Recovering from rhinoplasty is easier than most patients anticipate. The nose heals in stages and recovery will be different depending on how much work was performed. Some of the things that will impact a patient’s personal experience with healing are:
- Surgery method used: open or closed rhinoplasty
- Was it necessary to fracture bones (osteotomies)
- Was any work done on the tip of the nose
- Was there functional repair done to improve breathing
- Was the dorsal hump reduced
Most common concerns
When deciding to have rhinoplasty surgery, patients must arrange their schedules and prepare for a certain amount of recovery time. Naturally they need to know what to expect. Following is a general guide to the most common concerns raised by patients. This is not a comprehensive account but is meant to serve as an initial planning guide.
General recovery timeline
Your recovery will be unique to you. Most patients want to know when they will be able to resume their normal activities and when they will be fully healed. Here is a general time line, which you should consider to be a rough guide to your own experience. You can always contact our office if you have any concerns about your progress.
The first 24 to 48 hours are usually the most challenging in terms of discomfort, nasal congestion and sleep. After this, patients usually feel markedly better, can replace their prescribed pain medication with over-the-counter tablets and will find congestion has decreased. You will have a gauze pad secured under your nose to collect blood and fluid. This can be changed as needed and by the end of the first 48 hours, you should not need it.
After 5 to 7 days, your cast (not everyone will have one) and stitches will be removed. If you have intranasal splints, these will be removed at that time as well. Swelling and bruising will start to resolve but will still be quite noticeable.
Between 10 days to 2 weeks, most patients are able to go out in public without obvious signs of surgery. Swelling will still be visible but will be significantly reduced.
Casual friends and colleagues will be unaware of your rhinoplasty but you will notice you still have swelling. You can return to work by this point.
The next milestone is between 4 to 6 weeks. About 85% of the swelling will be completely gone and you will have a very good idea of what the final result will be. At approximately the 6 week, mark you should see details of your new nose and be fully ready for any black tie event.
At the end of this period you can return to almost all activities with the exception of contact sports. You will need to avoid any situation where you could be bumped in the face as in sporting events, or anywhere where there are heavy crowds. The nose structure will be healing for over a year. Any trauma to the area will interfere with your results and could create the need for revision rhinoplasty.
Between 9 and 12 months, you should be able to see the final results. Swelling will increase and decrease throughout the entire healing period as the revised structure is settling. You will be the only one noticing these changes, so be patient and you will gradually see your results emerge as time goes on.
If you have had work on the tip of your nose, you may experience numbness in this area as well as the upper lip. This will resolve over the first 6 months with sensation returning gradually over this period. During the first 6 weeks, smiling and talking may feel different as healing progresses.
A note on skin protection
Be sure to protect the skin on your nose and face with a good quality sunscreen and to be aware of heat and cold. You may not have much sensation in this area and the skin can become splotchy in color if exposed to the sun without sunscreen. Be careful to cover your nose if you live in, or visit a cold climate in winter.