The precautions I give to my patients who undergo rhinoplasty can be divided into three categories – foods to avoid, activities to avoid, and social scenarios to avoid.
The nose is anatomically different in several ways from the rest of the body. It not only serves an aesthetic purpose, but has several different functions, and is involved in multiple sensory processes. Therefore, the things to avoid postoperatively are geared towards each of these:
Foods to avoid
1) Spicy foods – These foods usually contain capsaicin, which is responsible for the sting long after you eat a habanero.
2) Hot foods (temperature) – Due to the fact that your senses are “dulled” after surgery, it becomes increasingly likely that you will burn yourself if foods are not kept at a moderate temperature.
3) Hard foods – It’s tough in the early postoperative period to eat an apple, steak, or other foods that are difficult to chew when your smile is stiff.
Activity to avoid
1) I generally recommend not strenuously exercising for the first month. After rhinoplasty, our main enemy is swelling. Exercising that raises your heart rate will add just that – more swelling.
2) Wearing glasses – As bones are usually manipulated during surgery, glasses become a no-no for four weeks as well. To avoid permanent indentations or asymmetry, tape your glasses to your forehead or wear contacts when your surgeon gives you the green light.
3) Sexual activity – see activity #1.
Social scenarios to avoid
1) Crowded places – Invariably, the time you decide to go to that concert you’ve been hoping to attend, someone WILL elbow you in the face. Game over on a newly-healing nose.
2) Smoking – If you smoke, you shouldn’t have had surgery in the first place, unless you quit three weeks prior to surgery and four weeks after. Even one cigarette will shrink those newly healing blood vessels necessary for the perfect outcome. And if you think, “No worries, I’ll just vape or use the gum,” think again. The real enemy is nicotine, which must be avoided entirely.
3) Marijuana – Although this does not contain nicotine, cannabis can increase the amount of swelling your nose maintains, potentially delaying or worsening the outcome.
Follow these simple rules, and you will be well on your way to healing appropriately following rhinoplasty. Make sure you listen to your surgeon’s instructions, as he or she may add a few more rules or exceptions onto the aforementioned list. Good luck!