Surviving a Rhinoplasty / Sinuplasty Alone and Afraid:) - Tampa, FL

BACKGROUND I was told by my doctor about 4 years...

BACKGROUND

I was told by my doctor about 4 years ago that I had a severe deviated septum that was interfering with my breathing. It got worse over the years to the point that I could only breathe through one nostril and it was affecting my sleep; even my insurance company was ready to pay for the sinuplasty. I've never had surgery before and was terrified of the idea, but after reading the reviews of the procedure on this website I finally got the guts to do it. I was limited to the doctors on my insurance plan but lucked into one that is one of the best rhinoplasty surgeons in the U.S. My main concern was that I was only allowed 5 days off from work and that I was new to the area so I didn't have any family or friends close by to take care of me. My doctor was a little concerned that I couldn’t get a least a week off from work, but decided with the proper precautions I'd be okay to go back after only 5 days.

I've never had any problems with the appearance of my nose but as my doctor put it, "as long as we have the hood of the car open we may as well tune it up!" Since I had to go through the procedure and recovery for a sinuplasty anyway we decided I may as well pay an extra $700 out of pocket for a rhinoplasty. He was going to shave the hump off my dorsal bone and make my nose symmetrical again (it was off-center due to the deviated septum). He showed me a computer model of the before and after which was helpful, but I let him know the sinuplasty was my main concern. Everything else was just a bonus for me:)

PRE-OP SHOPPING LIST

  • If you are going to do this without help, proper planning is key to your survival. Here are the items I bought and how I set up my house for success:
  •  Q-tips (You need these to clean your nose and apply ointment. Put about 50 by your couch and the rest in your bathroom)
  •  Hydrogen peroxide x 2 (This will dissolve the dried blood. Put one by your couch and one in your bathroom)
  •  Polysporin x 2 (My doc says to use polysporin as opposed to neosporin because less people have a reaction to it over time. Put one by your couch and one in your bathroom)
  •  Saline spray x 2 (Keep your nostrils moistened and clean. Put one by your couch and one in your bathroom)
  •  Tissue box x 3 (Couch, bathroom, bedroom)
  •  Hand-held mirror (So you can clean your nose from your couch)
  •  U-shaped pillow
  •  6 pillows (3 for your bed and 3 for your couch)
  •  Sippy cup with a straw
  •  Extra straws
  •  Pill box (You'll have lots of pills to take at random times through-out the day. It's hard to remember when you're on drugs so organize them before your surgery).
  •  Frozen peas x 5 (You'll divide these into your zip-lock bags for ice packs. They mold to your face better than real ice packs)
  •  Snack size zip-lock bags
  •  Small cooler (Keep this within arm’s reach of your couch. Fill with half of your ice-packs and a bag of ice to keep cold. Keep the rest of the ice-packs in the freezer.)
  •  2-3 bags of ice (to re-stock your cooler through-out the days)
  •  Facial cleanser wipes
  •  Child size toothbrush (you won't want to open your mouth any bigger than you have to the first couple days)
  •  DVD's
  •  Button-up or zip-up night gown (Victoria's Secret has some cute ones!)
  •  No-slip socks/slippers
  •  Extra Strength Tylenol
  •  Vitamins (Make sure they are approved by your doctor. I used Arnica Montana 30X, Bromine, Probiotics, and Vitamin C)
  •  Soft foods (Naked smoothies, Ensure, pudding, apple sauce, Jell-O, orange juice, coconut juice, pineapple frozen fruit bars)
  •  Pre-made home-cooked meals (You want foods high in fiber and rich in nutrients. I froze individual portions of spinach lasagna, vegetarian chili, vegetable soup, and spinach tortellini)

DAY OF THE SURGERY

I had to undergo general anesthesia for the procedure so I was required to have someone drop me off and pick me up. Luckily there were a couple wonderful people from work that offered to do the job. If you are a female I suggest you have another female pick you up since they will have to help you get dressed after the procedure:) Also, whoever picks you up will have to record all the doctor's instructions down for you because you will be so doped up you'll never remember them yourself. The surgery center was not affiliated with my doctor's clinic. That being said, the best way for me to describe it was a Quickie-Mart for surgery. After I checked in I was taken back into the pre-op hall-way where there were bed sheets separating me from 4 other recliners with other patients awaiting surgery. I was asked personal questions about my 72 hour history and got to listen to the responses of my now 3 closest friends to the same personal questions. I was then instructed to strip down and put on my hospital gown in the middle of this hallway, albeit with the privacy of the brown and yellow bed-sheet separating me from everyone else. The nurse then put in the IV and I waited. After about 30 minutes of debating whether or not I should count my losses and run, the nurse walked me back to the operating room where I got to hop onto the surgery table and get man-handled while they strapped electrodes to my body... all while listening to the local rock station on the boom box in the surgery room. I started shaking so bad from being cold and nervous that they finally decided to sedate me. Thank you Lord. The next thing I remember was waking up and my surgeon telling me that I did really well. He said the surgery took longer than he anticipated because he grafted me some internal breath-right strips to make sure I would get the best results for my breathing problems. My friend then helped me get dressed and they wheeled me out to her car in a wheel-chair and I was done! Oh and thank goodness for my friend who had the great idea to snag a pink vomit tray and an absorbent pad from the hospital - they were instrumental in cleaning out my nose from the couch later on.

THE FIRST NIGHT

You really should not do the first night by yourself. My doctor was so adamant about this that he convinced my co-worker at the hospital to stay with me. I am so thankful she did. All I wanted to do when I got home was crawl into bed and go to sleep. A lot of that probably had to do with me working a 12 hour night shift prior to my surgery that morning, but reading other people's reviews it sounds like general anesthesia can really wreak some havoc on a person's body. My co-worker made sure I took my pills on time, cleaned my nose for me the first 2 times (I know - what an angel), filled my Sippy cup with water, got me to eat, walked me to the bathroom, and responded to all the texts and phone-calls I received that night. She also made sure to write down the exact times I took my pain meds, inflammation meds, and antibiotics since they all had to be taken on different schedules. The pain was honestly minimal. I knew it was best to "stay on top of the pain" because if you wait until it starts to hurt you may have to take double the meds to get it to stop, so I took one Hydrocodone when I got home and continued with just 1 every 4 hours. I never felt any real pain. Just discomfort from the internal splints.

DAYS 2-5

Pre-staging the house the way I did made surviving the next 4 days rather easy. I spent the first day entirely on the couch and only had to move to go to the bathroom, fridge, or change DVD's. My back started getting sore after that so I switched to the bed on night 3. I was able to switch to just Tylenol for the pain on day 2 which was good because I had to drive to the beauty salon to get my hair washed. It's nearly impossible to wash your own hair and not get your bandages wet, and the iodine from the surgery made it a real mess. Day 4 I got my internal splints out which made me feel like a million bucks - I have never been able to breath so well in my life! It wasn't really painful but it was sure uncomfortable. I can't believe I had those enormous things stuffed up my nostrils. Yuck! The doctor also took a couple stiches out that were holding the internal splints in place. I've never had stiches before so I was nervous about it but again it wasn't painful - just uncomfortable. FYI - I have a VERY low threshold for pain (or so I've been told:))

DAYS 6-7 (BACK TO WORK)

I agree with my doctor. 5 days isn't enough. I work a 12 hour night shift and even working a desk job is still tough on a rhinoplasty. You spend the majority of your time hunched over a desk as opposed to leaning back like you should. Your body also wants to sleep since you are still recovering from the trauma. BUT, you gotta do what you gotta do so I made it work. The incision line on my columella is a little inflamed and not healing very well and I'm afraid it's from me blotting my nose with Kleenex all the time. It's not bleeding, but I get drainage while I'm typing at the keyboard at work.

So that's where I am right now. I'll keep you posted on my progress from here on out. I should get my bandages off in 4 days - yippee!! I posted a few pictures so you can see my progress. The first one is of me on night 2 with the iodine still in my hair. The next one is of me today (day 7) just before I went Christmas shopping then into work. The last one is of my stiches in my collumela that I'm afraid aren't healing very well. Gross, I know, but I figured some of you might want to see what an open procedure can look like.

A quick update about the bruising

I thought I should also mention why I bruised so badly. My doctor had to break my nose to fix my deviated septum and also had to do some grafting to open my nostrils. From what I've read those are some of the most traumatic / bruise causing procedures you can undergo during a nose job. I was also a very bad patient and had a few too many drinks 3 nights before my surgery which thinned my blood and can increase bruising. With all that in mind, I'm actually fairly pleased with the 'minimal' bruising.

A couple 'before' pics

I added a couple pics of me before the surgery so you can see the dorsal hump and asymmetry due to the deviated septum.

Bit of a breakdown today

I was told to clean up my appearance for work last night so I cut off the bloody tape on my nose and the big X on my forehead. I was very careful to moisten the tape before I removed it so as not to pull on the skin. That morning (today) when I got off work I called my doctors office to tell him what I had done and see if I needed to go in for re-taping. Being Christmas, I felt awful about calling in the first place and even more awful if I had to get re-taped. The on-call ENT let me get thru about 2 sentences then proceeded to lecture me like a 2 year old on how I was an idiot for doing what I did and that I could have ruined my results. I wished him a Merry Christmas then broke down in tears. Luckily I have the most wonderful doctor in the world who heard my voicemail and called me directly to see if I was okay. He listen to the full story, said he was sorry that I had to go through that at work, and that since it was already 8 days post-op and I was so careful that he didn't think I messed anything up at all. He also reassured me that it was completely normal for me to be extra emotional right now after coming off all the steroids from the surgery. He had me save his cell number in my phone so if anything else came up I could call him directly day or night. I felt a lot better but also realized how exhausted I was both emotionally and physically after working 36 hours in the last 3 nights so I cancelled my Christmas plans and slept all day:). Best Christmas gift to myself ever:). I posted a pic so you can see what I did to make myself more 'professional' looking. Only 2 more days until the splint comes off for good!

Splint is off!!

I actually got my splint off yesterday but immediately went out celebrating so I didn't have time to write a review:) The splint removal was not painful at all. My doctor just peeled it off from one side to the other. He said it didn't look like I had any damage from me cutting off the tape from my nasal tip 2 days early, but he also said my nasal tip was more swollen than he would like. He's so darn nice I don't know if he would have told me if he thought it was my fault or not:) The only other concern he had was that my incision line on the columella was not healing as well as he would like. I ended up having a reaction to the Polysporin on day 7 of my recovery and had to switch to vaselline. That combined with the stiches not disolving completely on their own by day 7 were the most likely culprits. I'm not too concerned about it since I'm only 5'5", so not that many people will be able to see the incision line.

Overall I'm very satisfied wtih the results. I can already breathe better than I ever had before. I have a great side profile and I think my front profile is already a big improvement even with the swelling. My doctor felt bad about my bruising and swelling, but I know that will all heal with time. Plus I know the swelling is mostly likely my fault for being too active too soon and for cutting off the nasal tip tape on day 8.

I posted a couple pictures so you all can see for yourselves:) Thanks again for all the great support!

Blackheads and Black-eyes

Now that the cast is off my two biggest concerns have been dealing with the blackheads and black-eyes.

Blackheads: I had a bunch of these on my nose when my cast was removed on day 11. I started using St Ives Gentle Apricot Scrub, Neutragena Oil-Free Acne Scrub Pink Grapefruit, and Neutrogena Pore Refining Toner every morning and every night. I would splash water onto my face, apply the clensing products VERY gently, then remove them by splashing water on my face again. I'd LIGHTLY pat dry with a washcloth, then use a cottonball to apply the toner in an upward sweeping motion. I'd use a Q-tip to get the toner into the creases next to my nose. Again being very gentle. I'd then follow up with a light oil-free mosturizer. It took 4 days for the majority of the dead skin and blackheads to disappear, but they finally did. One thing my doctor told me NOT to do was use Biore pore strips or anything like them. I guess they could really damage the results. It's a good thing he warned me because that is the first thing I wanted to do!

Black Eyes: I'm still looking for an answer to this one. I loaded up on Vitamin C and Arnica Montana 2 weeks prior to surgery and am still taking them to this day but the black eyes remain. Tomorrow is New Year's Eve and my girlfriends and I each paid $100 to attend a big event downtwon. I've been fine with the stares and questions to this point, but I really want to enjoy myself tomorrow without having to worry about the black-eyes. I've been researching cover-up methods on-line and will give it a try. If any of you have a suggestion I'd love to know!

Achy pain from nerves growing back, but looking better!

My incision line is finally starting to look like it's healing, the bruises are getting smaller, and the swelling is going down. I got a little nervous today because I had a dull, achy pain on the top of my nose that I had not felt before. I called my doctor to make sure nothing was wrong. He said the pain was to be expected since this is the time the nerves in that area are starting to re-connect.

When I went in for my check-up a couple days ago my doctor was sad to see that I was still fairly bruised and swollen. He said I was now paying the price for having to go back to work so soon. He wasn't angry with me, he was just sad to see that I wasn't able to get the proper down time I needed. He said I should still to be careful to not bend over or lift heavy objects or do anything that would get my heart rate up. For those of you that live alone and don't have help you know how difficult those instructions can be - and I told him that. My doctor laughed and actually acknowledged that "we can't all be a princess!" Someone still has to take out the garbage, go to the grocery store, cook, clean, do the laundry, and go to work to pay the bills. All these things involve lifting and getting your heart rate up, but you can't take more than a few days off from any of them when you live on your own. My doctor says as long as I really try to be careful and take things slow I should be fine. I'll just have to accept a longer recovery time. I'm okay with that:)

On a side note, I can't stress how wonderful it has been to have a doctor that ENCOURAGES me to call him directly on his cell phone, anytime of day, weekends, or holidays for any little concern. He called me directly from his cell phone the night of my surgery to make sure I was doing okay and so that I would have his cell number if anything came up. I've called him now on Christmas Day and on a Sunday with my issues and both times he was happy to hear from me and very helpful at putting my mind at ease. I don't think it would be the same if I had to deal with some random on-call surgeon that didn't know my particular case. If I ever have to get surgery again (hopefully not) I think I'd make sure this was the case with my next doctor as well.
Tampa Facial Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Davis is the best of the best when it comes to rhinoplasty. Here is why: 1. He is an experienced facial plastic surgeon and rhinoplasty is his specialty. 2. He had a rhinoplasty himself so he knows EXACTLY what you are going through! 2. He does a lot of revision rhinoplasties for patients that went to other doctors and were unhappy with the results. 3. His bed-side manner is the best I have ever witnessed. He is very appreciative of your business and truly cares about your wants/worries/needs. You never feel rushed. 4. He gives you his personal cell number so you don't have to deal with any on-call answering service in case something comes up. I had an issue on Christmas Day and felt awful about calling him directly so I called the on-call ENT instead. As soon as Dr. Davis heard the message from the on-call doctor he called me and said "don't be silly I'm happy to hear from you!" I then called him 2 weeks later on a Sunday and once again he was "happy to hear from me." 5. I was an awful patient. I could have really screwed up my results by going back to work too soon and cutting off some tape before it was time. Rather than being upset with me, Dr. Davis assured me that I was probably just fine and that even if some things were screwed up it wouldn't be anything he couldn't fix. I don't tell you this because I think it's okay to be a bad patient, I'm just saying Dr. Davis gets that life happens and that he is confident enough with his experience that nothing really surprises or worries him.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
Was this review helpful? 6 others found this helpful