Rhinoplasty Recovery: Tips + What To Expect
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.