Nose jobs are one of the most commonly performed cosmetic surgery procedures in America as over 200,000 are performed every year. And a chief concern among those who have undergone rhinoplasty is how to care for their nose and speed up healing time following surgery. Although developing an infection after undergoing rhinoplasty is rare, they do happen.
According to a study published by the National Institute of Health, when sinus surgery and rhinoplasty are combined, the risk of developing an infection increases considerably. Fortunately, whether you have undergone functional or cosmetic rhinoplasty, there are things that you can do to reduce your risk of infection and also speed up healing time.
Signs of Infection After Surgery
Before detailing how to prevent infection following rhinoplasty, let’s take a moment to identify some of the more common tell-tale signs of infection. In some cases, individuals will develop cavernous sinus thrombosis, blood clots that form within the cavernous sinus, which is a cavity at the base of the brain that is responsible for draining deoxygenated blood from the brain and ultimately returning it to the heart. New Jersey’s Rhinoplasty Center writes that cavernous sinus thrombosis is one of the more common infections that stem from rhinoplasty surgery. This type of infection can cause the following symptoms:
- High blood pressure
In some cases, the stitches used to complete rhinoplasty surgery can become infected. Some of the more common symptoms associated with infected stitches include
- Increased pain, tenderness, warmth, or sensitivity around the wound
- Redness or swelling
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Blood or pus starts to form around the stitches
- A Foul smell emanating from around the stitches
If you have developed cavernous sinus thrombosis or infected stitches after undergoing rhinoplasty surgery, it would be a good idea to schedule an appointment with your physician as soon as possible. However, it is worth noting that there are ways to reduce your chances of developing either of these infections in the first place, some of which include
- Keeping the would clean and dry
- Taking antibiotics as prescribed
- Washing your hands regularly to prevent inadvertently transferring germs to your nose
Also, if you’re a smoker, you have yet another reason to consider quitting. Studies show that the combination of smoking and pressure from the nasal splint, which is used to hold the cartilage and bone in their new position while healing from rhinoplasty surgery, can cause skin necrosis. For those who may not be familiar with skin necrosis, it is a severe infection that can prolong the healing of skin wounds. For this reason, most physicians will advise patients to avoid smoking before and after surgery.
How to Keep Comfortable and Recover Faster
Now that we have a better understanding of the type of infections that are possible after undergoing rhinoplasty surgery, let’s take a moment to go over what you can do to increase comfort and recover faster:
Using a saline intranasal spray – Keeping the nose lubricated after surgery is a great way to minimize irritation and speed up healing time. As such, many physicians will advise patients to use a saline intranasal spray for 4 to 6 weeks following surgery as a way to prevent dryness. And while we are on the topic, these sprays can also help combat congestion, which is often a byproduct of rhinoplasty surgery.
Avoid blowing your nose – Although rhinoplasty surgery can leave you feeling congested, either as a result of nasal packing or the buildup of mucus and blood, it would be in your best interest to avoid blowing your nose. According to Dr. Daniel G. Becker, not to mention many other rhinoplasty experts, blowing your nose too soon after surgery can cause severe bleeding and also prolong healing.
Using a cold compress – One of the best ways to go about reducing swelling and recovering from rhinoplasty surgery faster is applying a cold compress to the nose. Also, using a cold compress, especially within the first 48 hours following surgery, can help with pain and also resolve “black eyes,” which is yet another byproduct of rhinoplasty surgery.
Avoid removing nasal packing – Although nasal packing can make breathing difficult, you should avoid pulling out these materials prematurely as it can result in severe bleeding. Most surgeons will schedule a post-operative follow-up appointment to evaluate how well you’re healing before removing the packing materials from your nose. This post-operative follow-up appointment is usually within 1 or 2 days after the surgery. In the interim, you should do your best to tolerate the packing and breathe through your mouth as needed.
Avoid wearing pullover clothing – The last thing you want to do is injure your nose and undergoing rhinoplasty surgery. That said, the act of putting on a t-shirt or other clothing that needs to be pulled over your head can lead to you mistakenly injuring your nose. Until your nose has thoroughly healed, it would be best to avoid t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, and other pullover clothing.
Patience – It often takes several months for swelling to go down following rhinoplasty surgery. And it will take about that long before you can finally be acquainted with your new nose. In the meantime, however, this is a great time to work on being more patient and also finding additional ways to lower your chances of developing an infection.
All in all, rhinoplasty surgery is an excellent way to achieve a more aesthetically-pleasing nose that truly complements your face. However, you will want to keep in mind that the recovery process is significantly longer when compared to other cosmetic surgery procedures. Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of those who have undergone these procedures report being pleased with their new nose and believe it was well worth the wait, according to a study published by Oxford Academic.