Septoplasty Recovery

What to expect after this nasal surgery

Recovery from septoplasty can take up to three months or even more in some cases. While nasal swelling will usually resolve within two to three days, you may need to take a couple of weeks off from work and avoid strenuous exercise for a month to ensure you heal properly.

This procedure to straighten the bone and cartilage between the nostrils (septum) is done on an outpatient basis and involves minimal incisions. Recovery from septoplasty is less complicated than with other nasal surgeries, but you will still require regular visits to your healthcare provider, self care, and some patience during this time.

This article describes what to do immediately following septoplasty surgery. It also offers a recovery timeline and coping tips so that you have a better idea of what to expect after undergoing this common nasal surgery.

Tips for Septoplasty Recovery

Verywell / Alex Dos Diaz

Recovery Timeline for Septoplasty

While most people recover well after septoplasty, you may not feel the full benefit of your surgery for some time. Incisions will heal fairly quickly, and the pain and swelling should decrease significantly in a short period of time. Full healing of the repaired or removed septum may take much longer.

One to Two Days

You should have a follow-up appointment with your surgeon, who will advise you on removing dressings, packing, or splints. This usually takes place a day or two after your surgery.

One to Two Weeks

As part of septoplasty recovery, plan to minimize activities, especially those that involve lifting or straining for a week or two.

You should plan to miss about two weeks of work or school.

One to Two Months

In the immediate period after septoplasty, be prepared for some pain and swelling. This should subside after a few weeks, but it may take months to experience the full benefit of your surgery.

You may be asked to avoid strenuous activities, like playing sports, for up to a month after your surgery. 

Three Months to One Year

Cartilage and nasal tissue can take three to six months to heal fully, and changes can even occur a year later. In the time after surgery, you should also see improvements in breathing problems, like snoring and dry mouth (due to nighttime mouth breathing).

These results can take time and vary from person to person.

Home Care and Recovery After Septoplasty

While physical therapy or special exercises are not required for septoplasty, your surgeon will give you other instructions on how to care for yourself after your surgery.

These include considerations such as:

  • Sleep: Try to sleep on your back for the first month, raising your head with two or three pillows. Do not lie flat. You can also sleep in a reclining chair to ensure your head is lifted and you remain on your back.
  • Bathing: You can bathe and shower 24 hours after your surgery, but avoid swimming or submerging your head in water for six weeks.
  • Bending and heavy lifting: For the first week to 10 days, try not to bend over or lift anything heavier than 10 pounds, including small children.
  • Ice application: Use a cold compress or ice pack to help reduce nasal pain and swelling. Place a cloth barrier between the pack and your skin, and ice the area for no longer than 15 minutes to avoid frostbite.
  • Pain medication: Use over-the-counter Tylenol (acetaminophen) to reduce pain. Avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, Advil (ibuprofen), and Aleve (naproxen) for the first week as these can promote bleeding.
  • Nasal irrigation: Use a saline nasal spray or sinus irrigation to increase comfort and aid with healing. Avoid blowing your nose as doing so may cause bleeding. Also, avoid steroid nasal sprays for at least two weeks after the surgery as this slow healing.
  • Exercise: Walking every day boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation. But, avoid strenuous exercise such as running, weight lifting, cycling, or aerobics until your surgeon tells you it is OK to do so.
  • Protect yourself: Avoid people who are sick as well as dusty or smoky places that can cause you to sneeze. If you need to sneeze, open your mouth and do so naturally. If you smoke, consider quitting as it can cause the narrowing of blood vessels and slow healing.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Call your healthcare provider or seek immediate medical care if you experience any of the following while recovering from septoplasty:

  • Nasal bleeding that won't stop
  • Worsening nasal pain, swelling, or redness
  • High fever with chills
  • A pus-like nasal discharge
  • Red streaks spreading outward from your nose
  • Severe breathing problem

Coping Tips for Septoplasty Recovery

Even though septoplasty is an outpatient procedure, recovery can still be challenging. Follow your healthcare provider's advice for relieving pain and swelling immediately after surgery, and be sure to restrict activities as advised to avoid complications.

It is also important to rest as much as possible to help your body heal.

  • Keep well hydrated.
  • Avoid hot or spicy food, which can irritate your nose and cause swelling.
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in fiber to avoid constipation (straining can lead to nasal bleeding).
  • Use glasses sparingly: It is OK to wear glasses when needed, but try to avoid keeping them on all day (or use contact lenses if you have them).

You may not feel the full effect of the repairs or removal of a deviated septum for some time. In some cases, a second surgery is needed to further correct the problem. 

A Word From Verywell

Septoplasty is generally a simple procedure. It's an outpatient surgery involving a few, discreet cuts. Still, like most surgeries, there is a risk for complications and the chance that the problem you were looking to have corrected is not fixed. Make sure you discuss your goals and possible risks with your surgeon, as well as tips for optimal recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long will my nose feel blocked after septoplasty?

    The swelling will usually go down within a week of septoplasty, after which you should be able to breathe more easily through your nose.

  • How effective is septoplasty?

    Septoplasty has a success rate of around 80%. With that said, results can vary, and around half of those who underwent the procedure said that they had achieved the results they expected.

  • Is septoplasty recovery pain normal?

    Yes. It should last at least a few weeks. Pain and ice application can help ease pain, but if it begins to worsen, see your healthcare provider.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. What should I expect after a septoplasty?

  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Post operative instructions: what to expect after endoscopic sinus surgery.

  3. Government of Alberta Health Services (Canada). Nasal septum repair surgery: what to expect at home.

  4. Pedersen L, Schioler L, Finjan S, et al. Prognostic factors for outcome after septoplasty in 888 patients from the Swedish National Septoplasty Register. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2019;276(8):2223–8. doi:10.1007/s00405-019-05440-6

By Rachael Zimlich, BSN, RN
Rachael is a freelance healthcare writer and critical care nurse based near Cleveland, Ohio.