You Did It!
You finally did it. You got a nose job. Or in medical terms a rhinoplasty. It was a big decision. Were people going to judge you for altering the features you were born with? Would a certain family member take offense that you wanted to alter the very prominent nose they genetically bestowed upon you?
The bottom line is you weren’t happy with it and you decided to do something about it. You wanted something that just fit your face better. And frankly, you just didn’t want to think about it anymore. That little bump, the bulging tip, whatever it was- poof, done. Now you can get on with your life.
Or so you thought …. Once the swelling went down and you waited the recommended one-year post surgery phase, you still weren’t quite happy with the results or possibly even the function of your nose. And you don’t feel like you are being nitpicky either. There’s something that just isn’t quite right. Do you dare go through another surgery? That’s a difficult decision. After all, it was tough taking the first plunge.
Do Your Homework
Hopefully, if you do decide to proceed with a revision rhinoplasty you will put forth your due diligence and research plastic surgeons that specifically specialize in this type of surgery. And we’re not talking about the doctor who dabbles in 5 or so of these complex procedures a year. You want to know that this is a skill they excel at and they have quite the portfolio of pictures to prove it.
If this is not your first revision take care to mention all previous surgeries to the surgeon you are interviewing. Be sure to explain with each procedure what you hoped to accomplish. Pictures are always helpful if you have them.
Now that we have those particulars out of the way … Your decision has been made, and by gosh this is it- you have found a great surgeon that is above and beyond qualified and you are ready to do this- AGAIN.
What? How? Quicker? Longer?
One of the biggest questions you might have is, what can I expect? How is this going to be different from my first surgery? Will the recovery be quicker? Possibly longer?
Keep in mind there are a couple of things that come into play here. One is just how much work may or may not need to be done.
Obviously, if it’s quite extensive you can naturally expect a longer recovery period. Often, just the formation of scar tissue alone can make the procedure more involved. If, however, too much cartilage was removed from your previous surgery(ies), and cartilage must be harvested elsewhere from your body (think ear, rib, etc.), things may take a bit longer to mend.
If it’s a small adjustment, you may have minor bruising and be going about things as usual within a few weeks. You are probably getting the picture here- it is not a one-size-fits-all approach/recovery.
Following is a break down of what you can typically expect. But keep in mind, everyone’s healing speeds are different. As always, following the post-surgery instructions your doctor gives you is critical.
Typically, revision rhinoplasties take anywhere from one and a half to four hours to complete. Remember the cartilage harvesting mentioned previously? That may tack on a couple of hours. So realistically, it could be six hours if you need this type of revision. Either deep sedation or general anesthesia is used.
Either an open or closed procedure will be performed and your surgeon will discuss with you which one you will require. Incisions will either be confined to the inside of the nose (closed procedure) or under the tip of the nose (open procedure).
The First Few Days
This is the phase where you may be questioning why on earth you elected to do this. While most patients report moderate pain that is easily managed with prescribed and/or over the counter medication, it’s just an uncomfortable period. Mouth breathing can be a challenge for some as the nose is packed with gauze, etc., and neatly bandaged up.
Sleeping can be a struggle. Not just because you can’t temporarily breathe out of your nose and only through your mouth, but because you will need to be propped up to keep your swelling and bruising to a minimum. Usually, after a couple of days, the packing will be removed and some breathing will be restored as swelling continues to improve. You may be required to keep the nasal passages irrigated and sleep upright a while longer. Expect to see your doctor a few times during this period.
Two Weeks Post-Op
The bruising will begin to fade during this period. Smokers and those with other health conditions may see a delay. Irrigation will most likely no longer be necessary and most splints will have been removed by this time. While some patients will be able to return to work one-week post-op, some revision surgeries may require up to two weeks. It’s best to plan accordingly. Numbness is common but typically will improve.
Three Weeks to One Month
Take care to not overexert yourself within the first 30 days or accidentally bump your nose causing a setback. It’s also important to avoid sunburns to the skin around the nose. Most patients are able to resume the activities they were accustomed to prior to their surgery while still being cautious. As well, most of the swelling should have dissipated. Continue to keep your appointments with your surgeon even if you don’t feel it’s necessary.
One to Three Months
By this point, especially with a revision, you may be growing impatient. Keep in mind this is the stage where swelling is still subsiding but the tip may still appear to be swollen and numb. Cortisone injections may be an option to help diminish soft tissue swelling. This part of the nose can take the longest to heal so practice some patience dear patient.
Three Months to One Year
For some, the revision healing may take longer if extensive work was performed. Most incisions by this time will have faded and final appointments with your surgeon can be made.
The Bottom Line
Hopefully, your recovery will be a typical one. But for the sake of answering the question- Will a revision recovery take longer? The answer is yes, it’s quite possible. But only a qualified revision rhinoplasty surgeon will be able to tell you what exactly your nose will require. No two revision surgeries or recoveries are the same. Best wishes for a speedy, realistic recovery!
Dr. Frankel, a recognized world-renowned authority in his field, is a board-certified Facial Plastic and Reconstructive and Otolaryngology Surgeon who specializes in surgeries of the face, head and neck regions. You can learn more about Dr. Frankel and revision rhinoplasties here.