Septo-Rhino with Skin Graft: Post Op Second Week - Newport Beach, CA

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At the time of creation of this post, I am on my...

At the time of creation of this post, I am on my first week post-operation of a septoplasty, rhinoplasty using ear cartilage, and skin graft using skull tissue. It has already been physically and emotionally rough. I hope that this blog will serve as a helpful account for anyone considering the same type of procedure.


In regards to septoplasty, I had a deviated septum that has been making breathing more and more difficult as the years go by. I also had enlarged turbinates that, at its worst, would completely block one side of my nose from getting any air. I had been getting infections more and more, and taking a long time to recover. Nasal sprays were not working, and my sleep problems were getting worse too.

Thus, the main goals were to fix my crooked nose, fix my septum, reduce the swelling of my turbinates, and use fascia from my skull as a skin graft to keep everything together. I also decided to heighten my nose bridge, which was completely flat, using cartilage from my ear.


I saw multiple doctors and half of them referred me elsewhere because of the complicated structure of my nose. I narrowed it to Dr. C and Dr. S, both in Newport Beach. Both of them were extremely friendly, along with their support staff. Dr. C is very reputable surgeon, and I was referred to him by several other doctors. He had a good sense of aesthetics and sketched out details of his suggestions on the spot. His patient coordinator was helpful in dealing with insurance as well. In the end, I decided to go with Dr. S because he invited me back for a second consultation where he really explained the operation thoroughly. Additionally, he was $1000 cheaper, and his availability fit well with my schedule. His staff was helpful in negotiating my surgery center costs down as well.


This was my first major operation ever, so it was pretty nerve-wrecking. Everyone at the surgical center was very supportive. I was put to sleep under full anesthesia administered though an IV tube. It was very effective, probably because I'm fairly light at 108 lbs, and I knocked out immediately. The operation was scheduled for 7:00 am and my estimated time to leave was 12:30 pm. However, due to complications, it stretched out, and I did not leave until about 2:30 pm.

Waking up from the operation was a NIGHTMARE. I may be more sensitive than most. It was the worst feeling I've experienced in life so far. During the operation, I had very vivid dreams. When I woke, all the sounds around me came rushing into my head at once. Even though I could hear, it took me a long time to be able to open my eyes or talk. My body felt extremely weak, barely able to move. The nurses had to hold me up and dress me. I was rolled out to my friend's car in a wheelchair. I was talking at that time, but I was not of sound mind and I wasn't in control of what I was saying.

DAY 01

I vomited five times on Day 1 - twice during the car ride and three times at home later in the evening. The worst were the late night episodes because it was all blood and it was really jarring to see so much blood coming from my body.

Another source of stress was my mother, who was with me at home. I love her and appreciate her help, but I can feel my blood pressure rising when she's around. From the minute I walked in the door, she was speaking loudly and asking me questions that I was too groggy to answer. As I tried to eat some soup, she started screaming "Hot! Hot! Hot!" every time I took a sip, and one time it startled me so much that I started choking. As I was trying to nap, she kept asking me how I was and making me nervous by staring at me. I really under-estimated the effect the surgery would have on me, as I was so weak, I couldn't even tell her that I just needed to sleep. Lesson learned: After surgery, have a caretaker who just gives you peace and quiet; you may be too groggy to handle any sort of communication.

After I had some soup and Gatorade, and after taking a nap, I had enough energy to walk around the house at night. Dr. S called me from his cell phone to check on me, but I was still in a bit of a daze that I forgot to ask him some questions.

Surprisingly, it was my skull and my ear that was in more pain than my nose. My ear was bleeding on and off again through the day, but Dr. S said it's ok for the ear to be draining that fluid from the wound.

I took Xanax to help fall asleep. It helped get to me to sleep, but it didn't help me stay asleep.

DAY 02

Sleeping was a difficult because I have gauze in both nostrils and had to rely on mouth breathing. I woke up multiple times during the night because I felt like I was suffocating. I'm confused about my dressings. I recall my nurses/doctor telling me to keep it in all week, but most people I see on RealSelf don't have gauze in their nose for the first week like I do. Some clarification on this would be really helpful. I may call my doctor tomorrow or on Day 4 if it continues to be a problem.

The pain from my head also gave me trouble because I could not put any pressure on that side of my head while sleeping. This morning, I realized how valuable my Vicodin was to my head/ear pain. It wore off overnight and I was definitely feeling pain when I woke up. While my undereyes showed no bruising on Day 1, they are becoming blue on Day 2.

I barely have an appetite today. Adding on to that, it's hard to open my mouth, and I can't breathe when I'm eating. Nevertheless, I am forcing myself to eat because I know I need a lot of fluids to go with all my medication.

Things I'm glad I had:
- Chapstick (because of all that mouth breathing)
- A 45 degree reclining chair (to sleep in)
- Q-tips to clean wounds
- Scissors to trim gauze dressings
- Medication already picked up (there's no way I could have stopped by the pharmacy post op)

Things I should I wish I had prepared:
- More clear drinks (ginger ale, 7 up, etc)
- More soft foods (applesauce, bread, etc)
- An ice pack to go on the eyes while avoid the nose
- A lounge chair to sit outside

DAY 03 - 05 A rundown of my condition so far...

DAY 03 - 05

A rundown of my condition so far.

The bad: I started getting serious migraines that have continued on and off again throughout the last few days.It occurs randomly, but also when I look at any screen too long or over exert myself around the house. My head staples and my ear wound still hurts, so I am continuing pain killers and a sleep aid at night.

The good: My appetite is back! No more nausea as well. Eye bruising is completely gone, thanks to consistent icing and the fact that no bones were broken during my surgery.

The dirty: My hair had been soaked in betadine for a couple days after surgery. This is due to the incision in my scalp. I rinsed my hair a little bit, carefully, to remove the betadine. Although it was impossible to remove all of the betadine or fully wash my hair, rinsing has been helpful in lifting my mood.

My doctor is going to remove my splint (external and internal), as well as all the dressing on both nose and head, 10 days post operation. It's important for people considering surgery to recognize that there's no guarantee that you'll be running around in public in a straight week, or that you'll only have a small cast on your nose on the first week. Every procedure is different and has the potential to get complicated. I would recommend making sure you can have at least 2 weeks away from any serious work/school obligations.

DAY 10 My doctor took off the external and...

DAY 10

My doctor took off the external and internal splints and wow - I can finally breathe again. When he took out the internal splints, I felt a rush of air coming in that I had never breathed in again. If that keeps up, the septo will have been worth it. Since then, my breathing has become limited again, so I hope that is due to the swelling and that it will get better as I heal. My doctor taped my nose, as it's puffy and swollen like crazy. I also started taking arnica montana, which I wish I had done earlier.

It's a relief to get the staples out of my head and the dressing off of my ear. My head/ear are still sore, so I can not sleep on that side of my head, but it's getting better everyday. Oddly enough, it was the head that more painful and slower to heal than the nose.

I am adding a couple pictures to give an example of how different your ear may look if you use it for cartilege, and the changes in dressing/swelling throughout recovery. To most, there may be no change, but to me, the improvement in swelling is substantial.
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