Recovery After Rhinoplasty
San Francisco facial cosmetic surgeon David C. Mabrie, MD, FACS, specializes in rhinoplasty and revision rhinoplasty. San Francisco and Oakland patients, as well as those traveling from around the country and world, visit his Bay Area and downtown offices for his knowledge and skill. Request a consultation online or call us at (415) 445-9513 today.
To help you plan for your rhinoplasty surgery, here is some important information on recovery time. Dr. Mabrie categorizes rhinoplasty recovery into 3 time periods:
- Immediate Recovery (5-7 days after surgery) - During this time, you will want to take time-off work to promote optimal healing and wellness
- Intermediate Recovery (1-3 months after surgery) - 50-75 percent of the surgery results will be evident
- Final Recovery (1 year after surgery) - Complete results of the nasal improvements are apparent
"My recovery has been incredibly fast. I was able to get back to work in 2 days. My friends who saw me right after the surgery couldn't believe I just underwent a rhinoplasty, because there was almost no swelling. Dr. Mabrie is the only doctor I know who makes sure that you don't eat food that thins your blood and that also contributes majorly to fast recovery. He planned everything about the surgery so well that I was certain about the great outcome before the surgery. Post-surgery instructions were also very detailed and clear to make sure that I took care of myself well. Since the nasal bones have a tendency to go back where they were before the surgery, he gave me exercises to make sure that did not happen. Well, what else I can say, I had a great experience with him and his great staff. Thanks!"
Immediate Recovery (5-7 days after surgery)
Dr. Mabrie performs rhinoplasty in San Francisco under general anesthesia. Typically, the procedure takes between 2 to 4 hours. Rhinoplasty surgery is generally an outpatient procedure, meaning that you may go home the day of the procedure, unless the surgery starts late in the evening, in which case an overnight stay in the hospital is an option. You will need a close friend or family member available to drive you home the night of surgery.
Outside nasal bandaging is worn and a splint may be used if the nasal bones were manipulated for the procedure. Dr. Mabrie does not routinely place internal packing inside the nose, which provides for greater patient comfort post-operatively.
Patients are usually pleasantly surprised by the low degree of pain during the Immediate Recovery period after rhinoplasty surgery. Any pain is classified at a 3 to 4 level (on a scale of 1 to 10). Discomfort is adequately treated with a prescription oral pain medication. There may be some nausea from the general anesthetic during the first couple of days.
During the Immediate Recovery stage, patients are free to walk around, and depending on their level of comfort, may walk outside, go shopping and/or run errands. It is important during the first 48 hours for the individual to do as much as possible to avoid bleeding. Therefore, patients should not bend-over, strain and/or perform heavy lifting, or blow the nose at this time. Keeping the head elevated and avoiding medications like Aspirin, Advil, and Motrin are important.
About 5 to 7 days after surgery, patients have their first post-operative appointment to remove the stitches and bandages. Bruising and swelling will be visible; however, after 7 days it is usually not obvious that they have had a surgical procedure.
Intermediate Recovery (1-3 months after surgery)
While patients are partially recovered after a week and most cannot tell they've had surgery, their final surgical results are not evident. The rate of swelling decrease varies in different anatomical places. The bridge swelling dissipates much faster than the tip, which takes the longest.
At 3 months, the scar under the tip of the nose is less apparent. While patients may have an idea of what their final result will look like in this stage, it is not accurate yet. The swelling will continue to decrease over the next few months.
Final Recovery (>1 year after surgery)
The Final Recovery stage after rhinoplasty may be greater than one year, especially if tip work has been done. Even people who haven't had surgery may have subtle changes in their nose as they grow older. It is natural for the nose to have minor shifts in swelling and scar tissue even a few years after the surgery, so it is a good idea for patients to see their rhinoplasty surgeon for follow-ups once a year.
What About Scarring After Rhinoplasty?
Dr. Mabrie usually performs open rhinoplasty surgery, which requires a small incision at the base of the nose. After rhinoplasty this incision may be red or pigmented for a few weeks to months, but remains concealed under the nose. After several months the incision becomes virtually invisible in most cases.