Recovering from septoplasty surgery is different for each patient. While some patients experience minimal discomfort and return to their daily activities relatively quickly, for others, aftereffects such as swelling can persist for months. If you are planning on having septoplasty surgery, your recovery will depend on a number of factors, including your unique anatomy and what actions you and your facial plastic surgeon take.
Immediately After the Surgery
Immediately after your septoplasty procedure your nose will probably be sore, and you should expect some bruising. You may feel a bit nauseated as well.
Your surgeon and his or her staff will monitor you at the surgical facility for two or three hours. In some cases patients need to remain at the facility overnight. Once you have been cleared to leave the facility, a friend or family member will need to drive you home.
Here is an approximate breakdown of the septoplasty recovery period:
Immediately following surgery
As mentioned above, you may be sore following surgery and will need to stay at the surgical facility until you are cleared to go home. You will need to rest with your head elevated for a couple of days.
Two days after surgery
Any surgical packing will be removed. However, note that the best facial plastic surgeons have special techniques that eliminate the need for surgical packing.
Two weeks after surgery
Swelling should subside somewhat and you may be able to resume most of your everyday activities. (Some swelling will persist for a matter of months and up to a year.)
One month after surgery
Your nose should be completely healed, but there will still be some swelling.
What to Do After Returning Home
Once home, use cold compresses and any pain medications prescribed by your surgeon to alleviate the swelling. Sleeping on your back can also help reduce swelling, not to mention help you avoid injuring your healing nose. It is also important that you keep your head elevated.
A friend or family member should keep track of your temperature, because a high fever may be a sign that you have an infection, which is dangerous.
Achieving a Speedy Recovery
In addition to your overall health and other individual factors, the pace of your recovery will depend on how closely you follow your surgeon’s preoperative and postoperative instructions. To achieve a speedy recovery, make sure to take any vitamins and medications your surgeon gives you. Also make sure to follow your surgeon’s postoperative instructions very closely.
In addition, there are steps that your surgeon can take during surgery to encourage a speedy recovery.
To reduce bruising and swelling, the best surgeons use special tissue glues and sutures that dissolve, the combination of which have made it unnecessary to use nasal packing.
In cases where the septum was particularly crooked prior to surgery, placing internal splints can help speed up the recovery process.
Skilled nose surgeons also avoid fully closing the incisions inside the nose; this makes it possible for fluid to drain more easily between the stitches and speeds up the recovery process by eliminating the need for drains.
The use of high-definition 3D scopes can also diminish swelling and bruising because it enables the surgeon to avoid irritating tiny blood vessels and sensitive internal nasal tissues.
What to Avoid
For at least two weeks prior to your septoplasty surgery you should avoid blood thinners including aspirin, ibuprofen, fish oil, garlic, herbal teas, Gingko Biloba and St. Johns Wart. Inform your surgeon of any medications or herbal supplements you take so that he or she can advise you. If you feel stuffed up don’t take over-the counter decongestants, because some of them contain drugs that can make bleeding worse. Instead, ask your doctor what you should take.
Alcohol should be avoided for two days prior to and two weeks after your procedure, as it will exacerbate swelling and bleeding.
Avoid smoking at all costs — both before and after surgery — as it can have an extremely negative effect on your recovery and healing.
Also avoid moving your head too much for the first few days after surgery. You should avoid wearing glasses for a few weeks. Do not engage in any rigorous activities for several weeks. Do not engage in contact sports for several months (ask your surgeon when you will be ready).