How long does swelling last after Rhinoplasty, and why so long?

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Rhinoplasty, also known as a “nose job,” is a plastic surgery procedure that is performed to reconstruct the nose for both cosmetic and functional reasons. Aesthetically enhancing the appearance of one’s nose is beneficial to alleviate nasal asymmetry and/or disproportions to the face. Ensuring functionality of the nose is also important for addressing any breathing impairment that may be caused by trauma, septal deviation, or airway obstruction.

With any surgery, the healing process varies depending on an individual’s own natural ability to heal. It is important to understand the structure and physiology of the nose. The nose has an extensive anatomy, to include its external structure and internal structure. There are crucial nerves, blood vessels and lymphatics of the nose, all of which provide important sensory information, blood supply and play an important role in the body’s natural healing process.

We are all equally guilty of having that sense of urgency when we want something. It is instinctive for us to satisfy our needs the moment we know we want something. Our impulsiveness convinces us that we need something now. We don’t have time to wait. Not tomorrow, not a later point in time. We want that instant gratification now. But in the case of a Rhinoplasty, that saying: Patience is a virtue, couldn’t be more relevant.

Postoperative swelling after a Rhinoplasty can take up to one year. The reason being is that after any trauma (including surgery), our body needs to undergo essential phases for healing and repair. Swelling lasts even longer in most Revision Rhinoplasty cases, and sometimes, injections of steroids can help. Healing is a systemic process with three phases:  Inflammatory Phase (1-7 days), Proliferative Phase (1-6 weeks) and Maturation/Re-modeling Phase (6-12 months). The Inflammatory Phase is the body’s natural response to injury. During this phase, blood vessels dilate to allow essential cells and biochemical processes (ie. white blood cells, growth factors, enzymes and nutrients) to reach the site of trauma. The Proliferation Phase consists of tissue rebuilding with healthy granulation tissue (comprised of collagen, extracellular matrix, and new network of blood vessels). The Maturation Phase occurs when the wound has closed up. During this phase, the tissue remodels and matures as the collagen fibers reorganize to enhance tensile strength.

There is not one universal type of Rhinoplasty surgery that will meet the needs of every patient. Dr. Zelken customizes every Rhinoplasty surgery specific to each patient, depending on his or her needs, desires, and goals.