Rhinoplasty Recovery, Risks & Benefits: What To Expect
Perhaps you were born with a nose shape that you do not like, or maybe you sustained an injury that left your nose crooked or asymmetrical. Whatever the reason, you are ready to change the appearance of your nose but don’t know what to expect from nose surgery. At the European Institute of Plastic Surgery, we can help you receive the nose of your dreams with rhinoplasty. We want to help you achieve your aesthetic goals while maintaining or improving the function of the nose. Under the expertise of Dr. Demetris Stavrou, our experienced staff of health care professionals will guide you through the rhinoplasty process to help you achieve the results you deserve.
WHAT IS RHINOPLASTY?
Rhinoplasty is a surgical procedure that reshapes the nose. During surgery, the cartilage and bones that create the structure of the nose can be trimmed, smoothed or removed, and grafts can be added to fill in unwanted depressions. The width and size of the nostrils can also be trimmed and reshaped. If you have a deviated septum—the thin piece of cartilage that separates the two nasal cavities—it can be repaired and repositioned to improve breathing. Through these surgical modifications, we can create your ideal nose while ensuring that your nose functions as it should.
THE BENEFITS OF RHINOPLASTY
Rhinoplasty provides cosmetic and functional improvements to the nose. The ultimate goal of the procedure is to improve the appearance of the nose while also addressing structural problems that interfere with nasal function. With rhinoplasty, Dr. Stavrou can:
- Make the nose proportional to the face
- Straighten a deviated septum
- Adjust the width of the bridge of the nose
- Resize and reposition the nostrils
- Remove bumps or indentations on the bridge of the nose
- Reshape the tip of the nose
- Improve the overall symmetry of the nose
- Improve nasal breathing
PRE-SURGERY RHINOPLASTY CONSULTATION
In a separate appointment, before surgery, you will have an in-person consultation with Dr. Stavrou. The pre-surgery consultation is an essential part of the preparation for rhinoplasty because it offers you the opportunity to present your concerns and ask questions. In addition, the pre-surgery consultation allows Dr. Stavrou to:
- Determine if you are healthy enough for surgery
- Evaluate the structure and function of your nose
- Collect information about what you hope to achieve with rhinoplasty
- Answer all of your questions
- Map out a treatment plan that produces your desired look
- Take pre-surgery photos of your face and nose
- Set a surgery date
THE RHINOPLASTY PROCEDURE
When you arrive at the European Institute of Plastic Surgery, our caring team of health professionals will begin to prepare you for surgery. After meeting with Dr. Stavrou to review the procedure and treatment plan, general anesthesia or intravenous sedation with local anesthesia is administered to ensure you remain comfortable during surgery.
Once you have been numbed, an incision is made to access the structures of the nose. The incision may be hidden inside the nostrils or placed in the columella, the strip of tissue that separates the nostrils. If nostril size is being reduced, incisions may be necessary along the natural crease where the nostrils meet the cheek.
After the necessary incisions are made, the mucous membrane that covers the bones and cartilage of the nose is lifted so that the underlying structure of the nose can be reshaped. If you have a deviated septum that is indented or bumpy, it will be repositioned and reshaped. Bone and cartilage may be trimmed or removed to reshape the nose and septum. After the corrections have been made to the nose, the mucous membrane is put back into place, the nasal skin is repositioned and sutures are used to close any incisions.
A splint may be placed inside the nose to hold the nasal structures in place. Gauze packing in the nostrils may also be used, if necessary, to control bleeding. Bandages will be placed on the outside of the nose to provide additional support and protection.
THE RHINOPLASTY RECOVERY PROCESS
Depending on your needs and the extent of your rhinoplasty procedure, you may need to stay overnight following surgery. When you are ready to go home, aftercare instructions will be sent with you. Plan to take it easy and follow these general restrictions for the first month of your recovery:
- Use caution and be protective of your nose
- Do not blow your nose, pull clothing over your head, smoke or take anti-inflammatory medication
- Avoid dusty or smoky environments
- Limit your exercise to basic walking
- Do not participate in contact sports
- Avoid exercise and strenuous activities
The recovery process varies by patient and procedure; however, we find that most patients follow a similar recovery timeline:
Day 1: You will begin to experience minor swelling, bruising and discomfort around your eyes, cheeks and nose. Cold compresses and prescription medication may be used to minimize these symptoms. There may also be mild, bloody drainage from your nose. You may need to change the small dressing under your nose several times a day to manage the drainage. Sleep with your head elevated.
Days 2–4: Bruising, swelling and discomfort may peak on the second day but should then start to diminish by day four. Continue to use cold compresses and medication, as directed. You may continue to experience bloody drainage from your nose, but this should decrease or end altogether during this time.
Days 5–7: You will have a follow-up appointment with Dr. Stavrou so that he can remove the splints, internal gauze and external dressings. Stitches will be removed if they are non-dissolving. Bruising should be almost gone. For the first week, you may experience stuffiness and drainage down the back of your throat. Removing the internal splints should alleviate these symptoms.
Days 7–14: Your sense of smell should return, and any numbness or tingling you were feeling in your teeth, cheeks, mouth or nose should improve. You can sleep in a normal position if it feels comfortable to do so. Some patients return to work.
Days 15–30: Swelling and bruising should be dramatically diminished and breathing through your nose should be easier. You are free to travel via plane.
Months 2–11: You may notice subtle changes to the shape of your nose. This is to be expected as the adjusted bones and cartilage become the new and improved shape of your nose. Although most of the swelling is gone, you will notice a continued improvement in the shape of your nose for several months.
1 Year: Your final nose shape is realized.
There are risks associated with any surgery. Although rare, risks with rhinoplasty include infection, scarring, skin discoloration, diminished sense of smell, numbness in the teeth or nose, pain in the nose or face, a perforation in the septum, nasal breathing problems, anesthesia risks, or an unpleasing result that requires revisional surgery. Choosing an experienced plastic surgeon and carefully following all aftercare instructions will help minimize these risks and ensure a smooth recovery.
It’s important to be aware of these potential risks and discuss them with your healthcare provider before undergoing the procedure. Some of the risks associated with rhinoplasty include:
During and after the surgery, there is a risk of bleeding. Your surgeon will take precautions to minimize bleeding during the procedure and provide instructions on how to manage bleeding after the surgery.
Any surgical procedure carries a risk of infection. Your surgeon will take steps to reduce the risk of infection by following sterile techniques and prescribing appropriate antibiotics.
Adverse reaction to anesthesia
Anesthesia is used during rhinoplasty to ensure a painless procedure. While rare, there is a small risk of having an adverse reaction to anesthesia. Your anesthesiologist will evaluate your medical history and take necessary precautions to minimize this risk.
Other specific risks related to rhinoplasty may include:
Difficulty breathing through the nose
Rhinoplasty can sometimes result in temporary or, in rare cases, permanent difficulty breathing through the nose. This can occur if there is swelling or changes to the nasal structure during the healing process.
Permanent numbness in and around the nose
Some patients may experience temporary numbness or altered sensation around the nose after rhinoplasty. In rare cases, this numbness can become permanent, but it is uncommon.
Asymmetry or an uneven appearance of the nose
Achieving perfect symmetry is challenging in rhinoplasty. While surgeons strive for symmetrical results, there is a slight risk of ending up with some degree of asymmetry in the nose’s appearance.
Prolonged pain, discoloration, or swelling
After rhinoplasty, it is common to experience pain, discoloration (bruising), and swelling around the nose and eyes. These effects are temporary and usually subside within a few weeks, but in some cases, they may persist for a longer period.
Incisions are typically made inside the nose or in inconspicuous locations to minimize visible scarring. However, there is still a small risk of visible scarring, especially if open rhinoplasty techniques are used or if the skin has poor healing properties.
In rare cases, rhinoplasty can result in a hole in the nasal septum, which is the wall that separates the nostrils. This condition is called septal perforation and may require additional surgical intervention to repair.
Possible need for revision surgery
Despite the surgeon’s best efforts, the outcome of rhinoplasty may not meet the patient’s expectations. In such cases, a revision surgery may be needed to achieve the desired results.
Changes in smell
Some patients may experience temporary changes in their sense of smell after rhinoplasty. In most cases, the sense of smell returns to normal as the healing process progresses.
Remember, the risks associated with rhinoplasty can vary from person to person. Your surgeon will provide guidance on how to minimize these risks and maximize the chances of a successful outcome.
Tips For Quicker Recovery
To promote healing and reduce the risk of complications, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully after getting a rhinoplasty. Some tips for quicker recovery include:]
- Avoid strenuous activities and exercise for at least two weeks after surgery. It is recommended to avoid activities that could cause trauma to the face, such as contact sports, for several months following the procedure.
- Listen to your doctor’s instructions carefully and follow them closely.
- Listen to your body. You’re the only one who knows how you are feeling and when something doesn’t feel right.
- Rest as much as possible, particularly during the first two weeks following surgery.
- Keep your head elevated, especially while sleeping, to minimize swelling.
- Refrain from blowing your nose, as it can disrupt the healing process.
- Avoid wearing glasses or any objects that put pressure on the nose.
- Be patient with the recovery process, as it takes time for the final results to become apparent.
Do I Need To Do Any Follow-Ups With My Doctor?
Scheduling and attending follow-up appointments with your surgeon is crucial to post-operative care following a rhinoplasty procedure. These follow-ups allow your surgeon to monitor your progress and assess the healing process closely. During these appointments, your surgeon will examine the surgical site, check for any signs of complications, and ensure that you are on track for a successful recovery.
In addition to monitoring your physical healing, follow-up appointments allow you to address any concerns or questions. Your surgeon can provide guidance on proper wound care, offer advice on managing discomfort, and discuss any specific instructions tailored to your individual recovery. These appointments serve as an important platform for open communication with your surgeon, enabling you to actively participate in your healing journey and receive personalized care.
Are There Any Specific Dietary or Lifestyle Recommendations During Rhinoplasty Recovery?
To promote optimal healing, it is essential to refrain from smoking or using tobacco products before and after the surgery. Smoking can negatively affect circulation, delay tissue healing, and increase the risk of infections and poor wound healing. Likewise, protecting the face from excessive sun exposure helps prevent pigmentation changes, scarring, and delayed incision healing. Wearing wide-brimmed hats and applying sunscreen with a high SPF can safeguard the skin during outdoor activities.
In terms of diet, maintaining a balanced and nutritious eating plan is beneficial for overall healing. Including a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains provides essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants necessary for tissue repair. Additionally, staying adequately hydrated by drinking enough water supports optimal healing and overall well-being.
How Soon Can I Return to Work or Resume Normal Activities After Rhinoplasty?
The timing of returning to work or resuming normal activities after rhinoplasty depends on several factors and varies for each patient. In general, most individuals can expect to return to work or school within 1-2 weeks following the procedure. However, it is important to note that this timeline may be influenced by the extent of the surgery, the individual’s healing rate, and the nature of their occupation or daily activities.
While the initial recovery period may allow for a return to regular daily routines, avoiding activities that could impact the nose for a more extended period is crucial. Your surgeon will provide specific guidelines based on your unique circumstances. It is advised to refrain from activities such as contact sports, strenuous exercise, heavy lifting, or any activity that could result in accidental trauma to the nose for up to six weeks. Following these precautions is crucial to ensure proper healing and minimize the risk of complications.
Will I Experience Pain or Discomfort During The Recovery Period?
During the recovery period after rhinoplasty, it is common to experience certain symptoms, including swelling and bruising around the nose and eyes. This swelling is a natural response to the surgical procedure and may last approximately 1-2 weeks. Additionally, mild pain and discomfort are expected during this time, which can be managed with prescribed pain medication as your surgeon recommends.
Nasal congestion is another common symptom experienced in the days following rhinoplasty. This congestion is primarily a result of the swelling in the nasal region and the presence of splints placed inside the nose during the surgery. These splints help support the new nasal structure and promote proper healing. The congestion usually resolves within a few days as the swelling subsides and the nasal passages begin to heal.
Will I Take Any Medication After My Surgery?
Following your rhinoplasty surgery, your surgeon may prescribe medication to help manage any pain or discomfort experienced during the recovery period. This may include pain relievers or analgesics specifically tailored to your needs. It is crucial to strictly adhere to the prescribed dosage and follow the instructions provided by your surgeon or healthcare provider. By doing so, you can ensure the medication effectively alleviates any discomfort while promoting proper healing.
If you have any concerns or questions about the medication prescribed after your surgery, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider for clarification. They can provide guidance on how and when to take the medication, potential side effects to watch for, and any necessary precautions. Open communication with your healthcare provider will help ensure that your recovery process is as comfortable and smooth as possible.
LASTING, BEAUTIFUL RESULTS
It can take one year for your nose to fully heal. After one year, you can expect your nose to retain its shape. Please note that a rhinoplasty cannot stop the natural aging process; over time, you may notice minor changes to your nose. However, the overall improvement attained from your rhinoplasty will remain intact. Living a healthy lifestyle, avoiding sun exposure and not smoking will help you age gracefully and achieve optimal, long-lasting results.