I decided that as a thank you to the community for all the AMAZING support you have all given me, I will write a bunch about what helped me during my recovery, what I have experienced and when to worry, and what to do about it.
I’ll also post a bit about things that I have worried about and researched in the meantime.
1. I was from out of town and cannot drive myself. - Make sure you know someone in the town or bring someone with you. Do not be alone in case of complications. I kept copies of all my travel information in multiple places- on my phone, on printed paper, etc. I printed maps from the airport to the hotel, from the hotel to the doctor's office, from the hotel to the nearest hospital. I also used google maps to “print” pdfs that I then uploaded to my phone in case I didn’t have access to the internet. I also uploaded pdfs onto my phone with instructions, airport and emergency information, etc. I found phone numbers such as taxis, hospitals, your doc's emergency number, hotel number, emergency contacts, etc, online rhinoplasty recommendations and planned for worst case scenarios (which ended up being a very good thing). My phone lock screen had emergency phone numbers on it and I brought pre-paid phone cards to avoid charges and took pictures of them as well. Anything I didn't bring on carry-on (make sure it reaches requirements) I made sure to arrive a day before my meet and greet just in case (which was great, because it turned out my flight was late). I figured out taxi rates, and budgeted for taxis and possible emergency trips.
Travel insurance. Make sure it covers you and doesn’t exclude you for having planned surgery. I’ve had to use it before in the states which saved me loads of money.
Note: Anything important, keep two copies of. Which is why I kept my second copies on my phone. The others I kept on my carry-on in the case my luggage was lost or delayed.
Plan for your recovery. - To make recovery easier I bought the necessary supplies that I would need.
U-neck pillow- I chose a specific brand after some deliberation - Obusforme Travel Neck Pillow. The brand probably doesn’t matter but I wanted to be comfy. I’m a taller lady so it worked for me but I think for shorter ones it might be too high for their neck. At first I thought it would be uncomfortable but as soon as I had my surgery, put it on and propped myself up on top of a heap of pillows, I fell fast asleep. On another note- make sure you have enough pillows to prop yourself up! Do not sleep lying down, does NOT feel good, and gravity will keep swelling in your face. I slept propped up the first week after surgery. Also, avoid salty foods to avoid water retention for less swelling.
Earplugs- Does your companion snore? Mine did. I also played pink noise on my cellphone, as he snores quite loud.
Food- For those who have trouble eating I recommend some of the toddler easy squeeze fruit pouches, much easier to eat. Smoothies, milkshakes (three hours before and after antibiotics due to milk), soft canned peaches etc.
Chloraseptic- Throat numbing spray. I had excruciating pain eating and drinking, and this made it slightly more bearable for a little while. I’ve also heard that throat losenges can help, but I have allergies to some so I had to avoid them.
Otrivin 59029 Saline Nasal Spray with Moisturizer, 60ml- small enough for my plane regulations, did not understand how to use it in the slightest. Lol. I ended up tilting my head slightly to the side and dribbling it into my nostrils to keep them moist. Please do not get the strong spray O_O OUCH
Constipation meds, can get these over the counter- In case you are taking heavy pain killers, because it doesn’t feel good to strain- puts pressure in your face. Make sure they are compatible with what you are taking, you may need to take them a few hours after your other pills.
Tylenol Extra Strength- For pain. I had to supplement because I ran low on pain meds and could not eat due to pain. Do NOT take aspirin, Aleve or other aspirin type meds, even two weeks BEFORE surgery. They thin your blood and can cause more bleeding. I also avoided supplements for two weeks before surgery, and garlic, which can thin blood.
Your regular medication- I brought these in their original packaging with labels in a plastic bag for the flight, as well as setting them up in a “pill box” before the surgery so that there was no hassle for me or my helpers to figure out what I needed to take when. It also helps to set a timer
A glass of water- Next to your bed. For sipping whenever. Very important for the night as you will get dehydrated from breathing through your mouth.
BENDY STRAWS- These little things are amazing. I couldn’t drink without them the first week.
Baby toothbrush- I actually ended up preferring this to my regular toothbrush! Much easier to fit in your mouth and brush gently when you cannot open it too wide.
Toothpaste of choice - I used sensodyne pro enamel and found it didn’t foam too much, which was important to me because I had to breathe through my mouth.
Shower cap- In case you really need a scrub, you can make do by covering your face with the cap after you’ve poked a small hole for your mouth for breathing, (under cast level)
Gauze 3x3- For your moustache bandages that will catch the blood under your nose.
Paper Tape- This will hold on your gauze moustache and come off easily without leaving sticky residue.
No rinse shampoo and body wash- They sell this for if you cannot wash your hair normally, I used it at first for a few days, it was great. I just ended up avoiding the body wash and scrubbing in a shallow bath. I was lucky my hotel had grip bars! It was strenuous getting up though, maybe better to do sitting down.
Hand towel- For scrubbing your body. I didn’t want to accidentally get blood on white towels at the hotel, so I bought a black one for cleaning with.
Deodorant- Not for you, you can’t smell it. For your poor helpers LOL
Button up shirts- It is NOT good having to remove a shirt over your head, as you cannot bump your nose. I bought a bunch of cheap 5XL button up shirts from the men’s aisle in Wal-Mart for 3 bucks each. There was a Laundromat down the street, too!
Polysporin or Vaseline- for your sutures if you had open surgery. Vaseline is if you cannot tolerate Polysporin. Apply very gently with q tips.
Q-tips- My one true love. For applying polysporin/Vaseline or cleaning your nose when drenched in saline.
Lip balm- I HIGHLY recommend EUCERIN Intensive Lip Balm 10ml. I have really bad dry lips and they peel so much all the time that I thought for sure that they would bleed the whole surgery as I am usually a nose breather and I was sure that my lips would fall off. I did my research and it was a little pricey but it was totally worth it, I woke up every morning with soft, moisturized lips even though I mouth breathed all night. Keep it beside your bed so you can reapply if it comes off when you drink.
Humidifier- Much more comforting if you are in a dry environment (my hotel was very dry). Make sure it is cleaned regularly. (Not by you!)
Eye drops- For the burning eye problem. I actually used a contact fluid I was comfortable with. If you have very dry eyes and contacts I recommend you avoid Renu and go for a sensitive eye contact fluid and make sure the eye drops can be used with your contacts. My eyes would burn like crazy with Renu and I thought it was the dryness. ..Nope.
Contacts- In case you normally wear glasses. I believe you can tape the glasses over your face without touching the bridge if you need to, but I am not sure. I brought contacts.
Tiny plastic bags and hand washcloths- This I found more suitable/comfortable than ice in bags. Soak the washcloth with a bit of water, zip and put into freezer. It’s more pliable and less heavy than ice and will not drip on your cast.
Do NOT lift anything heavy (less than five pounds), bend over, strain on the toilet, bump your nose, pick at your nose, or do anything strenuous. Let your companion pamper you and treat them to a fancy meal or something. I didn’t understand the random tiny nose bleeds I kept getting because I felt bad about having to ask, but when I figured it out I started letting them do it for me.
For me, I couldn’t lift anything heavier than a pound and three weeks later I still feel pain/pressure lifting three to five pounds. I did have extensive work done though.
Cotton balls- for cleaning face and for potential nose bleeds.
Bring your health card, id and insurance information. Keep a backup on your (locked) phone. This is for emergency/surgery. Do not place in checked luggage if you are travelled, bring with you on plane.
Sunscreen- your skin will be very sensitive to sunlight for quite a while after rhinoplasty. Wear in the sun! (and antibiotics will do this too if you have to take them. If you take antibiotics also check to see if you have to avoid dairy).
2. Weird, disgusting smell in nostrils-
This is either an infection or old blood and clots (ewww). Infection is usually noticeable with yellow or green mucus or pus but since your nose probably isn’t draining it might not be easy to tell. I didn’t have this although I have in a different situation. In my case, I had the blood smell problem. It was so bad I kept gagging.
You can NOT clean the inside of your nose for quite a while after surgery so you don’t disturb sutures or start a nosebleed, only moisten with saline. I was SO happy to be able to clean my nose when it was healed enough to get rid of the smell. Don’t pick at blood clots or stitches. Clots need to heal or you’ll cause another bleed. The stitches will come out eventually. (Mine are dissolvable, I look like I’m getting whiskers) I also realized the more moist my nose was, the more I smelled these things. So I dreaded the “moistening” times.
I used a saline rinse eventually, loosened up stuff a lot but do not do with your cast! I waited until my nose felt “well enough” to handle it.
Another trick I learned in biology class- put a bit of vicks on the lip under your nose. It helps disguise the smell.
3. Not able to pee-
Emergency room. In my case it was a urinary tract infection but they did not test for it. If you can ask for a test for infection, I didn’t and paid for it. They also tested me for a clot. Sometimes it’s irritation and will eventually go away on it’s own, but right now you need to keep hydrated and if you do not have the pee removed it will fill your bladder, go back into your kidneys eventually and cause damage. So, just go to the local emergency room and they will help you. I ended up getting a catheter (it is not so fun when they put it in, but believe me it is a relief to get fluid out) …it was kind of nice to be able to sleep without having to get up to pee. It is basically a tube that goes into your urethra (the tube you pee from) and drains fluids from your bladder into a little bag, which you can then empty into a toilet whenever it is full.
4. Burning, itchy eyes- My eyes were very hot and swollen for a few days, and I would wake up to find them burning like they were on fire and extremely itchy, they would water and I found no relief.
I found the issue is that your eyes are swollen enough not to flush out debris themselves and usually the junk you find in the corner of your eyes when you wake up is stuck. I used eyedrops or contact fluid (for sensitive eyes) on a q tip and gently cleaned out both corners of my eyes until the burning stopped. I would find so much junk in there. I routinely started doing this about three times a day to prevent it from popping up randomly, but it would come back every morning until my eye swelling went down enough.
5. Numbness on body- This is potentially a clot or low blood pressure. Emergency. Make sure someone takes you, has your emergency notification numbers. In my case it was low blood pressure due to a full body infection and bad dehydration. It got dangerous but I thought I was just getting numbness on my feet because I was sitting weird on the bed.
Nose numbness is normal for quite a while after surgery, as well as lip numbness. My smile is slowly returning but it looked so weird after surgery. Try not to smile too much though it hurts lol.
6. Excessive nosebleed- I did not have this, but I have heard you are to soak a cotton ball in saline and stuff it in your nose and leave it for a few hours. Double check this information as I did not experience it personally.
7. Pain in roof of mouth- There is a nerve that can be irritated or damaged during septoplasty (or possibly rhinoplasty) that will cause unusual sensations in the roof of your mouth. It will heal within three months. For about 9 days cold sensations made my face feel like it was being pulled apart, then it miraculously went away overnight. I drank lukewarm water and ate lukewarm food until this went away, used Chloraseptic and pain killers. Make sure you are eating and drinking properly, even if it takes a long time. I experienced SEVERE pain due to this and didn’t eat or drink much, ended up so dehydrated I was in the ER.
8. White tip of uvula- Sometimes the uvula gets crushed or scratched during anesthesia when they tube you, and a piece can fall off. I think you just got to let it happen. Mine looked regular pink, then black/bloody then white. The white stretched until it fell off. My uvula is starting to feel better 9 days later. As of today, (three weeks) complete healing of it and no pain. By the way- NO CITRUS, OUCH. Try less-acidic fruit juices- apple and artificially flavored juices were so much better than pineapple and orange which burned like crazy.
9. Fluid in ears or pain in ears- This is apparently common in rhinoplasty, but can also be an inner ear infection. Call your doc and ask. The tubes in your ears are connected to your nose. This is also associated with dizziness.
10. Dizziness- Can be lots of things. Powerful pain meds, low blood pressure, infection, ear infection, common symptom, etc. Good to call your doc and ask.
11. Passing out- Emergency room. Get someone to take you. Can be many things, in my case it was very low blood pressure and infection that affected my whole body (this is extremely rare). It could be lots of things but it is not normal.
12. Pain in throat- Common after rhinoplasty, from the tube from anesthesia. Try losenges, chloraseptic or pain meds. Will relieve itself eventually, no worries. Only time you have to worry is if it continually gets worse. Then you have to see emergency or your doc. Mine was so bad it prevented me from eating and drinking properly- I became dangerously dehydrated. Don’t let this happen to you!
13. Uneven swelling- Normal after rhinoplasty. May change orientation every day. The general rule of thumb is 1 month to be presentable in public, 3 month to have 80% swelling down, 6 months to a year to see final results. HOWEVER this is definitely not the case with everyone. Thicker skin generally takes longer than thinner skin, different people have different healing times. I for one have medium skin and it was commented that I had very symmetrical, non severe swelling within nine days post op. However I also have a friend with thin skin who is still experiencing swelling two years after her rhinoplasty, I have heard that some people will take 3 years for the final result although it is not common. So do not panic if your nostrils seem uneven or something right away. Discuss these concerns with your doctor. :)
One day I will have a very fat nose, the next very thin. Crying/salty foods/sleeping low elevation will exaggerate the swelling. Sleeping upright with a u pillow the first week will really help the swelling. Low salt diet. Crying probably can’t be avoided but just so you know it’s not permanent it just affects the skin that one day.
14. Bump to nose- call doctor to assess if there is any damage. There might not be any, but it’s good to check. First week is the danger zone, at two months it should be pretty strong but will still break upon dramatic impact. (well, so will a regular nose) A nose that is broken once is not as strong as a nose that was never broken, so wear safety gear when doing sports.
15. MY SKIN IS GOING CRAZY- This is common and usually will resolve within the year. This is your skin trying to protect itself against the trauma of surgery and oversecreting protective oil. My skin personally went nuts. I had clear skin, with a tiny t dry patch, and never needed to do more than wash my face with water and a towel. Now I have massive oily spots and acne everywhere. My new skin regimen is to use “live clean fresh face” to cleanse my face, (skin was peeling everywhere for a while, and I have to rub very very gently, I ended up using a q-tip gently to rub until it felt stronger, don’t do first week), then I use Clearasil daily clear acne pore cleansing pads to gently clean the oils off my face (once in morning and once before bed), when face is dry I apply Dry Idea Advanced Dry Unscented roll on deodorant onto my fingers and apply to the oily areas (I know it sounds weird… it’s the only thing that will work for me)… and then cover my face with Neutrogena healthy defense daily moisturizer, spf 45. This has made my skin relatively normal looking when I go out now, and surprisingly the moisturizer has diminished the wrinkle on my forehead. Woot?
In any event your skin should clear up and go back to normal within the year.
16. Stiff lip/weird smile after surgery- This is common and usually will resolve within the year. Usually from swelling. I started off being unable to move my upper lip (Hello, creepy lower teeth smile) and now my smile is almost normal three weeks later.
17. Crease in upper lip after surgery- Sometimes from swelling and will resolve by itself, sometimes if your surgeon decides to release certain muscle connections. If this is the case and does not get better filler or a low dose of botox can be used I believe. I had a crease for a day, due to swelling.
18. Bruising in face- Common and will resolve within two weeks. I had red in my eyes, yellow swollen cheeks and dark purple bruises under my eyes. It was quite the rainbow. Well, they say two weeks but it’s been three and I still have a tiny bruise. I now use a special concealer from Sephora to cover it up.
19. Dark eye circles- Bruising in orbital cavity after surgery. Can take up to six to ten months to resolve in some cases. Concealer!
20. Time to heal and pain level- everyone is different. I myself have a very low pain tolerance and three weeks later my face still feels BROKEN. I sometimes have to take a Tylenol because it throbs. Some people have no pain and only discomfort. Lucky! I also had very extensive work done especially with my nasal bones which is probably why I’m having pain much longer than most people. Apparently this will feel better in a two month range, so I just have to wait.
21. Yellow or green snot- Possible infection. See doc pronto!
22. Glasses- Nono for at least a month I believe. I’m going to wait up to three, I have heard of dents for some people. Plus, my nasal bones still really hurt and I don’t want to put glasses on them.
23. Stitches poking out- Don’t pull. They are there for a reason. You can trim gently up to the nose line if they are poking out like whiskers. A lot of them will dissolve- If they haven’t dissolved after a fair period of time get them checked to avoid infection, it’s possible they were stitches that don’t dissolve that were forgotten.
24. I’ve probably forgotten something very important, but it isn’t coming to me now. I’ll add more if I remember it or if I've gotten something wrong.