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Rhinoplasty Recovery: What You Should Expect

Updated on June 3, 2013

If you are thinking about getting nose recontouring or reshaping, what is known medically as rhinoplasty, you will want to know what you can expect in terms of recovery from the procedure. You will want to know how to care for your nose and face after the procedure, what kinds of effects can take place, and how long it will take until there is full recovery. Because a nose job is one of the most important things you will do in terms of your appearance, you will want to know exactly how to care for your rhinoplasty and what the sign posts of healing are along the way.

Wondering when you can stop hiding your nose?  The amount of time taken for rhinoplasty recovery takes about a year.
Wondering when you can stop hiding your nose? The amount of time taken for rhinoplasty recovery takes about a year.

Effects of Rhinoplasty

For the first day or two after you receive rhinoplasty your nose and face around the site will likely be sore. There may be a dull pain in and around your nose or it may be more of a throbbing pain. Your cosmetic surgeon will prescribe pain killing medications that you can take during this time. Your face will be swollen and puffy during this time as well, and your nose will feel stuffy. You may even find your smile affected from the stiffness and bruising, if you can muster a smile at all, but it should not be permanent and will take some time to get some feeling back.  Many people experience headaches during the first couple days after rhinoplasty. All of these minor aches and pains are normal reactions to the surgery. However, if the pain becomes intense, you should contact your cosmetic surgeon or other medical personnel.

The bruises and swelling will start to fade after about a week, although the feeling of having a stuffy nose may continue for a few weeks. For a few months during your rhinoplasty recovery, the skin on your nose will remain sensitive to the touch and to cold and sun. During this period you should wear sunblock on the nose to protect the skin.

Full recovery from rhinoplasty will take up to a year. Over this year long recovery, you may continue to feel some amount of numbness around and in the nose as the nerves and tissues heal. Most of the external swelling will have faded by this time, but there may still be some amount of internal irritation of the nasal areas.

Promoting Rhinoplasty Recovery

Unless there are unforeseen complications from your rhinoplasty, the best medicine for recovery will be time, allowing your face and nose to heal in a natural process. However, there are a few things you can do to help in rhinoplasty recovery.

One of the most important things to give yourself during recovery is plenty of rest. Let your nose, face, and body restore itself through bed rest and sleep. Stay in bed or in a reclining chair for a few days after the procedure with your head elevated. There may be some amount of minor bleeding at this point. It is best to avoid blowing your nose for at least 7 days, even as you will feel stuffy from swelling and blood discharge. If bleeding becomes heavy, report to your cosmetic surgeon or other doctor.

To help with swelling, apply cold or warm compresses to the area, as recommended by your doctor. Also, use a humidifier in the room where you will be recovering and apply nasal drops as prescribed by the rhinoplasty surgeon.

You should avoid strenuous work for a few weeks during rhinoplasty recovery. Most people who do not engage in heavy manual labor can begin to return to work after 10 days to three weeks. In any case, protect the nose from injury for several months after the procedure.

Complications in Rhinoplasty Recovery

Some people undergoing cosmetic rhinoplasty will experience complications in recovery. These are usually minor, but on occasion they can be more serious and require intervention, including revision surgery.

There are two types of complications that can occur in rhinoplasty recovery. The first type is an aesthetic complication. This means that the nose and your breathing is working normally in an anatomic manner, but you and your doctor are unsatisfied with the way the nose reshaping has turned out. Some amount of nasal asymmetry is common during the first several weeks or months of recovery and will fade as time goes on. However, a small percentage of patients will require revision surgery to correct permanent deformities in the nose. There are cosmetic surgeons who specialize in revision surgery.

Sometimes more serious are the complications in recovery that are functional, that is, that interfere with your breathing. In these cases, the bones or cartilage in your nose and its supporting structures block air flow. These complications may also require revision surgery, and may be of a more time sensitive nature. All troubles in breathing beyond the normal stuffiness in the days following rhinoplasty should be reported to your doctor.

Full Recovery from Rhinoplasty

Most people will fully recover from the rhinoplasty procedure without major complications. This recovery will take up to one year. The changes in shape and symmetry to the nose will be permanent, although natural changes do occur with age in any person’s nose. You can expect to enjoy the advantages of rhinoplasty for a lifetime.


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