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Rhinoplasty Swelling – How long does it last?

More commonly referred to as a nose job, rhinoplasty can lead to dramatic changes in a person's appearance.

The results of a nose job can bring a boost in self-confidence and an increased level of happiness. While it is a very common, and effective, procedure, it is also complex. This means that it is something that should be carried out by the very best surgeons.

As with many procedures, swelling can occur and you can expect rhinoplasty swelling. The amount of swelling that you experience will depend on the extent of the surgery that you have had. Although there are obvious results early on, there are rhinoplasty swelling stages that people will experience after the surgery. While rhinoplasty swelling is perfectly normal, in this article we are going to explore this in a little more detail. By the end, we hope that you will have an understanding of the rhinoplasty swelling timeline as well as steps that you can take to help yourself. 

What swelling can you expect after a rhinoplasty?

Many patients are pleasantly surprised with how a rhinoplasty is performed. At the Cadogan Clinic, we use Total Intravenous Anaesthesia. This leads to the operation being almost painless. Patients also wake up extremely quickly and, unlike with other anaesthetics, they do not feel sick. There tends to be bruising under the eyes immediately after the procedure, but this tends to disappear in around 10 days. It is also common for patients to have other swelling to their cheeks and maybe even their upper lip. This is bruising and swelling that will fade within a matter of days. At the time of leaving to go home, patients can expect to experience some bleeding. There will be a gauze strapped under the nose to slow this down and it will usually stop by the next morning. 

Rhinoplasty swelling will be obvious on the nose, but should only be moderate. This is certainly the case within the first 2 weeks or so but changes as you go through the rhinoplasty swelling stages. Patients will usually have a plaster of Paris or splint where bones have been fractured. This is removed after 7-10 days and allows patients the first view of the results of their nose job. It is this first look that may cause patients some concern at first. The nose will appear swollen and there will be no definition to it. The important point to remember here is that this is not the finished article. As you move through the rhinoplasty swelling timeline, you will see improvements appearing before you see the end result. 

Why does rhinoplasty swelling occur?

There are two types of rhinoplasty swelling that occur. These both have different causes and last for differing amounts of time. The first rhinoplasty swelling is the result of the immediate trauma of the procedure. During the operation, the nose and face are subjected to a significant amount of this, so it is only to be expected that there will be some kind of swelling as a result. This type of swelling is usually accompanied by bruising which may appear under the eyes, on the cheeks, or above the top lip. 

The second rhinoplasty swelling that is experienced is as a result of fluid retention. During the procedure, cartilage and bones are disturbed and grafts are used to reshape the nose. When this has been done, the skin is then draped over the newly shaped nose and has to mould itself to it. This causes fluid to be retained underneath the skin and above the cartilage.  

Rhinoplasty swelling timeline

When it comes to giving a definitive rhinoplasty swelling timeline, it has to be remembered that every patient is unique. Certain factors may affect rhinoplasty swelling and how long it lasts. This could be the extent of the procedure or even down to the thickness of a patients skin: thicker skin will usually swell more and take longer to recover. That being said, there is a general timeline that patients can expect to follow in terms of healing:

Patients should expect swelling to the nose along with bruising to the cheeks and possibly other areas of the face.

At this point, some of the rhinoplasty swelling will have reduced. Your face is likely to be tender to touch, but bruises will have faded to yellow/green and you will be able to notice the new shape to your nose. 

Bruising should have all disappeared by this time. The swelling around the nose will have reduced significantly. 

By this point, you will have a clear idea of what the end result is going to look like. Your nose will have a distinct new shape to it and will be more defined. To the eye, it would appear that you have never had surgery as the swelling will have reduced even more.

After 6 weeks you will notice a marked improvement in how your nose feels. Rhinoplasty swelling will have subsided so much that you can now safely blow your nose.

It could be that following your rhinoplasty you still had issues with sensations in your nose. By the 3-6 month mark, this should resolve.

By this point, your nose should have fully recovered and any rhinoplasty swelling should have gone. There are cases when this can take up to 18 months, but 12 months is average.

What can be done to reduce rhinoplasty swelling?

Patient aware of the timeline involved often want to know how to help swelling after rhinoplasty. There are several steps that you can take to manage the swelling, but you can not rid yourself of it completely. Some of the steps that you can take include: 

The key to finding how to help swelling after rhinoplasty is to listen to your surgeon. At Cadogan Clinic we will advise on what you can expect following rhinoplasty. We will also see you again to check in on your progress. Trusting your rhinoplasty to experts in this area will mean you have the best chance of a speedy recovery. 

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