After rhinoplasty, your nose needs plenty of time to heal. Just as following your surgeon’s instructions before surgery played a big part in your safety and the outcome of the procedure, knowing what to do and what not to do after rhinoplasty will affect your nose’s healing and the way it looks as it heals.
While specific instructions will vary somewhat from patient to patient, you might expect your surgeon to give you the following list of dos and don’ts:
Do: Continue to Avoid Smoking
If you were a smoker before your surgery, odds are that your surgeon told you to give up the habit several weeks before your procedure. Smoking can interfere with the safety of the surgery and can negatively affect the results. Nicotine slows down blood flow, which can make you more likely to scar. The drug also disrupts healing.
Generally, surgeons advise avoiding smoking for at least another two weeks after your rhinoplasty. By the time two weeks have past after your procedure, you’ll have quit cigarettes for at least one full month, meaning you may not even want to resume the habit again. If you are having trouble coping with not smoking after your surgery, your surgeon can offer guidance and help.
Don’t: Bump Your Nose
Your nose will be rather fragile as it heals after your surgery. One of the most important things to remember after rhinoplasty is not to bump it. That means avoiding any activities that can potentially bump the nose, such as any sports. It also means you may have to adjust some of your everyday habits, such as what you wear, what you eat, and even, in some cases, how you laugh.
Pullover shirts and sweaters, for example, can accidentally move the nose or hit it. Usually, it’s recommended that you wear tops that button up or that don’t need to be pulled over your head, at least for several weeks after your surgery. If you wear glasses, you might have to switch to contacts for about a month, or find a way to wear them so that they don’t put any weight or pressure on your nose.
It’s usually a good idea to avoid a lot of excess facial movement during the first few weeks after surgery, so that the healing nose isn’t jostled. While you don’t have to stick to a soft food diet, you may find that you prefer to avoid foods that require a good amount of chewing, such as steaks and other types of meat. Laughing might be challenging as your nose heals, too.
One of the best things to do in the first weeks after rhinoplasty is to simply relax. You don’t have to be bed ridden, but you also shouldn’t feel that you have to run about and get a lot of things done. Use the recovery period to catch up on a few movies, TV shows or books. Feel free to take short walks as you recover, to help keep your blood flowing and to help reduce the chance of constipation.
Don’t: Head Back to the Gym Right Away
While taking walks is a good idea starting about a day or so after your surgery, you do want to stay out of the gym and avoid any strenuous exercise for about a month. Any activities that could potentially injure your nose, such as tennis, soccer, and baseball, should be avoided for about six weeks, or until your surgeon gives you the all clear. The same is true of swimming. The chlorine in most pools can irritate your healing nasal passages.
Do: Keep the Head Elevated
Swelling is par for the course after rhinoplasty. While you can’t avoid it, you can do somethings that will minimize it or keep it from becoming worse. One of those things is to keep your head elevated at all times. When relaxing, try sitting in a recliner that’s set at a 45 degree angle. Place several pillows on your bed to keep your head propped up during sleeping. You’ll also want to sleep on your back, so that you don’t put any pressure on your healing nose.
Don’t: Go Tanning
Tanning or spending a lot of time in the sun without sunscreen is a bad idea at any time. It’s particularly bad when your nose is healing after surgery. The skin around your nose will be particularly tender and delicate after a rhinoplasty. UV rays from the sun can not only cause burning, they can also cause permanent discoloration of the skin during those first few months after your surgery. Always wear an SPF of at least 30 and reserve any days at the beach until well after your rhinoplasty.
Dr. George Bitar, plastic surgeon at the Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute, near Washington, DC, is happy to answer any additional questions you might have about the recovery process after rhinoplasty or about the surgery in general. To schedule a consultation with either surgeon, call 703-206-0506 today.
George Bitar, MD, FACS is an award-winning, board-certified cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon, the Founder and Medical Director of Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute in Virginia. He specializes in the latest surgical and minimally invasive techniques to scar management and reduction. Dr. Bitar is involved in groundbreaking research and education in plastic surgery and has authored numerous articles, abstracts, and chapters.