Denver is well-known as the Mile High City, but there are numerous communities throughout the state that are much higher in elevation. Here at Raval Facial Aesthetics we also see patients from outside the state, who fly in for their surgery. So it makes perfectly good sense when patients ask us about potential altitude-related considerations.
Here’s what you should know
Altitude does not directly affect the surgical aspects of a rhinoplasty procedure or the long-term results you may expect. But it can affect your recuperation process. That’s because altitude affects our breathing. Here in Denver, the air is thinner than in most parts of the country. At higher elevations, the air is even thinner. If you’re not well-acclimated, the thin air can make it more difficult to breathe.
If you live high up in the mountains, your ears “pop” to clear themselves as you travel up and down to Denver because the air pressure changes. Some people are also more sensitive to these changes than others.
Rhinoplasty is outpatient surgery – that is, you can go home the same day rather than spending the night in a hospital. However, you will experience post-surgical nasal congestion due to swelling and the fact that your nostrils may be packed at first. So you can go home after surgery. But when you head back down the mountains to Denver for your check-up with Dr. Raval, the elevation change may exacerbate your congestion and make it harder than usual to clear your ears. That can be uncomfortable, to say the least.
The same holds true for air travel. Pressure changes on liftoff and landing affect virtually everyone to some extent, though some are more sensitive than others. If you typically have trouble clearing your ears on flights, we recommend you stay here in Denver for the first week to 10 days following your surgery. By then, your breathing should be normalized enough to allow flying without undue discomfort.
There are a number of nice hotels near our offices in Cherry Creek. We can give you a list, and if you’ll be here on your own, we can also help you arrange for mobile nursing services during your stay.
Other than these breathing issues, altitude should have no effect on your nose surgery.
Thinner air requires more vigilant sun protection
Your nose may be the focal point, but the impacts of anesthesia and the procedure itself can affect your entire body. Healing requires rest, especially at first. But healing from facial surgery also requires protecting your skin from the sun because your skin will be more vulnerable after surgery.
Our high-altitude air allows more of the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays to sneak through the atmosphere. That means it’s important for every one of us here in Denver and the rest of Colorado to use sunscreen. Following your nose surgery, you should stay out of the sun altogether at first, then limit your exposure as your face heals.
How soon can you spend time outdoors, and when can you apply sunscreen to your face? You will be given detailed post-procedure recovery instructions, but it’s a good idea to ask Dr. Raval if he has any additional recommendations based on your specific surgery or your skin color or type.