Rhinoplasty: At what point are you no longer "early post-op"?

I'm just curious, at what point is someone no longer "early" in their post op. I see a lot of questions/answers on here that say "you're very early post op". I'm curious at what point is it no longer considered "early?"

Doctor Answers 5


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This is a great question and can be frustrating for patients who want to finally get back to their activities and life. Check with your board certified plastic surgeon about when she/he no longer would have restrictions for the "early" post op period. All the best, MMT

Early post-op

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That just means soon after surgery usually within the 1st month or so. There is not defined specific number.

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

Early Post Op

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Hello 10yearsinthemaking - Thank you for your question. I think the point most surgeons are trying to make by "early post op" is that it is "too early to tell". And that depends a lot on what the complaint may be. Subtle irregularities within a few months of surgery may be too subtle to make a decision whether they will improve or not as swelling continues to improve - so one would say it is too early.  It is based on experience and there is no precise definition of the term. 

Jordan Rihani, MD
Southlake Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Early Post op

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I tell my patients to not look at the front view with scrutiny for two to three weeks by which time about 80% of swelling is gone. The profile will look better before the front view. Avoiding exercise and hot tubs and such stimulation will help reduce swelling. Strategic post op taping can definitely limit and guide the swelling. Enough swelling is gone by two months that we should be able to take post op pictures with evidence close to the final result. In most people after 6 months there is less than 5% more to resolve and by one year it probably will not further improve. I agree with the answer previously posted that the nose takes longer to equilibrate than other parts of the body and there can be flare ups of swelling months later due to stress or excessive exercise or emotional or physical experiences.
By 6 months we should be able to assess if there needs to be a minor touch up. The possibility of a minor touch up after six months should be discussed before any surgery of the nose since a recent study indicates that the most successful Rhinoplasty surgeons do such a second adjustment or refinement in 10-20% of cases. The reason why the better nose surgeons may do more touch ups than the less experienced operator is that, even though their results may be very good, they and their patients have a higher level of expectation...not unrealistic mind you...but a common goal to have the best nose for the long term. Since there are vagaries in the healing process and not everybody scars and heals the same...a commitment for an adjustment at 6-12 months at minimal cost is better understood at the front end. Rhinoplasty is part science and part art and, if there is legitimate room for improvement at minimal cost and minimal risk, than it is better to have your doctor respect your concerns and to recognize falling short of the goal. This does not mean that the doctor did not do an excellent job...it just means that despite his or her best effort, there is room for an improvement.
Of course there are unrealistic patients at times and rarely a patient may be impossible to satisfy no matter how well the procedure is done. Yet most patients are reasonable and Rhinoplasty is popular because the great majority of patients are happy with the improvement. After one year, significant improvement will not come by tincture of time and, if you feel you are not “being heard”, perhaps a second opinion is appropriate. I wish you success.

Richard Clark, MD
Sacramento Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Rhinoplasty: At what point are you no longer "early post-op"?

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Generally speaking, early post-op covers up to about 2 months. With respect to the nose however, it can extend for several more weeks. The nature of the nose makes it quite different from the remainder of the body so a longer period of healing and cyclical swelling is considered.

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.