Nasal Septum Repair: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

You may have some swelling of your nose, upper lip, cheeks, or around your eyes after nasal surgery. You may have some bruises around your nose and eyes. Your nose may be sore and will bleed. This may last for several days after surgery.

The tip of your nose and your upper lip and gums may be numb. Feeling will return in a few weeks to a few months. Your sense of smell may not be as good after surgery. But it will improve and will often return to normal in 1 to 2 months.

You will have a drip pad under your nose to collect mucus and blood. Change it only when it bleeds through. You may have to do this every hour for 24 hours after surgery.

You will probably be able to return to work or school in a few days and to your normal routine in about 3 weeks. But this varies with your job and how much surgery you had. Most people recover fully in 1 to 2 months.

You will have to visit your doctor during the 3 to 4 months after your surgery. Your doctor will check to see that your nose is healing well.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover. Do not lie flat. Raise your head with two or three pillows. This can reduce swelling. Try to sleep on your back for the month after surgery. You can also sleep in a reclining chair.
  • Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation. Also, try to sit and stand as much as you can.
  • For 1 week, try not to bend over or lift anything heavier than 4.5 kilograms. This may include a child, heavy grocery bags and milk containers, a heavy briefcase or backpack, cat litter or dog food bags, or a vacuum cleaner.
  • You can take a shower or bath. Avoid swimming for 6 weeks.
  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, for 1 week or until your doctor says it is okay.
  • You may drive when you are no longer taking prescription pain pills and feel up to it.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • You may notice that your bowel movements are not regular right after your surgery. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. You may want to take a fibre supplement every day. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, ask your doctor about taking a mild laxative.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking those medicines again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Do not take aspirin, aspirin-containing medicines, or anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) for 3 weeks following surgery unless your doctor says it is okay.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.

Incision care

  • You will have a drip pad under your nose to collect blood. Change it only when it has bled through. You may have to do this every hour for 24 hours after surgery. When bleeding stops, you can remove it.
  • If you have packing in your nose, leave it in. Your doctor will take it out.

Ice and elevation

  • To help with swelling and pain, put ice or a cold pack on your nose for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • Sleep with your head raised up. You can also sleep in a reclining chair.

Other instructions

  • Do not blow your nose for 1 week after surgery.
  • Do not put anything into your nose.
  • If you must sneeze, open your mouth and sneeze naturally.
  • After any packing is removed, use saline (saltwater) nasal washes to help keep your nasal passages open and wash out mucus and bacteria. You can buy saline nose drops at a grocery store or drugstore. Or you can make your own at home by adding 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda to 2 cups of distilled water. If you make your own, fill a bulb syringe with the solution, insert the tip into your nostril, and squeeze gently. Blow your nose.
  • You can wear your glasses when you wish. Do not wear contacts until the day after the surgery.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • The dressing soaks through with blood and needs to be changed more than every 15 minutes.
  • You have a fever with a stiff neck or a severe headache.
  • You are sensitive to light, or you feel very sleepy or confused.
  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain pills.
  • You have a fever over 38°C.
  • You have double or blurred vision, cannot close your eyes, or have eye pain.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not have a bowel movement after taking a laxative.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: July 29, 2016