There are certain advantages to having rhinoplasty surgery during the winter. For example, the holidays may give you more time to recover. Having nose surgery in the winter also may allow you to avoid exposing your nose to the sun, which is important for healing. On the flip side, recovering from rhinoplasty in the winter requires minor adjustments to account for the colder, potentially dryer weather.

The Rhinoplasty Recovery Timeline

Here is a rough timeline of the rhinoplasty recovery process:

  • First couple of days: Some pain or discomfort and possible headache.
  • First three days or so: Congestion resulting from nasal swelling.
  • First week: Bruising around the nose and eyes. An herbal remedy called arnica montana can help to reduce bruising.
  • After first week: You will most likely be able to return to work, as most of the bruising and swelling will be gone.
  • First year: Swelling can last up to a year. After about a month the swelling should subside significantly, and friends, family and co-workers likely won’t notice the remaining swelling. The upside of this persistent swelling is that your results continue to improve for the first year.How Cold Temperatures Affect Recovery

Cold temperatures do not have a dramatic impact on the rhinoplasty recovery process. They do, however, have some impact. If anything, cold weather is a plus, as it can help with swelling or at least won’t make it worse. Another plus is that most patients have less exposure to the potentially damaging effects of the sun during the wintertime. However, cold, dry weather can also dry out the skin, so you will need to keep close tabs on the condition of your delicate healing skin. Your surgeon will likely provide you with ointments to help keep your skin in optimal condition.

3 Tips for a Speedy Recovery
Here are three important tips to encourage a speedy recovery from your winter rhinoplasty procedure:

  1.  Follow your postoperative instructions. The success and speed of your recovery depend in large part on your diligence in following the recovery instructions your surgeon gives you.
  2. Take steps to reduce swelling. Use cold compresses and any pain medications prescribed by your surgeon to lessen the swelling. Also, sleep on your back with your head elevated to reduce swelling and prevent injury to your nose.
  3. Choose your surgeon carefully. Your surgeon should be an experienced, board-certified facial plastic surgeon that uses advanced techniques and technologies. There are a number of things a good surgeon will do to ensure a speedy recovery. For example, top facial plastic surgeons use dissolvable sutures as well as tissue glues. This important combination reduces swelling and bruising and makes nasal packing unnecessary. Skilled rhinoplasty surgeons also use complex techniques that promote faster recovery times; for example, creating partially open internal nasal incisions that allow fluid to easily flow between the sutures so that drains are unnecessary. Top surgeons also use highly sophisticated equipment and instrumentation, such as high-definition 3D endoscopes, to avoid disturbing sensitive tissues and vessels inside the nose.

Things You Should Avoid 

There are a number of things you should be careful to avoid before and during your winter rhinoplasty recovery. Avoid any medications and supplements that thin the blood for a minimum of two weeks before your rhinoplasty surgery. These include ibuprofen, aspirin, herbal teas, fish oil, garlic, St. Johns Wart and Gingko Biloba, among others. Let your surgeon know if you take any medications or supplements.

Also make sure to avoid any decongestants that have not been approved by your surgeon, as they may contain ingredients that can worsen bleeding. Your doctor will be able to advise you as to what you should or should not take. You should avoid smoking, both before and after your rhinoplasty surgery, no matter what. Smoking can have a very negative impact on your rhinoplasty recovery. Also avoid alcohol for a couple of days before and after your rhinoplasty, because it can worsen swelling and bleeding.

In addition, make sure not to move your head around for a few days postoperatively, and don’t wear glasses for several weeks. Avoid strenuous activity for a few weeks and contact sports for at least a few months. (Do not play contact sports until your surgeon has cleared you.)

Also, during the winter dry winds can parch your skin. This can be damaging to healing tissues, so make sure to protect your skin and apply as directed any protective ointments provided by your surgeon.

Sam Rizk, MD

By Dr. Sam S. Rizk, M.D., FACS.

Dr. Rizk is a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon who specializes in rhinoplasty surgery and a recognized expert on the latest advances in facial plastic surgery techniques. He performs a range of facial plastic surgeries at his New York practice.

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