A new nose can improve a patient’s facial harmony, self confidence and general outlook on life; a rhinoplasty is one of those surgical procedures that is truly life altering. And yet, many patients are fearful of getting a nose job because they have heard the rhinoplasty recovery is awful. The experience and words of an expert nose surgeon say otherwise.
Rhinoplasty, colloquially known as a nose job, is no easy feat. The surgeons who specialize in rhinoplasty love the challenge of technical perfection mixed with aesthetics. Dr. Stephan Finical of Charlotte performs a lot of rhinoplasty surgeries and is always shocked to discover his patients’ misconceptions about the rhinoplasty recovery. Here, he walks through exactly what is to be expected following the procedure.
Listen to Your Surgeon
If you have ever ventured on to a website such as RealSelf, then you know that most patient questions concern something about recovery. Any plastic surgeon worth his or her salt is going to explain to you at your initial consultation exactly what you can expect in terms of recovery. Most also have this information up on their websites, and hand out post op instructions before surgery. The problem is that patients don’t always listen.
It’s human nature to hear what we want to hear. When it comes to your recovery, it is crucial to have reasonable expectations. This will not only ensure the best possible outcome physically, but also mentally. When a patient is properly prepared, there is none of the unhappiness that results from disappointment due to unrealistic expectations.
Rhinoplasty Recovery Misconceptions
There seems to be a misconception out there online, and elsewhere, that the recovery from a rhinoplasty is a really big deal. Dr. Finical and his staff spend quite a bit of time preparing a rhinoplasty patient for exactly what can be expected in terms of his or her individual recovery. The type of rhinoplasty performed is certainly going to affect recovery, as well as the fact that every patient heals differently. Some bruise more than others and some swell more than others. That said, there are some general rules of thumb.
Splint & Nose Packing
Most surgical rhinoplasty patients are going to be sent home with their nose in a splint and will need to stay on for about a week. It’s not painful or really even uncomfortable; the only difficulty with the splint is that you can’t go out and socialize without people knowing that you have had a nose job. Also, you can not get the splint wet. This makes washing your face and neck a bit of a pain, but wringing out a wet washcloth can do the trick. You will also probably need to wash your hair in the sink or tub.
In terms of packing in the nose, not every patient has to have his or her nose packed. Nose packing is only necessary when the plastic surgeon works on the septum (the room divider that runs down the middle of the nose) or somewhere else in that area. It’s about providing support; a tip rhinoplasty, for example, does not usually require packing. However, when Dr. Finical does pack a nose, it is only overnight. He also uses vaseline gauze, a soft, cottony gauze that has been soaked in vaseline. This means that it easily slides out of your nose without causing any pain.
Stitches & Bruising
With any rhinoplasty, there are going to be some stitches. Dr. Finical typically removes these at the same time that he removes your splint. Depending on how you heal, this could be anywhere from 5 to 7 days after your surgery.
One of the main components of most rhinoplasty surgeries is narrowing the bridge of the nose. To do this, the surgeon needs to cut the bone. A skilled plastic surgeon will do everything possible to minimize any bruising and bleeding, but this is why rhinoplasty patients often develop black eyes. The discoloration is not painful, but it can be unsightly. Dr. Finical’s office provides his patients with makeup, if they’d like, to cover any bruising, but it usually resolves on its own within 1-2 weeks.
Rhinoplasty Recovery Takes Time
The worst part of any rhinoplasty recovery is that it just takes some time. Patients will have a week of hiding out while the splint is on. Then, possibly, another week of continued bruising. The swelling will go down over time, but there is nothing that is really uncomfortable. “And that’s the thing that makes patients pleasantly surprised,” explains Dr. Finical.
Patients typically return to their normal routine including work once the splint and stitches are removed between 5-7 days post op. That all said, there is no need to fear the rhinoplasty recovery.