You finally did it: You found a great plastic surgeon and you had your nose reshaped, shortened, bumps removed, bridge built up or narrowed, nostrils refined, and/or tip rotated. You’re excited to find out what your new nose will look like. Excited to see how a nose that is in harmony with your other features will change the way you feel about yourself — and how others react to you.
But you need to be patient.
One of the most important (and frustrating) aspects of rhinoplasty is that it will take about a year before your nose settles down into its new contours. Rhinoplasty (also known as a nose job) traumatizes all of the tissues of the nose. In addition to the incisions that were made, your skin was lifted away from the bone. The nasal cartilage and/or nasal bone may have been broken with small hammers and then re-set. Your bone may have been shaven down with nasal rasps or reshaped with chisels. You may have had a cartilage graft taken from an ear or rib that was added to your nose to refine the tip. Regardless of the details of your procedure, the skin, muscles and delicate tissues of the nose have all been injured.
If you are considering rhinoplasty or if you have already had a procedure and want to obtain the best results, you must follow your plastic surgeon’s orders and take special care of your nose as it heals over the coming months. Dr. Julio Garcia, a Las Vegas plastic surgeon who specializes in rhinoplasty and other cosmetic procedures, outlines some of the steps you should take to ensure beautiful and naturally looking rhinoplasty results.
For the first week, your nose will be extremely swollen, bruised and sore. Your eyes may be bruised, too. You may have some drainage and bleeding. You might experience headaches and dizziness.
1. Follow your surgeon’s orders on how to care for the surgical site and how to keep your cast or splint clean. Be sure to take your antibiotics as prescribed. If you have questions about your care, call your surgeon’s office. They’ll be happy to help you. Dr. Garcia always asks his patients to return to the office the day after surgery to ensure that healing is on track.
2. Avoid blood-thinning agents. Before your rhinoplasty procedure, you were probably advised to avoid blood-thinning agents, such as:
- Gingko Bilabao
- St. John’s wort
- Anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs)
- Anticoagulants, such as warfarin and clopridogel
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
- Cigarettes, cigars, and e-cigarettes
- Vitamin E
This practice should be continued for the next several weeks to help reduce bruising and swelling.
3. Rest, rest rest! For the first week, you shouldn’t do anything except recover. Don’t go to work. Don’t go to the gym. Don’t do household tasks. Now’s the time to catch up on your reading or binge-watch TV.
4. Use cold compresses to control swelling and pain, but never apply ice directly to the skin.
5. Absolutely avoid any kind of strenuous activity. This means: don’t go the gym, run, swim, lift weights, or do any lifting (including lifting children). If you’re not sure, don’t do it and call your physician.
6. Avoid heat. Don’t sunbathe or stay in the sun. Don’t go into a sauna or steam room. Don’t use a blow dryer, curling iron, or heated curlers.
7. Keep your head elevated and still as possible. Sleep on your back and prop your head up with pillows. Don’t bend over or do any kind of inversions. Keep expressions to a minimum.
8. Always check with your plastic surgeon about which pain killers to take. If you didn’t receive a list of approved medicines, call your surgeon’s office to find out which are safe . Acetominophen is commonly used to control pain after surgery, and is available over the counter.
9. Take the herbs arnica or bromelain (from pineapple) to help minimize bruising.
10. Don’t put any pressure on your nose or do anything that could injure it, such as blowing your nose, wearing eyeglasses, chewing gum, chewing food or brushing your teeth vigorously, or pulling clothing over your head while dressing.
- Return to your plastic surgeon to have your splint or cast removed. If your sutures are not resorbable, they will also be removed at this time.
- Continue to avoid strenuous activity and heat.
- Continue to avoid blood thinners and take herbs that reduce bruising.
- Continue to sleep on your back
- Continue to avoid inversions.
- Continue to avoid vigorous activity
After 10 days:
With your surgeon’s approval, you should be able to return to work and resume some light activities.
After 3 weeks:
As long as your surgeon approves, you will be able to:
- Resume wearing eye glasses.
- Resume mild exercises.
After 1 month:
Most of your swelling should have resolved. You can resume all of your normal activities at this time. But don’t judge your nose yet! It will still be settling and healing over the next 11 months or so.
Be Alert to Changes and Call Your Doctor
Rhinoplasty is a major surgery that can have complications, despite your surgeon’s expertise. Dr. Garcia always encourages his nose job patients to call the office if they experience any of the following:
- Intense pain after the first week
- Unusual bleeding or draining
- Pus or any other signs of infection
If you haven’t yet had rhinoplasty surgery but are just considering a nose job, feel free to call Dr. Garcia for a consultation. During your meeting you can discuss your ideal nose. He will also explain how to prepare for and recover from a successful rhinoplasty procedure.