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Home Care Instructions After Nasal Surgery

You have had nasal surgery and will need to take it easy for a few days as your nose heals. Please follow these instructions for the first two days (48 hours) after your surgery.

  • Drink liquids and eat only soft foods the night after your surgery and the following day. Drinking plenty of liquids will keep your mouth from feeling dry. Do not drink hot liquids or eat hot foods. You may resume your normal diet the second day after your surgery, as tolerated.
  • To avoid putting pressure on your nose, avoid heavy lifting, straining, or vigorous housework or yard work. Do not bend your head below your heart level. Do not bump your nose.
  • It is important to keep your mouth clean. You may brush your teeth gently with  toothbrush that has soft bristles. The night after surgery, you may prefer to wipe your front teeth gently with a clean, damp washcloth. This will help you avoid moving your upper lip too much. You may rinse your mouth with mouthwash after each meal, but do not gargle. You may use petroleum jelly (like Vaseline) or clear lip gloss to keep your nose moist.
  • If your doctor recommends it, you may use a cool air humidifier in your room, especially at night.
  • Change your nasal sling as needed. Be careful not to move your upper lip too much when changing your sling.
  • If you have a nasal splint or cast over the bridge of your nose, be sure to keep the splint or cast dry and secure until your follow-up visit with your doctor. If the splint or cast becomes loose or comes off, call your doctor right away.
  • Do not blow your nose, unless your doctor says you may. Do not insert anything into your nose. If you have to sneeze, open your mouth and sneeze naturally.
  • Prop your head with several pillows when lying down or sleeping. This helps any discharge from your nose drain easily out the front of your nose. You may gently wipe away any discharge, but do not pinch your nostrils.
  • You may apply ice to your nasal area, eyes, and face for the first 24 hours following surgery. Apply ice for intervals of 20 minutes on your nose, 20 minutes off. Do not use hot or warm compresses.
  • Your lips and nose may be swollen and bruised after surgery. Your upper lip may also be numb. These effects are temporary and will gradually go away.
  • Do not use nose drops unless your doctor prescribes them to you.
  • You may sponge-bathe the night after your surgery. For the next two days, you may take tub baths. Make sure the water is not hot; hot baths may make you dizzy. Be careful getting in and out of the bathtub if you are on any pain medication. Be sure to keep your nasal splint or cast dry. On the third day, you may wash your hair in the face-up position if someone helps you. Do not bend your head forward with your face down. You may use a hair dryer on the cool setting.
  • Do not drink alcohol for 10 days after your surgery. Alcohol may increase the amount of congestion in your nose and may be harmful if mixed with any medication you may be taking.
  • Do not smoke for seven days after surgery. Smoking irritates the lining of your nose and causes coughing, which may cause a nosebleed.

If your nose starts to bleed:

  • Have someone help you. If you are alone, call a relative or friend for help.
  • Sit up with your head in a normal position. Do not tilt your head back or lie down on your back. It may be helpful to put a towel under your nose to absorb the blood.
  • Spit out any blood that drains down your throat.
  • Apply an ice-cold washcloth over the bridge of your nose. If you have a splint, you may apply the washcloth over it.
  • Do the following only if your doctor tells you to: Apply pressure to your nose by pinching your nostrils tightly closed for 10 minutes. Use a clock to time yourself. Repeat this three times, for 10 minutes each time.

When to call the doctor

Call your doctor immediately if any of the following things occur:

  • Your nose does not stop bleeding after five to 10 minutes.
  • You have heavy bleeding of bright red blood from your nose.
  • Your temperature is above 99.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • You have a lot of drainage from your nose, and you sneeze a lot.
  • You have pain that does not go away after taking pain medication.

If you have an emergency, call the UPMC Emergency Department at (412) 647-3333.

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For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

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Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

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