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5 Tips to Maximize Recovery After a Rhinoplasty

In a prior blog, I discussed factors to consider when choosing a rhinoplasty surgeon. Once you’ve found a surgeon you trust and made the decision to have your nose reshaped, it’s perfectly normal to feel nervous about the surgery. What many patients worry about is the postoperative recovery. A rhinoplasty is one of the most challenging surgeries performed.

The surgery is very precise, with multitude of nuances that must be accounted for to consistently achieve a natural attractive look, while maintaining the primary function of nasal airway patency. But even after a successful surgery, proper postoperative care of your nose is very important to ensure you have a good outcome. Here are five tips to maximize your recovery after a rhinoplasty.


First, it’s extremely important to keep your nose moist. Your surgeon will provide you with nasal saline irrigations (common trade names include Ocean Spray, Deep Sea). You can’t overdose on saline, and I recommend my patients spray their nose as many times as they can a day—three times a day is minimum. If you can do five times, that’s even better.

The reason is the nasal mucosa needs moisture to heal. Keeping the nose moist is a cornerstone of good postoperative care for any surgery that involves the nose. Patient who undergo sinus surgery also need to irrigate their noses. There are internal incisions and sutures in a rhinoplasty. The surgery basically traumatizes the nose and it will respond with swelling and crusting. Keeping the nose moist will minimize the crusts and speed up the resolution of the edema or swelling.

Minimize Swelling

Second, it’s crucial to minimize swelling after surgery by avoiding any strenuous activity for two weeks after surgery. Any surgical procedure will cause swelling. Many rhinoplasties in the world today are performed via an open approach. Though the advantage is unparalleled exposure and improved accuracy, it does result in more swelling than a rhinoplasty performed via a closed approach (no external incision).

To keep the swelling down, you should avoid lifting anything over 15 to 20 pounds. Jogging, swimming, doing pushups and sit-ups, etc should all be avoided during this time. Besides increasing and prolonging your swelling, these activities also increase the risk of bleeding. Postoperative oozing is common in the first few days after surgery and is not serious. However, strenuous activity can cause significant bleeding.

This may sometimes require the nose to be packed and can theoretically disrupt the nasal structures, possibly even hurting the results of your surgery. However, avoiding strenuous activity doesn’t mean lying in bed all day either. This can be bad too. I recommend patients do light daily activities. Walking around the house, watching TV, working on the computer, etc all are safe.


Third, it’s also important to practice good wound care for your external incision. As I mentioned earlier, many rhinoplasties are performed via an open approach, which requires an external incision. Although the exposure is outstanding and allows greater accuracy in interventions, it does result in an external scar. Fortunately, these scars heal extremely well, and when healed are almost invisible.

But you will need to take good care of this wound to ensure you get a great result too. It’s normal for the wound to ooze the first few days. The blood will dry and scab. Good wound care means cleaning these crusts with hydrogen peroxide at least twice a day and covering the wound with an antibiotic ointment.

The easiest way to clean is to soak q-tips with hydrogen peroxide and gently dab the crusts until they dissolve. Typically, this needs to be done for the first few days only because many patients don’t have crusting at around day 5 after surgery.


Fourth, ice is important the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery to minimize the bruising. This is particularly important if osteotomies (or cuts to nasal bones) were performed. Many patients will get black and blue around the eyes. Icing and elevating the head of bed can minimize this. After 48 hours, ice is no longer needed and is not helping your recovery.

Limit Exposure

Finally, there are miscellaneous things to keep in mind to maximize your recovery. Try to avoid prolonged sunlight exposure for the first 4 to 6 weeks since this prolongs the swelling. If you had osteotomies done, you have to avoid any forceful bump to the nose for two months after surgery.

While you can resume your normal workout regimen after two weeks, the nasal bones take at least two months to heal well. Pets jumping unexpectedly at your face, babies accidentally hitting your nose, and contact sports such as basketball, soccer, and volleyball are all actions that can easily shift your nose.

Also, glasses should not rest on your nasal bones. If you have to wear glasses, tape the glass to your forehead to take some pressure off the nasal bones.

Contact for More Information

As you can see, the postoperative care after a rhinoplasty is not that challenging. These are all simple things you can do to maximize your recovery and ensure you get a great outcome from your surgery.

You should also realize, for the vast majority of patients, there is not much pain after surgery. Many of my patients describe an uncomfortable soreness or pressure, all which are easily controlled with standard pain medications.

Dr. Kenneth Yu Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is a qualified team of experts serving the San Antonio, Texas area. For more information about San Antonio rhinoplasty surgery schedule a consultation, please contact our Concierge Patient Coordinator at (866) 574-1719.