Your Rhinoplasty Recovery Explained From Day 1 to 30

Your plastic surgeon may suggest a rhinoplasty as the answer to reach your ideal nasal aesthetics or to correct a deviated nose, especially if it causes nasal obstruction.


If you are considering a rhinoplasty, it’s important to know not just about the surgical procedure but the protocol following surgery as well. Although it may take a few months to begin seeing final results of a rhinoplasty, the recovery process often takes less time.


It is difficult to give an absolute number for recovery times as they are dependent on various factors such as age, health status and type of procedure performed. However, knowing what to expect and following your surgeon’s postoperative care instructions will make a big difference in the results of your rhinoplasty.


In a previous article here, I shared a few facts on rhinoplasty. There are two main approaches to rhinoplasty – open or closed rhinoplasty.  In general, closed rhinoplasty has less swelling, less downtime and reach the final results faster. In general, these are reduced by a third, but it also depends on what was done during the rhinoplasty procedure.  If there are more complexes for your nose, it is likely that your plastic surgeon will recommend an open rhinoplasty to address your concerns.


Girlfriday speaks to Dr Chia Hui Ling, experienced Rhinoplasty Surgeon and Consultant Plastic Surgeon at the prestigious SW1 Plastic Surgery Clinic at Paragon Medical Centre in Singapore. She shares with us a typical 30-day open rhinoplasty recovery guide, so you’ll know what to expect during a typical recovery period.


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Rhinoplasty Recovery Week 1

During this time, you must make sure you are following postoperative incision care and keeping them clean to prevent infection. Avoid spectacles and any pressure on the nose. Most plastic surgeons leave a protective dressing to shield the nose. Avoid sneezing and coughing.

rhinoplasty recovery
Swelling, bruising and protective dressings in the first few days

Day 1. If your surgery was done under sedation or general anaesthesia, you may feel unsteady and sleepy. You should have set up support from family and friends to drive you home and care for you on your first night home. Day one is usually when you most need pain medication to stay on top of discomfort. It is common to have small amounts of bleeding through the nostrils which can be managed with gauze. Some surgeons leave packs in the nose to control the bleeding, especially if you have bone surgery too. You will have to breathe through your nose.


Day 2. Rest is recommended for this day, but you should start to feel better and want to move around some. Sitting up and moving around, instead of lying flat, helps to reduce swelling. You may still have some blood spotting today.


Day 3. Bruising and swelling usually reach their height around day 3 and 4, but both will likely be present for several additional weeks, although they will be significantly milder than the first week of operation. Continue to take medication if you experience discomfort.

Rhinoplasty scars
Usual placement of open rhinoplasty scar is at the columella, the lower part of your septum. Additional scars at the sides are for reducing the width of your nose. In closed rhinoplasty, the scars are completely hidden within the nostrils

Days 4-6. By this time, most people can reduce or even stop their prescription pain medication. You should start to see the swelling go down. You may start to feel you can breathe more easily through your nose. If you have packs in, the surgeon will often ask you to return to have them removed at this time. You should also start feeling more comfortable moving about. Doing light housework is often permitted. For her rhinoplasty patients, Dr Chia provides her patients with a LED Red Light Therapy at this point to reduce swelling and hasten healing. VBeam PDL laser helps to clear bruises for those with bruising tendency.

LED Red Light Therapy helps with healing and swelling after surgery
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Rhinoplasty Recovery Week 2


Days 7-14. Your surgeon will schedule a follow-up visit around this time. They will remove your surgical dressings and remove the sutures. If everything looks good and normal, the surgeon will send you on your way and stop your medications. During this week, you still have mild swelling and bruising around the affected areas. Swelling and bruising can also cause some people to experience some numbness, tingling and tightness. These are all common occurrences after a rhinoplasty and should not cause concern. Many begin doing light activities like walking.

after rhinoplasty pictures
At 1 to 2 weeks after rhinoplasty, most of the swelling would have settled and you will start to see the contours of your new nose. There is still mild swelling but not striking and any remaining bruises can be covered with makeup

Most people return to work in the second week. After a simple closed rhinoplasty, it is possible to go back within a week. Although most of the swelling would have settled by 2 weeks, and even though the remaining swelling is often mild, some patients do express that they may still feel shy to meet people. Being a patient, it is common to be more self-conscious of this swelling than how it appears to others.


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Rhinoplasty Recovery Weeks 3 and 4

Days 15-30. During this time, as the swelling subsides further, you will start to appreciate a more defined nasal contour. By this time, you can get back to your usual exercise regime. During this stage, you start enjoying activities without people noticing much, if any, outward signs of your procedure. Incision sites will have a pinkish-red hue but this should fade with time.


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What to expect after Day 30

After the one-month postoperative mark, you should be back to doing normal activities and enjoying life with your new look. It can take up to one year for very minor swelling, tightness and numbness to reside, but those typically are only noticeable to you.


Keep in mind that the above timeframes only represent very general timeframes. Everyone will have a unique experience, and you should always follow the directions provided by your plastic surgeon. People who do their research, take the necessary precautions and follow their surgeon’s post-op care instructions usually have the easiest recoveries and the best outcomes. It is important to communicate with your surgeon throughout the entire process. Ask questions and let them know if you are experiencing any symptoms that you feel are out of the ordinary.


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