12 May What to expect after Rhinoplasty
If you’re in the midst of your rhinoplasty research, you know there’s a ton of information out there and it’s natural to be a little confused. One big issue is the recovery process. Will it be painful? Will the swelling go down quickly enough? Will I be able to breathe after? These are important questions to ask before you make such a big decision. Let’s look into some of the more common issues in more detail.
Pain: Surgery of the nose is, in general, fairly low on the pain scale when compared to other surgeries. Your recovery from rhinoplasty depends mostly on whether additional sites (rib, ear, temple area) are used to accomplish the goal. Whether or not these are required should be discussed with your surgeon before surgery. It is important to be comfortable after surgery, so pain medication is often prescribed. However, it is important that you are aware of the pitfalls of the most commonly prescribed narcotic pain medications, and this warrants a discussion with your surgeon.
Activity: I believe that activity should be started immediately after surgery. This means that the patient should perform light household activities starting the same day, including a fair amount of walking. This helps keeps the lungs expanded accelerates the recovery process. Straining or any strenuous activity should be avoided, however, as this can lead to bleeding, swelling, and other problems in the early recovery period.
Splints, Casts, and Sutures: The nose usually has a cast placed on it for roughly a week after surgery. This helps to hold the nose in place and reduces the buildup of swelling that can occur in the first few days after surgery. Sometimes the surgeon will recommend some basic local wound care, like antibiotic ointment, to help the healing process. Sutures are sometimes removed after surgery, or sometimes are completely dissolvable. This is based on surgeon preference and it is important that you adhere to your surgeon’s recommendations.
Medications: Typical medications include antibiotic pills and pain medicines, as well as topical treatments such as antibiotic ointment or nasal rinses or soaks. Each surgeon usually has a specific protocol and it is always good to go over this with your surgeon before your procedure.
Swelling: This is a major issue with rhinoplasty, and it is key to the whole procedure. The nose has a high tendency to swell in the early weeks after surgery, especially the tip. However, with time it decreases, often quite substantially. In fact it is only when the swelling goes down that the true outcome is determined. That being said, I often advise patients that the nose looks very swollen after the cast comes off, but within a week or so it starts to look more normal. Your friends and family will be able to notice it during this early time, but after a couple weeks they have long stopped noticing it. You will be very sensitive to changes in swelling, but it is important to remember that this is all normal and part of the process. The fun part starts around 6-8 weeks when you start noticing the swelling going down and the final shape starting to form. This process occurs for months, and even years. It is also important to remember that swelling also depends on factors like what type of procedure was performed, and the type and thickness of the skin, and even day-to-day factors like temperature, humidity, and salt-intake.