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What Really Happens During Rhinoplasty Recovery

Rhinoplasty Recovery

Whatever your reason for wanting to have rhinoplasty performed — to make a large nose smaller, to fix a previously broken nose, or to remove a bump from the top of your nose – you should know what happens during the recovery process.

While you might be aware that after a rhinoplasty you’ll need to take a week or so off from work or school, you might be unsure about how your nose will feel, what you will or will not be able to do, and what other adjustments you  might need to make to your life. Knowing what to expect during the recovery process will help you make the most of your downtime.

There may be discomfort, but the pain is usually minimal.

People tend to expect a great deal of pain after a rhinoplasty, as it is a surgical procedure. While there is a lot of bruising, swelling, and in some cases blood, the pain is usually easier to manage than expected. Your plastic surgeon will write a prescription for pain medication, but in many cases, taking acetaminophen after the procedure may be sufficient.

While the pain is minimal, many people find that overall, the recovery process is very uncomfortable. After the surgery, patients should expect swelling of the nasal passages, making it feel as though your nose is very congested, and therefore difficult to breathe. Nasal packing can also add to the feeling of discomfort after a rhinoplasty.

The congestion and packing can make routine activities difficult, at least during the initial recovery period. For example, you might not have the urge to eat, since your sense of smell is blocked.  The congestedd feeling can also make eating and breathing at the same time a challenge. Additionally, your hearing might be muffled during the early phases of recovery, especially if you have nasal packing in place.

For the first few weeks, the discomfort can be exacerbated because you are unable to sniff and blow your nose.  A decongestant can ease this frustrating feeling of congestion.  A cotton swab, dipped in hydrogen peroxide, can be used to gently clean the crusting blood or mucous that builds up in the nostrils.

You may have to learn to adjust your breathing at first.

For many people, breathing through the mouth is very uncomfortable since it can be drying.  During a rhinoplasty recovery, however, mouth breathing may be the only option, at least until the nasal packing is removed. If you are experiencing a very dry mouth, thanks to changes in your breathing pattern, there are a few ways you can relieve it. Place a humidifier in your bedroom to moisten the air while you sleep. Use lip balm to keep your lips hydrated and have a glass of water handy at all times, so that you can take frequent, small sips to keep your mouth hydrated.

Plan on just taking it easy.

The best thing to do after your rhinoplasty is take it as easy as possible. Trying to do too much, or to jump back into your regular life too soon after the surgery, can make bruising and swelling worse.  This can also increase your risk for complications. Use the first few days after surgery as a chance to catch up on your reading or your favorite TV show. Start walking and doing light activities after a few days, but save the tough workouts and heavy lifting for at least a month after your rhinoplasty.

The post-op bruising and swelling will need to time to minimize.

Nasal swelling and bruising may persist for longer than you would like. Usually, if there is bruising, it will clear up by about two weeks after the rhinoplasty. Swelling can persist for longer, but usually the worst of it is gone by the seventh post-op day. It is not uncommon to have some mild swelling for up to a year after the procedure.  In many cases, this swelling will be noticeable only to you. During your recovery, keep your head up, avoid salty foods, and use cold compresses to help keep swelling down.

Dr. Paul Vitenas is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon and founder of Vitenas Cosmetic Surgery.  He is happy to answer any questions you might have about the rhinoplasty, and give you a better sense of what to expect during your recovery. To schedule a free consultation with Dr. Vitenass, call the Houston area office at (281) 484-0088 today.