Proper aftercare is extremely important. When it comes to rhinoplasty, you will definitely notice changes to your nose within the first two weeks. Below we’re going to cover some post-surgery tips day by day, from the time you wake up from the surgery to the time you take your last dose of pain medication and everything in between.
Day of Surgery
The day of surgery is an exciting time. You will meet with the surgeon and anesthesiologist, who will review your medical history and answer any questions you may have. They will also go over what to expect prior to, during, and after surgery. You may be asked to sign consent forms or other legal documents prior to surgery.
It is important to know that rhinoplasty is considered a major surgery and should not be taken lightly. You should not smoke within 24 hours of surgery and refrain from drinking alcohol for at least 2 weeks before your procedure. It is also recommended that you do not take aspirin or ibuprofen for at least 3 days before your surgery date, as these medications can increase bleeding during recovery.
Day After Surgery
The day after surgery is a big milestone. You’ve made it through the surgery, and now you can look forward to the next few weeks of healing. Here are some tips for getting through the first 24 hours after rhinoplasty:
Rest is important for your recovery. You may find that even though you’re not in pain, you feel very tired. This is normal and should pass within a few days.
Ice helps with swelling and bruising, which can be common after surgery. Apply an ice pack to your nose as often as possible during the first 24 hours to help with pain relief and swelling control.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
Try to drink at least eight glasses of water each day, and more if you’re having trouble keeping down fluids because of discomfort or nausea. Drinking plenty of fluids will help keep your body hydrated, which promotes healing and keeps mucous membranes moist so they don’t get dried out (which could cause painful scabs).
If you are taking any medications, please keep taking them as directed by your doctor. If you didn’t take your regular medications before surgery, it is important that you start taking them again at the same time every day once you are home from surgery.
If you have been prescribed antibiotics after surgery, it is important that you complete all doses of these medications as directed by your doctor to prevent infection. You should also take any pain medication prescribed by your surgeon as directed until it runs out (usually about three days).
Days Two and Three
Your nose should be less swollen by now. If you have a packing in your nose, it will be removed today. The packing was placed to help keep your nose straight during the first 24 hours after surgery. The packing will be removed by your surgeon or their staff, and the packing material will be discarded. If there’s any blood on the packing, it should be wiped off with warm water and gauze before removing the packing from your nose.
You may feel some discomfort when the packing is removed from your nose, but this should pass quickly. You may also experience some bleeding immediately after the packing is removed. Blood pressure medications may help if you experience excessive bleeding after surgery or if you are taking aspirin therapy, especially if you are over 60 years old or have high blood pressure or kidney disease (glomerulonephritis).
You should also keep your head elevated on pillows when lying down at night to help reduce swelling in your nose and face. Avoid sleeping flat on your back as much as possible and take pain medication every four hours as prescribed by your doctor. Additionally, avoid touching or moving the strips that were placed inside of your nose during surgery until they fall out on their own.
If you have a bad smell after rhinoplasty, this is normal and should disappear within a couple of weeks. It may take longer for this smell to go away if you have had an open reduction osteotomy because there is more room for infection in the nasal cavity. In these cases, antibiotics are necessary to cure any infection before it gets worse and spreads through the body.
Days Four to Seven
Day four is usually the day that you start to feel like yourself again. The pain from the procedure will be greatly reduced, and you can begin to move around more easily. You may be able to start taking short walks, but it is important that you don’t overdo it. Your doctor will likely recommend beginning a basic exercise program as soon as possible after surgery in order to help speed recovery and reduce swelling.
By day five, you should be able to start washing your face with a washcloth and soap in the morning and evening. You can also take aspirin for pain relief if needed.
By day six, you should be able to shower normally with hot water. You can also start using moisturizer on your skin and lip balm on your lips every day. You may notice some bruising or swelling around the bridge of your nose or at the tip of your nose that looks like a lump or bump. This is normal and will go away over time as it heals. It may take up to two weeks for all of the swelling to disappear completely after surgery, so don’t worry if this happens.
On day seven, most of your symptoms should have disappeared completely. You may still experience some swelling around your eyes and nose, but this should go away within a few weeks of your surgery.
Weeks Two and Three
Once your nose has healed, you can start to use the nasal spray that was prescribed. It may take several months to stop feeling like you have a cold. You may also feel dryness in your nose, which can be helped with saline spray or moisturizers.
You should avoid blowing your nose for two weeks after your surgery. After that, it should only be done gently to prevent bleeding. You should also avoid blowing your nose if you have a cold or allergy symptoms. This can cause bleeding or damage to the newly formed tissues inside the nose.
Week Four and Beyond
Avoid strenuous activity such as running or weightlifting while you’re still healing from your rhinoplasty. Focus on low-impact exercises like yoga and Pilates that won’t put pressure on your nose or cause bruising or swelling. You can also try walking or swimming if these activities don’t cause discomfort for you.
A rhinoplasty is not a quick procedure and will take about 2 weeks for total recovery, including swelling, bruises, and stitches. If you want to know what to expect in your rhinoplasty recovery, above, I’ve outlined some pointers that will help you recover quickly and smoothly from your rhinoplasty.