How long does it take to heal after nose surgery (Rhinoplasty)?
A rhinoplasty, or to some people “a nose job” is a surgery performed by highly skilled cosmetic surgeons, facial plastic surgeons and plastic surgeons. The purpose of a Rhinoplasty is a whole topic in itself however most commonly people want to (1)remove the bump from their nose (2) make their nose smaller (3) straighten a crooked nose (4) make their tip pointer or more defined or (5) change many of these factors together.
A Rhinoplasty is a very complex procedure and one that should not be taken lightly; after all it is your face. And don’t forget, you need to breath after your surgery so having someone who understands both the cosmetic and breathing side of the nose is crucial when deciding on who will do your procedure.
When we do a Rhinoplasty, there are two basic options, (1) Closed and (2) Open. What this means is simply, in a closed Rhinoplasty, there is no incision on the outside of your nose while on an open there is. So with a closed Rhinoplasty, you will have a very small scar. Often times a closed Rhinoplasty heals more quickly with less swelling, but this is not always the case. The advantage of an open Rhinoplasty is the surgeon can see more and perform more fine detailed changes to the nose.
Another factor that is important in healing is whether the bone of your nose needs an adjustment. Sometimes we need to carefully cut the bone to move it or shape it. This can cause some bruising.
So let’s get back to the main point, healing time after a Rhinoplasty (or nose job). I have a whole speech I give patients on healing time for a rhinoplasty. This is a guide and typical for most patients however everyone is different.
I tell people you may feel “groggy” for a day or two due to the anesthetic you had to put you asleep. For the first week, you’ll feel congested due to the swelling in your nose. The vast majority of people have very little pain and most do not even take pain medication. People are often surprised by this, but it is true. Nose surgery is usually not painful. Of course there are always exceptions to the ‘rule.’
Some surgeons use what are called “septal splints” in your nose. I have completed a large research study assessing this and found that using splints does nothing except increase pain, therefore I do not use them (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=bonaparte+splints). You may also have some bruising for a week. You will also have a cast on your nose for 5-7 days.
The most important thing to remember with nose surgery is that the cosmetic results take time. Don’t get me wrong, you will see changes immediately but the small details you desire take time. The reason for this is swelling. The tissue in your nose will be very swollen after nose surgery or a Rhinoplasty and this can take a few months to resolve. Now, most people go back to work and show no signs of surgery after 1-2 weeks but I personally find people notice a big change in swelling after 1 month. However over the course of 10 months things will continue to improve! Please be aware, you will look great after 3-4 weeks but not perfect, this takes time.
Of course, in any surgery there are the potential for complications. These are rare but important to know about. I always discuss these with people in person as we need to work together to look out for signs of complications so we can treat them quickly and prevent any potential long term problems.
In the end, a Rhinoplasty (or nose surgery) is a surgery that can dramatically improve the appearance of your nose and balance your face with little pain and minimal discomfort. If performed by the top plastic surgeons, the top facial plastic surgeons and the best cosmetic surgeons, your chance for an excellent result are very high.
I’m always happy to discuss these options in person so feel free to contact me at any time. Feel free to post some replies or questions below.
Dr James P. Bonaparte, MD, MSc, FRCSC
Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery
practicing in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada