Results, recovery and maintenance
What to expect during recovery
Swelling and bruising around the eyes and nose after a rhinoplasty procedure is to be expected, but is temporary and will fade through the healing process. You may also experience numbness or discolouration around the eyes for a about 10 to 14 days. Slight swelling can persist for longer but can be treated with cold compresses or ice packs.
To help reduce any bleeding and swelling during recovery, you will need to rest with your head elevated above your chest. You may be given a drip pad (a piece of gauze taped beneath your nose) to absorb any blood and mucus. A drip pad should never be secured directly on the nose. Your surgeon will advise how often this should be changed.
You will be required to leave splints and dressings in place for up to a week following surgery. This will be removed by your surgeon during a follow-up appointment. Your nose will be a little swollen or packed with cotton, causing a congested feeling.
Your surgeon may have sealed incisions with absorbable (dissolvable) stitches. These will not require any removal procedures. Stitches that aren’t will usually be removed by your surgeon about a week after your surgery. Internal dressings will also need to remain in place for between 1 and 7 days after your surgery.
During the initial recovery, you may experience memory lapses, a slow reaction time and impaired judgement following anaesthetic or as side effects from prescribed pain and antibiotic medications.
You may also experience headaches, or have a ‘puffy feeling’ in your face in the days after your surgery. Pain medication can be prescribed for this.
Your surgeon will also request that you avoid doing any of the following during the initial weeks after surgery:
- Strenuous physical activity (including gym, aerobics, swimming or running)
- Blowing your nose
- Resting eyeglasses or sunglasses on your nose (for at least 4 weeks)
- Facial expressions that require a lot of movement such as smiling or laughing (try to be mindful of your expressions as you heal)
- Vigorous tooth brushing
- Excessive chewing
- Taking baths instead of showers while you still have bandages and dressings on your nose
- Spending time out in the sun (care will need to be taken with levels of sun exposure as this can permanently discolour the skin around the nose)
- Wearing clothing that fastens in the front (or back) and avoid those that need to be pulled over your head
- Contact sports may be strongly advised against for several months, and even up to a year
It is also helpful to ...
- Ensure that your diet is rich in fibre to avoid any occurrences of constipation (which can cause strain and put pressure on the sensitive nose while healing)
- Limit your sodium intake during surgery as this can help alleviate further swelling
Follow-up care is very important after a rhinoplasty procedure, so be sure to keep all of your appointments with your surgeon and follow his or her care instructions properly.
Skin care before and after rhinoplasty
Skin care following a rhinoplasty procedure is very important. Your surgeon will discuss skincare with you before and after your rhinoplasty procedure. A significant part of a successful recovery involves proper skin care and products to help you achieve better results, especially during the first few days and weeks after the surgery (when the skin is at its most sensitive). Healthy skin will heal better and quicker.
Rhinoplasty is an invasive procedure and can make post-op skin care a little more complicated. Cleaning or cleansing your skin may involve:
- Gentle cleansers to avoid breakouts if you are prone to acne
- Or carefully washing your face with mild astringent pads and or non-soap cleansers (without applying any pressure to the face)
A hypoallergenic moisturiser and or / night cream with no fragrance may be applied to the rest of the face daily. You will be encouraged to use a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 when you are outside, especially around the nose. Excess sun can cause permanent discolouration in the skin of the nose.
Your surgeon may request that you avoid soap-based cleansers, moisturisers with no fragrance and other non-hypoallergenic products and sunscreens with an SPF higher than 40 as these may clog your pores.
Your surgeon may have a preferred range of skincare products which he or she may suggest or recommend, as well as a specific cleansing regimen to follow. A skincare regimen may even be recommended about a month before your procedure, and ending 10 days prior. You may be requested to recommence up to 3 weeks after surgery, allowing the skin to breathe during healing.
A recommended skincare regimen will depend on factors such as your skin type and colour, season of the year, as well as how your skin generally responds to certain products.
Make sure to keep hydrated as this helps to keep your skin rejuvenated and flush out any toxins. Your wounds will heal on their own. It is best to refrain from picking at scabs that may form or peeling skin, as this can cause infection or scarring.
You may wish to disguise swelling and bruising effects with a little make-up. Mineral-based products (foundations and powders) are generally gentler on the skin. A green colour-based foundation can help to alleviate redness (inflammation) and gives many patients a more natural looking skin tone. A powder which is one shade darker may also help to reduce the appearance of redness while healing. Any make-up products used must be thoroughly cleansed at night.
The healing process can take a while and it should be expected. It is advisable that you discuss the process of recovery with your surgeon during the early stages so that you are clear about what to expect, what is normal and when something may be of concern.
For the most part, rhinoplasty is a relatively safe and uncomplicated procedure. You may be fully recovered within a few weeks or you may experience some effects months down the line. It can be an entire year before you can fully appreciate the end result of your surgery (sometimes swelling can take many months to completely heal).
End results may be minor (sometimes even a few millimetres worth of a difference) or significant, depending on the complexity of correction and alteration you wanted. Realistic expectations to begin with generally result in a happier outcome. Results are permanent and are only generally altered through subsequent injury or further surgery.
If you are dissatisfied with the results you can wait up to a year before you may be able to have a second surgery for further refinements (the nose can naturally undergo changes and will continue to do so during your lifetime). However, the more nasal surgeries you have, the more complex these procedures and corrections become.