As plastic surgeons we always tell patients that are contemplating a rhinoplasty procedure that there will be a degree of post-surgery swelling that must be taken into account when viewing their results.
Now, a study published in a recent edition of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, has provided quantifying evidence of how long swelling lasts after a rhinoplasty op.
The different types of rhinoplasty swelling
It’s important to realise that there are essentially two different types of oedema that you can expect after a surgical procedure to reshape the nose. After any surgical procedure there is an immediate, post-operative swelling that is the result of trauma to the tissues. It is typically accompanied by bruising and will be evident in the first 24 hours and onwards.
The second type of swelling is the one that lasts for months after a rhinoplasty procedure and is the result of fluid retention under the skin. During a rhinoplasty procedure, I reshape cartilage and reset bones before redraping the skin over the new nasal shape. Fluid is retained between the skin and the underlying structure of the nose and it takes quite a time for this fluid to dissipate.
Patients will always have a unique healing response and different parts of the nose heal at varying speeds. The upper part of the nose is typically the first place to see the full refinement, whereas the tip of the nose – due to gravity – will be slightly swollen for longer.
How long will rhinoplasty swelling last?
In the study, researchers examined 40 patients that had undergone an open rhinoplasty, studying 146 three-dimensional photographs to quantify the degree of swelling and how long it lasts during the first-year post surgery. Using imaging software, they found that two-thirds of swelling will resolve within the first four weeks’ post-procedure. Ninety-five per cent of oedema will subside after six months and 97.5% after the one-year point.
This supports the advice that I have instinctively given my Leamington rhinoplasty patients based on many years’ assessment at post-surgical follow-up appointments.