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Total recovery from a rhinoplasty, when the final shape of the nose is apparent, can take up to 12 months. Most of the swelling subsides around three to six weeks, but the final shape of the nose is usually not apparent for 9 to 12 months postoperatively. People are advised to avoid strenuous exercises for the first three to five weeks postoperatively and avoid contact sports for at least three to four months as blunt trauma may result in derangement and/or prolonged swelling, pain and significant bleeding. Most do not require revisions or "touch up" but if needed, it is usually recommended to wait at least 12 months until all swelling is gone and any deformities are better apparent or unresolved. During this time, the surgeon must be available for constant and frequent support and reassurances.
The recovery from rhinoplasty surgery depends on the extent of dissection and nasal bony involvement. We learn in our training as board certified plastic surgeons Not to revise a nose for up to 1 year after the initial surgery. Directly after the surgery a nasal splint may be used, and nasal packing as well. Persistent swelling may occur up to 3 weeks. Bruising under the orbital areas are frequent after nasal bony work with infracturing to narrow the bridge. Edema and swelling may persist for the first couple of weeks as well.
While rhinoplasty is, indeed, surgery, most patient do very well in recovering from the procedure. Surprisingly, it is not a terribly painful operation -- many patients get by with over the counter pain medication. Having said that, there is some pain -- it is a surgical operation.
The more uncomfortable feeling that most patients experience is a feeling of congestion and stuffiness for a couple of weeks. This feeling gets worse over the first few days following surgery, but by the end of the first week the swelling is coming down and most patients begin to feel significantly better. It takes about two weeks for the patient to become "sociable." What that means is that, by two weeks, much of the swelling and bruising has resolved and patients are feeling close to normal again. There is still swelling at that point, but strangers won't notice this when you are out in public.
It takes six weeks for the bones to heal completely back together again, so exercise and vigorous activity should be limited during that time. By three months, the swelling is resolving more and the nose will look very similar to the final product. Having said that, it does take about one year for all of the swelling to resolve and for the nose to completely heal. It may take longer than this in cases of revision rhinoplasty.
There is also a psychological component of healing that takes place following rhinoplasty, as your brain must integrate your new look into your self-image -- this usually takes a couple of months. With support from family and your surgeon, you should be able to navigate the healing process successfully.
Recovery following a rhinoplasty, or nose job, takes two or three weeks depending on whether the rhinoplasty is done from an open or closed approach. There may still be swelling, particularly in the tip of the nose after this, which resolves with time.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.