Something all patients share is a desire to know what to expect during recovery after cosmetic plastic surgery. Rhinoplasty patients—who tend to be younger—are especially interested in knowing when they can return to work or school and resume activities such as working out or participating in sports.
But the answer to how long it takes to recover after rhinoplasty surgery is, like the operation itself, a bit complicated. That’s because the answer includes both short-term and long-term recovery milestones. In this blog post, we’ll provide a comprehensive timeline outlining the recovery process and share some tips that can help keep the recovery as efficient and comfortable as possible.
A Rhinoplasty Recovery Timeline
Rhinoplasty is an outpatient surgery, meaning patients return home the same day. The surgeon who performs the procedure places a brace on the nose after the surgery to keep the nose stable as it heals.
Day After Surgery
Patients should expect substantial swelling and some bruising in the first few days after surgery. Even though many patients are worried about pain after surgery, the discomfort is often relatively mild and can be managed with prescription pain medication.
Your surgeon usually removes the brace near the end of the first week of recovery. You’ll see initial results from the changes to the size or shape of your nose at the “reveal” appointment. A patient who wanted to smooth a hump on the bridge of the nose will see that it’s gone, for example. After a week, most patients feel comfortable going out in public, and you can return to work or school.
Swelling reduces significantly 2 weeks after the surgery. Mild to moderate bruising also is minimal at this point for most patients. By the end of the second week, there will be few signs that you had surgery—other than the changes made to your nose. Residual swelling, though, remains and will gradually resolve over the next several months to a year. It’s still important to avoid situations where the nose could be accidentally injured, such as in competitive contact sports.
Weeks 3 to 4
At this stage, patients who are used to leading active lifestyles, including regular exercise, may be getting antsy to return to the gym. You can start light exercise and cardio workouts during the third and fourth weeks after surgery but still avoid lifting weights above your head or all-out running.
Weeks 5 to 6
After five to six weeks, your entire normal workout activity can typically be back at a normal pace, including running and lifting weights. If you’re not sure about an activity, consult with your surgeon on the status of your recovery.
By this time, the bones in your nose are stable enough to resume wearing glasses and blow your nose.
Months 3 to 6
Any lingering nasal numbness or other unusual sensations resolves during this period.
Even though you’ll notice changes to your nose’s shape or size within weeks of the surgery, it usually takes up to a year for the residual swelling to completely dissipate and reveal the final results.
Are There Ways To Speed Up Recovery?
As with any recovery timeline, each patient heals at their own pace. Some people heal faster than others, but there are a few things you can do to ensure your recovery goes as smoothly—and quickly—as possible.
Keep Your Head Elevated
If you normally sleep on your side, you’ll find that position to be uncomfortable after rhinoplasty surgery. It can even prolong recovery time by causing additional swelling, and you risk inadvertently moving your nose while sleeping. Sleeping with your head propped up with 2 or even 3 pillows during the first month after surgery helps reduce swelling and bruising. A recliner is also useful for sleeping during the early stage of recovery.
Apply Cold Compresses
Using cold compresses during the first 96 hours after surgery helps reduce swelling. Apply the compresses to your cheeks, not directly on your nose.
Don’t Blow Your Nose
The urge to blow your nose after rhinoplasty is strong but doing so can extend the recovery time. Swollen nasal tissue creates congestion, so you may want to use a saline spray to help alleviate that sensation. You should wait 4 to 6 weeks before blowing your nose. Also, if you sense the need to sneeze, open your mouth to reduce pressure on the nose.
Avoid Wearing Glasses
If you wear prescription eyewear for driving, reading, or any other reason, you should plan on switching to contacts at least temporarily. Glasses put pressure on the nose while it’s healing, which can result in additional swelling, bruising, or even indentations.
You’ll need to stop smoking 6 weeks before and 6 weeks after your surgery, including vaping as well as any other forms of nicotine. Nicotine reduces blood flow and increases the risk of complications such as tissue death, and well as slows the healing process.
Stick To Light Exercise
Even though you’ll probably feel fine physically within a week of your surgery, avoid the temptation to resume strenuous workouts. It’s important that the bones in your nose have time to heal.
If you’ve been thinking about getting a nose job and are looking for a rhinoplasty specialist in Louisiana, request a consultation using the online form to meet with one of our board-certified plastic surgeons. Or call our Shreveport practice at (318) 795-0801 to schedule an appointment.