Can One Have Breathing Difficulties 5-6 Weeks After Rhinoplasty/septoplasty?

I am 5-6 post op. While my breathing has improved considerably as compared to the first couple of weeks, it is still far from normal. Is it common to experience breathing difficulties at this stage of recovery? If so, how long, on average, will it take to return to normal breathing given this is not a complication? I have heard about steroid injection. When is it appropriate to approach my surgeon with this request?

Doctor Answers 6

Congested after rhinoplasty.

Post rhinoplasty nasal obstruction (PRNO) occurs in up to 10% of cosmetic rhinoplasty patients. It is an unfortunate and untoward complication.  If your airway is worse at 6 weeks (or 8 weeks if you give it a little longer) then you probably have PRNO. Did you have a turbinate reduction as part of your septorhinoplasty?  This typically helps correct any baseline nasal obstruction and can help prevent PRNO. Until you can get in to see your surgeon, you should continue to rinse your nose with salt water irrigations just in case there is some late edema or crusting. If you have environmental allergies, you might benefit from intranasal steroid sprays, like Nasonex, but these take about 10-14 days to begin working. If there is an anatomic problem, your surgeon can likely see this on exam and help you through it. Examination at this point should include nasal endoscopy to look at the entirety of your nasal passages to figure out what is causing the congestion.  Surgical correction of PRNO can be done at 3 months if there is a simple internal cause (e.g. inferior turbinate problem), but you'll want to wait up to 1 year if your doctor deems the problem would require a revision septoplasty or rhinoplasty to correct the airway problem. Hopefully, it will resolve by itself without any significant intervention. Good luck!  

Baltimore Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Breeding issues can persist for several weeks after septoplasty and rhinoplasty.

There are several reasons why there could be nasal airway issues after a rhinoplasty and septoplasty. Certain nasal sprays can be of benefit depending on the cause. Valve issues may come into play which can be sorted out by your plastic surgeon.

Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Can One Have Breathing Difficulties 5-6 Weeks After Rhinoplasty/septoplasty?

Swelling may still be playing a role in these symptoms.  This may soon resolve.




Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

Kenneth B. Hughes, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 496 reviews

Congested After Rhinoplasty

Since you are only 5 to 6 weeks post op, you may have internal swelling.  It takes months for all the swelling to disappear following a septoplasty/ rhinoplasty.  Follow up with your Plastic Surgeon to assure you are healing as you should.

Robert E. Zaworski, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

Breathing Problems/Nasal Obstruction After Rhinoplasty

Thank you for sharing your concerns. Similar to swelling seen on the outside of the nose during the healing process, the internal lining also remains swollen for some time. The amount of time is dependent on several factors including procedures performed and your individual tendency for swelling. Although the internal lining swelling resolves faster than the external swelling, it may take several months. Share your concerns with your surgeon, and he may have some interventions to recommend that may hasten recovery especially if crusting is present internally. Steroid injections have little role for internal nasal swelling.  I hope this helps. Take care.

Robert Brobst, MD
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Can one have breathing difficulties 5-6 weeks after rhinoplasty/septoplasty?

It is normal to have breathing difficulties after the rhinoplasty and/or septoplasty.  The swelling inside may last up to a few months.  Occasionally, excessive cartilaginous or bony structures may be removed during the rhinoplasty that may impair breathing, but if it is not the case scenario usually the internal swelling is the cause of the difficulty with breathing and usually disappears in a few months after surgery.

S. Ozan Sozer, MD
El Paso Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 195 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.