Though rhinoplasty is commonly performed for cosmetic purposes, the surgery itself initially causes trauma within the nose. During the procedure, Dr. Frankel may perform osteotomies, where the nasal bones are fracture and re-positioned. He may file down a large dorsal hump, and reshape the cartilage and underlying tissues. Each of these changes, and many others during the surgical process, will eventually result in a beautiful new nose, but first the natural healing process must take place. During the healing phase, rhinoplasty patients will notice residual swelling in the nose that can begin after the surgery and last for up to 24 months. Though patients undergo rhinoplasty for a number of different reasons, and receive individualized treatment, there are some common ways to promote a comfortable healing process and keep swelling to a minimum.
Keep Your Hands Off Your Face to Promote Nasal Healing
One of the best ways for patients to prevent excess swelling of the nose and mid-face is to refrain from touching the area following surgery. Though a cast may protect the structure for up to a week, some areas of the nose will remain malleable. Not only will touching or the bumping nose cause additional trauma, but it can also alter its shape. Patients are cautioned not to manipulate the tissues in any way so as to promote the best possible results and most manageable swelling.
It is possible to unintentionally bump the nose while performing everyday tasks, such as sipping from a glass. Patients can drink from a straw for the first few weeks following their rhinoplasty to ensure this doesn’t happen. The daily routine of washing one’s face also makes the nose prone to being touched or bumped, so for at least two weeks after the surgery, patients should use a washcloth, warm water, and a mild soap or face wash to cleanse the face.
Care for the Harvest Sites
During some rhinoplasty procedures, especially in secondary, reconstructive, and ethnic rhinoplasty, Dr. Frankel may opt to harvest certain tissue from other areas of the patient’s own body. He may surgically remove cartilage from the ear or from the chest wall, or fascia from the scalp. Each part of the body from which a material was harvested is also considered a surgical site. Patients should care for these locations with the same tenderness they would for the face. The incisions should be iced, cleansed, and bandaged as Dr. Frankel instructs. This will help to prevent irritation to these areas which, in turn, can cause the sites to swell.
Don’t Blow Your Nose
After rhinoplasty, the nose will first feel stuffy, which may be attributed to nasal packing (though Dr. Frankel has discontinued this practice in recent years, internal dressing may be necessary in rare cases). It can also be caused by the swelling of the many different tissues of the nose. As the swelling subsides, patients sometimes feel the urge to blow their nose. In part, this is due to fluids draining out the nose, but is compounded by the regeneration of nerves, which can create a tickling sensation. Because the nose is vulnerable to force and movement following rhinoplasty, patients are instructed not to blow their nose for the first week after surgery
Use a Cold Compress on the Mid-Face
Light icing provides rhinoplasty patients with both the physical relief of pain and the visual encouragement of swelling reduction. Some patients prefer ice packs while others use frozen peas. The idea is to uniformly ice the face in increments of 20 minutes on, 1 hour off for the first 48 hours following surgery.
Keep the Head Elevated
Elevation of the head above the level of the heart helps to reduce swelling. This practice is helpful for several weeks after the surgery and includes sleeping and time throughout the day.
Andrew S. Frankel, MD, FACS is a double board certified facial plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, California, who specializes in rhinoplasty. This specialization has allowed Dr. Frankel’s practice to flourish as he focuses on one of the most difficult plastic surgeries to perform. Numerous patients have benefitted from the doctor’s skills, undergoing the following specialty rhinoplasty procedures:
- Revision Rhinoplasty
- Reduction Rhinoplasty
- Refinement Rhinoplasty
- Reconstructive Rhinoplasty
- Ethnic Rhinoplasty
- Adolescent Rhinoplasty
- Aging Rhinoplasty
Contact Dr. Frankel’s Beverly Hills office today at (310) 552-2173, or through email to schedule your consultation.