The 5 Stages of Your Rhinoplasty Recovery

Recovering after cosmetic nose surgery is unique among aesthetic procedures. That’s because the final results emerge gradually over the course of several months. I always counsel the rhinoplasty patients at my Columbia practice to be patient after undergoing nose surgery for this very reason.

The nose is a complex structure, as I’ve discussed previously, and it takes longer to heal than other facial features. Every patient recovers at a distinct pace, but generally, you can divide up the recovery experience into 5 phases.

  • The day of surgery: Rhinoplasty can be performed using either a local or general anesthetic, depending on the extent of the procedure. The type of anesthetic influences the initial recovery period. We provide patients with internal packing and medication to relieve discomfort as needed.
  • The first follow-up appointment: About a week after the surgery, I meet with patients to ensure the recovery is going as expected. I’ll remove the internal packing at this appointment.
  • The initial weeks after surgery: Patients who diligently follow the postoperative instructions I provide will see most of the bruising and swelling subside. Those instructions include avoiding strenuous activities, not blowing the nose, and wearing clothes that don’t need to be pulled over the head.
  • The months that follow: Even though there is relatively little discomfort during much of the recovery process after rhinoplasty, the residual swelling from the procedure takes months to resolve. You’ll notice a difference in the appearance of your nose by this point, but it will continue to change for several months.
  • 1 year after surgery: It takes about 12 months before you can accurately assess the final results of rhinoplasty surgery. By then, the swelling should be completely gone. Depending on the concerns patients have about their noses, the results may be clearer from a profile view than when looking directly at the nose.

The following before-and-after photos of one of my patients provide a good illustration of how rhinoplasty can change a person’s profile:


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