With rhinoplasty (aka the nose job) being one of the most popular and common procedures performed in the cosmetic industry, it’s also one that patients have a lot of recovery questions about. No surprise here, since the surgery affects your face, which can’t be as easily concealed following a surgical procedure as other parts of the body where clothing provides easy coverage.
So it’s totally normal to want to know when you’ll feel confident enough to step out in public again. You’re probably equally curious to know when your new nose will be revealed to you. The nose is a huge part of what defines our faces, so we get it, you’re impatient to see it following your surgery and naturally it may be hard to see under a lot of swelling.
How long does swelling last after rhinoplasty? Here are some useful things to know about the nose job and the swelling that follows.
How much swelling should I expect following my rhinoplasty procedure?
The amount of swelling you have after your rhinoplasty procedure depends on a variety of factors. Most patients can expect moderate amounts of swelling but if your procedure was more extensive, and necessitated a bit more work around reshaping and/or resizing your nose, then you may experience a little more swelling than average.
Also, everyone is different. Some patients may be more prone to swelling than others and may experience a little more. It is also completely normal to have more swelling one day and less on another. In other words, you may see more swelling on day 2 than you saw on day 1, for instance.
The important thing to keep in mind is that immediate swelling after a nose job is totally normal, and it will most likely affect not just your nose but areas of the face as well, like around your eyes, cheeks and above your lips.
The other thing to remember is that initial swelling will conceal your surgical result, so don’t expect to see your result right away.
How long will my swelling last?
Again, how long swelling after rhinoplasty lasts can vary from patient to patient. Patients with thicker skin, for instance, may see their swelling lasting longer than those with thinner skin. If you’ve undergone revision rhinoplasty, you may also see your swelling lasting a little longer than with your initial surgery.
Typically, though, initial swelling after rhinoplasty lasts approximately two weeks. When we say two weeks, we mean that after about this amount of time you’ll be able to see your approximate result, and most patients will feel completely comfortable going back to work or school, or jumping on that video Teams call, being able to conceal any residual swelling or bruising with some make-up if necessary.
That said, your nose and face may not feel totally normal just yet. Your nose might feel a bit stiff or numb and your smile might feel tight or awkward, but no one but you will be able to notice these details.
We’d say that most patients feel completely normal after a month, and that about 90% of swelling is gone after about 3-4 months, at which point most patients feel comfortable posing in wedding photos or attending special events.
So what about the rest of that 10% of swelling? Typically this will subside anywhere between 9-12 months after your surgery, possibly 18 months for patients with thicker skin. What we mean by this is that approximately at the 1 year mark is when you’ll see your final and full results, really the details and intricacies of the surgery.
Do some areas of the nose swell more than others?
The reason it takes about a year for all the swelling to go down is that some areas of the nose remain swollen for longer than others purely for anatomical reasons. Where you’ll see overall swelling go down as early as two weeks to a month after surgery—areas of the face will heal even faster, probably within a week of surgery—swelling on the bridge as well as the tip of the nose will last longer.
The swelling on the bridge will most likely subside faster than the swelling on the tip of the nose, as this is where we see swelling last the longest. When we talk about this more long-term swelling on the bridge or the tip of the nose, we’re talking about swelling that is pretty much only noticeable to the surgeon who performed your procedure, and absolutely no one else, possibly not even you will see it yourself.
How can I help reduce swelling after rhinoplasty?
Your surgeon will send you home with specific guidelines on how to help with swelling and recovery after rhinoplasty.
Carefully using ice packs can help with swelling within the first 48 hours of your surgery, but only for 10-15 minutes at a time. Drinking lots of water and eating healthy foods that are rich in nutrients is a good way to reduce swelling and help with recovery overall, as well as taking it easy and avoiding any kind of strenuous exercise as this will also ensure that you don’t exacerbate your swelling.