Obviously, any kind of surgery places some activity limitations on patients during the recovery period. This is understandable, as it takes a while for the tissues to heal and return to normal. When it comes to rhinoplasty, strenuous exercise, nose-blowing, and wearing glasses on the bridge of the nose are all prohibited, and it’s fairly easy to see why. However, there are also less obvious activities that should be avoided to keep the risk for complications low. One of these has to do with exposure to the sun following rhinoplasty surgery.
Sun Exposure and Surgery
Rhinoplasty is not alone in the requirement that patients stay out of the sun following surgery.
Why? After any surgery, the area operated onis very sensitive, and the powerful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can harm the eventual results. Today, “open” rhinoplasty (surgery with external incisions) is very common, as it allows surgeons to get a better look at the tissues they are working with. It does leave a small scar across the columella (tissue dividing the nasal passages), but this generally heals to be nearly invisible—unless the patient spends too much time in the sun. Sun exposure has a tendency to make surgical scars darken during the healing process, which is why direct exposure is extremely ill-advised.
Naturally, having to be so cautious about staying out of the sun can be a major inconvenience. It is key for patients to remember, however, that while the inconvenience of the healing period is temporary, the benefits of a good rhinoplasty should last a lifetime. Generally, patients are advised to be extremely careful about sun exposure for three to six months after surgery, to give the scar opportunity to fade and swelling to subside. Each doctor gives slightly different advice, and patients should rely on their provider for guidance.
Three to six months is a long time to stay sun free, but it doesn’t mean patients need to hole up inside for half the year. As long as the proper precautions are followed, patients can enjoy time outside once their nose finishes preliminary healing. Powerful sunscreen combined with a hat is usually sufficient to keep the UV rays off the nose, but patients need to be aware of accidental exposure as well, and prevent it. This goes for indoors as well—sitting by a window or in a car does not protect from UV rays, which can filter through windows.
When to Have Surgery
Because of the restrictions on sun exposure, the best time to have rhinoplasty may be the winter months, when the sun is less intense. This will allow some time for initial healing to take place and it will be easier to resume normal activities without the sun beating down and causing anxiety about potential complications.
It’s Up to You
Aftercare relies almost entirely on the patient’s diligence and willingness to follow instructions. A plastic surgeon can give detailed instruction on how to take care of the nose after rhinoplasty, but if the patient doesn’t follow these instructions, it is not surprising when complications occur. A great plastic surgeon may be the one responsible for a good outcome, but his or her efforts must be assisted by the patient in order to achieve this success. Patients should follow all instructions as closely as possible, no matter how inconvenient. Rhinoplasty is tricky, difficult, and expensive, and patients need to commit to the process of getting a great result by practicing good aftercare.
Choosing Your Specialist
You want to get the best treatment as well as the best advice, so when you are choosing your rhinoplasty surgeon, be sure to go with a reputable specialist. Rhinoplasty is one of the most complex cosmetic surgical procedures available, and only an experienced, board certified facial plastic surgeon has the skills to deliver consistently good results to a variety of patients.
If you’re looking for a knowledgeable specialist in the Toronto area, come to Revesse and meet with Dr. Robert A. Mounsey, a talented rhinoplasty expert. Dr. Mounsey offers patients beautiful, custom results combined with compassionate care and expert advice. Call 416-438-2499to schedule your consultation.