The Rhinoplasty Recovery Guide

Nose splint

Once your nose surgery is complete it is important to keep in mind that post-surgery care is crucial in ensuring your recovery goes smoothly. It is also essential to remember that the final result of your procedure or the final shape of your nose will only be evident after a year or longer, since it takes time for the swelling to subside and for the cartilages to set completely. 

Can I go home after my rhinoplasty surgery?

As soon as the anaesthetic has worn off after the surgery, most patients will go to the surgical ward for overnight stay. Some cases will only require day surgery and are permitted to go home. At home, make sure you have someone with you for at least the first twenty-four hours.

Will I experience any physical discomfort after my rhinoplasty?

Fluctuations in body temperature can be expected after the surgery, you may feel cold at start and feel your body warm afterwards. Some dizziness and nausea due to the anesthetic can be experienced. These symptoms should normalise within the first couple of days. You will feel your nose full and blocked. Also the tip of your nose could tingle or feel numb, and your upper lip may feel quite stiff. These sensations will subside over a period of time.

What is the average time frame to resume regular routines?

It is absolutely normal to experience swelling and bruising after the surgery. After the first week the surgeon will remove the internal nasal stents and the protective nose splint and tape. The swelling typically peaks on the third day, then starts subsiding, and by the tenth day daily activities can be resumed.

Will there be bleeding?

Post-surgery bleeding and mucus drainage can be expected. Your doctor may recommend the use of saline nasal spray to wash blood clots, but be careful to not blow your nose for 4 weeks, you can gently breathe out through the nose instead. Nasal dripping should halt after a couple of days and the nasal bolster (gause to collect the drip) can be stopped. You may be asked to apply ointments on the stitches and avoid excessive scabbing. Showering is fine, just keep your head dry to avoid the dressing getting wet and dab at your face gently until the dressing is removed. Avoid hot baths as it can cause vasodilation and bleeding. 

What can I do to minimise swelling after Rhinoplasty?

Sleep with your head reclined at an angle higher than your heart. This permits the blood to drain away from your face and eases nasal stuffiness. Using ice packs or bags of frozen peas constrict blood vessels and this not only brings down the swelling but also mitigates residual pain. However, do not use the compress directly on your nose and place the cold compress on the cheeks.

When can I exercise after Rhinoplasty?

Avoid strenuous exercises such as contact sports, jogging, weight lifting and aerobics, but do go for a light walk to keep the circulation going. It is vital to give your body enough rest and allow it to recuperate, so make sure you get optimal levels of sleep. After ten days, you can resume exercising but start off light, and then work your way back slowly into your regular fitness routine.

When can I start wearing glasses after rhinoplasty? What other precautions?

Post-surgery purple tinted bruising or discoloration over the eye areas is a common occurrence. Do not wear sunglasses and eyeglasses for up to 6 weeks as this puts weight on your nasal bridge. Brush your teeth as gently and abstain from making extreme facial expressions. Wear hats and sunscreen with a high SPF to protect from harmful UV rays. For the next few months avoid direct sun exposure on your nose.

Are there any special dietary plans I need to follow?

Keep your nutrition levels high. Focus on getting fibre in your diet, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and stay hydrated, drink plenty of water. In case of constipation take natural laxatives to avoid straining yourself. Spicy food stimulates salivary glands and can induce sneezing, this could cause discomfort, thus it’s best to avoid spicy foods for at least the first two weeks of surgery. Also limit your sodium intake so you do not retain excessive fluids.

What are the costs?

The costs of rhinoplasty vary as per the surgeon’s experience and the level of reconstruction that needs to be carried out. Generally, cosmetic surgery does not qualify for rebates from Medicare or private health insurance companies. Also, it is important to have some extra savings available or consider hiring surgery insurance. Cosmetic rhinoplasty costs vary from $12K – 18K and depends on the complexity of the case, length of operation and hospital stay. 

Is the surgery painful and are there risks involved?

The surgery itself is not considered to be very painful, and patients rarely experience high levels of discomfort. Although all forms of surgery come with a certain level of risk, rhinoplasty is relatively a low-risk procedure.

Rhinoplasty Recovery Timeline

Week 1: Nasal stent and splint are removed. Bruising and swelling is still prevalent.

Week 2: Swelling subsides and bruising begins to vanish.

Week 3-5: Normal activities can be recommenced.

Week 6: All bones will have healed and high intensity workouts can be resumed.

Month 6: Nose starts showing refinement. All abnormal sensations have subsided.

Year 1: Final shape of the nose is now refined and visible.

Dr Rodrigo is a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon in Melbourne. He is interested in Aesthetic Surgery, Rhinoplasty and Facial Surgery.