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nose job recovery

Although many patients experience a significant level of discomfort after rhinoplasty surgery, most agree that the benefits greatly outweigh the negative aspects of recovery. Follow these recommendations to increase your chances of having a smooth rhinoplasty recovery and results that meet your expectations.

The Do’s and Dont’s of Rhinoplasty Recovery

These are just a few of the different do’s and dont’s to keep in mind in order to get back on your feet faster.


  • Keep all of your follow up appointments
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Take the medication that you’re prescribed
  • Stay hydrated
  • Use ice packs as needed to reduce swelling
  • See to your emotional wellbeing


  • Ignore signs of complications or infection
  • Reinjure your nose during recovery
  • Use alcohol or tobacco products
  • Skip your follow up appointments

rhinoplasty operation

RELATED: 7 Rhinoplasty Preparation and Recovery Tips

Your Physical Recovery

You can expect to experience some pain right after your rhinoplasty, but it should fade relatively quickly. Most patients report that they only need to take narcotic pain relievers for a few days following surgery, and can move on to using milder pain relievers within a week of the procedure.

Your level of discomfort also depends on exactly which procedure – ie. closed or open rhinoplasty – your plastic surgeon performs.

In all cases, rhinoplasty causes discomfort to your nose and sinuses for about 3 weeks. The initial pain is more severe, but subsides after only a few days.

Removal of the Splint and Packing

During the initial recovery process, your nose will be covered in bandages and protected by a splint. Your sinuses will be packed with gauze. The splint and bandages will be removed after about a week, and the packing will come out at around the same time or shortly after.

Many patients say that the most difficult part of the recovery process is the initial period during which the nasal splint and packing are in place. Your face will feel swollen and puffy, the area around your eyes may be bruised, and your nose will be painfully tender.

It’s recommended that you make use of cold packs to reduce swelling during this time, and take whatever pain relievers your doctor has prescribed. It will take about 2 weeks for the swelling and bruising to improve.

Dealing with a Dry Throat

One of the most common causes of discomfort after rhinoplasty is a dry throat. Since your sinuses will be packed with gauze during the first part of recovery, you’ll need to breathe through your mouth. This causes throat dryness. Here are some tips for soothing your dry throat:

  • Run a humidifier by your bedside while you sleep
  • Avoid smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol
  • Drink a cup of hot tea with honey
  • Hot, steamy showers can provide relief
  • Stay hydrated with cool water
  • Lozenges can provide temporary relief

Many over the counter medications are also available to treat a dry throat, but consult your doctor if you find yourself using them frequently. Avoid decongestants, as they won’t help.

You can expect the feeling of nasal congestion to subside, and your throat will gradually return to normal as you start to breathe through your nose again. In most cases, dryness won’t persist for more than 2 or 3 weeks.

Reducing Bruising and Inflammation

Facial bruising and swelling are common after a nose surgery. You should expect to spend at least a week with bruising around your eyes and upper lip, and a very tender and swollen nose.

An ice pack can help to reduce swelling. Apply it to your face as needed to provide relief from pain and inflammation. During the early days of recovery, laying down with a cold pack on your face will go a long way toward keeping the swelling manageable.

Over the counter anti-inflammatory medicines like aspirin and ibuprofen will also help with pain and swelling. Take care not to exceed the recommended dose, and talk with your doctor if you have any questions about interactions with your pain killers. In most cases you’ll receive specific instructions about which over the counter medicines are recommended for you to take during recovery.

Avoiding Bumps and Reinjury

Reinjuring your nose during the recovery process can cause additional setbacks and complications. Much of your nasal tissue will be swollen and tender during your rhinoplasty recovery, so reinjury will be painful as well as detrimental to your recovery.

Take care to avoid bumping your nose, and consult your doctor immediately if you do reinjure yourself during the recovery process. You may need to schedule an appointment for a quick check up, or detailed imaging to determine the extent of the injury.

Getting Plenty of Rest

Getting enough rest is important to a proper recovery. In fact, you won’t recover properly without it. Rest doesn’t necessarily mean spending your days in bed, but it does mean allowing yourself the space and time you need to relax and avoid strenuous activities.

Anxiety is just as detrimental to the recovery process as actual physical exertion. Choose somewhere comfortable to rest, and make sure all of your needs will be met in advance of your nasal surgery. Proper planning can help to ensure a restful recovery.

A recent study by the American National Institute of Health shows that listening to your favorite music is helpful for recovery. The doctors conducting the study found that patients in surgical recovery who listened to music used less pain medication and were less anxious about the recovery process.

Whether it’s reading a good book, listening to your favorite album, or indulging in a Netflix binge, find ways to keep yourself entertained and occupied as you rest and recover from surgery.

Rhinoplasty Recovery: New Guidelines

logo american academy of otolaryngology

How long do you have to wait to blow your nose after a nose job? Will it hurt? For how long? How can you lessen the pain and swelling? Is nasal packing a must? Will nose surgery cure sleep apnea? If you are considering nose reshaping surgery, you likely have lots of questions about what to expect. 

As an answer to what it felt was a lack of reliable, public information on the subject, The American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery Foundation has just released a list of recommendations for medical practitioners and patients. The document, titled Clinical Practice Guideline: Improving Nasal Form and Function after Rhinoplasty, is endorsed by the following groups:

  • American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS)
  • American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)
  • American Rhinologic Society (ARS)
  • Society of Otorhinolaryngology Head-Neck Nurses (SOHN)
  • American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS)
  • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
  • The Rhinoplasty Society

“Rhinoplasty ranks among the most commonly performed cosmetic procedures in the United States, with over 200,000 procedures reported in 2014,” says Lisa E. Ishii, MD, MHS, chair of the guideline group. “Prior to these guidelines, limited literature existed on standard pre- and post-management care for patients undergoing this procedure. These guidelines are crucial in building unanimity regarding the peri- and post-operative strategies to maximize patient safety and optimize surgical results for patients.”

Here are some highlights.

Expectation Management

The new guidelines call for a candid conversation about expectations before scheduling any nose reshaping procedure.  This includes taking steps to rule out body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), which is marked by an obsession with perceived flaws in appearance. Individuals with BDD are rarely satisfied with the results of their procedure as the flaw they are seeking to correct is perceived, not real.

A discussion focusing on why a person is seeking the surgery and what they hope to get out of it can often help a surgeon determine if expectations are reasonable and can be met with rhinoplasty. For example, if a woman says she wants a nose job to look like Angelina Jolie, this may be a red flag that she is not a suitable candidate. That said, if a man is looking to correct a bump in his nose that is marring his profile, a rhinoplasty makes sense.

“Sometimes expectations don’t align so we want to make sure everyone is on the same page,” says guideline author Scott Chaiet, MD, MBA, FACS.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

In addition, surgeons must make sure prospective rhinoplasty patients don’t have any co-existing health problems that could complicate or contradict nose reshaping including obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), bleeding disorders or chronic use of nasal steroid spray.

Marked by lapses in breathing during sleep, OSA affects more than 18 million Americans, according to the National Sleep Foundation. In some cases, rhinoplasty may improve OSA, but it can also worsen it and complicate recovery.

Treating Pain and Discomfort

In terms of post-nose job pain, being forewarned is being forearmed. Pain is typically minimal to moderate and can last for 36 to 72 hours, on average. “Ice can help decrease bruising and pain as can non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen,” Dr. Chaiet says. “Using a saline spray can prevent the nose from filling up with dry blood.”

The good news is that there are many options to treat pain – without relying on narcotics.

Besides pain, bruising and swelling, some common, temporary risks include:

  • Nasal congestion/fullness. This may take weeks to resolve, since you can’t blow your nose for at least one week after rhinoplasty.
  • Nasal drainage – this tends to last for a few days.
  • Nosebleeds
  • Changes in sense of smell
  • Nausea (from anesthesia or pain medications)
  • Activity restrictions

It’s also important to check back in with your surgeon a year after the rhinoplasty, the guidelines state. “We want patients to wait at least a year because it takes 12 months for all of the swelling to go away,” says guideline author Dr. Ishii.

Out: Routine Nasal Packing, Antibiotics for 24+ Hours

The guidelines come out against the routine use of nasal packing after surgery. Traditionally, surgeons will places gauze or cotton into the nose to control bleeding, but this has fallen out of favor in recent years due to advances in surgery that limit blood loss. “It’s a feel-good for a surgeon, but the evidence does not support its use,” says Dr. Ishii.

Also on the out list is the routine use of antibiotics for more than 24 hours after surgery to stave off infection. “It’s been a knee-jerk reaction where we give antibiotics for a week to be safe, but the evidence just doesn’t support this practice,” she says. In fact, the risks may begin to outweigh the benefits after 24 hours. However, there are always outliers who may need antibiotics for longer than 24 hours after surgery, for example, or those who require nasal packing due to excessive bleeding.

Patients and practioners are reminded these guidelines are just that – guidelines – and are not meant to replace clinical judgment. Healthcare providers should discuss all treatment options and find the best approach for the patient.


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Your Emotional Recovery

Recovering from your rhinoplasty procedure has an emotional component as well. You should take steps to reduce your anxiety and stay calm, as well as embrace a positive outlook on the cosmetic changes to your face.

Accepting Compliments

Your friends and loved ones are going to notice a difference in the way you look after rhinoplasty. It’s okay to let yourself enjoy it. Accept their compliments and praise, embrace the changes to your face, and begin to fall in love with your new nose.

People can be shy about accepting compliments, but there’s nothing wrong with saying “thank you”. Allow yourself to take this sort of praise in stride and feel good about it. It’ll do wonders for your self-image and mental health.

Staying Positive

Recovery from surgery can be a slow process, and it’s often uncomfortable or outright painful. That’s why it’s so important to go into recovery with the proper attitude and outlook. Staying positive about your nose job during the recovery process will help to reduce your levels of anxiety, which studies show will affect the speed of your recovery period.

Remind yourself of the reasons why you pursued plastic surgery in the first place, and let yourself imagine how much happier you’ll be with your new look after you recover.

Consult your doctor if you find yourself becoming depressed or anxious about your appearance.

Enjoying Your New Look

After the splints and nasal packing are removed and the swelling begins to subside, you’ll begin to notice changes to your nose. If you pursued rhinoplasty as cosmetic surgery, which most people do, allow yourself to enjoy the final result.

Remind yourself that there’s nothing wrong with liking what you see in the mirror, and that this whole process is worthwhile.

Your Clinical Recovery

The final aspect to your recovery is clinical. Rhinoplasty patients should do their best to follow their doctor’s advice and keep every appointment.

Keeping Your Follow Up Appointments

Attending follow up appointments will help your surgeon stay up to date on your recovery process. After the packing is removed, you might be inclined to skip appointments. Don’t.

It’s important to keep all of your follow up appointments. They give your doctor a chance to evaluate your progress and make any changes that might be necessary. Staying in contact with your rhinoplasty surgeons until the healing process is complete will ensure that your needs are being met and you’re getting the best recovery possible.

Watching for Complications

Complications are rare, but it’s important to work with your doctor and do your best to help make them aware of any unintended outcomes well in advance so that they can be treated. Here are a few signs to watch out for.

  • Persistent or excess bleeding
  • Skin problems like painful rashes or persistent discoloration following the removal of tape and bandages
  • Signs of infection, including fever or discharge from your nose
  • Nasal blockages caused by swelling
  • Excessive or sharp pain in your septum and sinuses

If you experience any of these symptoms, or any other problems that aren’t going away during the recovery process, bring them to the attention of your doctor immediately.

Rhinoplasty Guide


Rhinoplasty Recovery Done Right

As long as you follow your doctor’s instructions, get your rest, and take your medication as directed, your rhinoplasty recovery should be easy and relatively painless.

Remember that your recovery is more than just physical, it’s mental and emotional too. Keep your stress levels low and embrace the compliments that come your way as you heal. Do your best to focus on the positives and keep in good spirits.

Regular follow up appointments with your doctor or surgeon will ensure that you don’t experience any severe complications. Keep your appointments with your medical team, and do your best to follow their instructions to the letter.

Rhinoplasty recovery isn’t a long process, but it can be physically uncomfortable. As long as you manage your pain, avoid reinjury, and stay hydrated and healthy, everything should go smoothly.

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