Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibilityWhat To Expect During Your Rhinoplasty Recovery

Rhinoplasty Recovery - Week-by-Week Guide 2023


    Rhinoplasty is a cosmetic surgery procedure that changes the shape and structure of the nose. Often referred to as a nose job, this is one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures available, and is often done to improve the appearance of the nose, fix structural issues within the nose to improve breathing, or correct nasal injuries. 

    If you are considering rhinoplasty or have the procedure scheduled, you might be wondering what to expect during the recovery period. Here's everything you need to know about recovering from rhinoplasty, including our week-by-week detailed guide. 

    How long will rhinoplasty recovery take? 

    The initial rhinoplasty recovery process typically takes about seven to 10 days. However, you'll need to continue monitoring your nose and attending follow-up appointments for about six weeks afterward. It takes about six months to one year to see the final results of your rhinoplasty.

    The exact rhinoplasty recovery time will vary depending on the extent of your surgery and your body's natural ability to heal. Attending follow-up appointments is crucial to ensuring that your nose is healing properly, and as fast as possible.

    Is there a difference in recovery between revision and closed rhinoplasty?

    Closed rhinoplasty only uses incisions on the inside the nose, resulting in no visible scarring. Open rhinoplasty has incisions inside and and across the bottom of the columella. Revision rhinoplasty is a form of nose surgery designed to correct a previous rhinoplasty. Revision rhinoplasty can be performed both as a closed or open rhinoplasty as determined by your surgeon.

    In general, closed rhinoplasty has a shorter recovery time than open rhinoplasty. However, an open rhinoplasty providers greater exposure allowing for more precise changes. While you should expect similar amounts of bruising and swelling with both procedures, these symptoms will subside faster after a closed rhinoplasty. 

    Pre-Operation Prep

    You will have pre-operative appointments with your surgeon where you'll be given detailed instructions about how to prepare for your surgery. Your surgeon may also have you complete certain lab tests as a routine prior to surgery.

    Your surgeon will ask about any other medications you are taking, and they may recommend that you adjust the dosage or temporarily stop taking these medications so that they don't interfere with the anesthesia. Your surgeon will also tell you which medications you will need after surgery so that you can pick them up from the pharmacy ahead of time. 

    How to Prepare Before Your Rhinoplasty

    Since you will be under general anesthesia during your rhinoplasty procedure, you will need to fast beforehand. Your surgical team will tell you exactly when to start avoiding food and drink. Prior to your fast, make sure to drink plenty of water in order to remain hydrated. 

    Additionally, you should make sure that your skin is clean prior to surgery. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser regularly in the days leading up to the procedure. You might also opt to use a gentle exfoliator to remove dead skin cells. 

    After your surgery, you will need someone to drive you home and help you during the initial recovery process. Make sure to confirm with a family member or friend beforehand so that you have the support you need. Additionally, you'll want to prepare a comfortable space at home to rest with plenty of pillows to keep your head elevated. It's also helpful to cook a few days' worth of meals ahead of time, as you likely won't be able to maintain your normal daily routine during recovery. 

    Day of Rhinoplasty Surgery

    On the day of your surgery, make sure to follow all instructions provided by your surgeon's office regarding fasting. Make sure your face is clean and that you don't wear any makeup.

    Make sure to have comfortable clothing with you to wear before and after your surgery. Avoid shirts that you need to pull over your head - instead, opt for something with buttons or a zipper.

    Ideally, you will have already picked up any necessary prescription or over-the-counter medication to have on hand directly after the surgery. Your surgical team will also provide you with bandages or splits to use during the initial recovery process. 

    What to Consider After Surgery

    Not only will you need someone to drive you home from your surgery, but you will also need someone to stay with you for the first day or so afterward. This is because you will likely need help with routine tasks like eating, bathing, and taking medication until the pain and swelling start to subside. Make sure to communicate with friends and family ahead of time so you have the support you need. 

    Additionally, you will need to take time off of work or school as you recover. The exact amount of time off you need will vary depending on the type of work you do and the speed of your individual surgery recovery. Be sure to schedule this time off ahead of time to minimize the amount of stress you experience. 

    Recovery Timeline - Days and Weeks Post-Op

    Here's exactly what to expect during your rhinoplasty recovery, from the day to six months out. 

    1st Day

    Immediately after your surgery, your nose and the surrounding area will start to swell. You'll likely experience bruising under your eyes as well. The swelling will persist for two to three days and then start to subside. You will also experience some pain, but it should not be extreme. 

    Depending on the technique your surgeon used, you'll either have stitches inside your nose or between your nostrils. You'll likely have to wear a splint over your nose for the first few days to protect it. You might also have gauze in your nostrils or under your nose to catch any discharge. 

    You will likely feel very tired after treatment due to the anesthesia and might experience some mild nausea. This will wear off after a few hours. You will also likely feel congested, especially if you have gauze in your nasal passages. However, it's very important to avoid blowing your nose until your surgeon clears you to do so. 

    It's important to keep your head elevated as you sleep and rest. Prop yourself up with supportive pillows to ensure that you don't roll over accidentally at night. Sleeping on your side or stomach will increase congestion and could even damage your nose. 

    7-10 Days

    Once you've reached a week after surgery, your swelling will start to subside. However, you will still be experiencing some mild bruising and tenderness at this time.

    At this point, you will be able to remove your splint with your surgeon's permission. You'll also be able to resume many normal daily activities, such as cooking and cleaning for yourself as well as going for gentle walks. However, most patients wait until the second week of recovery to go back to work. 

    1-2 Weeks

    Most patients can return to work or school at this point. However, it's still very important to avoid any physically strenuous activities or activities that could hurt your face. Opt for gentle walks rather than your typical exercise routine. 

    At this point, you'll see a marked improvement in swelling and facial tenderness. You may still have some minor bruising, but you will be able to cover it with makeup at this point. 

    3-4 Weeks

    Most patients can return to their normal exercise routine after three to four weeks. You'll need to get permission from your surgeon beforehand at one of your follow-up appointments. However, you'll still need to avoid activities like weight lifting or rock climbing, which could cause significant damage to your nose. It's also important to avoid prolonged sun exposure, as the skin around your nose will be sensitive. You'll also be able to blow your nose at this point. 

    2-3 Months

    At this point, your nose will continue to settle, and you'll get closer to seeing the final results. Keep in mind that some swelling will remain for several months after surgery. 

    4-6 Months

    During this period, you'll see the final results of your rhinoplasty. Any congestion or numbness you experienced early in the healing process will be completely gone. It's important to continue attending follow-up appointments during this period as recommended by your surgeon to ensure that your nose is healing properly. 

    Common Issues After Rhinoplasty

    One of the biggest challenges during this recovery process is congestion, particularly since you cannot blow your nose for several weeks afterward. Patients may also experience a temporary loss of smell. However, if you notice significant breathing problems, call your surgeon right away. 

    Temporary numbness is also common after nose surgery. This numbness should subside around 6 weeks. If you're still experiencing a loss of sensation after this point, be sure to talk to your doctor. 

    In rare cases, patients experience a nasal infection or excess bleeding at the incision site. If you see signs of infection or are unable to manage bleeding after surgery, seek emergency medical care immediately. Following your surgeon's instructions can help you avoid these potential complications. 

    What can you not do after Rhinoplasty?

    In order to protect your nose, there are a variety of things you should not do after rhinoplasty, particularly during the first few weeks. These include:

    • Wearing glasses

    • Blowing your nose

    • Taking a shower

    • Strenuous physical activity or exercise, particularly weight lifting and swimming

    • Extensive sun exposure

    • Sexual activity

    • Smoking or drinking

    For each of these activities, your doctor will give you the all-clear to participate once you've recovered substantially. 

    Tips For A Successful Rhinoplasty Recovery

    To speed up your rhinoplasty recovery process, make sure to follow your surgeon's instructions as closely as possible. If you notice any abnormal symptoms, be sure to contact them right away to solve the problem. 

    Focusing on healthy habits is key to a speedy recovery. Be sure to drink plenty of water, eat healthy foods, and avoid alcohol, nicotine, and any other substances that will put additional stress on your body. It's also important to make sure you're getting plenty of sleep and keep stress levels down. 

    To reduce swelling, make sure to rest with your head elevated. Use cold compresses as directed by your surgeon to manage inflammation during the first few days. 


    What is the worst day for rhinoplasty recovery?

    Swelling, bruising, and pain will be most intense during the first two to three days after surgery. After this point, symptoms should improve. 

    How painful is rhinoplasty recovery?

    You will likely experience a small amount of pain during the first few days after surgery. However, most patients describe the pain as mild. 

    What to buy for rhinoplasty recovery surgery?

    There are many items that you can buy ahead of time to make your recovery process easier. These include:

    • Extra pillows

    • Mini ice packs

    • Nasal spray

    • Face wipes

    • Zip-up sweatshirts

    • Chapstick

    What are common situations where I should call my doctor? 

    If you notice excessive bleeding, develop a fever, or have difficulty breathing, you should call your doctor or seek emergency medical care right away.