Post-Operative Instructions for Septoplasty/Rhinology

These instructions should be carefully read and followed. They are designed to answer the most commonly asked questions concerning post-operative care.


  • Limit your activity sharply over the first week following surgery. You are encouraged to walk about the house but avoid bending at the waist or picking up heavy objects. If you overly exert yourself, bleeding may occur. When you rest or sleep, keep your head elevated on two or three pillows and try to avoid turning on your side.
  • If your occupation does not require vigorous physical activity, you should be able to return to work within several days of the operation. However, if vigorous physical activity is required in your occupation, at least one week absence from work should be planned!
  • You may carefully clean about the nostrils with a cotton swab (e.g. Q-tip) and peroxide three times per day, or as needed.
  • Immediately afterwards, place a bit of pure vaseline or antibiotic ointment in the nostril to keep it from drying out. Your nasal passages will be partially obstructed by swelling for at least two weeks. A humidifier may help you sleep by allowing you to breathe through your mouth more comfortably.
  • A sterile saline nasal spray should be used every three or four hours for the first week following surgery. This will help to keep the healing membranes moist and free of crusting. Do not blow your nose or sniff excessively as this will only irritate the healing tissue. If you must sneeze, open your mouth.
  • You may bathe or wash your hair at any time following surgery. Swimming should be avoided for the first two weeks following the operation.
  • Avoid cigarette smoking or even being in an area of excessive smoke as this irritates the nasal tissues and impedes healing.
  • Alcoholic beverages in the week following surgery may increase your chance of post-operative bleeding, and should be avoided.


  • Slowly resume your normal daily schedule in the week following surgery. Strenuous exercise such as jogging or other athletic activity can be resumed two weeks following surgery. However, start slowly and use your own judgement in this regard. Swimming can be resumed in one month.


  • Most patients experience very little pain after nasal septoplasty. There may be a mild amount of burning and stinging in the first few hours after the operation. After this subsides, the major discomfort is caused by congestion and "stuffiness" in the nose. Prescribed pain medication or plain Tylenol® will control the minimal discomfort that you may experience.
  • External bruising or swelling normally does not occur. You may notice a slight amount of fullness or redness at the base of the nostrils.


  • For the first twenty-four hours following surgery, you will probably experience a scant amount of pinkish or reddish discharge from the nose. This should gradually subside in the first two days following the operation. Should profuse nasal bleeding occur, lie down with your head elevated on two or three pillows. Iced washcloths over the eyes may help. Should bleeding persist, please call us. Avoid rubbing the nostrils with a tissue.


  • Usually antibiotics and a mild pain reliever will be prescribed on your visit to the office prior to surgery. If pain medication is not needed and only minimal discomfort is present, try plain Tylenol® tablets or liquid.


  • Infection is quite rare after nasal septoplasty. Should temperature elevate over 100 degrees, excessive pain, or redness of the external nose occur, this could indicate infection and should be reported to the office.


  • If packing is placed in the nose at the time of surgery, it will be removed the morning following the operation in the office. An additional appointment will be made within the first three or four days following surgery. At that time, any dried crusts or clots in the nose will be removed to facilitate nasal breathing and healing. An additional one or two post-operative visits will be necessary over the succeeding three weeks following surgery.
  • All swelling in the interior of the nasal cavity subsides in approximately one month following surgery. The expected benefit from the operation may not be apparent until that time.
  • If splints are used internally, these will be removed within the first 10 days.
  • If a splint is used for a Rhinoplasty on the outside, this will also be removed by your doctor.
  • If a Rhinoplasty was performed: DO NOT rest your glasses on the bridge of the nose and stay out of the sun for 6 weeks.