3 weeks post rhinoplasty and still can't breathe?

I had a rhinoplasty/septoplasty/balloonplasty 3 weeks ago and I still cannot breathe through my nose. I have to breathe entirely through my mouth. Is this normal? How long should this last?

Doctor Answers 7

Can't breathe 3 weeks after surgery

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Dear dml71992,

It is completely normal to have nasal congestion for at least 3 weeks after cosmetic and functional nasal surgery.  The nose will make crusts (like scabs) and it takes 3-6 weeks for it heal completely.  I have patients return for weekly cleaning to remove these crusts.  This enables the nose to heal faster without any increased risk of infection or scar formation.  Perhaps your doctor can do this?

Hope this helps!
Dr. Michelle Yagoda

New York Facial Plastic Surgeon

3 wks post rhinoplasty and breathing issues

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Without knowing exactly what was done for you it is hard to say. Commonly, patients get congestion from swelling. It can take several weeks for this to resolve. You should review this with your surgeon too.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

3 weeks post op, some advices:

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Thank you very much for this interesting question.
Swelling time after a rhinoplasty depends of the surgery complexity (Ex.: Rhinoplasty with nasal controled nasal bones fracture (osteotomy) will have greater inflammation than one in which only the nasal tip treatment).
But, generally the nasal swelling Post-op It can last from two weeks to two months.
To reduce this swelling, I recommend you perform delicates daily lymphatic drainage massage therapy over the face (around the nose) avoid sun exposure, and take pain/inflamation pills, as your surgeron precribe you.
Kind regards,
Dr. Emmanuel Mallol Cotes.-

Emmanuel Mallol Cotes, MD
Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 372 reviews

Difficulty breathing after rhinoplasty

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Congratulations on your rhinoplasty! It sounds like your surgery was a functional septorhinoplasty and edema or swelling after surgery is very common. This swelling can take up to a year to resolve. Sometimes using saline nasal spray can help decongest the nose. If you have seasonal allergies, you may need to resume your treatment for this. It is important to maintain follow up with your board certified plastic surgeon so that she/he can examine you and see what the cause and treatment is. Best of luck, MMT

Nasal blockage post septorhinoplasty

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The blockage can lasts for good 6 weeks but you better consult your surgeon to exclude any remote possibility of septal haematoma or adhesions!
In the interim it is advisable to continue with regular nasal dushes to get rid of nasal crusting!!

Best wishes

J Tahery 



Jawed Tahery, FRCS
Manchester Otolaryngologist


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Thank you for your question, dml71992. While it is typical to experience swelling and sometimes slight differences in nostril airway, I suggest you consult with your board certified facial plastic surgeon if you cannot breathe at all through your nose.

Best wishes,

Ross A. Clevens, MD
Melbourne Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 124 reviews


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Hello and thank you for your question. It is very normal to be swollen at three weeks postoperative. There is likely dried blood deep inside your nose and swelling.  I recommend that you return to see your surgeon, as he/she will have a good idea of what to expect in regards to your specific progress, since they can evaluate you in relation to your preoperative appearance.

Best wishes and good luck

Richard G. Reish, M.D.
Harvard-trained Plastic Surgeon

Richard G. Reish, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 174 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.