Before leaving hospital make sure you’re clear about:
- how to care for your nose
- your level of activity
- driving (don’t forget to also check with your car insurance company in case they have any restrictions following an operation)
- symptoms for which you should seek further medical attention
- any changes to your regular medication
- what kind of exercise you can do
- how to manage pain
- when (and if) you need to have your stitches out.
Some bleeding and discharge is normal in the first few weeks after nasal surgery. If bleeding persists, sit up, tilt your head forwards slightly and breathe through your mouth, spitting out any blood if you need to. Avoid blowing your nose. If the bleeding doesn’t stop after 15 minutes, contact your doctor or go to your hospital’s emergency department.
To avoid nosebleeds after surgery, don’t smoke or have hot drinks and avoid spicy food and alcohol for the first 2 days.
Managing nasal congestion
Your nose will feel blocked until the swelling goes down, which may take at least 2 weeks. Sleeping and resting with your head elevated on 2 pillows can relieve congestion.
Keeping your sinuses clear
Your surgeon may ask you to use a sinus rinse or saline nasal spray. Your surgeon or a nurse will show you how to do this. Sinus irrigation can help clear any debris left in your nose and make it feel much better.
Restrictions on activities
You should avoid blowing your nose while you’re healing. Check with your surgeon before swimming or flying. Your surgeon may also ask you to avoid heavy lifting or playing sport.
You may have a feeling of pressure in your nose and some pain for several days. If you have pain, take the painkillers your surgeon or anaesthetist has prescribed. Paracetamol is OK for pain relief, but avoid taking aspirin or NSAIDs like ibuprofen, naproxen or diclofenac. They can increase the risk of nosebleeds.
Most people feel tired after sinus surgery and this can last for 1 to 2 weeks.
Until the inside of your nose has healed, you’re more at risk of infection. So it’s sensible to stay away from people with colds or chest infections.
Avoiding smoke and dust
Smoke and dust can irritate your nose and may increase your risk of infection.
Returning to work
Follow your surgeon’s advice about how much time to take off work. Most people need at least 1 week off work.
It’s important that you follow up with your surgeon after the surgery. Your surgeon will probably want to see you to have your nose and sinuses cleared of blood and fluid. This can be uncomfortable, so be sure to take some painkillers before your visit.
Time to full recovery
Although you may be able to return to work in 1 to 2 weeks, full recovery from sinus surgery may take 6 weeks or more.
Watching out for problems
Call your surgeon if you experience:
- clear watery discharge from your nose that persists for more than 1 week
- severe headache or a stiff neck
- swelling around your eye or changes in vision
- a nose bleed that doesn’t stop after 15 minutes.