Recovery after Rhinoplasty
By Brian Kobienia, MD, FACS on February 10, 2013
Recovery After Rhinoplasty
Okay, so you’ve decided to fix that eyesore in the middle of your face given to you by your parents. The probiscus that has caused embarrassment and selfconsciousness for so many years is about to be history. But what can you expect following your nose surgery?
This article should help your through those early days of surgical recovery and later days of impatience.
Rhinoplasty, or nose surgery, is typically a surgical procedure undertaken to alter cosmetic defects or correction of an injury, like a broken nose. The surgery is usually done under sedation or general anesthesia. This means you would have been hungry and thirsty prior to surgery as you were required to not eat or drink for 8 hours before surgery. Don’t plan on stopping by Chipotle on the way home- you might taste that meal twice if you do!
Recovery from nose surgery can be divided into two phases: early (acute) and later (chronic). The early phase of recovery involves awaking from the anesthesia medications. As these meds wear off the true extent of your discomfort may become known. Typically, nose surgery is less painful and more irritating- like a headache. Most patients are frustrated by the stuffiness they feel. It is not unlike the feeling you’ve had with a sinus infection. This will take from a few days to a week to change appreciably.
It is not unusual to feel like you have heartburn or ‘gut rot’ after surgery. This is usually due to drainage that travels from the nose down into the stomach. This drainage contains some blood elements and blood is an irritant. On an empty stomach this can lead to some quisiness. Once you are able to tolerate foods this problem subsides.
Any medication, but pain pills in particular, are well known to cause stomach irritation early in the recovery. Once you are able to tolerate food this should not be much of a problem. Watch for constipation! The narcotics given during surgery and for pain management afterward can lead to difficulty with bowel movements. Lots of fluids, ruffage and perhaps stool softeners will control this issue. I recommend patients start on stool softners a day or two before surgery.
After surgery you might have some bruising near the operated area. This means you will look like you just got in a fight in an NHL game. If you have some bruising this will often settle near the eyes and you will look like a prize fighter. Time and patience will allow this to pass. You might not be socially presentable for about a week though.
All surgery, will result in swelling to some degree. You are entering the chronic or longterm part you the recovery. If your surgery involved only the tip of your nose your swelling will be less than if you had work done on the hump of your nose as well. In any case, this swelling abatement takes much more time than the typical human is willing to wait. I will typically photograph my patients at their postoperative visits so I can show them their progress from one stage til the next. I tell my patients that they can expect to have subtle swelling that waxes and wanes for up to a year after surgery. This is not to say your results won’t be enjoyed its just that the fine details of rhinoplasty surgery, particularly the tip modifications, may not be visible for many months. Be prepared and be patient.
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"I am grateful for how easy and comfortable you made me feel at every appointment and every surgery, but most of all I am thankful for all you do and have done for me."- Sandy