Postoperative Instructions and Information
The following instructions are based on Dr. Alford’s experience with many rhinoplasty/septoplasty operations. This handout is designed to answer the most commonly asked questions following surgery of the nose; it is not intended to provide answers to every question or situation that may arise. Attempt to follow the instructions faithfully. Those who do so generally have the smoothest postoperative course.
Our telephone number is: (713)532-3223
Planning Before Surgery
Immediately Following Surgery
You will awaken in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). In the PACU, a team of skilled nurses will assist you through the first stages of your recovery. You can expect to have cold compresses on your eyes and cheeks to reduce any swelling or bruising that may occur following surgery. Your nose will be blocked as a result of swelling from the surgery and from Telfa™ pads that are placed in your nose to assist in maintaining its new shape and function. For this reason, you must remember to breathe through your mouth. You can expect to stay in the PACU for 1 to 2 hours and then be transferred to the Outpatient Day Surgery Center (ODC). You will stay in the ODC for approximately 1-2 hours, until the nurses and physicians feel it is safe for you to be discharged.
We attempt to avoid the use of packing after nasal surgery however, about 10-20% of the time in order to assure the best possible outcome after the surgery we will use some form of packing. When packing is used nasal saline spray use is still very important. The packing will be removed by the physician 3-7 days after surgery. If no packing is used following surgery we will use a gel solution that coats the inner surfaces of the nose to stop any bleeding resulting from surgery. This gel will dissolve with the use of saline nasal spray. If the nasal septum is straightened, thin sheets of Teflon® will be placed inside the nose to assist in keeping the septum straight while it is healing. These Teflon® sheets are removed by Dr. Alford 1 -2 weeks after surgery. Removal of the splints is usually painless.
Use of Nasal Saline Spray – MOST IMPORTANT!!!
The most important thing you can do after nasal surgery is to begin liberal use of nasal saline (salt water) spray the day after surgery. Specifically, you should spray your nose with 10 to 20 puffs of saline nasal spray in each nostril every hour that you are awake. You cannot use to much nasal saline spray following surgery. The salt water nose spray will dissolve any blood, mucous, or gel left in your nose after surgery. This will improve your ability to breathe through your nose, while reducing swelling and speeding up your healing and recovery. Saline nasal spray can be purchased over the counter from pharmacies or grocery stores in 1.5 or 3.0 oz. bottles. Your goal should be to use 1-2 bottles of spray each day. Several brand names of saline nasal spray are available; these include Ocean®, Ayr®, and Nasal®. All brands are similar in their effectiveness so choose the brand most easily obtainable and be sure to USE IT.
Nasal Septal Splints
Nasal septal splints (usually made of sterile Teflon® sheeting) keep the septum straight while it heals in it new shape. Splints are removed 7-14 days after surgery by the physician. This process is very simple and involve little to no discomfort.
Every operation, no matter how minor, is accompanied by swelling of the surrounding tissues. The amount varies from person to person, but it always seems more dramatic in the face. We suggest that you keep your head elevated as much as possible. The swelling itself is normal and is not an indication that something is wrong with the healing phase of your operation.
Your nose and eye area ma remain swollen with varying amounts of discoloration for several days. The most important thing to remember is that these conditions always subside. Some tips to shorten the duration of the swelling include:
It is not unusual to have varying amounts of swelling and discoloration in the nose and eye area. Like the swelling, it may become more pronounced, especially in the eye area, after the first day or so. Remember this is normal and temporary. It usually lasts no more than 2 weeks, all the while decreasing in intensity. The measures previously described that help the swelling to subside will also help diminish discoloration; however, there is no medication that will cause it to disappear rabidly – only the natural course of time. You can camouflage the discoloration to some extent with makeup. If you have external incisions, do not apply makeup over the incisions themselves until one day after the sutures have been removed; however, you may bring makeup to the line of the incisions.
Nasal Drainage or Bleeding
You should expect some blood tinged drainage for your nose following any nasal surgery. The hospital nurses will place a drip pad under your nose when you are discharged from the hospital. This drip pad should be changed whenever it becomes soiled. If you develop active bleeding from the nose, spray each nostril 10 – 15 times with a decongestant nose spray such as Afrin™ or Neosynephrine™ and apply gentle external pressure to the lower portion of your nose. You may repeat this maneuver every 10 minutes for up to 30 minutes. If bleeding continues despite these steps, call DR. Alford’s office at (713)532-3223.
Frozen Pea Packs
Frozen English peas (from your grocer), placed in ZipLock™ bags, provide the simplest and most effective cold compresses to reduce swelling, bruising, and discomfort following surgery. During your waking hours, apply the pea packs to the cheek and the eye area around your nose for 20-30 minutes each hour for at least the first 48 hours following surgery. You may continue to use the pea packs as much as you like for up to 7 days after your surgery.
Even though you may not feel much initial discomfort following your surgery, pain medication should be taken as prescribed by Dr. Alford, every 4 hours for the first 24 to 26 hours after surgery. We find that many patients initially feel very well following surgery and are reluctant to take any medication for symptoms of pain. Unfortunately, the patients who “tough it out” often develop discomfort 18 to 24 hours after the procedure, which may then last for 3 to 4 days. Those patients who take their medications faithfully, as instructed, have very little if any discomfort. Beginning 36 to 48 hours after surgery, Tylenol™ or Extra Strength Tylenol™ is
usually adequate for any discomfort you may still experience.
You will take an oral antibiotic for 7 to 14 days following your surgery. All antibiotics should be taken according to the pharmacy directions with food or liquids to prevent nausea and promote proper absorption of the medication (do not consume milk or dairy products when taking your antibiotic as they can inactivate many medications). Take you antibiotics as instructed until the medication is completely gone. Do not forget to take your antibiotic and do not stop taking it because you “feel better.”
Nausea develops following many types of surgery and is not uncommon after nasal surgery. You may be given a prescription medication, Phenergan, to take if you develop any nausea. This is a suppository and should be kept refrigerated until needed. Keep in mind that Phenergan will not only settle your stomach but it will also make you sleepy.
Generally, the body temperature does not rise much above 100 degrees following nasal surgery. If you have a persistent temperature above 101.5 degrees that is not relieved by Tylenol™, call Dr. Alford’s office.
It is not unusual for a patient to feel weak, have palpitations, break out in “cold sweats,” or get dizzy following any type of surgical procedure, especially when anesthesia has been administered. Within a few days these feelings will generally disappear without medication. Returning to a normal diet and light activity will shorten the duration of these feelings.
If you experience excessive difficulty in sleeping during the postoperative period, call Dr. Alford’s office at 713-532-3223 during regular office hours and we will prescribe a sedative. It should be remembered that such drugs also tend to make some people feel light headed and weak and should only be taken if absolutely needed.
Your first postoperative appointment will occur 1 to 4 days after your surgery and should be schedule before your surgery or at the time of your preoperative visit. Your second postoperative visit will be 7 to 14 days after your surgery and will be scheduled at the time of your first postoperative visit. If your appointment is not made while you are in the office, please call during regular office hours to schedule a mutually convenient time.
Remember the things you were told before surgery:
Of foremost importance, BE PATIENT during the healing process. Remember, there is no such thing as a bad question. If you still have questions after reading the materials we have provided, please feel free to call the office 713-532-3223.
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