Reviewed and approved by Prof Dr Fuat Yuksel.
Congestion and stuffiness are expected after rhinoplasty. However, this does not have to be the case throughout recovery. It is possible to manage these temporary side effects by cleaning your nose properly. Only you have to be very careful about it.
Keep in mind that your nose may be clogged for several weeks after the surgery. So, you need to take care of the crusts inside the nose to breathe better. Additionally, it is essential to clean the nose to prevent infection. The problem is that if you don’t do it right, your recovery will be delayed.
How To Clean The Nose After Rhinoplasty?
It is okay to start cleaning the nose soon after rhinoplasty, but you should be very gentle. And in order to clean the inside and outside of your nose (before and after cast removal), you’d need the following:
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Topical antibiotic (recommended by your surgeon)
And here’s how you need to clean your nose:
- Take the Q-tip and soak it in hydrogen peroxide solution (it may need to be diluted with water).
- Apply (don’t rub) the Q-tip on the outside edges of the nostrils.
- Only insert the cotton portion of the Q-tip inside the nostril and twirl it around (if you push it in too deep, it can undo the stitches).
- Discard the Q-tip, take a new one, put the ointment on it and apply the ointment inside the nose.
You may need to do this twice a day but consult your doctor first. Also, to further moisten the crusts inside the nose, surgeons usually recommend the use of a saline nasal spray (Sterimar). You need to spray it inside each nostril (don’t put the nozzle inside the nose) 4-5 times/day for at least 1-2 weeks after surgery.
The softened crusts and mucus will drip down your nose. Instead of wiping or rubbing it dry, pat it dry. Keep in mind that patients can have varying amounts of crusting inside their noses (depending on how much they bleed and the surgical technique). So, how long you need to use the nasal spray will depend on that.
Keep in mind that you’ll have a cast/splint for a week or so after rhinoplasty. It will help hold the new shape of the nose but will make breathing more difficult. So, you must keep the nose clean during that time (again, don’t insert the Q-tip too deep). Once the splint is removed, you may be able to clean the nose more thoroughly.
Irrigation After Rhinoplasty: How To Do It?
Some surgeons also recommend nasal irrigation or nasal douching. In this, saline or water is flushed through the nasal cavities to clean the mucus and debris. Usually, a bulb syringe, neti pot, or squeeze bottle is used for this. There are also rinse kits available in the market. You can do it in the following way:
- Bend over the sink, holding the syringe or container with water/saline in it.
- Tilt your head to one side and place the spout inside your nose.
- Pour the liquid inside the nose.
- Water/saline will flow out of the nostril towards the sink (there may be some blood discharge in the first few days).
- Breathe through your mouth instead of your nose during the entire process.
You may be recommended to do it twice a day (you might feel some discomfort doing it the first time). It will effectively relieve nasal congestion. Some people also experience a burning sensation. It could be because the water’s too hot or salty. Make sure that the water’s lukewarm; otherwise, you may end up getting blisters inside the nose.
Before irrigating your nose, always make sure that the devices are clean and the water is distilled or sterile. Lastly and most importantly, while nasal douching is generally safe and can be helpful, do not do it unless recommended by your surgeon.
Why Do You Need To Clean Your Nose After Rhinoplasty?
It’s important to clean your nose after surgery for the following reasons:
Dried blood inside the nose will form crusts. In addition to making breathing more difficult, it will also cause other discomforts. For instance, you may lose your sense of taste because of the crusting.
It can also give off a foul smell and make you sneeze more than usual (which can congest the nose even more). Although this is normal, keeping the nose clean can provide some relief.
By not cleaning the debris inside the nose, you can increase the likelihood of infection after surgery. Keep in mind that you’ll have stitches inside the nose, and if there’s an infection, your wounds won’t heal on time. This can also be very dangerous for you, which is why you need to maintain cleanliness.
You might also experience itchiness and dryness inside the nostrils after the surgery. Using a nasal spray will keep the insides of the nose moist and reduce irritation, which can also provide you with some comfort during recovery.
Nose Cleaning After Surgery: What You Should Avoid?
When trying to keep your nose clean after surgery, there are a few things that you must absolutely avoid:
- Do not blow your nose for 2 weeks after surgery. Pat your nose dry if there’s any discharge.
- Never pick the crusts inside your nose, as it can cause bleeding and disrupt healing.
- Do not use tweezers, scissors, or fingers to clean the inside of your nose after rhinoplasty.
- Do not wash your face with water until the cast is removed from the nose.
- Use a tissue when cleaning the nose because it’s more hygienic than cotton.
- Do not apply pressure on the nose to clear any blockage.
- Do not rub the sides of the nose if you’re feeling stuffy or congested.
How To Clean An Active Nosebleed After Rhinoplasty?
After rhinoplasty, if you experience an active nosebleed due to some reason (exercise, bending, lifting), it’s important to stop it and clean the area. For this, you may need to do the following:
- Sit down with your head tilted forward. It prevents you from swallowing blood, which can upset your stomach and cause you to vomit.
- Using your thumb and index finger, gently pinch the soft part of the nose (above the nostrils).
- Do this continuously for 10-15 minutes until the bleeding stops. If it doesn’t, you might need emergency care.
- During this time, remember to breathe through your mouth.
Meanwhile, soak the blood with a washcloth, and make sure that you get in touch with your doctor immediately. You may be recommended a nasal decongestant for a couple of days. No matter what, do as instructed by your doctor.
Cleaning your nose after rhinoplasty will not only help provide you relief, but it will also help reduce the risk of infection. It’s important that you follow your doctor’s instructions to clean the dried crust and mucus inside and outside the nostrils.
However, be very careful because if you insert the Q-tip too deep, it can reopen the wound inside the nose. It can cause bleeding, and your recovery will be delayed as the tissue will be repaired once more. If at any time you feel like your recovery isn’t progressing normally, make sure to get in touch with a doctor.