You may have some swelling of your nose, upper lip, cheeks, or around your eyes after nasal surgery. You may have some bruises around your nose and eyes. Your nose may be sore and will bleed. This may last for several days after surgery.
The tip of your nose and your upper lip and gums may be numb. Feeling will return in a few weeks to a few months. Your sense of smell may not be as good after surgery. But it will improve and will often return to normal in 1 to 2 months.
You will have a drip pad under your nose to collect mucus and blood. Change it only when it bleeds through. You may have to do this every hour for 24 hours after surgery.
You will probably be able to return to work or school in a few days and to your normal routine in about 3 weeks. But this varies with your job and how much surgery you had. Most people recover fully in 1 to 2 months.
You will have to visit your doctor during the 3 to 4 months after your surgery. Your doctor will check to see that your nose is healing well.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover. Do not lie flat. Raise your head with two or three pillows. This can reduce swelling. Try to sleep on your back for the month after surgery. You can also sleep in a reclining chair.
- Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation. Also, try to sit and stand as much as you can.
- For 1 week, try not to bend over or lift anything heavier than 10 pounds. This may include a child, heavy grocery bags and milk containers, a heavy briefcase or backpack, cat litter or dog food bags, or a vacuum cleaner.
- You can take a shower or bath. Avoid swimming for 6 weeks.
- Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, for 1 week or until your doctor says it is okay.
- You may drive when you are no longer taking prescription pain pills and feel up to it.
- You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
- You may notice that your bowel movements are not regular right after your surgery. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. You may want to take a fiber supplement every day. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, ask your doctor about taking a mild laxative.
- Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. You will also get instructions about taking any new medicines.
- If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
- Do not take aspirin, aspirin-containing medicines, or anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) for 3 weeks following surgery unless your doctor says it is okay.
- Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
- If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over- the-counter medicine.
- If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
- Store your prescription pain medicines where no one else can get to them. When you are done using them, dispose of them quickly and safely. Your local pharmacy or hospital may have a drop-off site.
- If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
- If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
- Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
- Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.
- You will have a drip pad under your nose to collect blood. Change it only when it has bled through. You may have to do this every hour for 24 hours after surgery. When bleeding stops, you can remove it.
- If you have packing in your nose, leave it in. Your doctor will take it out.
Ice and elevation
- To help with swelling and pain, put ice or a cold pack on your nose for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
- Sleep with your head raised up. You can also sleep in a reclining chair.
- Do not blow your nose for 1 week after surgery.
- Do not put anything into your nose.
- If you must sneeze, open your mouth and sneeze naturally.
- Use saline (saltwater) nasal washes to help keep your nasal passages open and wash out mucus and dried blood. You can buy saline nose sprays at a grocery store or drugstore. Follow the instructions on the package. Or you can make your own at home. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda to 2 cups of distilled or boiled and cooled water. Fill a squeeze bottle with the nasal wash. Then put the tip into your nostril, and lean over the sink. With your mouth open, gently squirt the liquid. Repeat on the other side.
- You can wear your glasses when you wish. Do not wear contacts until the day after the surgery.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You passed out (lost consciousness).
- You have severe trouble breathing.
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have changes in your vision or lots of sudden swelling around your eyes.
- You have constant clear, watery discharge from your nose.
- You bleed through the bandage more quickly than what you've been told is normal.
- You have a new or worse fever.
Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
- You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
- You do not get better as expected.
Where can you learn more?
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