Rhinoplasty, often called a “nose job,” is an excellent choice for many individuals who are dissatisfied with the appearance of their nose. Before you decide to have the surgery, you should know what to expect from the preparation, procedure, and recovery. Your plastic surgery team will make sure you’re fully informed before the big day.

Planning for Your Recovery

An easy recovery begins with good preparation. First, you’ll need a responsible adult to drive you to and from the facility. This individual doesn’t necessarily have to wait at the facility the entire time, but he or she should leave a phone number with the staff. Once you return home, you should have someone there to help you out for the first couple of days.

As the surgery date approaches, contact the office about having prescriptions sent to your pharmacy. You should pick these up before your operation.

Next, set up a comfortable “healing station.” Pile extra pillows on your bed or couch and set up a couple of humidifiers. (Your mouth and throat will feel dry for a while after the surgery.) You may want a few things within arm’s reach while you’re resting, such as lip balm to soothe dry lips, cool beverages, reading materials and the remote control.

Lastly, stock up on a selection of soft foods that are easy to chew. You may be breathing primarily through your mouth for a few days, and easy-to-eat foods would be best. Yogurt, soup, cottage cheese and cream of wheat are all good choices.

The First 24 Hours

After your surgery, you may feel groggy for the rest of the day. This is a normal effect of the anesthesia. Expect to spend the day lying down with your head elevated. Keeping your head elevated is particularly important during the first few days, as it helps reduce swelling.


It’s easy to get confused about whether or not you’ve already taken a dosage, especially when the anesthesia is still wearing off. Create a medication chart you can follow, or put a responsible adult in charge of managing your medications. Most patients find that the post-operative pain isn’t nearly as bad as they’d feared. You’ll have a prescription pain reliever to use, but you’ll likely transition to an over-the-counter medicine within a day or two. Remember to finish the full course of any antibiotics you’re prescribed, even if you show no signs of an infection.

Activity Level

Plan to take at least one week off work. Everyone recovers a little differently. Your doctor can give you specific details on when to return to light activities. Do avoid strenuous activity, like heavy lifting, bending over and exercise, for several weeks.

Swelling of the Nose

Nasal swelling is normal after a rhinoplasty, as is the feeling of congestion. You’ll have internal packing, which is like a dressing inside your nose. Your plastic surgeon may place splints—which have a hollow tube—in your nostrils so you can breathe easier. These materials, along with the sutures, will be removed at your follow-up visit in one to two weeks. You’ll also have your nose thoroughly cleaned out at this appointment, and the feeling of congestion will subside.

Rhinoplasty Results

Although the initial swelling subsides quickly, your nose will take a long time to “settle” into its final shape and size. It may take a year to see your final results. Be very careful not to injure your nose during this long-term healing process.

Dr. Mark Schusterman at Texas Center for Breast & Body in Houston is a board-certified plastic surgeon who has received numerous awards and recognitions for his technical skills and surgical artistry. Contact Dr. Schusterman’s office today to discuss becoming our next rhinoplasty success story!