After surgery-particularly during the first twenty-four hours-your face will feel puffy, your nose may ache, and you may have a dull headache. You can control any discomfort with the pain medication prescribed by your surgeon. Plan on staying in bed with your head elevated (except for going to the bathroom) for the first day.
You’ll notice that the swelling and bruising around your eyes will increase at first, reaching a peak after two or three days. Applying cold compresses will reduce this swelling and make you feel a bit better. In any case, you’ll feel a lot better than you look. Most of the swelling and bruising should disappear within two weeks or so. (Some subtle swelling-unnoticeable to anyone but you and your surgeon-will remain for several months.)
A little bleeding is common during the first few days following surgery, and you may continue to feel some stuffiness for several weeks. Your surgeon will probably ask you not to blow your nose for a week or so, while the tissues heal.
If you have nasal packing, it will be removed after a few days and you’ll feel much more comfortable. By the end of one or, occasionally, two weeks, all dressings, splints, and stitches should be removed.
Most rhinoplasty patients are up and about within two days, and able to return to school or sedentary work a week or so following surgery. It will be several weeks, however, before you’re entirely up to speed.
Your surgeon will give you more specific guidelines for gradually resuming your normal activities. They’re likely to include these suggestions: Avoid strenuous activity (jogging, swimming, bending, sexual relations-any activity that increases your blood pressure) for two to three weeks. Avoid hitting or rubbing your nose, or getting it sunburned, for eight weeks. Be gentle when washing your face and hair or using cosmetics.
You can wear contact lenses as soon as you feel like it, but glasses are another story. Once the splint is off, they’ll have to be taped to your forehead or propped on your cheeks for another six to seven weeks, until your nose is completely healed. Your surgeon will schedule frequent follow-up visits in the months after surgery, to check on the progress of your healing. If you have any unusual symptoms between visits, or any questions about what you can and can’t do, don’t hesitate to call your doctor.