What Happens During Rhinoplasty Recovery?

Woman in bathroom examining her face in the mirror (model)

Many people who come to us for rhinoplasty consultations have more questions about the recovery than the procedure itself. They ask, “What is rhinoplasty recovery like?” and want to know how long it takes and if they’re going to be in pain. In this blog post, we’ll describe the recovery timeline following a nose job and explain why it can take a bit of time to see the results.

The Initial Recovery Process

Rhinoplasty is an outpatient procedure, meaning patients return home on the day of surgery after being monitored in the recovery room. Surgeons typically apply a splint to ensure the nose maintains its new shape. In some cases, nasal packing is used to help stabilize the nasal structures, including the septum that divides the 2 air passages.

Expect your face to feel puffy during the first 24 hours after surgery, and you’ll likely have a dull headache. There’s some discomfort and pressure in the area of the nose during the first 2 or 3 days of the recovery, but it’s typically much less painful than patients expect, and they’re often pleasantly surprised.

Keeping your head elevated while resting and sleeping minimizes swelling. It’s also helpful to gently apply cold compresses. You’ll still have some bruising and swelling around the eyes. Medication effectively manages any discomfort you might experience during the initial healing process.

Your surgeon removes the splint and nasal packing (if used) at a follow-up appointment within a week of the surgery. It’s important to avoid sneezing or blowing your nose for at least a week while the nose heals.

First 2 Weeks of Recovery

Most patients can return to work or school within a week to 10 days of their procedures. Some swelling and bruising remain, but it’s usually diminished enough that people feel comfortable going to their jobs or out to eat at a restaurant. You’ll need more time off from work if your job requires strenuous physical labor. You’ll have to avoid strenuous exercise, such as jogging and swimming, for several weeks. If you participate in contact sports, plan to take at least 6 weeks off so you don’t accidentally hit your nose.

How Long Does Swelling Last?

Even after the initial swelling resolves, residual swelling persists for several months. The duration of the swelling depends on a few factors, including whether the surgeon used the open or closed rhinoplasty technique, the thickness of the patient’s skin, if the nasal tip was altered extensively, and the patient’s natural healing process.

When Will You See Results?

It depends on how quickly the swelling resolves. You’ll likely have a good idea about the nose’s new size and shape by about the third month after your surgery. However, it can take several months for the swelling to go away completely and reveal the final result. In some cases, it can take a year or more for that to happen.

How dramatic will the changes to your nose be? That depends on how your nose looked before the surgery and what you wanted to accomplish. Ultimately, as you can see in our gallery of rhinoplasty before and after photos, the wait is worth it.

If you’ve been considering rhinoplasty and are looking in Atlanta, GA, for a board-certified plastic surgeon, request a consultation using the online form or call our practice at (770) 421-1242 to schedule an appointment.

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