Internal and External Splints after Rhinoplasty
Nasal splints are part of recovery from nasal surgery. They can be placed on the outside or the inside of your nose to protect it during the healing process and to maintain the nose’s new shape.
You can expect to have splints during either rhinoplasty or septoplasty:
- Rhinoplasty, also called nose surgery, is surgery that changes the shape of the nose, either for appearance or to improve the function or both.
- Septoplasty is corrective surgery to straighten the nasal septum, the partition between the two nasal cavities. This irregularity in the septum is called a deviated septum.
What do Splints Do?
Splints are used to immobilize the bones and tissue as well as minimize scar tissue. They also control bleeding and swelling. Perhaps most importantly, splints help maintain the nose’s new shape.
External splints are commonly used for rhinoplasty or nasal contouring procedures. When used, a special tape is first applied to the nose. The tape protects the skin and decreases the amount of swelling. Then a custom splint is added.
Controlling swelling is important to avoid a blood pocket (hematoma) from developing between the skin and the nasal framework. If a hematoma develops, the blood is eventually replaced by scar tissue, which can distort the nose.
The splint also works to protect the nose and hold the nasal bones in position during the healing process, helping maintain the nose’s new shape. Splints also protect the nose from injury.
Internal splints may or may not be used during nasal surgery. They are more commonly used after a septoplasty, in which a deviated septum is corrected.
Internal splints support the septum during the healing process. Internal splints also help control bleeding by compressing the skin and mucous membrane. By maintaining contact between the lining of the nose and the bone and cartilage, splints encourage the nasal lining and internal structures to heal together.
What Are Nasal Splints Made Of?
Splints are made of a variety materials, including silicone, aluminum and other materials. An appropriate splint based on your needs will be used.
When Are Splints Removed?
The location and extent of surgery will determine how long splints are left in place. Typically, external splints are removed after about two weeks. Internal splints may be removed between three and five days after surgery.
What if a Splint Becomes Loose?
Rarely, a nasal splint can become loose during the healing process. We ask that you call our offices if this happens. However, we find that if it happens, it typically occurs when the splint is ready to be removed anyway. Please call our offices if you have symptoms that concern you.
Does Removing Internal Splints Hurt?
We find most of our patients do not complain about pain during removal of internal splints, though there is a broad range of responses. Most comment about a “strange” sensation and some brief discomfort.
With internal splints, patients who follow treatment recommendations about using a saline nasal spray and the appropriate ointment in the nostrils to reduce crustiness experience less discomfort.
If you are considering nasal surgery and have questions about surgery and recovery, please call us so that we can sit down and discuss your concerns, providing answers relevant to your unique situation.