Rhinoplasty Swelling

I had a Rhinoplasty 3 weeks ago and my nose is still very swollen. How long is it normal to have rhinoplasty swelling after surgery?

Doctor Answers 149

Swelling after Rhinoplasty: Gradual Improvement

The amount of swelling and how long it persists after rhinoplasty depends on several factors such as the surgeon's technique, open versus closed approach, whether the nasal bones were broken, and the number of prior nasal surgeries.

Patients in whom open rhinoplasty techniques were used, cases in which the nasal bones were broken, and a history of one or more previous nasal surgeries often will have more prolonged swelling.

During the first week, most patients will have moderate swelling . Usually, by the end of the second week, much of the bruising and swelling have subsided to the point that it is not obvious to the casual observer that the patient has had surgery.

However, the nose will look swollen or puffy to the patient for 3 to 4 months. It usually takes a full year for the residual swelling to resolve and the final result be apparent.


Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 116 reviews

Swelling 3 weeks after Rhinoplasty is normal

Rhinoplasty swelling occurs both on the outside and inside of the nose. Patients are generally "restaurant ready" and socially acceptable within 2 weeks following surgery. Most swelling after rhinoplasty resolves within a month. The final 20% of swelling takes a much longer time to resolve, up to a year after surgery. Fortunately, this final swelling is usually only evident to the surgeon and patient.

Rhinoplasty swelling varies greatly and is largely based on the areas of the nose treated, surgical approach to the nose (open or closed/endonasal), skin thickness, postoperative care, and your healing ability. The more extensive the surgery, the more you will swell and the longer the swelling will last. The tip of the nose holds onto swelling longer than the other parts of the nose. Open rhinoplasty, where there is an external incision at the base of the nose, swells more and longer than closed/endonasal rhinoplasty. Patients with thicker skin will have more swelling.

Keeping your head elevated, maintaining the nasal splint/cast, ice, arnica montana, and following your plastic surgeon's guideline will help reduce rhinoplasty swelling. Persistant swelling may also be reduced by steroid treatment into the nose. Don't hesitate to speak to your plastic surgeon about any swelling.

Houtan Chaboki, MD
Washington DC Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 63 reviews

Rhinoplasty swelling

Rhinoplasty swelling is common immediately after surgery. The amount of swelling can depend on procedure performed, surgical technique and individual differences in your healing.

Tip swelling is usually the last to resolve.

Head elevation and post-operative splinting can help reduce swelling and speed recovery.

I hope this helps

Rhinoplasty is an operation that takes at least a year...

Rhinoplasty is an operation that takes at least a year to fully recover from.

  • I recommend icing and sleeping with the head of the bed elevated during the first 7-10 days to keep swelling to a minimum.
  • My patients all get Aquaplast nasal casts placed to keep swelling down for 7 days.
  • It can take 2-4 weeks before the nose shrinks enough to become socially acceptable to most patients.
  • The biggest change in swelling occurs between the 8th-12th months.
  • Postoperative massage and injectible steroids are often used, along with taping of the nose, to help it mold nicely.

Hope this helps!

Thick skin or reduction rhinoplasty takes longer

The duration of swelling depends on what was done, the thickness of the skin covering, and the change in size of the nose.  The longer the surgery takes and the more maneuveres performed in general will lead to more swelling.  Thicker skin will also take a longer to time to contract and resolve swelling.  Finally reduction surgery (making the nose smaller) creates a situation in which the skin must "shrink to fit" the reduced infrastructure of the nose--this takes longer than cases in which the size of the nose is left the same or made bigger.

It is hard to give specific time ranges because it depends what you mean "swelling".  For 50% of the swelling to resolve it can take a few weeks to a few months depending on the factors listed above.  For 80+% of the swelling to resolve the range could be a few months to 1-2 years. 

David W. Kim, MD
Bay Area Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Rhinoplasty Swelling is Complex

Rhinoplasty swelling is different for everyone but I will generalize.  Most patients have a good looking nose about 10 days after the surgery.  The swelling is far from gone at this point but it is no longer obvious.  Within a couple months it is over 90% gone.  It may take several years for 100% of swelling to be gone.  Swelling is very dependent on skin thickness.  The thicker the skin, the more significant the swelling.

Louis W. Apostolakis, MD
Austin Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Swelling after rhinoplasty- what should be expected?

Typically, it is normal to have obvious swelling of the nose for up to 2-3 weeks. It depends on what was done. The more extensive the surgery, the longer it take for swelling to settle.  After 2-3 weeks time, the nose will still be swollen, but it is not noticeable to others.  The rest of the swelling will go down over a period of 1 year.  I typically tell patients, it takes about 3 months for the upper bridge to settle, another 3 months for the middle bridge, and another 6 months for the tip.  If the early swelling is not going down or is getting worse, you should see your doctor to make sure everything is healing normally.  

Amir M. Karam, MD
San Diego Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 97 reviews

After Rhinoplasty, swelling lasts longest at the tip

While the amount of swelling depends on a few factors such as the doctors approach, whether bones were broken, and any prior nasal surgery or trauma, there are generally several stages of swelling after rhinoplasty surgery.

We advise our patients that about one week after surgery, they can expect to be "restaurant ready", meaning they can go out in public and not look "strange" by that time.

However there will still be considerable swelling, especially at the tip for up to 3-6 months.

Try to keep your head elevated, use any splints or casts provided, ice frequently, and follow any other advice given by your plastic surgeon.

For persistent swelling, your surgeon may want to help decrease swelling and reduce scar tissue development by injecting steroids in the nasal tip.

The final results after rhinoplasty may take up to or over a year to develop, so have patience, and take the time to take care of yourself.

For more info on Rhinoplasty recovery, please click the link below.

David C. Mabrie, MD
Bay Area Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 66 reviews

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.