Post Rhinoplasty Swelling
The post-operative swelling from rhinoplasty starts while you’re asleep during surgery and usually reaches its maximum the third day after surgery. It is greatest of course on the nose but usually also spreads to the eyes, cheeks and upper lip. Swelling varies from person to person. The swelling is related to the degree of rhinoplasty surgery, the care taken by the surgeon, the thickness of the nasal skin, previous surgery, the length of surgery and most importantly the amount of bony work done.
The breaking of the nasal bones is the most important cause of swelling. If you don’t need this done, you can expect a lesser degree of swelling. The swelling resolves over several months. The swelling rapidly increases the first few days after rhinoplasty and then starts to shrink during the remainder of the first week. It then continues to shrink, but slower and slower as the weeks turn into months. Half the swelling is often gone at a month after nose surgery and two thirds by two months. The thicker the nasal skin, the longer the time require for swelling resolution. It masks the eventual appearance of your new nose, as the underlying rhinoplasty sculptured bone and cartilage can’t yet be appreciated.
There are medications used at the time of rhinoplasty surgery and also during the first several weeks afterwards to help speed up this natural healing process.
There are a few things you can do to help reduce the degree of swelling. Sleep upright. Either in a bed elevated or a recliner chair like your grandpa has. If you move around while asleep and tend to slip of the three pillows needed, then instead put a couple of bricks under the legs of your bed. This will cause the bed to be slanted downwards. Use as many as you can tolerate, although two is usually all one can take.
Icing is often used. However it isn’t as effective as with other injuries, like a twisted ankle. The reason is it isn’t possible to apply the cold compresses directly on the operated area. So just the surrounding cheeks, eyes and upper lip are available. Also cold compresses are miserable, and you are likely going to be in enough misery already! If you choose to ice your nose, then please don’t in fact use ice! Instead get a few bags of frozen peas, rap them in a cloth and rotate them. Five minutes on, then twenty minutes off.
However there are several things that can unfortunately interfere with its resolution. Exercise, sunshine, medications, smoking and injury all have the potential to reduce or even prevent the rhinoplasty swelling from resolving. Our bodies will start to organize prolonged swelling by laying down collagen and forming scar tissue. If this happens the nose remains thick and can’t become refined and shapely. Therefore sometimes its a race between swelling resolution and scarring.
Exercise is proscribed for the first month after rhinoplasty. You can of course walk, in fact you are encouraged to, and remain active, but anything that would raise your blood pressure, increase your heart rate or make you sweat must be avoided for the first month following rhinoplasty surgery. Any sport activity where your new nose is placed in harm’s way must be avoided too for the four months following a nose job. If you’re a martial arts practioner, hockey player or a boxer, rhinoplasty should be postponed until your career is over. The exception is a broken nose causing functional problems like difficulty nose breathing.