With nearly any cosmetic surgery, there’s a point where things get worse before they get better. When it comes to rhinoplasty -- the technical name for a nose job -- bruising and black eyes are a normal part of the procedure. How much bruising you experience is partly up to me. How I handle the cuts through the periosteum, the tissue on top of your nasal bones, has a big impact on both the amount of bruising and swelling you’ll experience.
Though much of your post-operative condition is out of your hands, there are still steps you can take to assure your recovery time is as fast as possible. Here are five things to keep in mind as you manage your healing period after your rhinoplasty.
Knowing what to expect is a crucial part of maintaining a positive outlook through recovery. If you’re hoping that you’ll come out of surgery looking your best, you’ll be disappointed. I’ll explain before your procedure how recovery typically occurs, but everyone heals differently, so you may not experience things precisely the way another patient would.
Let me know about any medications you’re on ahead of surgery as well. Some meds, particularly blood thinners, can affect the amount of bruising you see after surgery. Similarly, if you have a family history of excessive bleeding or heavy bruising, tell me about it so I can factor that into your procedure.
While a level head is always a positive attribute, I’m referring to temperature here. Cold compresses are perhaps the most simple and effective self-treatment you can do to promote fast healing. Inflammation is inevitable with rhinoplasty, and cool temperatures counter the swelling. Try to maintain a schedule of compresses every 30 minutes for a few days after surgery, then periodically as needed after that.
If you like a hot shower or hot bath, try to endure cooler temperatures during your recovery. Your circulatory system spreads out the effects of the hot water on your body, so even if you keep your nose dry, your blood will be warming things up, potentially slowing healing and aggravating inflammation.
Using non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are a potent way to reduce both pain and swelling, however, avoid these for at least a week before your rhinoplasty. There’s evidence that NSAIDs can slow the healing process after surgery.
Two effective supplements, taken both before and after surgery, may help keep inflammation to a minimum. A homeopathic herb called arnica montana started a week before surgery and ended a week after helps to reduce swelling. Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple, can also be started a week before surgery and taken for up to two weeks after. Neither of these meds has side effects, and they’ll help shorten recovery time.
Watch the Salt
Sodium causes the body to retain fluid, and that’s just what we want to avoid to reduce bruising and swelling. So pass on that can of chicken soup as a post-surgery lunch. Try to keep salt right out of your diet, as much as possible, for a couple of weeks after surgery.
Likewise, stay hydrated. When your body has lots of water available, water retention is less likely, and your circulatory and lymphatic systems work more efficiently, both of which contribute to fast healing.
Use Your Splint
I’ll typically recommend you wear a splint for a few days after surgery. The splint helps minimize swelling, so it’s an important contributor to your recovery. However, it’s imperative that it stays dry to prevent creating conditions that could support infection in your incisions. Keep compresses out of direct contact with the splinted area.
As well as wearing your splint, avoid any exertion that causes blood to rush to your head, such as bending to lift something heavy. Instead, some light walking is quite beneficial for its gentle stimulation of circulation. Blood flow assists healing and recovery, but this is a case when more isn’t better. Avoid exertion for about a month after your rhinoplasty to keep swelling and bruising to a minimum.