It takes some time for your nose to heal and recover following rhinoplasty. While you most likely want your nose to look better sooner rather than later, the truth is that you’ll usually have to deal with swelling and bruising after surgery. The swelling and bruising can make your nose look worse before it looks better.
The good news when it comes to swelling is that it goes down with time. While you might notice that your nose is a little puffier or more swollen than usual months after your rhinoplasty, the most dramatic swelling is typically a couple of weeks after the procedure. Along with waiting for time to work its magic, there are a few things you can do to make the post-rhinoplasty swelling a bit more bearable.
Keep the Head Elevated
One of the most important pieces of advice you’ll get after rhinoplasty is to keep your head help up. Elevating the head will allow fluid to drain from your nose better, help swelling decrease more quickly.
You don’t have to hold your head and body at a 90 degree angle at all times after surgery. Instead, aim to keep your head elevated at an at least 45 degree angle. That means placing a few additional pillows on your bed, so that your head is propped up while resting or sleeping. It also means avoiding lying on the couch. Instead, trying leaning back in a recliner when relaxing, so that your head is kept up.
Avoid the Sun
Excess sun exposure after rhinoplasty should be avoided for multiple reasons, among them, the fact that it makes swelling worse. Sun exposure after surgery can also cause hyperpigmentation or make your incision area darker. When you have to go outside during the daytime, even on cloudy days, make sure you apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 to your nose. Save the trips to the beach or the family picnics until several months after your rhinoplasty, to be on the safe side.
Apply Cool Compresses
Applying ice or cold compresses to the area around the nose can help bring down swelling, as long as you use the compresses during the first few days after surgery. After that, cold compresses can help you feel more comfortable, but won’t do much for swelling.
For you own comfortable, it’s important that you avoid placing ice directly on the healing nose or directly against your skin. Ice is usually much too cold to put right on the skin. Plus, placing a compress directly on the healing nose can mean putting too much weight on the nose, which can affect its healing or cause it to move out of place.
Avoid too Much Heat
While a cool compress or ice pack can help bring down swelling, heat can have the opposite effect. Heat can widen your blood vessels, making swelling worse. Although taking a steamy, hot shower might seem like a great way to relieve dry nasal passages after surgery, it’s typically not recommend for at least a few weeks after your rhinoplasty.
Watch Your Sodium Intake
Eating a low sodium diet is usually recommended after nasal surgery, as too much salt can cause your body to retain fluid and make swelling much worse. For best results, it’s typically a good idea to start limiting your sodium intake at least a day before your rhinoplasty.
Since sodium tends to hide in a lot of foods, even if they don’t taste salty, it’s a good idea to read nutrition labels carefully before your surgery, so that you know what is OK to buy and eat afterwards. Usually, the best way to avoid too much salt in your diet is to stick with whole foods, such as vegetables and fruit, whole grains, and lean meats. Processed foods tend to pack in the sodium, both to enhance flavor and to act as a preservative.
Talk to Your Surgeon About Any Supplements
Some people swear by supplements or by increasing their intake of certain vitamins to help minimize swelling after their surgery. While a supplement might help you cope with swelling, it’s recommended that you clear it with your surgeon before you start taking it. You don’t want to risk the chance of a complication or otherwise impact your rhinoplasty recovery.
It does take time for your nose to look the way you had hoped it would after rhinoplasty. No matter your reason for surgery, it’s important to avoid scheduling it right before any big events in your life. While there are ways to minimize swelling, the only thing that will make it fade for good is time.
If you have any more questions about swelling after rhinoplasty or want to know more about what you can expect, Dr. Jeffrey Epstein, a facial plastic surgeon who specializes in rhinoplasty, can help. Dr. Epstein is double board certified and performs up to five rhinoplasties a week, at practices in New York City and Miami. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Epstein at his New York practice, call (212) 759-3484. For a consultation in Miami, call (305) 666-5884.