Rhinoplasty: Nose Job Surgery & Recovery

RhinoplastyFor many patients, rhinoplasty (or a “nose job”) is something they have considered for years but have delayed for fear of recovery or fear of the changes that may result. This is completely understandable. Undergoing this type of surgical procedure can change the way not only others see you, but also how you see yourself. Even small, millimeter changes can make a huge impact.

Patients presenting for consultation for nasal surgery often run the gamut from wishing for a small “bump” to be removed from the bridge, to major reconstruction involving both breathing concerns and cosmetic improvements. There’s no cookbook method of improving one’s nasal appearance. As cosmetic surgeons we strive to match your desires and goals with what is structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing.

The consultation itself is at least an hour-long process. The goal initially is to assess the breathing, structure and balance of the nose with other aspects of the face and to discuss, in detail, what your concerns are. This is the opportunity to bring up any worries about your appearance, and ask any and all questions related to recovery. Once the assessment is complete, we then discuss the plan for addressing the issues. It’s important for both the patient and surgeon to agree on what issues are, and what can be corrected and to what degree. This almost always involves a set of several photos being taken and reviewed, and sometimes involves computer imaging.

At the Emory Aesthetic Center, we perform computer imaging as a tool. Because rhinoplasty involves such a critical aspect of ones self-image, computer imaging can be a useful adjunct to pictures and drawings. It gives the patient and surgeon a method of mutual communication and education.

Once a decision has been made regarding surgery, what is the recovery process like and how long is it before results can be seen? I counsel my patients that recovery generally takes about 10 days – that’s when patients can return to work or school with much less discomfort. The recovery process can be quite varied – some patients take prescription pain medication for a few days and then switch to Tylenol; others require the pain medicine for a week or so. Swelling and bruising around the eyes, and swelling on the nose itself is also quite common, and starts to dissipate around 5-7 days but in some cases can last 10-14 days. The most common complaint is congestion, rather than pain. Because of the surgery inside the nose, swelling can cause difficulty breathing through the nose for about a week.

Patients return to the office for an evaluation the day after surgery for a quick checkup and to ask any follow-up questions, and then at one week to have the outside dressings removed. Although results can start to be seen when the dressings are removed, the final results are not seen for up to 1 year following surgery. This can be surprising for some – but because of the intricate system of drainage of the nose, the tip and bridge can stay slightly swollen, and only with the passage of some time, will it settle into its final contours. I request patients return frequently to monitor the healing process and ensure their concerns are addressed.

At the end of the day, rhinoplasty is a very personal and emotional decision. But if certain aspects of your nose make you uncomfortable, or don’t allow your personality to shine through, there is no reason to delay the decision to pursue surgery. At the very least, obtaining a consultation allows the surgeon to discuss how reasonable your expectations are for improvement and give you a plan for correction.

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    Before a patient is able to undergo rhinoplasty, he or she must participate in lab testing and evaluations to determine the appropriate procedure, as well as to assess the overall physical condition of the patient. Patients who smoke must stop prior to the procedure, as well as change any medications they may be taking such as anti-inflammatory drugs or anything that might increase bleeding during surgery. These issues should be discussed with your doctor.

    • Good info! You may schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our cosmetic surgeons to discuss your personal case and to have all of your questions answered. Feel free to call 404-778-6880 to schedule.