Is My Nasal Congestion Normal After A Rhinoplasty?

Q: I had rhinoplasty surgery one week ago today. Ever since the surgery my nose has been very congested and I can only really breathe through my mouth. It runs all the time and I constantly have to wipe it. My concern is whether this is normal? What can I do to make my breathing better?

A: Such nasal congestion after a full septorhinoplasty is very common and almost the norm for the first week after surgery. Even though most plastic surgeons today don’t use nasal packing, often some form or resorbable or dissolveable packing may be used. This takes a week or two to go away. This combined with the swelling of the nasal linings, clots and reactive production of nasal secretions can make for a difficult first week. Yours sounds like a very typical one for many more complete rhinoplasties.

While time will improve the nasal congestion substantially, it make take up to 10 to 14 days until it is really better. Complete resolution of the congestion and drainage will be seen by three to four weeks after surgery.

The use of hot showers or a dehumidifier in your bedroom at night and the liberal spraying of your nose with Afrin (decongestant) and saline nasal sprays will reduce the swelling in the nose and help loosen obstructive clots. During your first postoperative visit to your plastic surgeon, those clots that are easily visible and not too painful to remove can be cleared.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana