Post Op Guide: Recovery After Rhinoplasty Surgery

August 03, 2021

Post Op Guide: Recovery After Rhinoplasty Surgery

Rhinoplasty, popularly known as a "nose job," is a procedure that alters and reconstructs the shape of the nose.

The procedure is a pretty straightforward one; the surgeon makes an incision at the base of your nose, just between the nostrils, and from there, makes the necessary adjustments to the bone and cartilage. Some surgeons opt to do the surgery inside your nose. Here’s how they do it:

There are two reasons people will get a nose job done— for reconstructive purposes or cosmetic reasons. 

Reconstructive rhinoplasty aims to restore the form and function of a patient's nose. It is performed to treat the following:

  • congenital disabilities (clefts, nasal dermoids, etc.)
  • blunt trauma injuries (sports injuries, accidents, etc.)
  • other types of damage to the nasal area. 

Cosmetic rhinoplasty can address a patient’s aesthetic preferences, such as those who want to remove a bump on their nose, change the angle, or narrow down their nostril's width.

Rhinoplasty Animation | American Society of Plastic Surgeons

Photo from American Society of Plastic Surgeons

Either way, whatever you choose and for whatever reason, rhinoplasty is still considered major surgery. There's a lot to think about if you do go through with getting a nose job. Finding a qualified doctor is one thing, and making sure you understand what you need to do pre and post-surgery to take care of yourself to make sure the healing process goes well.


Depending on what the doctor will recommend, rhinoplasty can take 1.5 hours up to 3 hours to do. Usually, doctors will clear patients to go home right after surgery. In rare cases, especially when you have other health problems, you could be asked to stay overnight for observation.

Now, once that’s done with, post-operative care is critical. The last thing you'd want is unnecessary pain and complications, so here are some things you should do to avoid all that after rhinoplasty:

  • Make sure that you have a companion take you home after surgery. Driving home on your own isn’t recommended since you’ll be feeling groggy and nauseous after.
  • We also recommend having someone stay over and take care of you for a few couple of days.
  • Bed rest is essential after any surgery, and it's no different with rhinoplasty. Make sure you get plenty of bed rest and limit your movement for at least the first week.
  • During surgery, the doctor will place splints inside the nose. Coupled with the swelling, there's a high chance your nose will also be congested after surgery. Address it by making sure that while you get some much-needed bed rest, you keep your head raised higher than your chest. Doing this will help reduce the swelling and bleeding.
  • To also help with the swelling, using ice or gel packs for cold compress in the first 48 hours right after surgery is advised. IceWraps has a 4” round gel pack that’s perfect for delicate areas on the face, like your nose and cheeks. Ensure you alternate between keeping the gel pack on your face for 20 minutes and off for another 20.
  • Make sure you do not blow your nose, no matter how tempting it is.
  • There'll be slight bleeding after surgery, and it's a pretty ordinary affair. Your doctor will most likely place a piece of gauze (drip pad) under your nose to absorb the drainage, so make sure you ask your doctor how you can safely change that. Don’t worry, bleeding usually subsides 4 to 7 days after surgery.
  • After the surgery, you’ll feel mild to moderate pain. Your doctor might prescribe you pain medication. Extra strength Tylenol can be taken for mild pain but avoid all meds that have ibuprofen because it can actually increase bleeding and swelling. Some meds with ibuprofen in them and that you should avoid are Advil, Midol, and Motrin.
  • Your doctor will also ask you to avoid doing any strenuous or demanding activities like yoga or jogging.
  • When it comes to personal hygiene, avoid showers as much as possible. Instead, opt for baths while you have the bandages on your nose. For teeth brushing, be gentle and try not to move the upper lip too much.
  • For clothing, make sure to avoid anything that needs to go over your head. Instead, go for clothing that fastens at the front, like button-down shirts.
  • Doctors highly recommend you stick to eating fruits, veggies, and other high-fiber food throughout the healing process. A diet like this will help you avoid constipation because you'll feel strain and pressure on the surgery site if you are constipated.
  • If you wear glasses, try not to rest them on your nose. Use cheek rests with your glasses until your nose heals.
  • You should have already stopped smoking pre-surgery at this point, but you'll have to continue with that for up to 3 weeks post-op. Nicotine will slow down the healing process and might even increase the risks of complications.
  • Try not to make any extreme facial expressions like laughing or smiling.
  • When sleeping, make sure you sleep on your back throughout the night. The last thing you want is your nose job getting mangled because you decided to sleep on your stomach.


One week after you've gotten surgery, things might still be a bit sore, especially after the anesthesia wears off. Luckily, that's the worst part of the recovery process, and everything after that is more manageable. Here's are some things to remember and to expect:

  • Depending on the complexity of your procedure, your splint may be ready to be removed during this time. There might be minor bruising around the eyes, which will more often than not take two weeks to resolve.
  • The skin around your nose will be slightly numb to the touch; this is normal, and full sensation to the nasal skin will return in about three months after surgery. The pain should have subsided by now but it’s also still normal to feel some lingering pain. If you do, it’s best to consult your doctor on the matter.
  • You'll notice that your nose might be oilier than usual during this period. You can control this by wiping down the nasal skin with a cotton pad with astringent on it. Wipe it down 1 to 2 times a day.
  • If it's not the oiliness, then you might notice some peeling on the skin. Don't be alarmed as it usually goes away after two weeks.
  • After the first week, make sure you avoid bumping your nose against anything like doors, elbows, and the likes.
  • You are still discouraged from doing exercises that increase your heart rate for at least 14 days after the operation. Exercising can cause bleeding, and during the second week, can increase swelling and edema.


As soon as one month comes along, you'll have already gotten used to your new nose. The discomfort and pain you felt in the first week will have substantially lessened now. The healing process should be going smoothly, but it doesn't mean all post-op care goes out the window at this point. Here are some things to remember:

  • In 1 month, you'll notice that things have become visibly better. There are marked improvements in the shape of your nose and the position of the tip of it. There's almost little evidence that you underwent surgery now.
  • You might notice some bumps and hardened areas on the surface of your nose. Don't be alarmed by it. The bumps are caused by nasal swelling so it's a common and perfectly normal thing as your nose goes through the process of healing. In a few months, it should go away.
  • At this stage, it's safe to resume more physically demanding activities like running, swimming, and cycling. But remember, you still need to keep the intensity of the exercise at a moderate level. Contact and ball sports are still a no-no.
  • Between 4 to 6 weeks, your doctor might allow you to resume weight lifting if this was something you did pre-surgery.


When you hit the six-month mark, your nose should be completely healed. Other than that, not much will be going on, but there are a few things you should take note of:

  • Any numbness that you felt in your nose should be resolved by now. If numbness persists, contact your doctor immediately.
  • At this point, you'll have forgotten what your nose initially looked like. A visit to the doctor will be mandatory at this point, and there, your doctor can show you the significant difference and improvements made.
  • Even if the healing process by this time is going well, you still have to be cautious with your new nose. Make sure you avoid bumping it against anything hard or getting your nose injured.

Final Thoughts

Rhinoplasty is a common cosmetic surgery and is usually a safe surgery to do. Choosing the right doctor is the best way to go. Understanding the procedure and what will happen to your body after surgery is crucial to a successful healing process.

Don't dismiss recovery and post-op care that easily, too. You can always ask your doctor for the proper medication to aid you in pain management and relief. Still, you can also do cold therapy on your own. Icewraps carries a wide assortment of gel and clay packs that are perfect for soothing pain, relieving bruising as well as swelling. 




Make sure you have these gel packs from Icewraps on hand in the freezer ahead of time so that when recovery time comes around, you'll be good to go.

If you’re a clinic or private practice, check out our custom gel packs. It’s client comfort with your name on it. Learn more about it here.

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