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Rhinoplasty swelling: How long should it last?

Rhinoplasty swelling occurs both on the outside and inside of the nose. It is normal to feel congested and have nasal obstruction and postnasal drip immediately after rhinoplasty surgery. Patients are generally “restaurant ready” and socially acceptable within 2 weeks. Most swelling after rhinoplasty resolves within a month. The final 20% of swelling takes a much longer time to resolve, up to a year or longer after surgery. Fortunately, this final swelling is usually only evident to the surgeon and patient.

Rhinoplasty swelling varies greatly and is largely based on the areas of the nose treated, surgical approach to the nose (open or closed/endonasal), skin thickness, postoperative care, and your healing ability. The more extensive the surgery, the more you will swell and the longer the swelling will last. The tip of the nose holds onto swelling longer than the other parts of the nose. Open rhinoplasty, where there is an external incision at the base of the nose, swells more and longer than closed/endonasal rhinoplasty. Patients with thicker skin will also have more swelling.

Keeping your head elevated, maintaining the nasal splint/cast, ice, arnica montana, and following your plastic surgeon’s guideline may help reduce rhinoplasty swelling. Persistant swelling may also be reduced by steroid treatment into the nose. Don’t hesitate to speak to your plastic surgeon about any swelling.

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    Houtan Chaboki, M.D.