You’re getting ready for rhinoplasty. Your doctor has shown you some pictures of what your new profile will look like and you are really stoked about how great you’ll look. (Learn more in 5 Things to Ask Your Doctor Before Considering Rhinoplasty.) This is what you’ve been waiting for all these years, and it almost seems like a Cinderella dream…

But what will you do to insure that your rhinoplasty recovery will be smooth and fast? What will it be like to have nose surgery? Will there be a lot of pain? These may be some of the questions you have right now – and I've got the answers!

What Happens After Rhinoplasty Surgery?

Knowing what happens during rhinoplasty surgery is exceptionally helpful so you don’t have any surprises. Here’s a list of five different aspects that will inform you of what’s ahead:

Taping

Taping is one of the strategies used after surgery, along with a splint. Taping may cover the bridge of the nose and the part of the nose right above the tip. Doctors have found that taping can make a big difference in how much swelling there is after surgery. The tape puts pressure on the area that was operated on. It signals the collagen fibers to reorganize themselves faster. These may be applied to your new nose for up to 10 days.

Splints

If the septum is altered during surgery, a splint is used that makes breathing easier. This splint will be removed after about a week.

Bruising

Bruising will be seen under the eyes in many cases, especially if the bones of the nose were set in a new position or were broken during the surgery. The type of surgery determines whether or not bruising will be extensive.

For example: How much of the nose's soft tissue had to be removed from the bone and cartilage? Was it an open surgery or a closed surgery? An open rhinoplasty is when there’s an incision made between the nostrils. A closed rhinoplasty is when the incisions are made inside the nose with no visible scars on the outside.

There are other individual factors that affect bruising:

  • Age: Bruising generally increases with age.
  • Skin's thickness: The thinner it is, the more that bruising will show.
  • Blood thinners: They will make capillaries more fragile and bleeding more likely.
  • Vitamin C deficiency: Deficiency causes bruising.
  • Active smokers: If you smoke, it causes a vitamin C deficiency which leads to greater bruising
  • Bleeding disorders.

During the first three months after the surgery, the nose starts remodeling itself. There will be inflammation, and this leads to swelling. Swelling affects how the nose looks. It will take a few weeks for the swelling and bruising to subside, and others will notice the swelling during this time. However, after the swelling initially goes down, your nose will look swollen only to you.

The swelling is usually focused on the area that the surgery focused on. For example: if you had a hump removed from your nose, then the swelling will be in the center part of the nose. Photographs may show the nose larger than it really is, and this final swelling should be gone when the final shape of the nose becomes evident in about a year.

You may also notice that your upper lip feels tight and as if smiling is difficult. This is due to the swelling and usually resolves after several weeks.

How To Proactively Reduce Time Involved in Rhinoplasty Recovery

There are 13 different things you can do to play a proactive role in your healing and rhinoplasty recovery. Here’s the list:

  1. Get Off Blood Thinners

Are you currently taking any blood thinners, including baby aspirin? If so, discuss them with your doctor. It’s likely that you will be asked to discontinue them for at least two weeks before your surgery.

  1. Be Aware Some Vitamins Are Blood Thinners

Are you taking high levels of vitamin E? Vitamin E keeps the blood thin, and a dose of 100 IU or more per day will contribute to greater bruising. Your doctor will ask you to discontinue the high doses for at least two weeks prior to the surgery.

  1. Avoid Herbs: Some Keep the Blood Flowing

Ginseng and Ginkgo are two herbs that can also keep the blood flowing and you don’t want any extra external factors causing this action while recovering from rhinoplasty. This doesn’t mean you will never take them again! It just means take a break from them.

  1. Know that Pain Will Go Away

Understand the role of pain in rhinoplasty surgery and recovery. There will be pain on Day 1 but there’s no need to feel that it will never go away. Hang in there because by Day 3, your pain should drop by at least 15-20%. By Day 7, your pain should be at least 50% less. Every day you will have less and less pain.

  1. Get Your Ice Packs Ready

Make sure you have ice packs available that you will be using to numb the pain and prevent the swelling from increasing. You will need ice packs that can be placed on top of your cheeks for the first two days after surgery.

  1. Quit Smoking

If you are a smoker and gave up smoking prior to surgery, this is a huge accomplishment. Starting the habit up again will stop proper blood flow to the tissues of the nose. See if you can go another 6-8 weeks without smoking; it will be another big accomplishment but well worth it.

  1. Use Makeup to Hide Discolorations

For females who have to go back to work the second week after your surgery, you’ll still have bruising. Camouflage it with makeup so you don’t feel self-conscious.

  1. Use the Elevation Principle

The goal is to keep your head higher than your chest at night while sleeping. If it’s lower, the blood will pool into your face, and since the circulation is a bit restricted there during this critical healing process, the blood will stay there. That means there will be an increase in swelling. By sleeping propped up with pillows, you can avoid all this.

  1. Protect Your Nose From the Sun

Being out in the sun always feels good but after rhinoplasty, you are more likely to get sunburned. Get your hat to wear before you step outside. Use sunscreen with a high SPF and apply it to your nose (and face).

  1. Check ALL Herbs You Are Taking

If you're taking any herbs whatsoever (not just Ginkgo and Ginseng), check online to see if any of them are likely to make blood flow more freely. This will be seen with words such as “Contraindications: those on anticoagulant medications”. If you happen to be taking a herb that increases blood flow, discontinue it for the time being (two weeks prior to surgery) until your body has had a few weeks to adapt to the surgery.

  1. Beat Inflammation with Your Wisdom

Chronic inflammation is one of the enemies of rhinoplasty healing and recovery so you have to think of all the ways you may be contributing to inflammation.

Here’s a short list:

  • Are you overweight or obese? The excess fat cells are actively creating inflammatory compounds that will interfere with your healing.
  • Do you have good magnesium levels? A red blood cell ionic magnesium test will tell you your status. Magnesium deficiency, which is quite common, will cause widespread inflammation in the body.
  • Are your levels of vitamin D in the good zone? The good zone can be 55-75 ng/dl on a scale of 0-100 ng/dl, according to many nutrition-oriented practitioners. Vitamin D deficiency causes inflammation in the body.
  • Are you eating a lot (or any) sugar? If so, it is causing inflammation inside your body. This inflammation is like a lot of little fires going on inside your tissues. Then when you have rhinoplasty, you have a big fire – one that is more important to extinguish and the little fires don’t get put out.
  • The easiest way to make sure your body has all the right resources it needs to extinguish the big fires is to stop eating sugar. You’ll even notice that your face seems thinner and you’ll lose some weight without trying.
  • Are you eating a lot of bad oils? Bad oils like hydrogenated fats and canola oil, soy oil, vegetable oil and other seed oils or oxidized fats (fried foods) will also contribute to a significant amount of inflammation in the body.
  • Do you consume anti-inflammatory herbs such as turmeric or cat’s claw? Although you will not be able to use these for the first few weeks after your surgery, having them available for later use can cut off weeks from your rhinoplasty recovery. Always ask your doctor when you can resume taking them.
  1. Use Known Substances That Accelerate Healing

Use natural substances that have been proven in the research to assist and accelerate healing from plastic surgery procedures. These natural substances include arnica cream, bromelin and papaya extract.

  1. Take a Break From Working Out

Don’t work out for 4-6 weeks. Give yourself a break and know that when you do, your workouts might be better than before!

You really can have a very successful rhinoplasty. Do everything that's possible and get a start on it now. Don’t wait!