How Long Before Smile Returns to Normal After Rhinoplasty?

I am a post-op for Rhinoplasty. I've been recovering pretty quickly and I haven't been having any problems really, other than this: I've noticed that after my surgery, my smile changed.

Now, whenever I smile, my top lip doesn't go up as much as it use to and the top teeth barely show. My smile looks not only forced but very, very strange. Why is it like this, is it normal? If so, how long before my smile returns to normal?

Doctor Answers 14

When You Smile the World Smiles With You, After Rhinoplasty, Sometimes the World Smiles Alone

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Hi Perky,

If you are happy with the results of your rhinoplasty, your smile should return very soon. Your "normal" smile may take a bit longer.

Often times during septo-rhinoplasty the muscle fibers between the base of the nose and the upper lip are separated to allow the tip of the nose to heal without being pulled downward.

This results in an upper lip that does not elevate properly, covering your gums and upper teeth when you smile. These muscle fibers usually grow back together within a few weeks, and your smile should return to normal at that time.

Be well and I hope that your smile returns to normal very soon.

Dr. P

Encino Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Irregular smile after rhinoplasty is common and typically temporary

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This is extremely common and there are a variety of reasons why this occurs which range from swelling, decreased sensation, wounds, etc. In most instances this resolves nearly completely. The time to resolution depends on the extent of surgery and can last from 3 weeks to 3 months

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Changed Smile After Rhinoplasty Surgery

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You do not mention when your surgery was done. It is normal to have swelling for several weeks after rhinoplasty. This will cause stiffness of the muscles of your upper lip and your cheeks, limiting their full range of motion. It is always transient.

Richard W. Fleming, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

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Smile and numbness in rhino

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In general, almost all noses are numb right after a rhinoplasty. In most cases its the tip that is numb, but this numbness can extend down to the upper lip, and in rare cases some of the teeth. There are nerves that are cut and stretched during a rhinoplasty, and it takes a long time for those nerves to start working again. This is true of an open as well as closed rhinoplasty, although it tends to be more extensive in open rhinoplasty. This could also be more extensive if a septoplasty is performed at the same time. A revision rhinoplasty is a much harder surgery with a lot of internal scarring to cut through. This can also be a reason for prolonged numbness. This, along with the swelling, gives you a stiff, plastic type feel, and can give you an odd smile. However, the nerves will start working and again, and your nose stiffness will go away with time. As the nerves grow back, you may feel some tingling, itchiness and on occasion pain. This takes in most cases months, but can take years in rare cases. Extremely rarely, the numbness is permanent, although I have never seen such as case.
Best Wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Smiling After Nose Job

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After rhinoplasty the upper lip can sometimes feel stiff and difficult to move as a result of swelling. Rhinoplasty always results in some degree of swelling as this normal healing, and swelling at the base of the nose can result in stiffness in the upper lip.
As the swelling improves the lip movement and sensation will return to normal. The likelihood of stiffness is dependent on the rhinoplasty surgery, revision surgery with multiple grafts are more likely to result in an increased degree of swelling and resulting stiffness. The symptoms improve in most people within a few weeks however rarely up to 6 months. 

Need more time for your lip function to improve

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Swelling after a rhinoplasty is not uncommon and this can, at least temporarily, affect your smile.  Given more time this will most likely improve on its own.  Make your surgeon aware of your concerns and have confidence that over the next  6 months or so it will improve. 

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Don't worry, your smile will come back!

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After rhinoplasty, a few things can happen which can affect your smile. If work was done at the base of your nose or at the bottom of the columella (skin bridge between the nostrils), swelling in the area can affect the lip and cause it to drop a bit temporarily. As the swelling resolves, which can take months, the lip will return to normal position. Sometime if extensive work is done in this area, the muscles responsible for pulling the uppper lip up are temporarily weakened, a condition which will also return to normal over months. If the problem does not get better by one year's time, you should be re-evaluated by your surgeon.

In some cases, a surgeon may place material between your nostrils in order to provide more support to the tip of the nose. Often this can be a cartailge graft which serves as a collumn to support the tip. A rare complication is this graft slipping forward and down toward the lip. Overall this is a very unusual situation, but if it does occur it can easily be corrected with a minor touch up procedure.

The other thing to keep in mind is that if the tip of the nose is brought up and elevated, it can make the upper lip appear longer. It should not cause the lip to actually drop down and cover your teeth more, however.

David W. Kim, MD
Bay Area Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 39 reviews


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 Often the smile is affected after a rhinoplasty near the lip. It will return to normal in  6-12 months. There is nothing to do to make it faster.

Toby Mayer, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Smile typically comes back after Rhinoplasty.

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In the initial few months after a cosmetic rhinoplasty many changes occur with regards to swelling, healing, and possible numbness.

As these initial concerns become less bothersome, and lessen one begins to see a return to normalcy overall.  In the majority of the time, the smile also normalizes to how it was before the procedure.

I hope this helps, and best wishes on a successful result.

Sergio Pasquale Maggi, MD, FACS
Austin Plastic Surgery Center

Changes in Smile After Rhinoplasty Usually Only Temporary

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It is very common for rhinoplasty patients to report (in the first several weeks after surgery) that their upper lip feels stiff and that it is difficult for them to smile. Fortunately, this resolves by itself in the first several weeks after surgery as the swelling subsides. Be patient, your smile should return to normal.

C. Spencer Cochran, MD
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 149 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.