Sleeping Position After Rhinoplasty?

Following Rhinoplasty, what position should you sleep in? Also, if you wind up on your back or side during the night, will that affect the development of your nose adversely and alter the results if even slightly?

Doctor Answers 24

Rhinoplasty and Sleeping Position

Hi Cali,

After rhinoplasty it is advised to keep your head (nose) elevated above your heart. That usually translates to 3 to 4 pillows. To facilitate staying on your back, you should place sand bags on either side of you, a spouse will work on one side (just kidding). You can place something on each side of you to help from turning onto your side or stomach.

Good luck, enjoy your new nose, and sweet dreams.

Dr. P

Encino Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Sleep with your head elevated and on your back!

This is a great question. The short answer is that for the first few weeks you should sleep with your head elevated and on your back - I believe in gravity!

If you have a rhinoplasty with osteotomies (breaking the bones of your nose), this requires some time to heal. I am not aware of any research on this, but I think common sense and the laws of gravity instruct us that you should be on your back. If I did 1000 rhinoplasties and instructed all to sleep on their right side, and did another 1000 and instructed them all to lay on their back, I believe that a few of the first group (how many I can't say, but some) a few more of the first group would be twisted to the right compared to the group sleeping on their back.
And so, I specifically instruct my patients to use a travel pillow, or a rolled up towel, or some other method so that they sleep on their back not their side.

As for sleeping with your head elevated, that is for swelling and has a small but definite positive benefit.

Daniel G. Becker, MD
Voorhees Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Increasing comfort after rhinoplasty

While keeping the head higher than your heart for the first few days post-op will probably minimize swelling, I also recommend it for comfort. When the nose is congested--as it will be after surgery--lying flat can sometimes make patients feel as if they're smothering.

It's doubtful that lying flat would cause any truly lasting harm, though. So if a patient is adamant about lying flat, I'd rather they get their sleep and rest than be up all night in an uncomfortable position.

I do caution them against lying on their side in a way that smooshes their cheek and face, since that could potentially shift repositioned nasal bones. I can't say that I've ever seen a bad result that was merely due to patient sleeping position, but it's prudent to minimize the chance.

All the best,


David C. Pearson, MD
Jacksonville Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Suggested sleeping position after rhinoplasty

It is suggested that a patient tries to keep their head above their heart simply to reduce swelling in the nose after a rhinoplasty. It is only a suggestion and is not crucial. Rolling over on a pillow will usually not dislodge it or make the nose crooked if the cast is in place. It is more important to get a good night of sleep than it is to worry about sleeping on three pillows versus two pillows.

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 143 reviews

Sleeping position after rhinoplasty


I recommend the "lounge chair position," which means head elevated above the chest and knees slightly flexed. This position can be approximated in bed with two pillows behind the head and one pillow behind the knees.

Joel B. Singer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
3.4 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Ideal Sleeping Position Post-Rhinoplasty

I recommend my patient to sleep on their back, with their head elevated after a nose job. Try to sleep with two or three pillows under your head, as keeping your head above the rest of your body will better direct blood flow to the nose and can thereby accelerate the speed at which swelling subsides. Though the nights directly after a rhinoplasty surgery can seem uncomfortable, rest assured that your condition will soon improve and that you will be reaping the benefits of your nose job in no time.

Julian De Silva, MD
London Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 142 reviews

Sleeping position after a Rhinoplasty

I recommend my patients to sleep with their heads elevated during the first week of recovery in order to help minimize swelling. The swelling and bruising around your eyes will reach its peak in about 2 to 3 days; however, most of the swelling and bruising should disappear in about 2 weeks. Subtle swelling typically remains for several months. To feel better and help reduce swelling, be sure to apply cold compresses as need be.

Leonard Hochstein, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 203 reviews

Sleeping After Rhinoplasty

In general, one should consider sleeping with your head elevated for the first two weeks after any rhinoplasty or facial procedures such as head and neck, to minimize swelling post operatively.

Rod J. Rohrich, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 63 reviews

No long term effects

The goal of head elevation and ice is to reduce swelling and bruising. Keeping your head elevated above your heart allows the swelling fluids to drain from the nose. Over time all of the swelling goes down and there will not be any permanent damage .

Richard L. Dolsky, MD (retired)
Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Elevated the sugery site

For several days after surgery the surgical site will swell with healing inflammation. Keep your nose elevated as much as possible. If you sleep on a flat surface with your nose at the same height as your toes you will get more swelling. Gravity will help the swelling stay down and will encourage it to go away.

If you do get a little more swelling than average this should not harm the results, it will only take longer to get back to normal. Keep your activity and straining very low and you should heal well.

Best Wishes

Dr. Peterson

Marcus L. Peterson, MD
Saint George Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 38 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.