How long does swelling last after rhinoplasty?

This article was updated on December 21st, 2023 at 05:02 pm

Rhinoplasty also called a nose job, is a cosmetic surgery procedure that is based on reconstructing the nose for aesthetic and functional reasons.

Improving the aesthetics of the nose is beneficial in reducing nasal asymmetry or disproportions of the nose compared to the face.

Plasty of the nose can also guarantee the good functionality of the nose and treat any respiratory failure which can be caused by trauma, deviation of the septum, or obstruction of the respiratory tract.

The reasons for swelling or swelling after rhinoplasty

Postoperative swelling after rhinoplasty can exceed one year. The nose (especially the tip) continues to contract several years after rhinoplasty. Patients with thick tip skin tend to have more swelling after rhinoplasty.

The reason is that after all trauma (including surgery), our bodies must go through essential phases of healing and repair.

Healing is a systemic process in three phases:

  1. The inflammatory phase: the nose is swollen, stuffy nose after rhinoplasty, feeling of a large nose (1-7 days)
  2. The proliferative phase (1-6 weeks)
  3. The maturation phase (6-12 months and more)

Stuffy Nose After Rhinoplasty

The inflammatory phase is the body’s natural response to injury. During this phase, the blood vessels dilate to allow immune cells and biochemical processes (white blood cells, growth factors, enzymes, and nutrients) to reach the site of the trauma.

In fact, during this process, blood vessels dilate and molecules are produced by immune cells to attract and activate their congeners according to the identified threat.

This causes the feeling of heat, swelling of the nose, the feeling of a stuffy nose after rhinoplasty or large nose after rhinoplasty and the redness often present at the site of inflammation.

The proliferation phase consists of reconstructing the tissue with healthy granulation tissue, composed of collagen, extracellular matrix, and a new network of blood vessels.

rhinoplasty surgery
young woman raises her nose with her finger on the mirror; Shutterstock ID 240067069; Purchase Order: –

The maturation phase occurs when the wound is closed. During this phase, the tissue reshapes and matures when the collagen fibers reorganize to give the operated nose its final shape.

Swelling of the nose job after surgery lasts even longer in most cases of revision rhinoplasty and, sometimes, steroid injections are necessary.

Appearance of the nose operated over the years

Although the most noticeable facial swelling subsides within 10 days to two weeks postoperatively, it takes years to see the end result of a rhinoplasty. The profile will look better if the bump has been removed, but in the front view, this area remains wide. The swelling in the upper part of the nose disappears more quickly than in the region of the nasal tip. 

Typically, the following events occur:

  1. After 12 months, about 20% of the swelling may still be present at the tip. The tip may still be hard and numb and the skin may still be difficult to pinch. Some patients may express concern that the tip always seems wider than they prefer. The swelling of the tip can fluctuate during the day, usually more noticeable in the morning.
  2. After 2 years, the middle region and the tip will appear thinner. About 5-10% of the swelling may still be present.

At 3 years of surgery, the definition of the tip is almost final. The examination and follow-up photographs show that the tip is even finer and softer than at 2 years of age.

Even after 3 years, many patients, especially those with thick nasal tip skin, report continuous improvement in the tip.

As the swelling subsided over the years, some patients reported that the asymmetries and blemishes became more noticeable.

This is why it is essential to make sure that the nose is as perfect as possible in the operating room.

Op.Dr.Reşit Burak Kayan; After graduating from Istanbul University Istanbul Faculty of Medicine, he completed his Plastic Surgery residency in Vakıf Gureba Training and Research Hospital and Bezm-i Alem Vakıf University Medical School Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery Department.