While instantaneous results would be ideal following plastic surgery, this is simply wishful thinking. Rhinoplasty can produce dramatic results, but there is a trade-off, as the procedure is complex and fairly invasive, requiring an initial recovery period of about two weeks. During this time, the area is bruised and swollen, bearing little resemblance to the final results that will appear later on. While much of the bruising will have disappeared after a few weeks, the results of rhinoplasty are still not completely apparent after this recovery period. The surgery involves the manipulation of several types of tissues, and causes significant long-term swelling in the nose. So what are the facts about swelling in rhinoplasty, and how can you minimize the issue?
Why Does Swelling Occur?
Swelling after rhinoplasty starts to become apparent almost immediately following the procedure. Trauma to the tissues causes initial swelling. Secondary swelling is caused by fluid retention, and can last for many months. Most of the swelling that persists after the initial healing period has to do with fluid retention and swelling of the skin.
The Swelling Process
Swelling disappears gradually, and is naturally at its most severe in the first few days following surgery. During the first week, your nose will probably look much worse than it did prior to rhinoplasty, but never fear: this is only temporary. During this time, the area will be tender, red, and swollen, and it may be warm to the touch. Bruising will persist for about two weeks or so, gradually yellowing until it fades. It is important to be on the lookout for signs of infection during initial recovery, which can include fever, pus, and/or excessive pain.
For about 5-6 weeks after surgery, the body will be forming scar tissue in the nose, and it will start to show signs of the results you will eventually enjoy. The nose will gradually become less swollen and tender, but it will still be fragile and should be treated with care during this time.
After a few months, much of the nasal bridge swelling will have resolved, and you will be able to get a good idea of what your final results will be. Though some swelling will persist, the changes the nose will go through should be minor.
Tip swelling is usually the last to completely resolve, and can persist for up to 18 months. Fortunately, swelling after 4 months or so is generally minimal and most other people will probably not notice unless you point it out. Swelling tends to be more noticeable in people with thick or oily skin.
How to Reduce Swelling After Rhinoplasty
While some swelling is completely unavoidable after rhinoplasty, there are several things you can do to reduce the amount of swelling that will occur after the surgery.
- Read through and understand any pre and post-op care materials your surgeon has provided
- Do not drink alcohol for several days before surgery
- Avoid certain herbal supplements and over-the-counter drugs for a week or two before surgery. Ask your surgeon if you are unsure as to what is safe
- Following surgery, sleep with your head elevated, such as in a comfortable armchair or with a large stack of pillows
- Use bromelain or Arnica as directed by your surgeon
- Use insulated ice packs to help with the swelling
- Avoid sneezing, coughing, and nose-blowing if at all possible for the first few weeks after surgery
- Avoid bending over and lifting heavy articles during recovery
- Start light activity soon after surgery (walking can also help prevent clotting)
If you are unsure of anything, be sure to speak with your surgeon about your concerns. He or she is there to help, and will want you to have a comfortable and speedy recovery. Remember to seek help right away if you notice you have a fever or other signs of infection.
Swelling is inevitable, and the best way to deal with this inconvenient part of rhinoplasty is to have patience. If you realize before the surgery that you will not be seeing the actual results of your procedure for many months, then you will be better equipped to wait out the recovery period.
It is extremely important to have realistic expectations for the outcome of your rhinoplasty. The surgery can produce very good results that will start to become apparent after a few months, when the swelling starts to subside, but it is unrealistic to expect perfection from your procedure. Revision surgery should only be sought after it is clear that the results are final and you find you are highly dissatisfied with the results, whether from a poor aesthetic outcome or an obvious deformity.
Choose the Right Provider
Remember, nasal swelling for a few months is well worth the rewarding results of rhinoplasty you will enjoy for your lifetime. Though swelling may be an inconvenience, it is likely to be worth the hassle in the end, assuming you choose a qualified surgeon and follow his or her care instructions closely.
Rhinoplasty is a complex procedure, requiring a skilled, experienced, and dedicated surgeon. If you are not sure where to turn in your search for a reputable surgeon, then come to Bentkover Facial Plastic Surgery in Worcester(508-363-6500) or Stoneham(617-247-0033), MA, to speak with renowned rhinoplasty expert Dr. Stuart Bentkover. Dr. Bentkover has been studying and practicing the art of rhinoplasty for over 25 years, striving to give each patient a beautiful, natural nose. Call either location today to schedule your consultation.