No song titles about noses, septums or breathing, strangely enough.
August 13, 2009 6:45 PM   Subscribe

Deviated septum fixed - but 'new nose' feels damn weird. Advice appreciated.

Ok, finally bit the bullet and got the deviated septum surgery done last Tuesday. Yay - I can breathe better already, and surgery went well. Highly recommended, would do business with surgeon again, A++. Want to get some advise on the pain afterward though. Apologies if I seem neurotic - I've never had surgery before, so I probably seem a bit of a nutter.

The first 4 days or so, I was pretty out of it (they did it under a general anesthetic) with the Vicodin (which is evil stuff), and an antibiotic, which I took a full course of. I had no energy and moderate throbbing pain - more like discomfort (kind of a sinusy build-up, like I had before the surgery). Ate soft foods. They took the packing out 2 days later (which helped the sinus buildup) and I'm slowly back to normal (I'd say probably about 90%) in terms of energy, and trying not to do too much physical exertion. I think they mentioned that they're supposed to take the stitches out in about a month - or some sort of follow up appointment.

The problem is I want to make sure I'm not getting an infection. This might be a little Too Much Information, so you have been warned. My nose feels sore and really tender to the touch, especially around my nostils at the opennings, but the pain comes and goes. Very odd beast. First week was definite pain and discomfort of a recent suggery but now it's like a milder, different pain that feels like I've smacked myself in the nose (which I seem to be doing, of course). I didn't know that there would be stitches right at the bottom of inside my nose near the opennings - I can literally feel them, and the scabs around the stiches seem to be kind of...large. They're not visible unless you're looking up my nose (trust me, I'm not going to look - just took a quick glance). I had a lot of blood clots, but no big bleeding problems - they were all dry, thank god. But my nostrils are tender enough that blowing my nose now hurts because of these scabs (I'm trying to avoid it) and scrunching up my nose (the face that kids make when they see food they don't like - you know, your lips going up to your nostrils hurts) is painful (trying not to make that face or eat food I don't like so I make that face). I know, I should call my doctor, but I don't want to be seen as One of Those Patients - you know, obsessing about recent surgery. I had called for a refill on the Vicodin because of the pain (which they refilled no problem) but I don't want to be too needy here. I also seem to instinctually reach for my nose, circling it with my fingers, but I'm really trying not to touch it, although that's really hard.


- Is this normal? How long until the 'nose detached from face' feeling goes away (i.e. the sensitivity along the area around my nose like the Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz - Is that a sign of infection, or just general nose tenderness in the second week is normal, and that pain in the first week goes away and is replaced with 'tenderness' pain? For what it's worth, any runniness or nose blowing shows clear mucus or not green at least - so no infection, right? This may be that since I'm 35, I've literally spent 34.5 years breathing with a deviated septum - which was bad enough that the doctor joke, "have you found the driver who did this to your in two places"). I don't know if what I'm feeling is just a normal, full/non blocked set of nostrils - and that feels bizarre, and has me thinking about how I breath more than usual.

- Is there anything I can put in my nose, like vaseline (Ambusal for the nose?) that can help with the sensitivity? I almost feel like I want to wash my nose out or use Nasonex or something, but I've tried saline (as the doctor suggested) and the salt in the saline really burnt. If I used the saline bottle and warm water, would that work? If I sleep with an icepack on, it feels much better... any ideas on getting that feeling without taping a few inside my nose? Do you just leave the scabs by themselves - do they dry up or at least soften up? Do I have to wait for a month until the stiches come out for the weird feelings to go away?

Advise from those who've had the septoplasty and turbine trimming, or those in the medical profession would be much appreciated. Thank you!
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It's normal. I had it done a couple years ago and it still feels a bit funny.
posted by rbs at 6:56 PM on August 13, 2009

I have had all of that done, and more, in one shot: Rhinoplasty, septoplasty, turbinate reduction, and tonsillectomy.

I had to remove my own packing, which was gross and fun. But, surprise, you might still have a splint in your nose. Yes, a plastic splint, in your nose. You don't even know its there until they tell you. I had mine out in a week, but it's usually around three weeks for most people. As I told a friend, who was to get almost the exact same surgery I did, "When they pull out the splint, you're going to freak out. You're going to be high, because you're getting a ton of air in." A week later, he calls me from the parking lot of the surgeon's office: "OH MY GOD IT'S LIKE I'M DRUNK!"

The stitches you're talking about are probably holding in the plastic splint.

My nose was be tender and weird for about a month. You will probably bop it in your sleep and wake up. This is fine.

Leave the scabs alone. Use the humidifier in your bedroom (if you don't have one, get one) a lot. Use the saline as suggested, which is supposed to be once a day, if I recall. Later on, you will have a nasty scabbooger session wherein great grotty snot-clots will emerge from your nose, like when you're in the shower and get a sudden tickling need to sneeze. Their removal will be highly satisfying, because 1) ugh, what was that doing inside my head? 2) you'll get in even more air.

Later, you will discover a new superpower — the ability to breathe with your mouth completely closed. Prior to my surgery, had my lips been stitched shut, I'd have suffocated in short order. Bonus ability, I can now float in the water and breathe through my nose while doing it. Before, I had to do the dolphin thing: suck in huge amounts of air and just bob up when I needed more. No more. I can play corpse and float in the water for as long as I like.

It's not quite two years, and I'm still occasionally amazed by my ability to breathe through my nose. I'm doing it right now.
posted by adipocere at 7:07 PM on August 13, 2009 [11 favorites]

I had this surgery done a couple of years ago and had a similar recuperation experience. You are past the worst part but your nose won't feel quite right until the stitches are removed and will remain sensitive for several weeks after that.

Also, a month with stitches? Seems like a long time to me, check that you shouldn't get them removed sooner. That might relieve some of the anxiety you are feeling because they are the biggest hassle of the entire procedure.

Use plenty of Vaseline to keep your nose from drying out. It won't help with the increased sensitivity but will reduce the pain of stitches on dry skin and soften the scabs. I also avoided blowing my nose but used the nasal cleaner the doctor recommended. Warm water is probably a good substitute. The best advice...ride this out and in a month or two you'll look back and wonder how you ever lived without being able to breathe through your nose.

on preview: adipocere, oh the plastic splints! You brought back the wonderful memory of having the stitches and splints removed and being able to breathe. As you said, it only got better from there.
posted by mordecaibrown at 7:25 PM on August 13, 2009

Just popping in to say adipocere and mordechaibrown's experiences mirror my own. Although sadly my turbinates appear to be growing back :(
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:40 PM on August 13, 2009

Exactly the same experience for the same didn't mention black eyes though. I had two big shiners for the first two weeks. Look online or watch the surgery channel to see exactly what they do to perform this surgery and you will have a whole new understanding of why your nostrils hurt. I had my surgery about four years ago and while it took about six months for most of the feeling to return, the tip of my nose still feels "weird" like it is about half numb. All worth it for my nice straight skinnier nose. I will say that I too was under-prepared for the pain, packing and stitches.
posted by tamitang at 7:52 PM on August 13, 2009

General comment: I love posts re: surgeries MeFites have recently undergone. I see TMI and go straight for the details so post away!

Also, advice from my cousin who had it done: Polysporin instead of Vaseline and those kleenexes with lotion on them instead of the regular ones (I think the lotion-ized ones feel slimy, but whatever).
posted by variella at 9:08 PM on August 13, 2009

OH PS: the solution I use to irrigate my nose is sea salt and baking soda; it is more of a buffer than the simple saline you may be using (literally saline, just containing water and salt?). Obviously don't concoct your own mixtures without checking with your doc. Your nose is probably overly sensitive just now, it won't sting as much after a few more washes. I'm sure there are some raw/open spots in there that will heal and be less sensitive.
posted by variella at 9:23 PM on August 13, 2009

Haven't had septum surgery, but I had surgery to my upper jaw....though that's not really relevant to my comment.

If you're feeling anxious about your health/recovery, by all means CALL the surgeon. If he/she is indeed A++ material, they will explain what's going on and whether or not you should be concerned. After all, you've never been through this before....the surgeon has. Use the surgeon's experience. Especially if it'll make you feel better.

For what it's worth, the first night I was home after my surgery, I had a complete "OMG hurts tired can't breathe WAAAAH!" meltdown. Fortunately my dad was there to provide moral support. He called the surgeon's service, the surgeon called back. Ultimately, it boiled down to a "suck it up" situation, but no surgeon worth their salt will fault you for that.

After all, it's a service industry. They're supposed to serve you, their customer.

Hope the recovery goes well for you!
posted by specialnobodie at 12:33 PM on August 14, 2009

Getting my nose fixed was much, much more painful than childbirth without any meds and it hurt for a couple of weeks afterwards. Be thankful you are aware of the stitches. I was not aware of mine and blew my nose despite being told not to. Imagine my horror when stitches fell out! When I called the doctor, he said "Blew your nose, didn't you?" before I could even explain why I was calling. Funny now but not much of anything was funny the week or two after the surgery.

It does get so much better, and like others have said, I am still amazed at how much better I can breathe even after all these years.
posted by justlisa at 3:55 PM on August 14, 2009

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