What happens after nasal airway surgery (septoplasty) or turbinectomy?
After surgery, the patient will be taken to the recovery room where a nurse will monitor the patient. They will be able to go home the same day as the surgery once fully recovered from the anesthetic. This usually takes several hours. The patient will need a friend or family member to pick them up from the surgical facility and take them home. It may be necessary for the family member or friend to spend the first night with the patient after surgery for assistance.
When patients arrive home from the surgical facility, they should go to bed and rest with their heads elevated on two to three pillows. By keeping the head elevated above the heart they can minimize fluid accumulation in the tissues (edema) and swelling. They may get out of bed with assistance to use the bathroom. Patients should avoid straining while urinating or passing stool. If constipated they should take a stool softener or a gentle laxative.
Patients may have some swelling of the nose, upper lip, cheeks, or around the eyes for several days after surgery. This swelling will gradually resolve and is normal. They can help reduce the swelling by putting ice on the face, bridge of the nose, and eyes as much as tolerated. This will also help with postoperative edema and pain. Some patients have found frozen vegetables in packages (for example bags of frozen peas) to be a convenient ice pack that is more likely to conform to the face.
Moderate bleeding from the nose is normal, and will gradually decrease. The gauze dressing ("mustache dressing") will collect blood and should be changed only when saturated. It is not unusual to change these dressings every hour during the first 24 hours after surgery. After a few days, patients will usually no longer need to use the dressing. Patients should not take aspirin, aspirin-containing medications, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen for three weeks following surgery.
Picture of Mustache Dressing
It is best for patients to eat a light, soft, and cool diet as tolerated once recovered fully from the anesthetic. Hot liquids should be avoided for several days. Even though the individual may be hungry immediately after surgery, it is best to proceed slowly with food intake to prevent postoperative nausea and vomiting. Occasionally, the person may vomit one or two times immediately after surgery; if vomiting persists, the doctor can prescribe medication to settle the stomach. It is important to remember that a good overall diet with ample rest promotes healing.
Patients will be prescribed antibiotics after surgery and should finish all the pills that have been prescribed. Some form of a narcotic may also be prescribed and is to be taken as needed. If patients require narcotics, they are cautioned not to drive. In some situations, the doctor may prescribe steroids to reduce inflammation either preoperatively and/or postoperatively. It is very important that patients take this medication as prescribed, and not discontinue it prematurely. If patients have nausea or vomiting postoperatively, they may be prescribed anti-nausea medications (antiemetics). If patients have any questions or they feel they are developing a reaction to any of these medications, they should consult their doctor. Patients should not take any other medication, either prescribed or over-the-counter unless they have discussed the medications with the doctor.