What does a rhinoplasty recovery look like? Jeffrey J. Lehman, M.D., F.A.C.S., a board certified otolaryngologist at The Ear, Nose, Throat and Plastic Surgery Associates with training in facial plastic surgery, says he performs many functional rhinoplasties in his practice and rhinoplasty recovery expectations are top of mind for many of his patients. 

“A functional rhinoplasty is oftentimes combined with a septoplasty as well which corrects the wall that divides the nose in two halves internally,” he says. “A functional septorhinoplasty can certainly positively affect the way the nose looks as well, but our primary reason for doing it is because of a severe enough external nasal deformity that it significantly affects function.”

During rhinoplasty surgery, the surgeon cuts incisions, usually inside the nose, to access the underlying bones and cartilage. Depending on the reason for the surgery, some bone or cartilage may be removed.

Rhinoplasty Recovery Expectations Following Surgery

nose renderUsually, rhinoplasties are an outpatient procedure, meaning patients go home later the same day following the surgery.

After rhinoplasty, whether it’s functional or cosmetic, Dr. Lehman expects patients will need to stay out of work for about two weeks for recovery purposes.

“One of the reasons is that after the rhinoplasty procedure there will be an external splint or cast on the nose to hold the bones in position. So that’s fairly obvious and most people don’t want to go to work with that in place,” Dr. Lehman explains. “There may be internal splints in place if septoplasty was performed, and there’s usually some degree of bruising around the eyes and a moderate amount of swelling.”

Patients typically experience a mild to moderate amount of pain or discomfort for the first 3 days following the surgery. Oral pain medications like Tylenol with codeine are usually sufficient to manage the discomfort.

“Most patients generally feel much better just a few days following their procedure,” Dr.  Lehman says. “Pain with a rhinoplasty is more than if we just do internal nasal surgery, but most people are past the majority of that by the end of the first week.”

Patients can expect their recovery to roughly follow this timetable:

Day 1: Return home and use cool compresses for 24 hours. Mustache dressing should be changed as often as needed. Some swelling, bruising and discomfort should be expected.

Days 2-3: The majority of the bruising and swelling will occur during this time.

Days 5-14: External stitches should be removed or dissolved. The internal and external dressing will be removed by the otolaryngologist, and bruising should subside.

Weeks 2-4: The majority of the swelling should disappear and breathing should be improved.

Most patients will notice results when the swelling begins to go down, but Dr. Lehman says it may be up to a full year before the final results become apparent.

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