Rhinoplasty, also known as a nose reshaping, improves facial harmony and balance and can enhance the dimensions and qualities of the nose. One of the five most commonly performed plastic surgeries in the U.S., rhinoplasty can also repair impeded breathing due to nasal structural irregularities. More than 223,000 nose reshaping procedures were completed in America in 2016, an increase of two percent from the year before.
“Following a rhinoplasty, people are always wondering when they are going to see the results,” says Jeffrey J. Lehman, M.D., F.A.C.S., a board-certified otolaryngologist at The Ear, Nose, Throat and Plastic Surgery Associates.

“In the first week after surgery, it might be difficult for the patient to get an idea of what the nose is ultimately going to look like. They can see maybe that big bump on the ridge of the nose is gone, but they can’t see the final result just yet.”

A Gradual Approach to Realize Results

According to Dr. Lehman, it’s important for rhinoplasty patients to have a long-term approach when dealing with results. While post-surgical swelling usually recedes within a few weeks, it can take up to a year for a patient’s new nasal contour to fully redefine itself.

“Initially when I see a patient back after the first week following the surgery, we’re taking splints off, and we’re addressing any issues that might be present,” says Dr. Lehman. “The swelling at that point is usually still fairly significant, and there’s often some bruising underneath the eyes.”

During this time, gradual changes in the appearance of the nose might be observed as it evolves toward its more permanent result. The nose is more prone to swelling than other parts of the body, and it also tends to hold onto swelling for prolonged periods of time.

Dr. Lehman affirms that most bruises and the majority of the swelling subside roughly six weeks after the surgery. “By six weeks after surgery, about 80% of the swelling has gone down,” he says. “The bruising has been long gone at about four weeks.”

There are a few factors that may influence how long it takes for the swelling to subside including the thickness of the skin of the nose and whether or not the rhinoplasty was open or closed. Over the first few months following surgery, the nose will start to settle into its final shape.

“At the six-week stage, we typically take postoperative pictures, and we can get a good idea of what the nose will ultimately look like,” Dr. Lehman explains. “Ultimately, it takes about six months after an internal approach rhinoplasty, and as long as a year or two after external approach rhinoplasty to see the final result.”

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