Is Rhinoplasty Painful?

No, rhinoplasty is not usually painful for most people. According to Mayo Clinic, most patients rate their pain between a mere 0-4 out of 10 (with 10 being the most painful) immediately following nose surgery.

While rhinoplasty may cause some discomfort as bone and cartilage settle into their new position and the incisions heal, most patients find it completely manageable and worth it for the results.

Cleveland Clinic says you should only feel mild to moderate pain if your surgeon provides proper main management.

Do your homework before picking a rhinoplasty surgeon. Your nose is front and center, so you want someone you can trust to give you your dream results and keep you comfortable throughout the process. An experienced plastic surgeon specializing in rhinoplasty will use proper pain management techniques and provide detailed post-op instructions for you to follow closely.

During the surgery, you will be pain-free because you’ll be under general anesthesia. After you wake up, the surgical team may give you narcotics to keep you comfortable as your nasal bone was just broken to perform the procedure. Most patients switch to Tylenol or Ibuprofen within two days as the discomfort eases.

“The biggest surprise for most patients is that a rhinoplasty is NOT painful,” Dr. Markarian says. “Most people take pain medication for a day and then switch to Tylenol on day 2.”

How Long is Rhinoplasty Recovery?

You should arrange to take a week off work following your rhinoplasty. You’ll start feeling better each day during that first week and at the end, you may feel like yourself again.

You will feel the most discomfort the first week after surgery, so it’s important to rest and avoid anything that could slow down your healing. Most patients find that the fatigue with recovering from the anesthesia is more difficult than the actual soreness from the procedure.

You’ll have a splint on your nose for protection and help it keep its new shape. For your nose to completely heal and show its final shape may take a year or even longer. Following your surgeon’s post-op instructions is key to getting the best results.

So, how long does swelling last after rhinoplasty? While it can take 12-18 months for all the swelling to subside, in most cases, noticeable swelling is gone by 4 months. You can typically return to most activities after a week, but you’ll need to refrain from more strenuous activities for 4 weeks.

How to have a Pain-Free Rhinoplasty Recovery

Dr. Markarian says the key to ensuring his patients are pain-free immediately after rhinoplasty is not placing packing inside their nose. This is the most common complaint he hears from patients who undergo rhinoplasty elsewhere as it can be very uncomfortable. Some soft splints are typically placed inside the nose, but they have a hole in them for breathing and are easily removed at your one-week post-op visit.

Here are some tips to make your rhinoplasty recovery smoother and more comfortable:

Listen to your body

Your surgeon can monitor your recovery from the outside looking in, but only you know how you’re feeling. If something doesn’t seem right, talk to your doctor immediately.

Follow your surgeon’s detailed instructions

Your doctor will likely provide you with a packet of detailed instructions. These are meant to help you recover as quickly, pain and complication-free as possible. Take your pain and anti-infection medications as prescribed and attend all follow-up appointments.

Keep your head elevated

Sleeping with your head elevated can help reduce swelling and discomfort.

Apply cold compresses

Gently using cold compresses can help reduce swelling and pain around your nose.

Steer clear of strenuous activities

You’ll need to take a break from lifting heavy objects and running. We promise you won’t lose much progress in the gym in just a few weeks! The results are worth a break from your fitness routine. Give your body time to heal by avoiding any activities that could strain your nose.

Get plenty of rest

It may be more difficult to fall asleep after rhinoplasty surgery as you’ll have some congestion and may need to breathe through your mouth, you’ll also need to have your head elevated usually with three pillows. Rest is crucial and your body needs energy to heal. Try to aim for eight hours of sleep each night.

Maintain a healthy, balanced diet

Eating a balanced diet after surgery can speed up your recovery. Your body needs nutrients to heal, so ensure you’re getting enough. Protein is essential. Foods like meat, eggs, protein shakes, and yogurt will help your body heal the tissue around your nose.

Avoid blowing your nose

You’ll feel congested for a few weeks to a few months after rhinoplasty, but try not to blow your nose for the first six weeks. We typically recommend our patients use a saline nasal spray to gently moisturize the inside of the nose until the swelling reduces. 

Ditch the glasses until you’re healed

Sunglasses or prescription glasses put pressure on your healing nose and can cause bruising, swelling, or irregularities in the shape that may need revision surgery later. Your surgeon will advise when it’s safe to start wearing glasses again, but we typically say about six weeks. Until then, try to switch to contacts or tape your glasses up so they don’t rest on your nose. 

Smoking is an absolute no-no

It’s essential to avoid smoking before and after your nose surgery. Nicotine restricts blood flow, making it harder for your body to heal and interfering with your recovery.

Avoid blood-thinners

You’ll need to pause taking any blood thinning medications such as Aspirin for two weeks leading up to your surgery as they could cause excess bleeding during your surgery, which can lead to some serious complications.

Leave the cocktails for later

Booze and surgery don’t mix. Avoid alcohol before and after surgery because it can mess with your recovery and healing process, plus it might interfere with your meds.

Be patient and realistic about the recovery process

Your new nose won’t appear overnight. This procedure is infamous for its year-long recovery, and it takes time to heal and see the rhinoplasty results you’re dreaming of.

Are you considering reshaping your nose and ready for the recovery ahead? Schedule a consultation with board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Mark Markarian, who specializes in rhinoplasty and serves both the Boston and Miami Beach areas with his expertise.