Congestion after rhinoplasty. Is there anything over the counter or otherwise I can do to clear this out faster?

I'm recovering from a recent rhinoplasty (april 1) and have had a pretty miraculous recovery in regards to swelling and bruising. However, I still can't breathe from my nose and it's rather stuffy. 

Doctor Answers 10

Congestion after rhinoplasty surgery

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Congestion is expected in the early phases after rhinoplasty for some patients. Swelling, crusting, splints, stitches are just some factors that contribute to congestion after rhinoplasty. Most plastic surgeons and rhinoplasty specialists will recommend saline rinse and an ointment to keep the nose moist and clean during the recovery process. As always, you should speak with your rhinoplasty surgeon, if you haven't already. Follow his/her care instructions.

Dr. Chaboki

Washington DC Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 89 reviews

Rhinoplasty Healing is Quick (But Long!)

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Healing after rhinoplasty is quick, but there's more to the story. I like to think of rhinoplasty healing in 5 phases. The FIRST phase is roughly 1 week (5-7 days). It is the amount of time most individuals are off work, homebound, recovering. It ends when your surgeon removes the cast, splints, and/or sutures, and when you no longer need a "drip pad". This is the "quick" part.

The SECOND phase is complete at 3 weeks, when enough healing has occurred to allow return of any/all degree of exercise and all nosebleed precautions are fully lifted.

The THIRD phase is when the internal swelling and crusting have subsided and the airway has settled to its new (usually improved) level. It stops essentially when your surgeon says you no longer need saline rinses. This phase is usually complete by 6 weeks.

The FOURTH phase is complete at 3 months, when enough external swelling has resolved to allow patients to unreservedly attend really important social events (like weddings and reunions) that are often memorialized by lots of photos.

And finally the FIFTH phase is complete when we indicate all primary rhinoplasty healing is done and final photos can be taken. This is when your journey is over. This is the "long" part of healing after rhinoplasty. 

Since you are nearly 2 weeks out from rhinoplasty (congrats!), you are in the beginning of the 2nd phase of rhinoplasty healing, and your nasal airway healing is not yet complete. This will happen slowly over the next several weeks, and will be complete around 6 weeks post op. It is common for individuals to feel somewhat stuffy or congested during this time. So, hang in there. It will improve. Follow your surgeon's instructions. If you still aren't breathing well after 6-8 weeks, let your surgeon know. And good luck with the rest of your healing!  -Randolph Capone, MD, FACS

Randolph Capone, MD, FACS
Baltimore Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Post Rhinoplasty Congestion

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It's perfectly normal to have nasal congestion this soon after your rhinoplasty.  Keep in mind that along with the external soft tissues of the nose, the internal (mucosal) tissues of the nose are also susceptible to post surgical swelling.  At this point, I usually recommend to my patients to use nasal saline spray as often as possible.  I recommend following up with your surgeon so he can reassure you and possibly recommend some other treatment options. 

J. Phillip Garcia, MD, FACS
Jacksonville Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 44 reviews


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Thank you for your question, blnd88dc. It is great to hear that you are having a smooth recovery and keep in mind that the stuffy nose is typical. I suggest you consult with your board certified facial plastic surgeon as to their recommended medications and healing process.

Best wishes,

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

Congestion after rhinoplasty

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Congratulations on your rhinoplasty blnd88dc! It sounds like your surgery was not too long ago 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

Question for you r surgeon

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It is normal to have difficulty breathing after rhinoplasty. When it comes to treatment, however, it is best to follow your surgeons recommendations.

Marcelo Ghersi, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 154 reviews

Congestion after rhinoplasty

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It is completely normal to have congestion at this stage in your recovery. Typically this takes several weeks to resolve as there is both internal and external swelling present. Frequently there is some crusting that contributes to the nasal congestion and this can be addressed by using saline nasal spray to aid in their removal. Make sure that you are following up with your rhinoplasty specialist to see if they have any additional suggestions. 

Michael T. Somenek, MD
Washington DC Facial Plastic Surgeon

Congestion after Rhinoplasty

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Congestion is normal after rhinoplasty, especially if any work is done on the septum,  Avoid nose blowing and use a saline nasal spray like Ocean brand. No Afrin please.  Speedy recovery to you.

Nicholas Husni, MD, PhD, FACS
Cleveland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Hello blnd88dc

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At 2 weeks post op of a rhinoplasty sounds like you have recovered very well, the stuffy nose feeling its normal you just have to be patient and it should go away on its own.
Good Luck
Dr. Michael J. Rodriguez

Stuffy nose

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Best to ask your doctor, but often saline nose drops can help if it is ok with your doctor. Best to ask him.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 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.