Stiff Upper Lip After Closed Rhinoplasty?

I recently underwent closed Rhinoplasty, where the prominent hump on my nose was removed and the tip slightly projected. I also had the depressor muscles detached to prevent the nose drooping when I smiled.

However I now have a very stiff and almost immovable upper lip, which doesn't move when I talk or smile, giving the appearance of it almost being paralyzed. Is this normal, and will it eventually heal?

Doctor Answers 6

Rhinoplasty and stiffness

 Stiffness  of the nose is normal after a rhinoplasty. This may take 6 months to a year for the stiffness and swelling to subside. Your smile should come back to its usual form.

New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Give it time

This is not in usual with a rhinoplasty, particularly when depressor muscles operated on. A sharp instrument is used to separate the depressor muscles from their attachments to the bone at the base of the nose. This in itself will cause swelling which will limit lip movement ,as well as the actual separation of the muscles will limit their contraction. As swelling resolves and the muscles reattach, things should return to normal. The nerve that contracts the muscles could also temporarily be affected and this could also cause stiffness

Joseph M. Perlman, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Rhinoplasty Recovery and Changes in Your Smile: Be Patient

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 147 reviews

Yes it slowly should come back.

It takes 6-12 months for the swelling and stiffness to resolve. If it does not show signs of improvement , return to your surgeon.  

Toby Mayer, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Stiff Upper Lip After Closed Rhinoplasty?

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. 

Julian De Silva, MD
Birmingham Ophthalmologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 148 reviews

Your stiff upper lip should soften.

If you had your tip projected with a columella-strut, immobility of the central lip is common, and resolves in around a month. How long ago was your operation?

I don't have any personal experience with "detachment of the depressor muscles", but my hunch is that your upper lip will be fine with time. What does your surgeon think?

Best regards.

Eric M. Joseph, MD
West Orange Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 421 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.