What To Do After ENT Surgery: Post Operation Instruction and Care

Ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgery covers a broad range of procedures to help relieve conditions impacting internal structures within your face and upper body. The most commonly performed of these procedures include septoplasty and endoscopic sinus surgery.

Each of these ENT surgeries has different post operation instruction and care guidelines — all of which we’ll cover below.

One note: these instructions are provided as a general guide for what you can expect following ENT surgery, but always refer to the postoperative guidelines provided by your doctor.

How should I expect to feel immediately after ENT surgery?

Your immediate post operation experience and instruction will be influenced by the type of ENT surgery you had and your unique recovery process.

After a septoplasty, here’s what to expect:

The most important thing to remember is that there is absolutely NO NOSE BLOWING for the first week after the procedure. You can relieve nasal distress using Afrin 12-hour decongestant nasal spray as long as you don't exceed two sprays to each nostril four times a day for three days. Additionally, you can expect the following:

  • Mild to moderate pain or discomfort that can be treated with over-the-counter pain medication
  • Significant nasal congestion and difficulty breathing for up to one week following the procedure
  • Some nasal bleeding and discharge for several days to a week afterward

After endoscopic sinus surgery, here’s what to expect:

You will have a gauze pad placed under your nose after your procedure, this is done to prevent drainage that can drip freely. You may remove this at any point once the drainage have decreased. Once you get home, you're likely going to need to change out the pad but if you're changing it more than hourly then you'll want to call your clinic. Remember: absolutely NO NOSE BLOWING for at least a week following this surgery. Additionally, you should expect:

  • Taking your antibiotics starting the morning after the procedure and completing the entire course of therapy
  • Mild to moderate pain and discomfort that can be treated with safe use of over-the-counter or prescribed pain medication
  • Bleeding and drainage for several days after the procedure
  • Congestion and difficulty breathing for up to a week following your procedure

How should I limit my activity and diet after ENT surgery?

Depending on the person and procedure, post operation instructions and restrictions we provide will vary slightly. Always be sure to follow the restrictions and guidelines provided by your surgical team.

Postoperative restrictions following a septoplasty will likely include:

  • No nose blowing for the first week after the procedure
  • Hold on aspirin, ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and other blood thinners for 2 weeks
  • Refrain from flying or any strenuous physical activity for at least 1 week to help minimize the risk of bleeding

Post-operative restrictions following endoscopic sinus surgery might include:

  • No nose blowing for the first week after the procedure
  • Hold on aspirin, ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and other blood thinners for 2 weeks
  • Refrain from any strenuous physical activity for at least 2 weeks post-surgery to help minimize the risk of bleeding

How do I clean and change my bandages after ENT surgery?

Safe and clean swapping of bandages is an important part of post operation instruction for ENT surgery. Here’s how we recommend handling it:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching the bandages or surgical site.
  2. Carefully remove the old bandage or dressing according to your surgeon's instructions. If the dressing is stuck, use warm water to loosen it.
  3. Use a sterile saline solution or other cleaning solution recommended by your surgeon to clean the surgical area. Gently pat the area dry with a clean towel.
  4. Apply a fresh, sterile dressing or bandage as instructed by your surgeon, making sure it covers the entire surgical area and is snug but not too tight.
  5. Wash your hands again after handling the bandages or dressing.

What should I have prepared at home for postoperative care?

The most important things to have prepared — other than necessary medications and bandages — are the items you’ll need to be comfortable during your rest and recuperation. Having the following on hand will also help you make your recovery as stress-free as possible:

  • Prescribed medication. Make sure you have all the medications your surgeon has prescribed for you, including necessary pain relievers and antibiotics. Mild to moderate pain or discomfort is expected despite pain medication. Take your prescription pain medication as prescribed; you may also alternate with extra strength Tylenol (do not exceed 4000mg of Tylenol in 24 hours) if needed.
  • Ice packs. Ice packs can help reduce swelling and discomfort. Prepare a few ice packs in advance and make sure you have a way to keep them cold.
  • Clean towels or cloths. You may need to change bandages or clean the surgical area, so it's a good idea to have clean gauze, bandages, towels or cloths on hand.
  • Saline solution. Your surgeon may recommend a saline solution for cleaning the surgical area. Make sure you have enough on hand beforehand so you don’t have to worry about it while you’re in pain.
  • Soft foods. Depending on the type of surgery you had, you may need to stick to soft foods for a few days. Stock up on soups, yogurt, pudding and other soft foods that you enjoy.
  • Humidifier. If you had sinus surgery, your surgeon may recommend using a humidifier to keep the air moist and reduce congestion.
  • Entertainment. You may be spending more time at home than usual, so make sure you have podcasts, books, movies or other forms of entertainment to keep yourself occupied.

Where can I find more details about postoperative care for specific ENT surgeries?

If you’d like to take a closer look at post operation instruction for the ENT surgery you’re expecting to take, feel free to review the following:

Ear, nose and throat surgery offers an immense amount of relief, but it’s still surgery. Making sure you know what to expect helps make the process as stress free and straightforward as possible. Schedule with us today to see how easy it is for yourself.