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Matt Hlavacek, MD, DDS
Jason Baker, DDS



What to expect during recovery from rhinoplasty

August 21, 2014, 12:48 am

recovering-from-rhinoplastyIf you’ve experienced difficulty breathing through your nose, have a lump you’ve always hated, or your nose is simply out of proportion with the rest of your features, these are all common reasons for seeking out rhinoplasty, or nose surgery, more colloquially referred to as a nose job. For some patients, nose surgery may be the difference between normal breathing and unsightly mouth-breathing. It can improve self-esteem, as well as the perception others have of you upon their first impressions. Since the nose is front and center on the face, you may be concerned about how you will look and feel during your recovery.

Right after rhinoplasty

Immediately after your nose surgery, you may feel a dull ache or some pain in the nose and front of the face. Some patients also have a headache, and many experience a sensation of nasal congestion. The feeling of nasal congestion typically isn’t due to real congestion, but rather due to swelling within the nose. This swelling may last a few weeks, and will slowly subside as time goes on. Patients who undergo rhinoplasty to correct breathing problems may experience fewer congestion-like sensations; however, some patients may notice significant improvements in their breathing as soon as the next day after surgery.

Most patients will find relief from pain and post-surgery discomfort with pain medications following surgery. If your cosmetic surgeon suggests pain medications, it is ideal to fill any prescriptions prior to surgery so that you don’t have to wait to take them when you are discharged and back at home. After the first day or two, most patients are able to transition to over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Your surgeon will make recommendations based on your particular needs.

Caring for your nose

In the first few weeks after your nose surgery, you may find it helpful to avoid dry or arid environments and anything that might irritate your nose. During the healing process, the inside of your nose may feel dry, even crusty. A dry environment and certain nasal products may add to the feeling. With your doctor’s permission, you might find some relief from an over-the-counter saline spray or nose wash. Some patients may fare better with a topical ointment. No matter how dry, irritated, or congested your nose may feel, avoid blowing your nose until your doctor gives you permission to do so.

Swelling and bruising after rhinoplasty

It is completely normal to experience some degree of swelling and bruising both inside the nose and outside. Outside the nose, the swelling and bruising may cover the nose and cheeks. The extent will depend very much on the particular approach required to perform your surgery. Some patients may experience very little of either while other patients may have fairly extensive bruising and swelling, possibly including the appearance of black eyes. However, this extreme is fairly rare. Usually the vast majority of external bruising and swelling will resolve within a week of your surgery. Some patients may find relief from cold compresses, but always follow your doctor’s specific instruction for recovery.

Several weeks after surgery

Most patients are well into recovery by two to three weeks after surgery and will be able to see the changes in their nose and face. It may take as long as six months before you are able to appreciate the full extent of your rhinoplasty. During the healing period, your face and nose will continue to heal with the swelling going down all the time. Your nose may not feel like it belongs to you as you adjust to the changes. Eventually, however, it will become more and more comfortable and will feel like a natural part of your face and overall look. If you have followed your surgeon’s recovery instructions carefully and kept all of your follow-up appointments, eventually you’ll feel complete and normal, but with a new, well proportioned nose with improved air flow.

To learn more about rhinoplasty and your options for nose surgery, call Kansas City Surgical Arts today at (816) 286-4126 to schedule a consultation with cosmetic and oral maxillofacial surgeon Dr. Matt Hlavacek. We look forward to seeing you soon.