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Pre and Post-Operative Instructions for Your Septal/Sinus Surgery

Please read these instructions before and after your surgery. Carefully following these guidelines will help you obtain the best possible result. Take this information with you on the day of surgery so you can begin following the instructions that day. If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact our office. We want you to have a pleasant and enjoyable experience.

Preparing Nasal Surgery

  • Avoid aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, Vitamin E, herbal supplements or any medications containing these compounds for two weeks before surgery. Acetaminophen (Tylenol or generic equivalent) and a daily multivitamin are fine.
  • Refrain from smoking two weeks before and two weeks after surgery. Nicotine and tobacco smoke delay healing and can result in scarring. This is the perfect time to give up the habit.
  • Avoid sun damage two weeks before surgery. While we recommend wearing a SPF 30 or higher, our physicians and staff wear a SPF 50 every day.
  • Your prescriptions for after surgery (typically an antibiotic and pain med) will be given to you the day of surgery.
  • Purchase the following non-prescription items
    • Vaseline ointment
    • Sinecch—(Arnica Montana) an herbal supplement that helps reduce swelling and bruising. This is available through our office, and is optional
    • Stool softener (docusate)-decreased activity, use of pain medication and anesthesia pre-dispose some people to constipation.
    • Saline nasal spray (ie: ocean water)
    • Afrin decongestant nasal spray (or generic equivalent) this will only be used with the instruction from your physician post-surgery .
  • Do not eat or drink anything, including water, after midnight the night before your surgery.
  • Arrange for someone to take you home from the hospital.   You will not be allowed to drive or leave alone. Arrange for someone to stay with you for the first 24 hours after surgery.
  • Make arrangements to stay in the Kansas City area on the night of you surgery if you live more than an hour’s drive away

The Day before Surgery

You may be given an approximate arrival time for your surgery at your clinic visit. On the day before surgery you will receive a phone call informing you of the exact time to report to the surgery center.

If your surgery is scheduled at KU MedWest, you can expect a phone call from the pre-op nurse several days in advance of surgery. If you have not received a call by noon on the day before surgery, please call him/her at (913) 588-2279.

If your surgery is scheduled at KU Hospital, you will receive a call from the Otolaryngology and Facial Plastic Surgery Coordinator. If you have not received a call by 12 noon, you may reach her by calling 913-588-6522.

Day of Surgery

  • Do not eat or drink anything, including water, the morning of surgery. Essential medications may be taken with a sip of water.
  • Take your first dose of the herbal supplement, Sinecch.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes that fasten in front or back. Avoid slipover clothing.
  • Leave all valuables at home; do not wear jewelry.
  • Do not wear any facial or eye make-up. Avoid nail polish.
  • You may wear glasses but do not wear contact lenses.
  • If you wear dentures, keep them in.
  • Bring ID and insurance card with you.

Post-Operative Care

  • Change dressing under nose (if present) until drainage stops.
  • Do not blow your nose for two weeks. You may sniff back gently, but no nose blowing. If you must sneeze, sneeze with your mouth open.
  • If you have nasal packs they will be removed before you leave the surgery center.
  • Keep the inside of your nose moist with nasal saline spray; 2 puffs per nostril 4-6 times or more per day will promote healing and provide comfort.
  • Using a cotton-tipped applicator, apply vaseline ointment to the stitches just inside your nostril and to the skin stitches. Avoid touching the areas with your fingers.
  • Keep your head elevated for the first 48 hours to minimize swelling. A recliner works well. Sleeping with an extra pillow or two is adequate.
  • Iced gauze pads (gauze pads dipped in ice water and wrung out) should be applied to the eyes and the cheeks for the first 48 hours to minimize swelling and discoloration. Do not use an ice pack of any kind.
  • Avoid foods requiring prolonged chewing and avoid excessive facial movements for one week.
  • Brush teeth gently with a soft toothbrush only. Avoid manipulation of upper lip to keep nose at rest. You may have some numbness in your upper lip and upper teeth for about a week.
  • The nasal cast will be removed after 5-7 days at your follow-up appointment. Do not disturb it. Keep it dry; if it gets wet, gently pat it dry. You may wash your face if you avoid the cast. You may shower and wash your hair.
  • To prevent bleeding and increased swelling, avoid extreme physical activity including athletic activities and intercourse. You may resume light walking three days after surgery. Aerobic exercise, weight training, heavy lifting, and straining may be gradually resumed three weeks after surgery. Don’t swim for one month since injuries are common during swimming.
  • Absolutely avoid sun exposure, sun lamps, or tanning beds for six weeks after surgery. Heat may cause your nose to swell.
  • Do not wear regular glasses or sunglasses that rest on the bridge of your nose for at least 6 weeks. You may wear glasses on your cast, once it’s removed we will instruct you on how to tape the glasses to your forehead to avoid pressure on your nose. Contact lenses may be worn the day after surgery.
  • Don’t be concerned if the nose, eyes, and upper lip show some swelling after removal of the dressing – this usually resolves within 7 to 14 days. In certain patients, it may require six months for all swelling to completely subside.
  • Take only medications prescribed by your doctor.

After the doctor removes your cast, the skin of your nose may be gently cleansed with a mild soap. Makeup may be worn as soon as the cast is removed. Any discoloration may be covered using cover-up products. If you have questions regarding makeup, we will be happy to assist you.

DON’T TAKE CHANCES! If you are concerned about anything you consider significant, call us at our 24 hour number (913) 588-6701.

Post-Op Care For Patients Following Trimming of Turbinates

Purchase a Sinus Rinse Kit from your pharmacy prior to the day of surgery. The kit gives clear instructions on how to rinse the inside of your nose. You may use tap water and the water should be at room temperature or body temperature.

Rinse both sides of your nose 3 times daily beginning the day after surgery. Use the entire 8 oz of solution (half on the right and half on the left) each time you rinse. Continue the rinses 3 times daily for the first week and then 1-2 times daily for an additional week as needed.


It is common to experience some bleeding/oozing for the first day or so following surgery. The surgery center will provide you with 4×4 gauze dressings (drip pads) which will be held in place with tape. You can expect to change the pads frequently during the first 24 hours.   Decongestant nasal spray (Afrin or generic equivalent) may be used to stop or decrease the oozing. If you are concerned about the amount of drainage you are experiencing, please call our 24-hour phone at 913-588-6701.