Rhinoplasty is a facial cosmetic surgery procedure that’s skyrocketing in popularity. The procedure is safer than ever, and my patients love the results. Still, when a procedure is done on such a visible part of your face, it’s natural to ask questions. You might be wondering “What can I expect from a nose job?” or “How long is recovery time after a nose job?” At Westlake Plastic Surgery, we will always be open and honest with you about every procedure. Let’s take a look at the truth about nose job recovery.
A nose job procedure takes under two hours. General anesthesia is used for comfort and safety. What can you expect in terms of recovery after your treatment? Patients will have a nasal splint that sits on the outside of the nose to hold the bones in position. There are two small, soft cotton inserts placed in each nostril for drainage. They are sutured on the outside of the tip area. They are removed by the patient a day or two after treatment. The outside hard nasal splint is removed after 5-7 days by your surgeon which happens at your first office visit. This is the time of your “unveiling” — when you see your new nose for the first time! This is very exciting for both doctor and patient. Patients react differently with a mix of expectation, excitement, and anxiety. When expectations are realistic and your goals have been achieved, the results can bring you to tears of joy.
Care Instructions After a Nose Job
Recovery from anesthesia takes 40-60 minutes before you are sent home with a caregiver. You feel loopy from the drugs that will wear off as the day passes. You are sent home with care instructions and some medications. Pain is not as much a problem as you think. Patients describe being stuffy. You can’t breathe through your nose until the cotton inserts are removed. The area around your nose and under your eyes will swell significantly, and bruising from the bone fracture is not uncommon.
A small amount of drainage from your nose is not uncommon and is managed with a tissue. Patients are instructed to use ice about the nose area for up to three days for comfort and swelling control. Ice should be used overnight as well if you want the fastest recovery, so set your phone alarm!
I recommend the use of nasal saline spray and occasional Afrin use when the cotton inserts are removed, which I refer to as the “nasal toilet.” Afrin is a decongestant that helps reduce internal nose swelling that can obstruct your breathing. It should only be used for two weeks and then no more. The saline spray is used to help keep your nose free of crusting and scabs while also providing some comforting moisture.
“… a pretty nose that also helps you breathe better.”
You are instructed to sleep with your head up for a few days to reduce swelling and congestion (prop yourself up with some comfy pillows). Breathing can be reduced because of the swelling—particularly if internal nose work was done to help the breathing in a patient who needed such treatment. This is determined when I examine my patients’ internal nose during their office visit. A nose can have both cosmetic and functional work done for the ideal result—a pretty nose that also helps you breathe better.
Splint Removal after Rhinoplasty
What will the nose look like when your splint is removed? After 5-7 days your splint and steri strips are removed and your new nose is revealed. Your nose will be swollen — particularly the tip area where the skin is the thickest. It will be smaller, and you will appreciate the new shape/balance of your nose, but you have a long way to go until your final nose result is in. Most of the swelling will subside in a few weeks and all the swelling will be gone in about 18 months — yes, you read that right. It’s not swelling you will actually see, and the good news is that your nose continues to improve for many months to come. It’s a gift that keeps giving.
You may notice some small contour irregularities resulting from areas of your nose that heal faster than others. It’s not uncommon for me to have my patients use steri strips to tape their nose/tip area to help shape your new nose as it heals and manage swelling. This is done as much as possible for the first two months but it’s not necessary all the time. After all, you have to work and go into public! Your nose will be a bit sore when you touch it, and the tip area is numb. It takes a few months for the tip skin to regain sensation as the nerves regenerate.
Returning to Work after a Nose Job
When can you go back into public after a nose job? Were it not for the significant bruising that can develop on the lower eyelids that can last two weeks or more, you would be good to go as soon as the splint and sutures are removed! Even though your nose is swollen, it still looks like your new and improved version. It’s surprising how few people will know you had your nose done when it looks so much different than your old nose. People tend to “see” exaggerated features of a nose and when I make a nose look like a normal nose it becomes invisible to them. Your nose will look quite good after 4 to 6 months and only improve with time — enhanced sculpting/definition and smaller of course.
Time off work after a nose job is a personal thing. Some people have no problem going out into the world with a splint and some bruising, while others wait until the splint is off and bruising is better. Bruising can be covered with special makeup just for that purpose. I typically see patients at 1 week, 6 weeks, and 6 months for follow up examination. Avoid trauma or contact to your nose so you do not injure it while it’s healing and more vulnerable. I have had several patients who broke their nose in the months after surgery that I had to adjust with a local procedure. You can wear your glasses when the splint is off. There are special devices to help position your glasses on your nose if that helps. Exercise can start after about two weeks as tolerated. You will often note swelling of your nose after certain foods and activities, which is normal.
Give Yourself the Best Chance at a Smooth Recovery
To put it all in perspective, my patients have been pleasantly surprised by how manageable recovery was compared to what they expected. There is an investment of at least a week of your time, but rest assured you will be quite happy to have finally changed something that has caused you disappointment and anxiety. A well done, natural nose job is a game changer, and the benefits extend well beyond your nose and face. It is about confidence and a healthy body image that translates into a happier, more confident you.The most important part of making your recovery go as smoothly as possible is choosing an experienced plastic surgeon to perform your nose job. A skillful operation will lead to the safest operation and the best possible results. Explore your options, and trust the best surgeon for the job. I specialize in nose jobs, as you can see in our Rhinoplasty Before & After Photos. Also, take a look at our popular articles about the cost of a nose job and when you’re ready to love your new nose, get started with a free online consultation.