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Rhinoplasty Recovery


While rhinoplasty surgery can be completed in less than two hours, the entire process of receiving rhinoplasty requires much more of a time commitment. Although nose reshaping surgery is a relatively common, elective procedure, the process should not be taken lightly. In fact, preparing for rhinoplasty surgery should begin weeks prior to the actual procedure in order to ensure pleasing results and a speedy recovery. Below are some general tips regarding surgery preparation, although all patients should talk to their doctors for more specific instructions.

In general, some of the most important steps that are involved in preparing for rhinoplasty surgery include:

  • Researching Your Surgeon
  • Scheduling a Consultation
  • Making Certain Lifestyle and Dietary Changes
  • Arranging Post-operative care
  • Plan for Recovery Time

Choosing and Meeting with Your Surgeon

The surgeon that you choose to perform your rhinoplasty procedure will obviously have a significant impact on how happy you are with the results. During your initial consultation with a potential surgeon you should be sure to check your surgeon’s credentials. Verify that your surgeon is board-certified, and ask to see some before and after photos of previous patients. Take this opportunity to get a feel for the facility, the surgeon, and the staff to whom you are going to entrust your dreams for your new face. This will help you ensure that that particular surgeon can help you meet your specific aesthetic goals, while keeping your health and safety in mind.

In addition, you should be clear with your surgeon about your ideal appearance. The consultation is designed to make sure that both of you are on the same page concerning your goals and what you can realistically expect. Your surgeon will examine your nose and may take some photos. This, along with an examination of your past medical history, should help determine whether you are a good candidate for nose reshaping.

Altering Diet and Nutrition Regimens

In the weeks prior to surgery, it is important to prepare your body for the changes that will take place. Doing everything you can to stay healthy prior to surgery will go a long way toward enabling a speedy recovery. Some changes that surgeons often recommend are:

  • Avoid Aspirin and other blood-thinning medications
  • Avoid Alcohol
  • Quit Smoking
  • Begin taking vitamins C, E and iron. These supplements promote healing
  • Notify your surgeon of any illnesses, even minor ones.
  • Fill prescriptions for antibiotics, sleeping aids, and pain medications
  • Stock up on “soft” foods

Planning for Post-Surgery

In addition to preparing for the day of surgery, it is important to plan post-operative care and take any necessary steps to make life after surgery as comfortable as possible. These steps will increase your comfort and allow for a fast recovery.

  • If possible, arrange for a caretaker for the first 48 hours following surgery
  • Arrange for reliable transportation
  • Plan for at least two weeks away from your job
  • Assemble supplies for cold compresses to minimize swelling
  • Do any strenuous and important chores prior to surgery

The Day of Surgery

Your surgeon will provide you with specific instructions and information about the surgery. Some final steps you should take include:

  • Thoroughly wash your face to eliminate bacteria
  • Do not eat or drink after midnight prior to surgery
  • Do not apply any cosmetic products to the face or hair
  • Get a good night’s sleep

While the above instructions apply to almost all rhinoplasty procedures, it is important to discuss your specific needs with your surgeon. Feeling confident about the procedure is equally important, so be sure to ask your surgeon any questions you may have. Being thoroughly prepared for the nose reshaping procedure significantly improves the chances of a safe surgery and a fast, comfortable recovery.

Visit the DocShop gallery to view rhinoplasty before and after photos.

Photo credit: Minas Constantinides, MD, FACS, PC

While rhinoplasty surgery can produce dramatic results for many individuals, rhinoplasty recovery does require some patience. The typical recovery time for rhinoplasty surgery is about two weeks. Because nose reshaping surgery makes significant changes to the bone and cartilage of the nose, it will take some time for the body to heal and adjust to these changes. It is important to keep in mind that recovery time will vary patient to patient, based on a several factors, including:

  • Extent of surgical changes
  • Quality of post-operative care
  • Overall patient health prior to surgery

Post-Operative Care

After the nose job procedure, your surgeon will provide you with post-operation instructions. Since rhinoplasty is one of the more complicated forms of facial plastic surgery, a good rhinoplasty result is dependent on these instructions being conscientiously followed. It is recommended that patients have a friend or family member to help them with certain tasks immediately after surgery. These instructions will also help minimize pain and discomfort during the recovery period:

  • Stay hydrated
  • Use cold compresses to reduce swelling
  • Rest as often as possible
  • Avoid strenuous activities and exercise

The First 48 Hours of Recovery

For many patients, the first 24 hours following surgery are the most difficult part of the recovery. During this time patients may still be experiencing the affects of anesthesia, and may experience mild discomfort. Your surgeon can prescribe medication for pain management, although some patients need only over-the-counter remedies. Among some of the issues patients may deal with during the rhinoplasty recovery period are:

  • Headaches
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Nosebleeds

During the first 24 hours following surgery, it is best for patients to rest and remain in bed with their head elevated. Your face may feel puffy, your nose will ache, and a dull headache may be present. Bleeding is also common, especially in the first 48 hours of recovery. It is important not to blow your nose, however, as this can adversely affect the results of the rhinoplasty surgery.

Increased Comfort after One Week

At a follow-up appointment about one week after surgery, your surgeon will track your progress. If nasal packing was placed, this will be removed, as well as a splint and/or stitches. By this time, bruising will be subsiding, and swelling should only be minor.

Many patients are able to return to work and a more normalized routine one week after nose reshaping surgery. It is important, however, that patients are cautious and avoid strenuous activities. Patients should not participate in sports or return to weight lifting for two weeks after rhinoplasty, and should not take part in any activity that may result in a blow to the nose for about eight weeks. Airline travel is also not recommended immediately following surgery.

For most patients, the benefits of rhinoplasty surgery greatly outweigh any discomfort that they may experience in the days and weeks following surgery. Most of the side effects felt during the recovery period are mild, and subside within the first two weeks. It is important to note, however, that some minor swelling may persist for several months, and the final results of surgery may not be visible for up to a year.

Visit the DocShop gallery to view rhinoplasty before and after photos.

Photo credit: Pacific Plastic Surgery

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