In the past, one of the major downsides of undergoing nasal surgery was the highly uncomfortable recovery process. Older techniques involved significant trauma to the nasal structures and tissues, resulting in a great deal of bruising, swelling, and postoperative bleeding. In order to control these side effects of the procedure, surgeons used a technique known as nasal packing. This dreaded custom was the norm following rhinoplasty, whether for functional, cosmetic, or reconstructive purposes, and patients just had to put up with it to get the results they wanted.
But is nasal packing necessary following a modern rhinoplasty procedure, and how do the changing customs affect rhinoplasty patients?
What is Nasal Packing?
Nasal packing refers to the process of packing the nasal cavities with a material such as cotton or gauze following surgery. Many patients dread the concept of the process, because it is extremely uncomfortable and makes the patient unable to breathe through the nose until the packing was removed, which can be as long as two weeks after surgery.
Why Nasal Packing Was Used
In the past, surgical techniques were not quite as refined as they are today, and more procedures resulted in postoperative bleeding and other issues caused by the trauma of surgery. The packing’s purpose was to absorb this blood and help prevent complications from the surgery. Today, if nasal packing is used, it is usually removed after only a day or two, and the materials that can be used are more advanced, sometimes encouraging processes like clotting.
A Mostly Obsolete Technique
While there are instances of nasal packing following rhinoplasty that do go on, the technique continues to fade into the background and become more and more obsolete. Younger surgeons and those who keep up with the trends tend not to use it for most patients, especially if their skills are such that the process is unnecessary. Most rhinoplasty surgeries today result in very little bleeding, and the normal process is now to simply put a splint on the nose for a few days to aid in recovery and help control swelling.
Modern Rhinoplasty Recovery
Today, recovery is a much simpler process, though it does take some work and diligence on the part of the patient to protect the nose and promote optimal healing. While nasal packing is no longer commonplace, the nose will still feel extremely congested and uncomfortable during the healing process. The nasal splint will come off after a few days, and most patients return to work within about two weeks following surgery. The nose is still very fragile for a few months after the procedure, and patients need to take care not to jostle it. Swelling subsides slowly, and results should be fully complete around the one year mark or so.
Better Outcomes, Gentler Surgeries
Techniques only continue to improve, and surgeons are creating great outcomes for patients through ever-gentler surgeries. Advanced tools and the shift to techniques like open rhinoplasty give surgeons greater control over the results and help patients meet their goals without the laborious recovery period that was the norm in the earlier days of rhinoplasty.
Choosing a Rhinoplasty Specialist
Though many plastic surgeons offer rhinoplasty, it is one of the most difficult and complex procedures available. The interplay between the bone, cartilage, and skin, combined with the fact that the nose is a prominent facial feature with an important function—breathing, sets rhinoplasty apart as a surgery requiring great skill, artistry, and experience. Choosing the surgeon to perform your surgery is one of your most important responsibilities as a patient, and will be a determining factor in the success of your procedure.
If you are looking for a true specialist, look no further than Dr. Shervin Naderi, a specialist even among rhinoplasty experts. Dr. Naderi focuses nearly his entire practice on nasal surgery, and is often a resource for other plastic surgeons with difficult cases. If you would like to discuss your goals for rhinoplasty with Dr. Naderi, call the Naderi Center in Reston, VA (703-481-0002) or Chevy Chase, MD (301-222-2020) to schedule a consultation today.