5 weeks post-op Rhinoplasty, why can't I breathe? Has my cartilage collapsed? (photos)

I had an open rhinoplasty more than 5 weeks ago and I still can’t breathe, especially through my right nostril. I have to breathe through my mouth most of the time. I can breathe a little better when I lay down. I also have stitch abscesses, so the entrance of my nostrils are swollen and pus is still coming out (PS said it'll get better). I am afraid my cartilage has collapsed, especially on the right side, what do you think?

Doctor Answers 3

Difficulty breathing after rhinoplasty

Thank you for your question!

It is understandable that you are a concerned with what you feel especially with the difficulty breathing especially through your right nostril.
Nonetheless, at 5 weeks post surgery swelling is not uncommon and every patient is a little different than the other hence the possibility of explaining your symptoms.

Unfortunately, with the pictures posted, the lack of surgical details and the inability to perform a physical exam it is not possible to provide you with a definitive answer that could be medically sound.

My best recommendations at the moment is to be patient, allow nature to take its course and edema subsides for better results. 

Also, it is important that you keep communicating with your surgeon and work as a team together to achieve the best results possible.

Congratulations on your surgery and please remain positive!

Ali Sajjadian, MD FACS


Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 166 reviews

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Rhinoplasty recovery times are among the longest for Plastic Surgery procedures

It may take several weeks for all of the swelling to resolve. With this type of procedure, it is possible that the airway has been altered. If the problem persists three months post-procedure, consult with your surgeon.

James Green, MD
Santa Fe Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Post op nasal obstruction

It's normal to be stuffy after nasal surgery. Most often it's due to swelling and because there is significant crusting that is stuck in your nose. Your surgeon can suction and clean your nose which should help you significantly. 

Im not clear on whether you had anything functional done to you nose but it's important when you have the outside of your nose made smaller that the inside is also fixed. Otherwise breathing can be worse after surgery. I would have your surgeon evaluate your nose and make sure everything that can be addressed is being addressed ( ie swelling, allergies, crusting) 

Good luck! 

Samir Undavia, MD
Princeton Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 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.