Rhinoplasty: preparation and recovery


Rhinoplasty is one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures. Proper preparation and recovery both play an equally important role in achieving your desired outcome.

Preparing for rhinoplasty surgery

At your consultation, the surgeon will discuss with you the procedure, risks and limitations, costs involved, your expectations and goals, and the recovery process. They will also conduct a medical examination and help you prepare yourself both physically and mentally for rhinoplasty. If you are not sure about any aspect of the surgery or recovery period, ask your surgeon to explain.

One of the most important decisions is your choice of doctor. Find out what training and experience in rhinoplasty they have. It is also a good idea to ask your doctor to show you examples of their work or the number of surgeries they have performed. You should never choose a doctor solely on the basis of lower cost. This may indicate corners have been cut somewhere or qualifications are lacking.

Research is a vital part of preparation. The internet offers a wealth of knowledge to help you understand some of the pertinent details about rhinoplasty, such as precautions, possible complications and post-operative care, as well as the procedure itself. Put the time aside for a thorough evaluation and collect detailed information about the risks and benefits in order to give full informed consent. Ensure you tell your doctor about your medical history and any medications or supplements you may be taking.

Cosmetic procedures are most safely performed in facilities that are accredited by The Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS). These will be fully equipped with life-saving and monitoring devices.

When preparing for surgery, there are things you can do to make sure your body is strong and healthy. Stop smoking at least three weeks before and after the surgery. Smoking will slow down the healing process and may cause irritation or infection at or near the incision. Get plenty of sleep in the days leading up to the surgery as a rested body will recover faster. Drink plenty of water, as well-hydrated skin is more elastic and will help the incision to heal faster.

Prepare for your post-surgery needs by stocking up on ready-prepared meals and grocery items. Arrange for someone to either stay with you or check in on you. Prepare a place where you can sleep with your head elevated, with everything you need easily accessible. You should also have any prescriptions filled prior to surgery.

Post-operative care

Recovery from any surgery can be a slow and gradual process. Being well prepared can help minimise discomfort and downtime after rhinoplasty.

Immediately after the procedure, a splint is usually applied to your nose to give it support and help maintain the new shape. Nasal packs or soft plastic splints may also be placed in the nostrils to stabilise the septum. If this is necessary, it is usually for around two to seven days, by which time the nasal structure would have stabilised.

General anaesthesia and an overnight stay are usual for rhinoplasty. In the first 24 hours after surgery, you may experience some swelling and bruising around the eyes, which may peak after two or three days. Applying cold compresses can help reduce swelling and relieve pressure, and some surgeons may even suggest alternating between cold and warm compresses. Any pain can typically be managed with medication prescribed by your surgeon.

The first day after surgery, you are advised to rest in bed with your head and shoulders raised and avoid bending over. This helps minimise swelling and bruising and can also help prevent any post-operative bleeding. For the first week, you may be advised not to blow your nose since your tissues are still in the process of healing.

It is common to notice some drainage during the first few days, and you may experience some stuffiness in your nose for a few weeks because of the congestion of the nasal passageways.

A good diet can also help the healing process. Start your recovery with a mild liquid diet (water, juice, soup). It is important that your stomach is settled before you resume normal eating and drinking.

Certain medications, herbs and foods may slow down the healing process. On the list of things to avoid are alcohol, aspirin and other blood thinners, Vitamin E supplements and several natural herbal supplements. You should strictly follow your doctor’s instructions regarding medication, eating and drinking.

Within a few days, you can start moving around. As long as you are not doing anything strenuous, you should be able to get back to work after around a week. However, it may be a few weeks until you feel like you are completely back to normal.

Although the result will usually be apparent in about two weeks, small changes may continue to occur over the next six to 12 months. The final outcome depends upon your age, skin type and healing ability.

Returning to normal routine

Your surgeon will give you clear instructions on how to gradually get back to your normal activities. Avoid any strenuous activity, especially physical ones like running or swimming, for at least a few weeks.

If you’re concerned about bruising, some cosmetics are designed to camouflage discolouration after surgery. However, be sure to follow the advice of your doctor before using such cosmetics.

To prevent pressure on your nose, do not rest eyeglasses or sunglasses on your nose for at least four weeks after the surgery. You can tape the glasses to your forehead or use contact lens until your nose has healed.

Your surgeon will schedule fairly frequent follow-up calls in the days immediately after the procedure and then some occasional ones in the later months.

Take the time to ensure that your nose heals properly. The nose is delicate and you will greatly reduce your chance of complications and secondary surgery by following your surgeon’s advice carefully and taking proper care of your new nose.

Recovery tips

– Many surgeons strongly suggest taking about 10 days to two weeks off work.
– Make arrangements for someone to drive you to and from the hospital and to care for you in the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery.
– Keep your head raised higher than your chest when sleeping by propping it up on pillows (to reduce swelling).
– Make sure the items that you’ll need during recovery are at waist height, so you won’t have to bend over to pick anything up.
– Place a table with the recovery items you need next to your bed. This will help you from having to get up and down when you should be resting.
– Make sure to go grocery shopping before surgery to stock up on soft foods.
– Have a selection of your favourite books, DVDs, magazines and other items on hand to help keep you entertained.