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Teri's Story

Rhinoplasty & Septoplasty: A Personal Plastic Surgery Experience

This is the story of Terri's rhinoplasty and septoplasty (nose surgeries). In case you're wondering, the answer is "Yes, it's that Terri."

Background & Choosing a Plastic Surgeon

For the past three or four years, I had been experiencing daily headaches and difficulty breathing. If I did not take aspirin within 20 minutes of the initial pain, the headache would turn into a migraine, where I would see double images and become nauseous. The pain became unbearable. After a few years of this, I decided that "enough was enough."

My allergy doctor recommended that I see a plastic surgeon have my nose corrected. I suffered from a deviated septum. In addition, my nose leaned slightly to one side. My allergist thought my headaches might be attributed to sinus problems. My family doctor confirmed my allergist's suspicions. Upon testing my nose, I only had 10% usage out of the nostrils. I would breathe out of my mouth constantly. This would cause problems when I exercised.

My family doctor gave me a referral to see a plastic surgeon.

I chose John A. Altobelli, M.D., located in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He has an excellent plastic surgery reputation, and is known for his attention to minute details. My mother used him for a face lift, brow lift, and eyelid surgery(blepharoplasty). My mother tends to be very picky. When she recommended Dr. Altobelli, I immediately scheduled an appointment.

The Plastic Surgery Consultation

My plastic surgeon, Dr. Altobelli discovered that I had fractured the bone in my nose when I was younger. When the fracture healed, it did not heal straight.

My nose gradually started to lean toward the left side of my face. My cartilage also started leaning to the left side of my face. In addition, I was suffering from enlarged turbinates, a deviated septum, and a crooked nasal bone.

Rhinoplasty and septoplasty were recommended. I was able to have insurance cover the entire operation, including the anesthesia.

My family physician sent me for x-rays of my sinuses, and a CAT scan of my sinuses. Both of these pictures demonstrated that I needed the surgeries to improve my health.

Without the pictures, insurance probably would not have covered the operation.

Before My Nose Surgery

Two weeks before the rhinoplasty and septoplasty surgery, I stopped taking aspirin, and started taking an aspirin substitute for my headaches.

A week before the operation, I went into the hospital for pre-op testing. I was very insistent that I receive special drugs for nausea during the operation, as I had gotten extremely sick from anesthesia in the past.

The operation was scheduled for May 20, 1999.

The Rhinoplasty/Sepotoplasty Operation

The day of the surgery, I had to wear my glasses instead of my contacts. You are not allowed to wear contacts in surgery. My grandmother took me to and from the hospital.

A general anesthesia was used for the operation. I felt and heard nothing throughout the procedure. The operation began at 9:30 and ended at 11:30.

By 12:00, I was in recovery. The operation was successful, and I experienced little nausea from the anesthesia. I was home by 2:00 that afternoon.

Packing was inserted into my nose, and a splint was positioned over my nose. Dr. Altobelli used plugs instead of the yards of packing that are usually placed inside the nose.

He had removed one of my turbinates, broken and straightened my nose, as well as trimmed and straightened my septum.

Dr. Altobelli also rounded the tip of my nose. When my nose was straightened, there was extra cartilage on one side. He rounded this to improve my appearance.

Recovering from My Rhinoplasty & Septoplasty

I was bruised around my eyes and upper eyelids, and my face was slightly swollen.

I was instructed to apply ice to my face for 20 minutes every hour for two days.

I was able to eat dinner by 5:00 that evening. I was given a prescription for Vicodin to help with the pain. I took one pill, and decided that I really did not need the medication.

I continued to use the aspirin substitute my family doctor prescribed for me. That seemed to do the trick. The Vicodin made me feel a little spacey.

The dressing under my nose had to be changed frequently every other hour for the first day or two. I slept in a recliner for the first four nights to keep my head elevated, and to keep from being accidentally bumped by my husband.

I could walk around and do simple tasks immediately.

NOTE: With surgery of the nose, it is important not to bend over for a few days after the surgery. The pain in your head will tell you that you need help.

Also, if you are an exercise enthusiast, as I am, do not plan on doing any strenuous activity for a month. I could ride a stationary bike after two weeks, but that was about all.

However, do not attempt to lift weights for a month. I tried lifting my normal routine after two weeks, and experienced a lot of discomfort in my nose. I decided to wait another two weeks to try lifting again. Any activity that causes blood to rush to the head, or puts pressure on the head, will probably cause discomfort.

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- Teri

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