Rhinoplasty Recovery: Tips + What To Expect

recovering from rhinoplasty

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.

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.

Rhinoplasty Recovery Tips

  • Most important: follow all instructions provided by your rhinoplasty surgeon.
  • Attend all scheduled post-op appointments.
  • Contact your surgeon immediately if you think anything is wrong.
  • Ask family or a friend to help take care of you for the first 2-3 days following your procedure (although 1 week is ideal).
  • Schedule time for rest and relaxation (2 weeks off work is ideal).
  • Take all prescribed medication as directed.
  • Aspirin (and other blood thinners) should be avoided for 2 weeks before and after your procedure.
  • Refrain from blowing your nose or bending over until cleared by your surgeon.
  • Go for a walk after day 4. Light physical activity can help improve your circulation and speed up the healing process.
  • A cold compress (a frozen bag of peas for example) should be used around the eyes and nose to help reduce swelling and discomfort during the first week.
  • Drink lots of water and eat a healthy diet featuring lighter foods. Nutritional supplements (such as Mend) that help in surgical healing are often helpful.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Do not drink alcohol for at least 2 weeks following your surgery.
  • If you need to sneeze, expel your sneeze through the mouth instead of the nose.
  • Take extra precautions to limit the chances of bumping or hitting your nose.
  • Wearing glasses is usually OK as soon as the cast is removed, but check with your surgeon first.

 


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).


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

  1. 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. 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.

    • 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. 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. 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. 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.

      Thanks,
      WD Staff

  6. jessica says:

    Hi,
    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!

      Thanks,
      WD Staff

  7. 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!

      Thanks,
      WD Staff

  8. Prinita says:

    Hi

    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.

      Thanks,
      WD Staff

  9. 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!

      Thanks,
      WD Staff

  10. 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!

      Thanks,
      WD Staff

  11. 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.
    Thanks

    • 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.

      Thanks,
      WD Staff

  12. 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: https://www.facs.org/quitsmoking).

      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

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