Tips to Manage Swelling after Rhinoplasty

You’ve had your nose resized and reshaped so that it’s more in balance with the rest of your face. Now comes the recovery period, during which it can take up to three months for the majority of the swelling to subside and up to a full year for your nose to settle into its final shape.

It’s critical to follow your doctor’s post-operation instructions and have patience with the healing process. Your surgeon probably offered computer imaging during your initial consultation to help you imagine what you might look like after the procedure. Many patients have concerns during the healing process because it’s difficult to assess what they’ll look like when their nose has fully healed. Rest assured that the way your nose looks at one week post-surgery isn’t the way it will look when it has finished healing.

Recovery Immediately After the Procedure

Your immediate concerns will be swelling and discoloration. You should plan to take at least 10 days off work so you can rest and recover. The best thing to do is to keep your head elevated above your heart as much as possible, including while sleeping. At this point, don’t even think about participating in any kind of activity yet because that will worsen the swelling.

You can gently massage the swollen area to help the fluid dissipate, and apply ice as directed by your surgeon. We cannot stress enough the need for patience. To help with this, you can take a picture every day to help you notice the small changes that occur and that you might otherwise miss.

If you have concerns, contact your surgeon. And, if the swelling doesn’t subside after a few months, ask your surgeon if a steroid shot would help.

If you’ve had an open rhinoplasty, where there is an incision at the base of the nose, it usually takes longer to heal than a closed rhinoplasty. It also tends to swell more. The tip takes the longest time to heal and mold to the new framework because it has the thickest skin of the nose. If the tip of your nose is still very firm, it may mean that there is still some swelling.

Recovery With a Nose Cast

If your rhinoplasty involved breaking the nasal bones, your doctor could have you wear a cast to hold the bones in position. The bones usually set after a week, allowing the doctor to remove the cast and check on the progress of your healing. A splint or cast longer will not make a difference in terms of the swelling.

If your surgeon says you can remove the cast yourself, be as gentle as possible. Use steam and carefully lift up a few edges. Apply steam again and lift the edges a bit more.

Every rhinoplasty is unique and every patient heals differently. Be patient and stay in touch with your surgeon.

Sleeping Tips During Recovery

It’s important to find a suitable sleeping position in the first few weeks after your surgery that won’t affect the surgical area. Doctors suggest a 35-to-40 degree angle with your head and nose above the heart. You can also sleep on a reclining chair for approximately one week. Use some pillows to prop up your head. Lying on your side might cause asymmetrical bruising and swelling. Plus, you might inadvertently bump your nose. Trying to avoid sleeping on your stomach for at least six weeks because your nose is most compromised in that position.

If you normally sleep with your spouse or a pet, you should sleep alone for a while. You don’t want a hand or a paw accidentally hit you in the nose, which would be painful and could affect your ultimate outcome.

We highly recommend avoiding caffeine in order to get as much rest as possible and to adjust to a new sleeping position. You may want to try decaffeinated herbal tea before bedtime.

Other Activities

Life should return to normal for you within a few weeks. You can drive again in five to seven days and begin participating in non-contact activities such as swimming, jogging, and hiking within three to four weeks. For more strenuous sports such as basketball, you should be back in action by six weeks after surgery.

Contact Dr. Hershcovitch today to learn more about the recovery period for rhinoplasty and the procedure itself; in Burbank at (818) 206-2539.