Health Care

February 3, 2014

Professional Opinion: What's the recovery time for a nose job?

This week Dr. Audrey Klenke, Beaufort County's only female plastic surgeon, talks about rhinoplastys -- or nose jobs -- and their practicality.

Question. Is it reasonable for somebody with a full time job (with only a few weeks vacation time) to get a rhinoplasty? How long is the recovery time and what all is involved?

Answer. A rhinoplasty, also known as a "nose job," is a common plastic surgery operation to address aesthetic and functional concerns. The frustrating, but true, answer to the question is: It depends.

Generally, one should prepare for at least one week off of work, however bruising and swelling will still be present up to two weeks and beyond. Approximately 70 percent of the swelling will be gone by three weeks post-op, but gradual improvement continues over a period of months to years. Patients may resume strenuous exercise at around four weeks.

However, there are many variations of a rhinoplasty that can all together affect the amount of time needed to heal. Recovery time depends in part on the technique used.

A "closed" technique means the incisions stay inside the nose, whereas an "open" technique means you have a small incision across the thin area between the nostrils called the columella. An open technique allows the plastic surgeon to visualize important structures more easily and to make more precise adjustments, but it also results in more prolonged swelling.

Other factors that affect recovery time include whether or not the nasal bones are adjusted, whether part of the septum is removed, how much work is done to the tip, and if cartilage grafts are used.

Importantly, the nose is balanced by the chin. Both structures extend from the face and in every view except straight on, we tend to analyze these two areas early in our subconscious assessment of the face. A plastic surgeon will want to strive for harmony between the nose and chin, which can sometimes require a chin augmentation or other procedures to enhance the appearance of the chin like lipo-contouring of the neck or a neck lift.

Even when surgery is confined to the nose, this perceptual balance with the chin should influence the choice and extent of modification. Decisions like this call for taste and sensitivity -- and a considerate assessment with a trusted plastic surgeon.

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