Swollen nasal tissues lead to feelings of congestion. This is common for the first few weeks or even months after nose surgery. Resist the urge to blow your nose and instead, speak with your doctor about using a saline nasal spray to moisturize your nasal passages.

If you have the urge to sneeze, try sneezing through an open mouth versus the nose. While unpleasant, it’s preferred over risking damage to your nasal passages.

Don’t Wear Glasses Without Permission

Surgeons’ recommendations regarding wearing glasses after surgery vary greatly. Many recommend against wearing glasses at all for many weeks after surgery. Dr. Constantinides takes a more pragmatic view. Since your cast protects your nose while it is on, you may where glasses while it is on. After it is off and your nose is stable, you may continue to wear glasses unless they cause pain. If you can, switch to contacts. If glasses do not create discomfort, continue wearing them.

Keep Your New Nose Safe From Injury

Every year we see patients who look amazing when their casts come off, only to get their nose hit by accident by a bobbing baby head or an enthusiastic dog. This can cause the nose to shift, the septum to buckle or induce a hematoma in the septum. In worst cases, surgery will be required to correct the new injury. In many cases, the final result will not be what it could have been. Be careful in crowded places, especially if people are drinking around you, of getting your nose hit inadvertently.

Attend All Post-Operative Appointments

Your surgeon will schedule follow-up appointments to remove stitches, splints and bandages and to ensure your recovery process is going well. Keeping these appointments lets your doctor remain aware of your healing process and make adjustments to your protocol if needed.

Minas Constantinides, MD, FACS

Dr. Minas Constantinides is a board-certified Facial Plastic Surgeon at Westlake Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in Austin, Texas. He is on the Executive Committee of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) and is a Senior Advisor of the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ABFPRS).

32 Responses to “Rhinoplasty Recovery: Tips + What To Expect”

  1. Avatar Sariah says:

    I was wondering how soon do you think that I can do Yoga after rhinoplasty surgery? I saw your guidance on exercise, would that apply to yoga?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Sariah,

      Most rhinoplasty patients should be cleared for Yoga within 3-4 weeks of the procedure. However, it all varies based on your body’s specific healing ability. We’d encourage you to see a plastic surgeon for an in-person consultation to discuss your individualized specific recovery milestones.

      We hope that helps. Thanks again for reading our post!

      –WD Staff

  2. Avatar Michael says:

    My wife has been thinking about getting a rhinoplasty done because she feels her nose is too big. As you said, she had been self-conscious about her nose and wants to make it look more appealing to her. I did not know that you can get a black eye from getting a nose job done.

    • Avatar Jane says:

      Hi micheal, I got a nose surgery a month ago and i dont regret it at all as long as she gets rest after the surgery she will be fine the medication they will give her will help her alot in one week all my bruise and swelling went away and im happy i did it and if its something she really wants then i recommend it just best to not be nervous before the surgery hope this helps a bit!

  3. Avatar Shaj says:

    Hi , i had a rhinoplasty and Unfortunately I got a scar tissue on my bridge where the old hump was and it made another hump! My surgeon asked me to do revision rhinoplasty to take it off while I was on my third week of recovery from my primary rhinoplasty , I asked him if it’s okay to wait and he said okay we can do it after 6 months .. my question is if i did the revision rhinoplasty will the scare tissue grow back again ? And is it a smart decision by my side to prefer to wait and not to do the revision surgery it right away ?

    • Hi Shaj,

      Thank you for contacting me. Getting a scar on the bridge that creates a new bump is possible, though very rare. If it is a scar, operating right away is probably not as good a choice as waiting for it to settle completely. Most scars take at least a year to mature, so six months may be too soon to revise. Using steroid injections into a scar may help it heal better and faster. The real question is, “Are you sure it is a scar?”. If the bump was left too high by your surgeon, then revising that is safe at 6 months.

      If you are in the Austin area, I would be happy to see you for another opinion. Please contact us at 512.615.2730 to setup an appointment.

  4. Avatar Brooklyn says:

    Thank you for your tip about how you should ask family or a friend to help take care of you for the first 2-3 days following your procedure. I have been considering getting rhinoplasty done, but want to know what to expect for recovery. I will definitely keep all of your tips and information in mind if I do decide to go through with rhinoplasty so that I can be prepared for the recovery process.

  5. Avatar Susan says:

    I just had my nose reset last week (due to get the splint removed on in 2 days). I am taking flying lessons, so I’m wondering how soon after the procedure should I wait to get back in a plane? Thank you.

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Susan,

      You definitely don’t want to rush it! Rhinoplasty is a procedure where proper healing is essential to result longevity. We would recommend you to contact your surgeon directly and get cleared for flying before stepping foot on the plane.

      WD Staff

  6. Avatar jessica says:

    I’m a week and 3days since my surgery. the swellings a lot and i’m too embarrassed to see people or go out.. when do you think it will improve (swelling on the tip and bridge kind of melts into the face)? any tips on helping it improve? thanks

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Jessica,

      Thanks for reading out post and submitting your experience to the community. Swelling is pretty normal over the first week, so usually most patients are comfortable being out and about 7 days post-procedure.

      That being said, we always recommend seeing your surgeon for an in-person consultation if you have concerns regarding your state of recovery. It’s always good to go in and have your provider check your progress.

      I hope that helps!

      WD Staff

    • Avatar Haya says:

      Hi, I’ve been having the same concerns recently. I had my nose done April 1st and it looks much better than when I first did surgery, but i’m not satisfied with the result so far. I don’t know if it’s because it was done too naturally or it’s just swollen. I kept the bandages on my nose for about two months to help the swelling. Is it normal for the swelling to not be fully gone by now? I thought it would subside at this point. If not, should i consider revision rhinoplasty? Thanks

  7. Avatar Aya says:

    Hi, I am currently 3 weeks post-op and I have a few comments and questions regarding the condition of the skin around my nose after the surgery. I am experiencing a very large increase in blackheads and textured skin around my nose since my surgery. Is there anything I can do to reduce the amount of acne I have, or is it going to be like this forever?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Aya,

      Thanks for reading our post and submitting your question. I spoke with Dr. Constantinides and he had the following response:

      Increased acne and skin texture changes after rhinoplasty are very common. As the skin heals, oil production revs up on the whole face, causing more skin problems. Thankfully this increase only last about 3 months. For help controlling it, I recommend speaking with your surgeon and/or your dermatologist.

      I hope that helps!

      WD Staff

  8. Avatar Prinita says:


    I had a nasal fracture and an open wound down my nose from a fall. The bone had to be stabilized and rhinoplasty done. It’s almost 3 weeks since my surgery . The plastic surgeon said there’s still lots of swelling on the bridge and tip. My nose upturned. I’m so embarrassed by this and chose to cover my nose. How can speed up swelling reduction. The doctor also said it’s normal to have facial pain, blocked and runny nose.

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Prinita,

      I’m sorry to hear about this but we greatly appreciate you sharing your story with our community. Unfortunately the persistence and severity of swelling post-surgery can vary greatly from individual to individual. As always, we would encourage you to contact you plastic surgeon directly for any issues. However, his assessment that the symptoms are normal and will correct themselves over time can also be correct.

      Sorry we can’t be more helpful. Again, we would encourage you to reach back out to your surgeon to further discuss this issue.

      WD Staff

  9. Avatar robyn says:

    Hi I have just had my rhinoplasty, they made an incision from inside the nose. Removed a lump, broke and reshaped it. It is hurting a lot, but I’ve accidentally bumped it with my phone when I was laying in bed. Is this anything to worry about? Very paranoid patient.
    Many thanks

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Robyn,

      Thanks for reading our post and submitting your comment!

      You may want to contact your surgeon to discuss the bump and the current pain. While the area is really fragile post-procedure, it usually takes a decent amount of trauma to cause any sort of issue with healing. However, discussing it with your surgeon over the phone to make sure there are no issues may be a good idea. If your provider thinks the incident is a cause for concern they will likely request you to come in for an in-person assessment.

      We hope that helps!

      WD Staff

  10. Avatar Mehr says:

    Had rhinoplasty 2 weeks ago. Am so bruised under my eyes still, a dark blue. Makeup can’t even cover it!
    When will I start seeing a visible diff to my nose. The bone was broken but no visible bump or anything. The tip was lifted and the bone was slightly shaved ……the tip takes almost a year to lift?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Mehr,

      We’re sorry to hear about the bruising but greatly appreciate you sharing everything with our audience. At 2 weeks the area can still be pretty bruised and swollen, which can mask the true final result that will become apparent after bruising and swelling subsides. I do think one year seems a bit long in terms of the lift.

      You may want to contact your surgeon and ask for an in-office assessment of healing, especially since you have concerns about the final result. They can assess the healing to make sure everything is on target.

      We hope that helps!

      WD Staff

  11. Avatar Dana says:

    Hello Dr. I have done my rhinoplasty on june 17 and now i feel that my holes are too big because he did a close operation shall i do a local anesthetic to have a better shape for my holes? Also, the bone on the sides are to extra big i dont know if it is still swollen or it will be like this forever :(? its so thick on both sides.

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Dana,

      We’re sorry to hear about your experience but greatly appreciate you sharing this with our readers! I think the best way forward would be for you to visit your original surgeon and discuss these issues. Advise the surgeon about what you don’t like and ask what corrections can be done. If you original surgeon is unhelpful, seek a second opinion with a Board Certified facial plastic surgeon!

      We hope that helps! Sorry we can’t be more helpful without assessing you in person.

      WD Staff

  12. Avatar Tia says:

    I’m booked in for rhinoplasty in a months time and I’ve been a heavy smoker for the past 14 years. Do I definitely have to quit a few weeks before the surgery? Has anyone smoked up until the surgery date and after it? Thank you in advance.

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Tia,

      Thanks for reading our post and congratulations on the upcoming procedure!

      As always, we encourage you to discuss this with your surgeon directly. There may be specific variables in your health history that may alter the general view, which is to completely stop smoking for at least 72 hours before a surgical procedure.

      I’d also like to point out a study where patients who quit smoking 4-6 weeks before their surgery experienced 50% lower instances of complications (more on that here:

      Finally, we always encourage patients to quit altogether. Some take our advice, they use the need for stopping before their surgery as the beginning of a permanent change. Your skin and general health will be better off without smoking!

      We hope that helps!!

      –WD Staff

  13. Avatar Zoe says:

    Thank you for reminding me to lessen the physical activities I’ll have within two to three days after surgery. My sister had recommended undergoing rhinoplasty since everyone we know seems to be doing it and she has not experienced any complications after. Once I have consulted an expert if I can undergo this surgery, I’ll ask them further what are other kinds of FFS (facial feminization surgeries) I can have on my face. I believe there’s no harm in improving one’s appearance if it is for the better.

  14. Avatar Becca says:

    Hi. I had a rhinoplasty done in July of 2019. It has gone perfect but when I blow my nose, there still tends to be a little blood. No big clots or anything just a little bit of blood mixed in. This only has happened since my nose job and noticing it now more than before. Is this normal? & how long will that continue to happen?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Becca,

      Thanks for reading our blog and sharing your story with our community. We are sorry to hear of that issue. We would recommend you to visit your surgeon for an assessment. Some amount of bleeding after blowing of the nose is common in the healing period. However it’s been almost 9 months now and we would not expect to see that after that amount of time.

      So please see your surgeon and discuss the issue. Also it would be great if you could take the time to reply to this comment after your appointment to let us know the outcome!

      We hope that helps!

      WD Staff

  15. Avatar Farzana says:

    Hi i want to do rehinoplasty but after 54 days my wedding is coming Is it ok ?to go for it?or not?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Farzana,

      Thanks for the great question. I sent a message to Dr. Constantinides and here is his response:

      “Typically, we do not recommend rhinoplasty closer than 3 months from such an important event as a wedding. Sometimes, if very little is done, 2 months may be sufficient, but this is rare. Hope that helps.”

      We hope that helps!

      WD Staff

  16. Avatar Baran says:

    I had a rhinoplasty around 3 months ago. After I removed my tape(1 month post op), I got curious with my nose and touched the bridge a bit… it just hurt for a second or so… in about one week I noticed a small pump (bead like) on the top of my bridge. It brings me alot of anxiety and regret (tho I’m not sure if that touching caused it). It is hard but cartilage like and slightly goes down with small pressure. I love my nose and This small bump is my only worry. Do you think 3 months post op is enough time to judge whether I need a revision? Thank you

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Baran,

      I spoke with Dr. Constantindes and this was his response:

      “I’m sorry to hear about what you’re going through. 3 months may still be too early to know if a revision is needed. Definitely consult with your surgeon for his/her opinion. Sometimes we place slow-dissolving sutures in the area that can take 6 months to away. Only your surgeon will know what was done and what the best strategy is to correct it.”

      We hope that helps!

      WD Staff

  17. Avatar Kate says:

    Great tip on not sleeping on your back for the first period. I can attest that sleeping elevated does help

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