Recovering from a cosmetic rhinoplasty or nose job is usually much easier and quicker than many people expect. Some patients will express concern about pain and are frightened about the cosmetic operation and recovery. The truth is that recovery is actually quite easy. This educational writing was written by me in response to a question from a patient from Media, PA. Patients might also be interested in my writing on the latest techniques for rhinoplasty and they can link to this now.
This operation is usually done to improve the appearance and shape of the nose. Most operations take between an hour or two hours depending on the desired goals of the procedure. Anesthesia is usually general anesthesia. The recover starts after the operation is finished and this will be discussed now in detail.
The operation is characterized, in my opinion, by very little pain but significant bruising and swelling. Patients are often scared of the pain. But the truth is that the pain is minimal for most! Even though the nasal bones may need fracturing, the pain is still very little. Most of my patients take no narcotic pain pills after the operation. Usually just Tylenol or Motrin is required. This is fantastic news for most people. It also happens to be true for eyelid tucks (blepharoplasty) or rhytidectomy surgery (facelift). Most facial cosmetic operations do not have that much discomfort and people are reassured and happy about this news.
Bruising and swelling are significant aspects of the recovery period. The bruising and swelling are the result of the operation and is normal. Some people swell more than others. It typically resolves in a week to two. Early facial icing is important to minimize the swelling. Also, head elevation at all times and even during sleep should be done to help swelling resolve. Ice the surrounding areas, forehead, and cheeks as much as possible. Don’t ice the nose itself, as you could disrupt the delicate and meticulous sutures used for the operation. Rest and relaxation are additional things that should be done to help the swelling go away. People that “over do” it after surgery will take longer to heal.
The rhinoplasty operation requires nasal packs and a nasal splint. The packs are inside the nostrils and placed at the time of surgery. They don’t hurt. The splint is on the outside of the nose to support the nose after the nose job. The packs stay in from 1-3 days, depending on the specifics of your operation. If your operation includes a septoplasty, the packs will probably be in for 3 days. If your operation is cosmetic only, than the packs often are removed the next day. The packs are not painful at all, but they are annoying. They make it so you have to breath through your mouth. There isn’t pain, but you can get a dry and sore throat like when you have a cold. Salt water gargles and throat lozenges are often helpful to make this more comfortable. Finally, the splint stays on about a week. Removal is not painful.
The operation usually requires general anesthesia. General anesthesia is often easy when the operation is shorter and there is not much pain. Anesthesia can cause nausea and vomiting. This is one of the most common issues after anesthesia. It is a side effect and not an allergy. At my deluxe state licensed surgery center, we focus on making the entire experience more comfortable. All patients get three different medications (a triple cocktail) with the sole purpose to minimize and to get rid of nausea and vomiting. It is very successful. I can not promise “no” vomiting but most people love the higher quality anesthesia care and lower rates of side effects than typical hospital care.
Lastly, the final result or final appearance takes time after surgery. Bruising and swelling mainly go away over the initial few weeks, but the “final result” can take a year- so it is important to be patient. Most patients will have a good idea of what their nose will look like after just a week or so, but the final bits of swelling can take much longer. The classic answer is the final result is not for a year. Don’t worry however, most people love their nose almost as soon as the splint is removed after a week!
Please come in for a consultation. I practice exclusively cosmetic surgery and will review all aspects and the recovery from your rhinoplasty surgery.