I received rhinoplasty and a septoplasty three days ago, but the swelling inside my nostrils has not subsided at all.

With new cartilage in my nose, is this normal? I can't breathe at all and I'm afraid of infection since the swelling isn't going down.

Doctor Answers 5

Internal Nasal Swelling After Septorhinoplasty

Thank you for your question.

External post-operative swelling can take up to 18 months to resolve completely, although the vast majority of it is gone much sooner than that. I usually tell my patients that approximately 60% of the swelling is gone at 1 month, 70% at 2 months, 80% at 3 months, and 90% at 6 months - the remaining 10% will typically resolve over the next 6-12 months.

Internal nasal swelling will often resolve more quickly and external swelling, and most of my patients find that they have maximal airflow within 1-2 months after surgery, often sooner.

Having said that, at 3 days, I'd be very surprised if you weren't swollen.  I usually advise my patients that their internal swelling will get worse before it gets better, and that the airway will be most obstructed about 1 week after surgery, after which point, there is often a steady improvement in internal nasal swelling.

I suggest that you speak with your surgeon about this in detail and explain your concerns - I'm sure that he/she will be able to help you understand the timeline that you can expect and how to manage that to get the best long-term outcome.

Best wishes.

Omaha Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Early Postoperative Swelling

The nose after a rhinoplasty will traditionally swell for up to one year, although the majority will subside in the first 4-6 weeks.  It is FAR too early to worry about the results and I recommend directing your concerns to your surgeon.  Infection is unlikely and is usually rare with this type of surgery.  Be patient and I'm sure you will be happy with your results!

John Layke, DO, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 50 reviews

Nostril swelling after Rhinoplasty.

Thanks for the question. It is very common to have swelling of the nose following the surgery. Swelling also depends upon the technique used for rhinoplasty. Although most of the swelling subsides in 6 weeks it takes approximately 12-18 months to see the final result after rhinoplasty.

M. Azhar Ali, MD, FACS
Bloomfield Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Swelling and rhinoplasty

Usually the swelling inside the nose can take several months to subside.  Overall, the nose can take a year or even longer.  The hardest part about any nose surgery is the patience it takes to wait for the final result.

I'm sure everything is going to be great!  Good luck!

Bivik Shah, MD
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

3 days post rhinoplasty

At 3 days postop, it is completely normal for your nose to be swollen both internally and externally. This is only the beginning of the healing process so be patient as you will see an improvement in the coming weeks to months. Make sure that you are following up with your rhinoplasty surgeon during this time so they can monitor your nose for any changes and all address any concerns you have along the way. Best of luck. 

Michael T. Somenek, MD
Washington DC Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 30 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.