Patients can expect a total recuperative time of approximately 7 to 14 days following septoplasty. After surgery, a splint is placed on the outside of the nose. This helps the nose retain its new shape as it heals and is usually removed after 7 days. After removal, the nose will be swollen and the nasal tip may appear upturned but this will gradually settle down and resolve over the next few weeks. When the splint is removed, brown paper tape is applied to the nose and left in place for another 7 days. If nasal packing is used it is typically removed on the morning after your surgery.
Pain is generally minimal following septoplasty surgery. Patients may experience discomfort, though this is usually related more to nasal and sinus congestion rather than pain. Other side effects may include itching or numbness. If necessary, prescription pain medicine can be taken but it’s important to remember that this medication will impair your reactions and driving should thus be avoided. Regular Strength or Extra Strength Tylenol is often sufficient after the first day. Patients may also be given a short course of antibiotics and steroids after surgery to help prevent infection and excess swelling. Certain medications should be avoided for the first 2 to 3 weeks following septoplasty surgery, including aspirin, ibuprofen and Vitamin E.
It is not uncommon for patients to feel a bit down or depressed during the first few days after surgery. It’s important to remember that this will pass as you begin to look and feel better.
Bleeding, Bruising and Swelling
Bleeding, bruising and swelling are all common side effects of surgery. Cold compresses or ice packs can be applied during the first 48 hours to help minimize bruising and discomfort. Keeping the head elevated during the first few days can also help to minimize swelling.
Bleeding is normal during the first 12 hours after surgery and you may need to change the gauze several times during this period. A reddish-pink discharge from the nose and throat is normal for the first 3 to 4 days and may persist for 1 to 2 weeks. Profuse bleeding is uncommon but if this occurs you can try pinching the nostrils together firmly for 10 minutes without interruption or laying down with the head elevated on 3 to 4 pillows. If the bleeding does not improve, call your surgeon.
Swelling can occur around the nose, eyes and cheeks, while bruising may manifest as “black eyes”. Most bruising typically fades within 2 to 3 weeks and makeup can be worn to help conceal it. Swelling is generally most extreme on day two after surgery and then begins to subside thereafter. However, patients may not notice swelling until after the cast has been removed. Most noticeable swelling will resolve within 4-6 weeks, but some subtle, unnoticeable swelling may remain for up to 6 to 12 months after surgery. During the first 2 to 3 weeks after surgery, swelling inside the nose may obstruct the nasal passages, causing a stuffy feeling or difficulty when breathing. This will gradually subside. You may find it helpful to use a humidifier to make breathing through your mouth more comfortable and this may also allow you to sleep better. You should avoid sleeping on your side and should instead sleep on your back with the head elevated using 2 or 3 pillows.
It’s important to remember that bruising and swelling will resolve in time and will have no bearing on your final result. If necessary, a small amount of steroid can be injected into the nose to help reduce swelling.
Caring For YourNose
During the first week you should clean your nose 3 times daily. Use a Q-tip and hydrogen peroxide and carefully clean around the nostrils. After cleaning, place a small amount of pure Vaseline or antibiotic ointment around the nostrils to keep them moist. If you wear eyeglasses, you will need to tape them to your forehead so they do not rest on the nose. Avoid sniffing excessively or blowing your nose during the first week and open your mouth when sneezing. It is not uncommon for patients to hit their nose a time or two during the first week and this will likely not cause any problems unless excessive force is used. Some patients may be given nasal exercises to help keep the nose narrow and in proper alignment. Each exercise is held for 30 seconds and these should be performed for 15 to 20 minutes each day for about 6 weeks.
Activity should be limited during the first week. It is good to walk around the house but you should avoid bending at the waist or picking up heavy objects, including babies, small children and pets. Overexertion may result in bleeding. Showering is okay on day 2 after surgery and you can wash your face with mild soap and cotton balls or a clean washcloth. When showering, you will need to cover the nasal cast to keep it dry, however a blow dryer can be used to dry it out if it does get wet. During the first week, your diet should include fluids and foods that are easy to chew. Hard to chew foods should be avoided during this time. It is also important to avoid smoking and being around cigarette smoke as this can irritate the nasal tissue and impede your healing. Alcoholic beverages may increase the risk of bleeding and should be avoided for the first 2 weeks.
You may slowly resume your activity starting on the second week after surgery, but listen to your body and don’t overdo it. You should gradually work up to more strenuous activity and exercise which can be resumed after 5 to 6 weeks. Swimming is allowed after 6 weeks. Semi-contact sports should be postponed for at least 4 to 6 months, and you should avoid sunburn to the nose for at least 6 months.
While the nose may begin to look better within 2 to 3 weeks after your septoplasty surgery, the final result will take longer and patience is important. It takes 6 weeks for the nasal bones to fully heal and it may take many months for the nose to assume its final shape.