Sleeping on Your Side After Rhinoplasty

I've just had rhinoplasty a few days ago and want to know if I can sleep on the side of my face, albeit at 45 degrees? Because this sleeping directly on the back of my head is killing me. It's so painful, it feels like someone slap a board against my skull and it also leaves me face swollen for some reason. Please advise.

Doctor Answers 8

Sleeping after rhinoplasty surgery

It is acceptable to sleep on the side of your face even at 30 to 45 degrees. It is very uncomfortable to sleep on your back, and it is a good idea to try to get a good night of sleep. It is preferable to keep the head and nose above the heart for swelling purposes in the immediate interim; however, this will not affect the longterm results of the rhinoplasty surgery.


Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

Sleeping Position Post Rhinoplasty

It is not typically problematic for you to sleep on your side after your rhinoplasty surgery. Still, I would strongly advise to be as careful as possible especially during the initial week of your recovery. Try to avoid too much movement so this can cause your nose to bump into your bed or pillow. Actually, my best recommendation would be to sleep with 2 or 3 pillows under your head. Not only will this likely be more comfortable, but sleeping with your head elevated promotes blood circulation to the nose and can thus reduce bruising and swelling.

Sam Rizk, MD
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

This varies, avoid it if possible... Ask your surgeon!

Recommendations for sleeping position following rhinoplasty vary from surgeon to surgeon and depend upon a multitude of variables.In the vast majority of patients we recommend sleeping in a recliner chair with the head elevated for at least a week following surgery.This approach helps minimize post-operative swelling and avoids inadvertent trauma to the nose.Unfortunately, when patients are side sleeping, they may not be aware of pressure that they’re applying to their nose.This pressure has the potential to displace nasal bones and damage the surgical result.
It’s important to realize that each patient’s situation is unique.For this reason, the management of this problem occasionally needs to be modified.If you’re unable to sleep on your back, consultation with your plastic surgeon is appropriate.Your surgeon should be able to develop an alternative strategy.

Rhinoplasty Sleeping Position

You want to allow gravity to help reduce swelling & minimize bruising. Sleep with your head elevated on several pillows, or sitting up 30-45 degrees in a chair, especially the first few nights following surgery.

Sleeping flat on your back or side should not have serious adverse effects. However, you may have more prolonged swelling, bruising, or bleeding.

Speak to your rhinoplasty surgeon and follow his/her post rhinoplasty instructions. Best of luck.

Houtan Chaboki, MD
Washington DC Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 61 reviews

Listen to your surgeon

I prefer that my rhinoplasty patients sleep with their head above their heart and in a midline position. This reduces swelling and nasal congestion, and minimizes chances of bumping your nose in the first week after the procedure. Sleeping preferentially on one side can also lead to some asymmetry in swelling and bruising. This generally will not affect your long term result, but can cause short term anxiety.

I would suggest buying an inflatable travel pillow in order to keep your head in the midline. Good luck with your recovery.

Stephen Prendiville, MD
Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 50 reviews

Rhinoplasty post-op

I think sleeping on your side is okay if it makes you comfortable so you can get a full night of rest.  The caveat is that you have to be careful of bumping your nose in your sleep. 

Amar Suryadevara, MD
Syracuse Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Rhinoplasty Postop

It really depends on what your surgeon tells you. I ask my patients to lay on their back with their head elevated for the first 2-3 days. After that they can lay flat. I dont want them laying on their side as they may roll onto their face until 2 weeks after surgery. But I know that this may be on the conservative side.

Every surgeon has different routine postoperatively so you need to contact your surgeon to see what the recommendations are.

Good luck.

Farbod Esmailian, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

Use an airplane pillow after a rhinoplasty

 Keeping your head elevated above your heart is important to reduce swelling which reaches its maximum after the third postop day.  If you use an airplane pillow (ie "Bucky") you can stay in the midline more easily.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.