Rhinoplasty and Septoplasty - What to expect after surgery?

By: Dr. Sean Delaney


Patients who are better prepared for surgery tend to have smoother recoveries. Therefore, it is important for our patients to understand what to expect after nasal surgery. Dr. Delaney answers several common questions that relate to nasal surgery – Rhinoplasty (aka Nose job) and Septoplasty.

How long does nasal surgery take?

Typically, rhinoplasty lasts about 2 hours and septoplasty takes 1 hour at an outpatient surgery center. The surgery is performed under anesthesia, and the time to induce anesthesia and wake up after surgery is approximately 30 minutes. If it is a more complicated Rhinoplasty or Revision Rhinoplasty surgery, it will take additional time.

What do I feel like right after surgery?

You will likely wake up a bit groggy from having been under anesthesia. There will be a small soft dressing inside your nose. If you have had a rhinoplasty, there will be an external splint over your nose. Your nose will be stuffy the first night and you may have slightly bloody mucous drainage seep into the gauze dressing below your nose (mustache dressing) or down your throat. You may also experience swelling and bruising around your eyes.

Will it hurt after surgery?

Most people who have nasal surgery describe the pain as "mild." Dr. Delaney will prescribe you pain medication to take as needed after surgery. However, if the pain is mild, Tylenol (Acetaminophen) works great. It is important to avoid aspirin products, NSAIDs, and other medications that tend to increase bleeding.

What do I do after I go home from surgery?

After you go home, you should rest with your head elevated. If you had rhinoplasty, ice your cheeks 10 to 15 minutes each time, once an hour, while you are awake to keep the swelling and bruising down. This is important to do for the first 3 days after surgery.

When do I get the dressings off?

You will visit the office the day after surgery to remove the light packing inside your nose. The external nasal splint usually comes off around 5 to 7 days after surgery.

When can I go back to work?

Most people can return to work or school a week after surgery, but you must wait several weeks before resuming strenuous physical activity. Air travel is permitted a week after having nose surgery.

If you had Rhinoplasty or Revision Rhinoplasty surgery, by the time you return to work or school, your nose may still appear a bit swollen. It will continue to improve over the months to come, and you will see your final result "settle in" after about a year. 

Dr. Delaney is passionate about providing the highest standards of care, including follow-up care. You will visit the FPSA office regularly right after surgery to ensure that you are healing properly, clean your nose, and for Dr. Delaney to answer any questions that you may have.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.