How Bad is it? The good, the bad and the ugly on rhinoplasty recovery.

We have all heard our doctors tell us that pain is subjective – and that is true. But what we want to know is how bad is it really? As a previous patient and advisor to many surgery patients, I am happy to paint a picture of what to expect and some of the obstacles you may encounter post-procedure.

Bruising – this does occur in some patients. If you are prone to bruising, you likely will. Bruising is most common under the eyes and typically takes about 2 full weeks to fully subside. You can wear cover-up make-up after your cast is removed starting a week after surgery. A lot of patients take arnica supplements a couple days before surgery and for about a week after to reduce swelling and bruising.

Swelling – this is perhaps the biggest concern for most patients’ post-procedure. How swollen will I be? Will other people notice? I always remind patients that when the cast comes off, that is not your final result. While you will be able to see an overall improvement (especially from the profile and ¾ views) you will most definitely feel and look swollen. I felt almost cartoonish looking in the mirror when my cast first came off. In fact, the word avatar came to mind. An avatar with an extremely straight bridge and optimal breathing, but an avatar no less. Three weeks later I was feeling much more human and was starting to see the swelling really come down to reveal the shape of my new and improved nose.

Pain – it’s no vacation but it’s not the worst week at home ever. Most patients complain about the side effects from surgery. Headache, a feeling of sinus pressure, sore throat, nausea, difficulty or inability to breathe through the nose. Most of the side-effects can be dulled /eased with the medication that is prescribed for your after care. Icing is a huge help for relieving discomfort and swelling. So is ice cream….

Activity – no exercise for 3 weeks after surgery other than leisurely walking. This is either terrible news or great news depending on your attitude toward the gym. The recommendation is that you do not do anything too strenuous that raises your heart rate or core body temperature. Take it easy. Netflix and nap.