How To Reduce Swelling After Rhinoplasty

side profile view of woman's face

After your rhinoplasty procedure, you will experience some swelling and bruising — this is an unavoidable part of your recovery and is only temporary! But while some swelling is inevitable, you can do a number of things to reduce the appearance of swelling and encourage your rhinoplasty to heal quickly and effectively.

What Is Rhinoplasty?

Rhinoplasty, also known as a nose job, is a reconstructive facial cosmetic procedure aimed at improving the nose’s aesthetic, balance, and functionality. A rhinoplasty can be performed to correct aesthetic issues, such as a dorsal hump or a crooked nose, or improve airway flow. Rhinoplasty can reshape the nasal bones, nose cartilage, and overlying skin.

There are two types of rhinoplasty: external and internal. For an external rhinoplasty, a small incision is made in the base of the nose, and the nasal skin is lifted up over the bone structure. For an internal rhinoplasty, incisions are placed within the nose and the nostrils. This approach is ideal for dorsal bridge reductions and addressing concerns regarding obstructed airways and minor tip problems. However, internal rhinoplasty is not recommended for more complex procedures. Often, a combination of the external and internal approaches will result in the best possible cosmetic outcome.

Why Do You Have Swelling After Surgery?

Swelling at the site of surgery is common, and rhinoplasty is no exception. Since rhinoplasty involves an invasive procedure, and an incision, swelling is simply a natural response and is a sign that your body is beginning the healing process since your body’s first response to an injury is inflammation. In addition, the soft tissue of the nose is especially prone to swelling.

Swelling after a nose job is also due to some fluid retention directly under the skin of the nose.

How Long Does Swelling Last After Surgery?

The most significant swelling that you will experience after your rhinoplasty, which is your body’s inflammatory response to an invasive procedure, will begin to subside after around three weeks. Approximately 90% of the swelling you see after your surgery will resolve within the first two to three months. However, some of the swelling you may experience around the tip and bridge of the nose, where you may be experiencing some water retention, may last for up to 18 months.

side profile view of woman's face

10 Tips To Reduce Swelling After A Nose Job

While swelling is inevitable, there are some ways to reduce swelling following your rhinoplasty procedure.

1. Follow Your Surgeon’s Guidelines

Dr. Bell and Dr. Mulholland have decades of experience in cosmetic surgery, having performed thousands of procedures, including rhinoplasty. They will advise you on the best steps to take to encourage a speedy, complication-free rhinoplasty recovery, which will include how to best minimize the appearance of swelling. These steps may include the use of medications for pain management. Follow their instructions closely.

2. Stay Hydrated

The more water you drink, the less chance there will be of significant water retention. It’s important to stay hydrated following your rhinoplasty to encourage your body to effectively heal from the procedure, which includes minimizing swelling caused by increased water retention.

3. Use Cold Compresses

Immediately following your rhinoplasty, a nurse will place a cold compress on your nose, which can remain there for a few hours following your surgery. However, you should not place a cold compress directly on your nose after you have left the recovery room, as the pressure could compromise the results of your surgery. Instead, a cold compress can be applied to your forehead or cheeks, which may help minimize any swelling. Ice packs should not be applied directly to the skin but should be wrapped in a towel or cloth prior to application.

4. Avoid Sneezing & Coughing

While some sneezing and coughing will be unavoidable, it is best to steer clear of anything that will irritate your nose or lungs. Do not smoke, or expose yourself to cigarette smoke or other airborne irritants following your rhinoplasty. You can also use a humidifier in your home to prevent any congestion or irritation that will lead to sneezing or coughing.

5. Keep Your Head Elevated

It is best to keep your head elevated for several days following your rhinoplasty, to aid your recovery process and minimize swelling. When sleeping, try propping your head up on extra pillows, or use a travel pillow, which wraps around your neck, to keep your head elevated while you are reclined.

6. Stop Smoking & Drinking

The use of tobacco products and alcohol can not only cause irritation but can lengthen your recovery time and lead to longer periods of inflammation. In addition, alcohol is a diuretic, which will lead to dehydration. Therefore, it is best to avoid drinking alcohol or smoking until you are fully recovered from your rhinoplasty surgery.

7. Avoid Any Type Of Eyewear

Eyewear, including prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses, can put pressure on the nasal bridge, which can irritate your nose, lengthen your recovery time, and compromise the final results of your surgery, leading to the need for revision rhinoplasty. Avoid wearing any eyewear until you have fully recovered from your rhinoplasty. Your surgeon may be able to provide you with a protective face guard or splint if you do need to wear eyeglasses after your surgery.

8. Take Time Off Work

Rest is an important part of your recovery process. If possible, take time off work after your rhinoplasty procedure, particularly if your job involves frequent physical activity or motion.

9. Avoid Strenuous Activity/Exercise

While keeping fit and active is an important part of recovery, any strenuous exercise that raises your blood pressure significantly will have adverse effects on your recovery and may exacerbate or increase swelling. Instead, opt for leisurely physical activity, such as walking, during your recovery period.

10. Be Patient & Have A Positive Attitude

The swelling and bruising you experience after your rhinoplasty may be frustrating, and you may feel unhappy or self-conscious about your appearance immediately following your nose job procedure. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this swelling is part of the recovery period and is only temporary. Following the steps above, and choosing an experienced facial plastic surgeon like Dr. Mulholland or Dr. Bell, will ensure a complete recovery.

by DR. STEPHEN MULHOLLAND

Dr. Stephen Mulholland has been practicing plastic surgery for over 20 years. He is one of Canada’s most renowned and best plastic surgeons in Toronto with his wealth of experience, artistry, and humbleness towards his patients.
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