Exercise After Rhinoplasty – The Best Advice from Plastic Surgeons

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If you’re having a rhinoplasty you’re probably expecting a bit of discomfort and some bruising after your surgery, but, what you might not know is that as part of your nose job recovery it’s important to take a break from exercise. We asked two leading plastic surgeons for their best advice about why you need to take a break, when you can exercise after rhinoplasty and what to expect when you do.

woman being examined by plastic surgeon after rhinoplasty

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What is Rhinoplasty?

It’s an operation to change the shape, size or angle of the nose, ‘Rhinoplasty is usually carried out under either general anaesthetic or local anaesthesia and sedation,’ explains Mr Ali Ghanem, a Consultant Aesthetic Plastic Surgeon at Harley Street’s Cranley Clinic. ‘It involves making a cut either across the skin between the nostrils or tiny cuts inside the nostrils. Then the surgeon will either remove cartilage and bone to reduce the size of the nose or reshape the nose by rearranging the cartilage.

It is one of the most challenging operations in aesthetic surgery as results must be customised to the nose shape of each individual and the harmony of the nose within the face. The operation will take anywhere from 1.5 hours to approximately three hours. But sometimes with significant deformity or injury, the operation can last up to six hours requiring the surgeon to harvest additional cartilage from the ear or even rib.

Afterwards, you’ll have a dressing on your nose for a day or so and a splint taped there for a week when the stitches will then usually be removed. It can be a week before you can breathe through your nose again. Over a number of weeks, the bruises and swelling will fade, but it can take up to six months for the swelling to go down completely.’

Why Avoid Exercise After Rhinoplasty?

There are a few different reasons why you need to take a break – for starters, immediately after the surgery, it’s going to be uncomfortable to do any exercise as your nose will be sore and swollen, plus, as Mr Ghanem says your breathing will be impeded.

If you’ve had one of the more involved types of rhinoplasty using cartilage from the rib, known as costal cartilage there are also other issues that might affect your ability to exercise.

While it isn’t a hugely invasive operation to remove the cartilage, it’s removed via a small incision about 2-3 cm long that’s usually under the breast in women and on the chest in men, it is an additional step and the area can be sore after the surgery – the extra effort of breathing that would be needed for you to exercise can also be a bit uncomfortable for a few weeks while the area heals.

How long exactly you need to avoid working out after rhinoplasty will vary depending on the type of exercise you like to do.

Cardio After Rhinoplasty

When it comes to cycling, aerobics or running after rhinoplasty, expect to take a bit of a rest. ‘Cardio is an absolute no with my patients for 10 days,’ says Mr Naveen Cavale, a Consultant Plastic, Reconstructive and Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon at Kings College London and Real Plastic Surgery in London. ‘Before this raised blood pressure can risk bleeding in this period, which in turn increases risk of infection and then a bad result etc.

Unlike some other procedures, with rhinoplasty, it’s not the impact of cardio that really makes a difference, it’s more the risk of a direct blow to the nose. So I say no heavy-duty or activity for 4-6 weeks, but it’s okay to start gently at about 3-4 weeks with walking, then work up to full gym, running, cycling by six weeks. But, no contact sports like football, hockey, kick-boxing for 3 months – and ideally it’s best to miss a season altogether to give the nose time to fully heal.’

Mr Ghanem agrees. ‘‘It’s normally advised that strenuous exercise isn’t resumed for 4-6 weeks but this varies from person to person depending on the type of surgery you’ve had and your recovery so it’s always best to check with your surgeon before embarking on cardio exercise. It’s normally advisable to start with low-intensity gentle exercise and then gradually work up to more strenuous cardio.’

If you’re worried about what this might do to your fitness, don’t panic. We’ve addressed this in another post in this series on exercise after microblading, so, head over there to check out some reassuring advice from a trainer.

Weight Training After Rhinoplasty

The rules above also apply for strength training after rhinoplasty. No-one needs a dumbbell bash to the nose! You might want to pause your membership for a few weeks just so you’re not tempted to head back to the gym too soon after rhinoplasty.

Yoga After Rhinoplasty

Obviously, yoga is a more gentle exercise than running or jumping and you can resume gentle yoga after about 2-3 weeks if you feel okay – but no inversions.

These send blood to the head and raise blood pressure and intracranial pressure in the face and head. and so Mr Ghanem says to wait 4-6 weeks before trying any kind of pose involving an inversion – and yes, that does mean downward dogs.

The same rules apply for Pilates. Simple mat work is fine, but watch out of you’re doing anything that might see you bending forward like some moves on the Spine Corrector, Ladder Barrel or Wunda Chair.

Swimming After Rhinoplasty

‘No swimming in a swimming pool until the skin outside and in the nose is fully healed – usually 3 to 4 weeks,’ says Mr Cavale. ‘Swimming pools (and baths) can be dirtier than the sea, even with chlorine, ozone decontamination and this could raise the risk of infection.’

However, while infection is a concern, he says the bigger risk of swimming is that of bumping the nose and you need to be careful of this when swimming for 6 to 12 weeks.

Be particularly cautious when diving into the pool and when you get close to the edge for a turn. Ideally also time your swim for less busy times in the pool to minimise the chance of a foot or someone else’s hand in your face. ‘Goggles are probably fine once you start swimming, but maybe try not to wear them very tight to get a seal,’ he says. 

Protecting Your New Nose

As you can see from the answers above, the thing both of our surgeons are most worried about is damage to the nose while it’s healing. Their concerns might make you think that you shouldn’t work out at all but Dr Cavale says not to fall into that trap.

‘Exercise after rhinoplasty is generally fine so long as you rest up for the first 10 days and are careful not to bump the nose for the first 3 months. After this, risks are not really any different to normal. An elbow to the nose can break it even if you have never had surgery, and as that didn’t stop you pre-rhinoplasty, so it shouldn’t stop you afterwards,’ he says.

As mentioned before, the sports to be most careful of would be contact sports but also consider things like boxing or kickboxing classes where stray feet or swinging boxing bags might be an issue. Mr Ghanem says to wait an absolute minimum of eight weeks and ideally at least three months to let the nose fully heal before you try these.

I did ask both of the surgeon’s whether you need to change what you wear during your workout after rhinoplasty, and they didn’t directly comment on this, but as someone who regularly gets their head stuck in tight sports bras or super tight gym tops – and who has smacked herself in the face more than once trying to get in and out of them, I’m going to go out on a limb and say to stick with easy to wear sports bras – maybe go for a brand that goes on like a normal bra (the Panache range are really good) and keep tops baggy for a few weeks.

Mr Cavale did make an interesting point about make up though. ‘Bruising can be an issue, this is much less with my Piezo ultrasonic technique, but some people bruise a lot anyway. If you think you’re one of these people, you could consider wearing a bit more makeup/concealer BEFORE surgery. That way, if you turn up in the gym looking extra made up after surgery, people might not notice as much. It’s an idea if you think bruising is going to stop you heading out.’

Breath Changes After Rhinoplasty

One thing you might notice when you work out after a nose job is that your breathing is different. ‘Usually, it’s worse to start with as swelling in the nose lasts 6 months minimum, and that is also on the inside, so expect to be bunged up, snoring more, unable to smell/taste properly until things start to open up,’ says Mr Cavale. ‘Breathing will start to get to a more permanent ‘new normal’ 6 months onwards.’

However he does say that breathing can be worse, permanently with aggressive, extreme rhinoplasties to make the nose much smaller, ‘I do worry about some of the results I see on Instagram… A good surgeon will always do their best to maintain a decent airway and not compromise this for cosmetic looks.’

If you’re a keen exerciser you might just want to talk about any impact on breathing with your surgeon during your pre-surgery consultations.

Don’t Panic if You Get Swelling

This can happen during or after your workout when you first start back to exercise after your nose surgery. ‘Exercising can make the nose swell to begin with, however as the nose’s lymphatic system and blood supply gets back to normal then the nose will swell less,’ says Mr Ghanem.

The technique your surgeon uses to carry out the surgery also plays a role in this. ‘A closed approach with minimum disruption of lymphatics would mean swelling is limited, recovers soon and would not be altered with exercise after a few weeks. In contrast, open rhinoplasty approach with extensive work and grafting would disrupt the lymphatic channels and a degree of swelling could still linger for up to a year after the operation,’ says Mr Ghanem.

Mr Cavale agrees and adds, ‘you might also notice that exercise after rhinoplasty can often make the nose run (especially in cold weather) and the eyes water – this might be worse for a few weeks/months as the inner lining of the nose settles into its ‘new normal’ state. This is because the nose is still a little raw and settling from surgery, like after a bad cold, so the swelling can get a little worse with exercise and go down a few hours later – it’s not a big deal generally.

Fiddling with the nose, over massaging, squeezing is much worse – this encourages more swelling, which can sometimes become permanent, or encourage thick scar tissue to form inside the nose.’

In other words, keep your hands off and let your body heal.

‘Steam rooms and saunas can also cause the nose to swell because of vasodilation so it’s normally best to avoid these for up to four to six weeks after surgery,’ says Mr Ghanem.

Signs you should chat to your surgeon though include fever, warmth or increased redness around any incisions (after exercise or at any other time). ‘This can be the sign of an infection. As can a bad odour or discharge coming from the nose,’ says Mr Ghanem. ‘Sometimes grafts shift and this would look like sudden change of shape or straightness of the nose and these should also be reported quickly.

Wearing Glasses After Rhinoplasty

Okay, I have no idea what this might have to do with exercise after a nose job (unless your tennis aim is going to suffer without specs) but, as a glasses wearer who can’t see more than two feet in front of her, I was intrigued when I discovered that you might not be able to wear glasses straight after rhinoplasty and so I asked Mr Ghanem what the deal is. ‘Generally it’s ok to wear your glasses straight away as the cast will protect your nose to start with,’ he explained. ‘But your glasses will sit higher up (like a snooker player…) and wearing contacts might be difficult for the first week or so.

Once the cast is off, most normal glasses are also fine to wear straight away, but really heavy glasses (like my operating glasses with magnifying telescopes (loupes) built in) will probably be too much – the nose can get sore, so maybe use a strap that supports them around the back of the head – the CHUMS ones are good – they take the weight off the nose nicely.’

So, there you have it – the guide to the rules for working out after rhinoplasty. Hopefully it helps answers some of the questions you might have about your nose surgery recovery but if you do have any further questions, pop them below and I’ll see if we can get our experts to answer them.

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