Believe it or not, your rhinoplasty recovery really begins at your first consultation with your facial plastic surgeon, well before your surgery starts. Why? Laying the groundwork for a smooth and quick recovery must be done in advance, whether it’s preparing your recovery space or understanding what you should expect. When it’s time to plan your own rhinoplasty surgery, don’t take your recovery time for granted. Here’s what you need to know before you begin your own rhinoplasty recovery time.
What to Expect from Rhinoplasty Surgery
Your rhinoplasty procedure sets the tone for your entire recovery process, so you need to know what to expect. Rhinoplasty is one of the most complex facial surgeries and can create permanent changes to the shape and size of your nose, while improving or preserving its function. Facial plastic surgeons today use two different approaches to the rhinoplasty surgery: open and closed.
During the closed rhinoplasty surgery, small incisions are made inside the nostril, which means that they will be completely hidden from view. Using these incisions, your surgeon can sculpt the cartilage, remove excess tissue, and make changes to the size and shape of the nose. Once these corrections have been completed, your facial plastic surgeon will use dissolvable sutures to close the incisions. While this is a widely used approach to rhinoplasty, it does provide only limited access to certain nasal structures. For more extensive corrections, your surgeon may opt for the second approach.
An open rhinoplasty is the most popular technique for this surgery. It begins with a small incision placed at the base of the nose between the nostrils. The skin is then pulled back in order to expose the nasal structure and give your surgeon the access he needs to make large-scale corrections. Again, the cartilage can be reshaped, excess tissue can be removed, and the nasal structure can be altered. With open rhinoplasty, a nasal implant can also be used if needed. When the necessary changes are complete, the incision is closed, leaving a nearly invisible scar just beneath the nose.
How to Prepare for Rhinoplasty Surgery
Good preparation for your surgery can help you achieve the successful results you want. Before you’re cleared for the procedure, you will meet with your facial plastic surgeon and likely answer a number of questions regarding your lifestyle, your daily habits, your current medications, and other relevant information. You should be in good physical health before your rhinoplasty procedure and not have any medical conditions that can interfere with your healing process. Between your consultation and your date of surgery, keep yourself healthy by avoiding those who are visibly sick, regularly washing your hands, and maintaining a routine of proper diet and regular exercise.
Be sure to follow all of your surgeon’s instructions about stopping certain medications before surgery, quitting smoking, and planning ahead for postoperative pain medication. Avoid aspirin and other anti-inflammatory pain relievers which can increase your risk of bleeding during surgery, as well as any other off-limits supplements, medications, or herbal remedies. If there’s anything you don’t understand about your pre-operative instructions, ask your facial plastic surgeon. It’s always safer to know ahead of time than risk complications by being misinformed or confused.
Planning Your Rhinoplasty Recovery
During the days leading up to your surgery, you should already be thinking about what will happen when you come home. Make these plans for a smooth transition from your surgery to your recovery:
- Plan for a ride to and from your own surgery. You will not be allowed to drive yourself home.
- Go over your post-op care with your surgeon. You may need to change your own dressings and bandages to keep the area clean.
- Plan for your follow-up visits to have your bandages, stitches, and cast removed. You may need a ride if your nose is swollen enough to affect your vision.
- Designate a recovery area inside your home, usually on a couch or bed. Store pillows, blankets, and loose-fitting clothing nearby (nothing that goes over the head).
- Take care of all of your errands before the day of surgery. Fill the family’s prescriptions, go grocery shopping, pick up the dry-cleaning, etc.
- Stock up on water, healthy snacks, and entertainment (magazines, books, DVDs) to keep near your recovery area while you rest. This cuts back on your trips to and from the kitchen so you can just rest.
Philip S. Schoenfeld, MD is the founder and Medical Director of RENU in Chevy Chase, Maryland and Washington DC metropolitan area. Dr. Schoenfeld is board-certified in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery.