What to Know About Nasal Splints

Medically Reviewed by Gabriela Pichardo, MD on September 24, 2023
3 min read

Nasal splints, also known as nose splints, are a key part of recovering from surgery on your nose. They can be worn on the outside or inside of the nose and are there to protect it and keep its shape after surgery. 

Nasal splints act like a cast for your nose after surgery. They immobilize your nose and help keep its new shape after certain surgical procedures. 

Surgery on the nose can do several things, sometimes in the same procedure. These include: 

  • Improving the cosmetic appearance of your nose
  • Helping correct breathing problems  
  • Correcting any deformities
  • Repairing injured or broken tissue

Nasal splints are usually made from two pieces of plastic made to align with your nose. They can also be made from other materials like aluminum or silicone. Some are even made from polytetrafluoroethylene, also known as Teflon. Your surgeon will be able to tell you what materials they’ll use for your splint. 

There are two types of nose splints: external and internal. What kind of splint you’ll get largely depends on what type of nose surgery you’re having. 

External splints. External nose splints consist of a bandage that covers your nose and two pieces of metal or plastic running down the length of it to help your nose keep its new shape. It’s usually held in place with surgical tape. They also help keep swelling to a minimum. These devices are used for most nasal surgeries. 

Internal splints. Internal splints are usually used after a septoplasty, or correction of a deviated septum. They’re made up of two pieces of plastic or other firm but flexible material inserted inside the nose to support the bridge between the nostrils, or septum. 

You can expect to get nasal splints after certain surgeries. These surgeries correct the shape and function of your nose. They can be purely cosmetic or serve another purpose. 

Septoplasty. Septoplasty is performed on the septum, or piece of cartilage between your nostrils. Sometimes, the septum doesn’t go straight up through the nose as it should and causes breathing problems. This is called a deviated septum. A surgeon who performs septoplasty straightens the septum as much as possible so that you can breathe properly through your nose. After this type of surgery, you’ll usually need internal nasal splints to keep the septum in place as it heals.

Rhinoseptoplasty. This surgery is performed in severe cases of a deviated septum. It involves a septum correction and reshaping of the nose. Sometimes, a piece of cartilage from a donor is used to keep the shape of the nose intact. Your surgeon will tell you what kind of nasal splint you’ll need in this case. 

Rhinoplasty. Rhinoplasty is a cosmetic procedure that reshapes the nose. It can lessen the size of the nose, change its angle, and narrow the nose bridge. An external nasal splint is usually needed after surgery to help protect the new shape and allow the nose to heal properly. 

After nose surgery, you’ll leave with a nasal packing or bandage that is made to support healing. External splints will sometimes be made from a hard material and molded to your face, like a cast. Try to avoid getting one wet. Your surgeon might also tell you not to wear glasses, as they rest on the bridge of your nose. 

Most people have mild pain or discomfort after nose surgery. Your doctor may prescribe a pain reliever or suggest that you take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Don’t take any medicine without getting the go-ahead from your doctor. 

Applying cold packs can help ease swelling and relieve any pain. Be careful not to put a heavy cold pack on top of your nose. Instead, use something that molds to your nose’s shape, like a bag of frozen peas.

External nose splints need to be kept in place for 1 to 2 weeks post-surgery. Internal splints can be in place 3 to 5 days before they’re removed. 

‌Follow your surgeon’s instructions and don’t move the splints around or take them out by yourself unless you’re told to. Doing so could damage or change the shape of your nose.