Each doctor has a specific set of rhinoplasty recovery tips. Nonetheless, they all boil down to controlling the amount of swelling and bruising, and preventing injuries during the healing phase to achieve optimal results from the surgery.
Most patients already know the basics of rhinoplasty recovery tips—the drugs and supplements to avoid a few weeks before and after surgery, the foods and drinks to limit, and the activities that could jeopardize their results. Hence, the list below explains the not-so-popular guidelines that can promote healing.
Chronic stress can put a toll on your immunity. For this reason, a longer time off from work might be more ideal than returning to office just 10-14 days after surgery, or once the outward signs (bruising and swelling) are gone.
If a longer leave of absence is not possible, you may ask to work part-time until you regain your pre-surgery energy level, which often takes 4-6 weeks after surgery. The goal is to control your stress level, according to experts at the California Surgical Institute.
Of course, managing stress also boils down to adapting a positive attitude in life.
- Use of bed wedge pillow or recliner bed
Head elevation all day long and during the night can keep swelling to a minimum and can also promote healing. Many patients have noted the convenience of using a bed wedge pillow or a recliner bed, as opposed to the soft standard pillows.
You may want to sleep alone in your bed and avoid pets and small children for the time being because even the slightest bump may cause bleeding or interfere with healing.
Other things to avoid while not yet fully healed include wearing eyeglasses, blowing your nose, making excessive facial expressions, and applying too much pressure when brushing your teeth. Moreover, it makes sense to wear button down shirts or wrap-around dresses during the initial healing stage to avoid accidental bumps on the nose.
Aside from consuming more fiber-rich foods and lean protein, it is important to follow a low-sodium diet. It is important to note that too much salt causes water retention, which can aggravate the amount of postop swelling.
Empty calorie foods laden with sugar and fats can also suppress your immunity and aggravate constipation, which is not uncommon after any type of surgery due to narcotic painkiller use.
Sun protection is one of the most critical rhinoplasty recovery tips. It is important to note that after surgery the nose is extra sensitive to UV rays and thus the risk of discoloration or hyperpigmentation is perceived to be higher.
If you cannot stay away from the sun, try to slather on sunscreen with at least SPF 30 or use a wide-brimmed hat.
Rhinoplasty swelling is a common part of recovery, although by 2-3 weeks it is barely perceptible that most patients can return to work or attend social events. However, the final results could take up to one year or even longer since the skin needs time to redrape to the new cartilaginous framework, according to the California Surgical Institute website.
While the social recovery from rhinoplasty in general takes 2-3 weeks, some patients may experience a period where the swelling fluctuates (i.e., slight swelling only during the morning) as they move forward to their recovery.
However, swelling that remains obvious or persistent after several months or about a year postop might be caused by aggressive scar formation.
The presence of scar tissue in the internal nasal cavity and subcutaneous tissue is normal and for the vast majority of patients it will resolve with time and possibly with a use of some conservative management such as massage. A good rule of thumb is to wait at least a year before resorting to a more aggressive method such as steroid injection and revision surgery.
Steroid injection (Kenalog) is particularly helpful in rhinoplasty swelling in the supratip, which lies just above the tip. This treatment can reduce the amount of scar tissue by breaking up the bonds between the collagen bundles; however, it involves judicious injection to prevent skin depression or thinning, hypopigmentation (the skin turning lighter), and other untoward side effects.
If the supratip develops excess scar tissue, the area becomes swollen to the point that the nose appears like a parrot’s beak; hence, it is also referred to as polly beak deformity.
To avoid skin changes, a highly diluted form of Kenalog is injected deep enough so as to prevent the dermis of the skin from shrinking. To further reduce the risk of complications, there should be a 6-8 weeks interval for each treatment.
While Kenalog may start working as soon as 1-2 days after injection, most patients can expect its full effects in two weeks.
To further control the amount of rhinoplasty swelling in the supratip, it may be necessary to tape the area for about a week after injection.
The amount of bruising after facelift surgery varies from patient to patient due to a gamut of factors affecting the recovery time, e.g., individual health and nutritional habits, surgical techniques, use of adjunct procedures (such as fat grafting), and quality of postop care.
However, most patients will look social presentable, i.e., no outward signs of surgery such as noticeable swelling and bruising, about two weeks postop.
Minimizing bruising after facelift surgery requires advance planning. In general, products with blood thinning properties (aspirin, ibuprofen, anticoagulants, alcohol, some type of antidepressants, and certain herbal supplements and remedies) must be avoided or at least reduced at least two weeks prior to surgery and during the initial healing stage.
Also, the use of tobacco products must be discontinued for at least three weeks to prevent extensive bruising and poor healing.
After surgery, it is important to further avoid products with blood thinning properties for 1-2 weeks or until most of the bruising has subsided.
The quality of postop care will also determine the amount of bruising, and ultimately the recovery time.
Celebrity Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley has shared some tips that can reduce the amount of bruises after facelift surgery.
* Head elevation for a few days postop. While propping up one’s head with some pillows will suffice, some people swear by the additional comfort and “stability” provided by bed wedge pillows.
* In the first 48 hours the use of cold compress can reduce the amount of bruising, which could shorten one’s social recovery.
* Taking things slow. A good rule of thumb is to avoid over-straining, heavy lifting, bending from the waist, and strenuous activities for at least three weeks. Nonetheless, it is important to walk and move around throughout the day (instead of taking prolonged bed rest) to control swelling and reduce the risk of blood clots.
* Herbal remedies. While not every facelift surgeon recommends the use of bromelain and arnica montana, proponents suggest that taking them a few days before and after surgery can reduce bruising and swelling to some extent.
* Superb diet. A good rule of thumb is to increase protein intake (it should account for 15-25 percent of the total calorie intake. Meanwhile, avoid processed carbs and foods high in refined sugar and salt because they can suppress the immune function and contribute to lethargy, swelling, and weight gain.
A diet high in sodium is particularly detrimental to one’s recovery as it triggers the body to hold on to more water, resulting in more swelling, which usually accompanies bruising.
Body lift scars are typically concealed within the natural skin crease (e.g., groin, submammary fold, and armpit) or at least beneath the patient’s underwear. Nonetheless, proper wound care and scar treatments remain critical to further promote optimal scar concealment.
Body lift is a broad term that describes any skin resection surgery typically performed in massive weight loss patients who have large redundant skin. Depending on the location of loose skin, patients may choose a lower body lift, back lift, or upper lift, or a combination of them.
Experts at the California Surgical Institute share their tips on how to encourage the body lift scars to fade better and blend in with the skin. While the surgical techniques—particularly concerning wound closure methods—can play a critical role in the final appearance of scars, postop treatments such as silicone sheets and gel, scar massage, and sun protection (i.e., sunscreen and protective clothing) will also have their impact.
These products are known to encourage the scars to remain soft, flat, and faded. In general, scar treatments are used three weeks postop when the incisions are clinically healed. Using them sooner might cause irritation and poor scarring.
Meanwhile, lotion containing vitamin E may cause irritation to some people; hence, prudent patients will only use products prescribed by their doctor.
Just like silicone sheets and gel, scar massage must only be attempted once the incisions are clinically healed—i.e., the scabs have all fallen off by themselves.
When massaging body lift scars, the general rule of thumb is to massage in all three directions: circular, vertical, and horizontal fashion. While using the soft tips of the fingers will generally suffice, some doctors recommend pads to further break up the scar tissue.
Meanwhile, the amount of pressure will depend on how much one can tolerate, although it is ideal to begin with light pressure before progressing to deeper, firmer massage. Using lotion, cream, or gel at the same time is believed to further help the scars fade in color.
Once the incisions are healed, the use of sunscreen in the first six months is ideal. It is important to note that UV rays can trigger the production of excess melanin, leading to darker, more obvious scars.
Thigh lift recovery tips primarily aim to keep swelling to a minimum and minimize the risk of wound separation, according to California Surgical Institute website.
The first and most critical step to minimize risk of wound healing problems and other complications following thigh lift is to conduct strict patient selection. First and foremost, the surgery is only reserved for near normal weight, healthy individuals whose cosmetic goals can be achieved by surgery. This “core principle” applies to any elective plastic surgery.
The first 2-3 weeks postop is the most critical period in which the patient must be moving slowly to prevent pulling on the incisions. It is important to note that small wound separations are not uncommon after thigh lift surgery due to tension, effects of gravity, and thigh’s susceptibility to swelling.
All efforts are made to prevent “compromising” the wound, which typically extends from the groin down to the knee, because wound separations take time to heal.
Once the incisions are clinically healed, which happens 2-3 weeks postop, it may be safe to surmise that the most challenging part of recovery is over. Nonetheless, it remains critical to “keep things slow” (i.e., avoid heavy lifting, sudden movement, and strenuous activities) for about 4-6 weeks.
Keeping swelling to a minimum is one of the most critical thigh lift recovery tips. The use of compression garments is particularly helpful as they prevent or at least limit seroma (fluid formation) and thus promote healing.
Furthermore, a balanced diet, particularly low in sodium, can keep postop swelling to a minimum. It is important to note that too much salt triggers the body to hold on to more water, thus aggravating the swollen appearance.
Propping up the legs with “bed wedge pillow” while resting or sleeping can also control the amount of swelling. While ordinary pillows can also be used, wedges are sturdier and are more convenient to use.
Meanwhile, the scar must not be exposed to the sun for at least six months to help it fade into a fine line. To further promote “favorable scarring,” many surgeons also recommend silicone sheets, scar gels, and other similar modalities.
Out of town rhinoplasty patients typically choose this arrangement because they could not find a local plastic surgeon they are “comfortable” with.
Despite the challenges facing out of town rhinoplasty patients, with proper planning and some due diligence most people can have a gratifying experience from this.
Dr. Tarick Smiley, a board-certified plastic surgeon who has performed thousands of rhinoplasties, has provided basic tips for patients needing to travel for nose surgery.
- Find a reputable plastic surgeon.
A good rule of thumb is to find a board-certified plastic surgeon (i.e., American Board of Plastic Surgery member) who performs rhinoplasty and its ancillary procedures (reconstructive type such as septoplasty) on a regular basis.
- Avoid traveling by plane 1-2 weeks postop.
The changes in air pressure, the physical stress of rushing from one airport to the next with a heavy luggage in tow, and the side effects of narcotic painkillers can make long travel inadvisable, or even dangerous.
Traveling by plane too soon could also lead to persistent swelling (which of course affects breathing and healing), nosebleeds, and other things that could prevent the patient from achieving optimal results.
However, patients can travel sooner by car (about 5-7 days) provided that their sutures and splints have already been removed, and they have a designated driver. They should never drive by themselves because the effects of narcotic painkillers include extreme lethargy and poor coordination.
- Make arrangements for follow-up visits.
Most surgeons require 1-2 follow-up visits within two weeks postop to ensure that their patients are healing nicely. For this reason, they may have to stay in the immediate vicinity of their surgeon’s office (e.g., a nearby hotel).
Many surgeons even require follow-up visits up to 6-12 months, depending on patient availability. Sometimes, a video chat could suffice particularly when long travel is not possible or is rather too inconvenient.
- Build rapport with a local doctor.
Finding a local doctor prior to surgery can help patients feel more secure after they leave their surgeon’s “premises.” It is important to note that serious complications such as infection, should they occur, mostly happen in the first three weeks of surgery.