What Should You Expect When You're Recovering After a Rhinoplasty?

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If you're considering rhinoplasty to change the shape of your nose, you may be wondering what the recovery process entails. Thankfully, rhinoplasty is one of the least troublesome surgeries to recover from. In general, the first two weeks are the most difficult, and you can expect a substantial amount of swelling. You'll need to guard your nose well during this time so that it can heal up properly. However, severe pain is very rare and you'll be able to return to normal activities fairly soon after the procedure. Below, you'll find some information about what you can expect after rhinoplasty and what you'll be doing to aid recovery.

First Week

Your plastic surgeon will ask you to take the week off from school and work. You'll be wearing a splint on your nose during this time to protect it and keep it straight. Your job for this week is to simply relax and keep your head elevated — it's a good time to catch up on movies or TV shows. You'll also meet with your plastic surgeon several times during the first week to make sure everything is healing correctly and there's no sign of infection.

It's common to experience major swelling during this time. Happily enough, however, you won't be in much pain—as far as surgeries go, rhinoplasty is one of the least painful procedures you can have performed. Apply an ice pack to your cheek in order to reduce swelling. However, make sure you don't touch your nose with it.

Second Week

In most cases, you'll be cleared to return to work or school after the end of the first week of recovery. Your swelling will have gone down significantly, but it will still be fairly noticeable at this point.

Now that you're out and about, you'll need to keep a few things in mind to help speed your recovery. First, make sure you always wear a hat when you go outside, and try to avoid direct sunlight. Sunlight can delay healing and make scars more visible.

If you wear eyeglasses, you'll need to switch to contact lenses until your nose is finished healing — the bridge of the glasses can actually cause indentations in your nose. If you need to wear eyeglasses, you'll have to tape them to your forehead so that they don't make any contact with your nose whatsoever. This can feel a bit strange, so it's best to simply switch to contacts for this period of your recovery.

Avoid strenuous physical activity and don't put yourself in any situations in which you might bump your nose. Bumping your nose or putting pressure on it by exercising can affect the way it heals. Likewise, you shouldn't sneeze during this time. This can be difficult since it's likely that you will have some nasal discharge and will sometimes feel the need to clear your nose. If you have to sneeze, sneeze out of your mouth instead.

Sixth Week

At this point, you're done with the active phase of your recovery. Your plastic surgeon will likely clear you for strenuous physical exercise, including activities such as weight training. You'll still have some minor swelling since cartilage heals very, very slowly. However, it's very unlikely that anyone but you will be able to notice.

From this point on, your nose will slowly continue to heal. By three months, you shouldn't even be able to notice any swelling. It can require up to a year for your nose to heal completely, however.

Ultimately, recovery from rhinoplasty is easy. The first two weeks are the most difficult portion of recovery, where you'll have to be very careful to keep your nose safe. If you've been worried about undergoing rhinoplasty because you've heard about how difficult the recovery period can be, you can rest easy. Feel free to schedule an appointment with a plastic surgeon in your area for a rhinoplasty consultation. You'll be able to ask more questions about the recovery process and decide if rhinoplasty is the right plastic surgery choice for you.