Rhinoplasty Recovery Guide – Everything You Need to Know

This article has been reviewed by
Dr. Kristin Eagan, M.D.

Are you bothered by the appearance of your nose? If so, you are not alone – rhinoplasty, often called a nose job in layman’s terms, is the most common plastic surgery procedure performed in the United States, with more than 250,000 people getting having it performed every year. However, many people are worried about their rhinoplasty recovery. As with any plastic surgery, there will be a recovery period, so it is important to know what to expect before proceeding with surgery.

Rhinoplasty Risks Before Even Thinking About Rhinoplasty Recovery

All plastic surgery procedures come with a certain degree of risk, so before you worry about the recovery, you need to be aware of several risks associated with the rhinoplasty surgery. You should discuss all these potential risks with your doctor. These risks include infection, internal bleeding, unsatisfactory results that will require another “touch up” surgery, breathing issues caused by nasal obstruction, and perforation of the septum (this is when there is a tiny hole in the septum that can cause a whistling sound when a person speaks or sings). All of these risks are relatively low, and can be greatly reduced by carefully selecting a board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in rhinoplasty. While the risks are low if you thoroughly research your doctor, they can never be eliminated completely. Never get any plastic surgery procedure without thoroughly researching both the procedure and doctor who will be performing it.

Rhinoplasty Recovery – Immediately Post Op

Immediately following the surgery, you will feel groggy and out of it. As the anesthesia wears off, you will probably experience a little bit of pain in your nose, however this can be controlled with pain medication your doctor will prescribe. Your entire nasal area will be very swollen and numb, and it will stay swollen for weeks following the surgery, although it will go down a lot after the first five or so days. During the first 24 hours of your rhinoplasty recovery, you will be urged to remain in bed with your head elevated. You doctor will probably place some kind of nasal splint or cast to help your nose hold its new shape, however this will be removed about a week to two weeks after surgery.

During the first week of the rhinoplasty recovery, you will be advised not to blow your nose. You may feel congested and tempted to blow, but you must resist. A decongestant might help. Between the swelling and lack of being able to blow your nose, it may be difficult or impossible to breathe out of your nose for the first week or so. This is a completely normal part of the rhinoplasty recovery process and nothing to worry about. It is also normal during this first week to experience some bleeding, but this is again a normal part of the rhinoplasty recovery process and nothing to become alarmed about. There can also be a significant amount of bruising, especially under the eyes. This will go away in roughly three to four weeks. You will probably want to take at least a week off from work while you recover. If you job requires a lot of physical exertion, then even more time off may be needed.

Rhinoplasty Recovery Further Down the Road

After the splint and casts are removed after two weeks, you may have to wear a softer splint on the outside, just to be safe and ensure the nose holds its new shape. Obviously, you will want to avoid any contact sports while you heal, for up to year. About one month into the rhinoplasty recovery phase, roughly 80% of the swelling will have disappeared, however it can take a year or more for it to completely go away. This is where patience comes in. You will probably be tempted to check your new nose out in the mirror every chance you get, however it is important not to stress out over the appearance too much as you heal. During the rest of your rhinoplasty recovery the nose will continue to reduce in swelling and probably make slight changes in its appearance as it heals. If you are not 100% satisfied with the results, wait a few more months to see if things look better as you heal. If you are still not satisfied with the results one year into the rhinoplasty recovery phase, then you might consider a revision rhinoplasty, although it is best to wait even longer, up 1 ½ to 2 years for all swelling to go down and to be completely recovered.


The recovery from rhinoplasty can feel like a long period of time, while waiting for the swelling to go down. This may be the hardest part of the recovery. There will not be considerable pain, and there will be minimal or no visible scarring, which can be a problem with other plastic surgery procedures. Remember not to over analyze the appearance of your nose or freak out as it heals; slight nasal irregularities or asymmetries are to be expected as your body slowly heals. When compared to other cosmetic surgery prices, revision rhinoplasty is very expensive, so make sure you are fully recovered from your initial rhinoplasty before considering a revision.

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