Tips on how to prepare the perfect mustache dressing following nasal surgery

By: Dr. Sean Delaney


Patients undergoing nasal surgery such as rhinoplasty or septoplasty will commonly have gauze dressing under their noses. Also known as a “mustache” dressing, this gauze is held in place by tape. As bloody and mucous discharge is expected after surgery, mustache dressings help absorb the drainage, so patients do not have to worry about always having tissue paper handy. The mustache dressing also decreases the number of times a patient must touch their nose, which reduces the risk of infection.

Most patients require mustache dressings for 3-4 days following nasal surgery. The dressings are changed most frequently on the day of surgery. However, the drainage and frequency of dressing change gradually diminish over the ensuing days. When you are only replacing your mustache dressing 1-2 times per day, you can discontinue the dressing.

Common issues patients have with mustache dressings include the dressings being too bulky and sliding down to cover their mouths. The following step-by-step instruction will help you make the perfect mustache dressing.

Image 1

Begin with a 4 x 4-inch piece of gauze.

Image 2

Fold the gauze in half.

Image 3

Cut a slit in the center of the folded edge of the gauze. The slit should be approximately half the distance between the two edges of the gauze.

Image 4

Fold the gauze one more time, so it is now folded three times, like a letter. The split end of the gauze is set against the nose and taped.

To secure the mustache dressing, use ¼-inch paper tape. The paper tape is not as sticky as regular tape, but it is gentler on your skin. Because of this, you will need to make sure the paper tape is long enough, so there is enough surface area for the tape to stick and hold the dressing in place. Typically, a strip of tape reaching from cheekbone to cheekbone (photo) is sufficient. Secure the ends of the tape in an upward vector rather than sideways so the tape can hold the mustache dressing up like a hammock. Once you’ve figured out the perfect length of tape for your mustache dressing, when making a new one, you can use the length of tape of the old dressing as a template for how long to make your new tape. You can save time by placing the mustache dressing on the center of the paper tape first before taping it to your face. Be sure to put the uncut side of the mustache dressing on the tape, so the split side of the dressing rests against your nose. Use a mirror for the first few times that you put on a mustache dressing so you can see what you are doing.

example of mustache dressing

example of mustache dressing placement

With the above tips, you can now make a well-fitting and comfortable mustache dressing that is closer to the nose and nostrils to absorb the drainage better and is less likely to slide down and block the mouth.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.