So, you’re about to go under the knife to repair your nose due to injury or because you’re simply not happy with how it looks. What should you expect from your nose surgery recovery? I’m here to tell you!
injuring my nose
A couple weeks ago, I fell and fractured my nose. A head CT showed my nasal bones were aligned and I didn’t need it reset. About 10 days into that recovery, my toddler daughter was sitting on my lap when she went to kiss me and smacked my nose with her head. I heard an audible “crack” and my nose immediately swelled and appeared crooked. I knew this wasn’t a good thing.
My first nose surgery
Ten years ago, I had a rhinoplasty to fix a deviated septum and to do some cosmetic work for a more pleasing appearance. Afterward, I was thrilled with the results – my nose looked exactly how I had hoped.
An injury like this was something I had feared ever since I had it fixed. I went to the surgeon last week and he immediately scheduled me for surgery to reset my nose, as without it, my nose would heal deviated to the left. Definitely not something I wanted.
Second nose surgery
So, last week, I had surgery to put the nasal bones and septum back into alignment. It was a quick procedure under general anesthesia and I was home within a matter of hours, nasal splint in place for the next eight days.
According to my surgeon, most people mess up their nose following surgery courtesy of their small child or large dog, both of which move unexpectedly and pack enough force to damage the repair.
So, besides avoiding my toddler and dog for the next six weeks, here’s my top 12 tips for recovering from nasal surgery:
- Take your pain medication. Your nose will hurt. It will probably feel like a combination of stabbing pain and the worst congestion you can remember having. Pain medicine will make this better. Take it as prescribed.
- Buy some Afrin nasal spray. Your doctor will probably suggest this to you to help control bleeding (it’s a potent vasoconstrictor) and to open your swollen nasal passages so you can breathe. Just follow the directions and don’t use it for more than three days or you risk the dreaded “rebound congestion”. Just read this post I wrote on how hard it is to kick an Afrin habit. Bottom line – three days, no more.
- Don’t blow your nose for at least a week. If you have to get the gunk out of your nostrils (yes, you’ll still have boogers and probably some dried up blood) use a Q-tip. Gently.
- Avoid clothing that you have to pull over your head. You’d be surprised how much this hurts. Button up shirts will be your friend for a few weeks. Or just pull gingerly if you must, guarding your nose.
- Don’t eat foods that require hard chewing. Your face is going to hurt and tough foods aren’t going to make it feel better. Stick with soft, easy to chew foods.
- And speaking of your mouth, go gentle when you brush your teeth. Your teeth are pretty close to your nose, so if you go a little aggressive in your mouth, you’re going to feel it in your nose too.
- Don’t laugh too hard or smile too wide. I know, easier said than done. But this is another case of you’re definitely going to feel it if you do. If you’re lucky enough to have a splint or cast on your nose this might not even be possible, which is actually something of a relief.
- Don’t wear your glasses or sunglasses if you can help it. Anything resting on the bridge of your nose is going to hurt. Wear contacts if you have them. If you have to wear your glasses, make sure you’re wearing your splint or cast over your nose as the less weight you put directly on your nose the better the outcome.
- Avoid vigorous exercise for at least two weeks. My doctor recommended more like six weeks. Chances are you’re not going to feel up to it those first few weeks anyway. Ease back into exercising with something like yoga. Avoid sports with balls like volleyball and basketball for at least six weeks.
- Dry shampoo might be your new best friend. Showering with a splint or cast on your nose can be tricky to avoid getting it wet for the week or so you might have it in place.
- Have lots of pillows available. Your doctor is going to want you sleeping at a 35- to 40-degree angle for a few days and you’re going to need those pillows to prop yourself to the appropriate height.
- Stock up on Kleenex. You’re going to need these for a few weeks. The first few days, depending if your nose is packed or not, you may be leaking blood-tinged fluid from your nostrils. Having tissues around really helps if the hospital didn’t send you home with a nifty little gadget that attaches around your ears and goes under your nose with disposable pads to catch the drainage – a little nose sling.
Recovery goes quickly
The good news is there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You’re going to feel a lot better a couple days into recovery and by the time you’re a couple weeks out, you’ll be back to looking somewhat normal too (your splint/cast will be off and your black eyes – if you got them – will have faded).
I ended up having to go back to work prior to my cast coming off and got a fair number of strange looks from my patients, as well as some direct “What happened to you?” questions.
Nose surgery is worth it!
But, the end result will be totally worth it.
I cannot tell you the improvement in my self-esteem after I had my nose surgery to fix it the first time. It made a huge difference in how I saw myself. I know this time will be no different, it’s just a matter of getting through the next few weeks and keeping my nose protected from my toddler and the dog!
So tell me, if you’ve had nasal surgery, what’s your top recovery tip?