Rhinoplasty: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

Rhinoplasty is surgery to reshape your nose. It can be done to improve your appearance, fix a birth defect, or help you breathe better.

You may have stitches or staples in your cuts (incisions). Stitches inside your nose and mouth will usually dissolve on their own. If you have staples, your doctor will take these out in the first week. A bandage will cover your nose. You may have a plastic or plaster splint to protect and help keep the new shape of your nose. You may have a "nasal drip pad" under your nostrils to collect any blood that may drip from your nose. Your doctor will show you how to change the pad as needed. You may have packing material inside your nose to reduce bleeding and swelling. Packing and the nasal drip pad will be removed within 2 days after surgery. The splint will be removed in about a week.

Your nose will be bruised and swollen, and you may get dark bruises around your eyes. The swelling may get worse before it gets better. Most of the swelling should go away in 3 to 4 weeks. You will have some pain in your nose, and you may have a headache.

Your nose may be stuffy and you may have trouble breathing for a short time. The skin on the tip of your nose may be numb. You may have some itching or shooting pain as the feeling returns.

If bones were broken during your surgery, you will need to avoid injury to your nose for about 3 months. In 3 to 4 weeks, you should have a good idea as to what your nose will look like. It can take up to a year to see the final result.

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 feel 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.
  • Keep your head raised for several days after surgery. Sleep with your head up by using 2 or 3 pillows.
  • 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.
  • You will probably need to take about 1 week off from work. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.
  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, for 2 to 3 weeks or until your doctor says it is okay.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
  • Do not blow your nose for at least 1 week after surgery. Wipe your nose gently with a tissue. If you need to sneeze, do it with your mouth open.
  • Ask your doctor when it'll be okay for you to bend over.
  • Do not rub your nose for 8 weeks. Use sunblock on your nose and wear a hat with a brim to avoid getting a sunburn. Put on sunblock or makeup gently.
  • Do not swim for a week.

Diet

  • 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.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • 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

  • After the stitches or staples are out, you may wash the incision with soap and water and gently dry the area.
  • If you have strips of tape on the incision the doctor made, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off. Or follow your doctor's instructions for removing the tape.

Other instructions

  • Put ice or a cold pack on your nose for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake) or until the swelling goes down. A bag of frozen peas or corn works well for this, because it moulds to the shape of your face. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • Do not set glasses on your nose for 4 weeks. Instead, wrap a piece of tape around the bridge of the glasses and attach the tape to your forehead.
  • For 1 week, avoid wearing clothes that you pull over your head.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment. 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.
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.

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

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have a fever over 38°C.
  • You have loose stitches, or your incision comes open.
  • You have bright red blood that repeatedly soaks through the nasal drip pad, or you feel that you are swallowing a lot of blood.
  • You have signs of infection, such as red streaks or pus from your incision.
  • You have a sudden increase in swelling.
  • You are sick to your stomach or cannot keep fluids down.

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 http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: February 5, 2016