The Unexpected Reason You Might See Someone Taping Their Nose During A Flight

For some travelers, a flight isn't complete without a few beauty rituals. This can mean keeping up with your skincare routine on a long flight by reapplying moisturizer, lathering on sunblock to avoid sun damage from the cabin windows, and using heatless curlers to set limp hair before touchdown.

Occasionally, you might also spot a passenger taping their nose as part of their in-flight beauty routine — and if you've had facial surgery, you, too, might want to pack some tape on your next trip. It turns out that nose-taping is a must for those who have recently had a rhinoplasty or undergone another type of nasal surgery.


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The practice went viral on TikTok after user @reganellisx posted a clip of her applying strips of tape to her nose while sitting in an airplane seat. "POV: you have a nose job so have to tape your nose whenever you fly," reads the text on the video.

Tape minimizes nose swelling during air travel

Commenters on @reganellisx's video seemed confused by the creator's nose tape and its purpose. Some asked if the nose would "fly off" without tape, while another added that they underwent a rhinoplasty and never taped their nose for a flight.

However, tape serves an important function, according to experts. In a video stitched with @reganellisx's viral clip, medical doctor TheRealTikTokDoc (@therealtiktokdoc) explains that tape can prevent swelling in the nose. This is especially crucial during flights, where changes in cabin pressure can cause swelling and "leaky" blood vessels.

Hani Sinno, a plastic and cosmetic surgeon in Montreal elaborated to Newsweek: "[T]he lymphatics (the body's drainage system that maintains normal fluid levels) have a low pressure in them, so changes in pressure will have a profound effect on your lymphatics, which affects the swelling." The tension from the tape helps keep this swelling under control until the passenger lands at their destination.

How long after surgery is nose tape needed?

If you're wondering why nose tape is a relatively rare sight on flights, or if you've had surgery on your nose and never needed to use tape, that might be because taping isn't required indefinitely. TheRealTikTokDoc says that nasal swelling can occur for up to a year after an operation, and taping is especially essential in the first few months.

Taping isn't the only precaution travelers should take after having surgery on their nose. In fact, it's a good idea to avoid air travel altogether soon after going under the knife. Dr. Max, another TikTok-famous doctor who posts under the handle @itsdrmax, shared a video warning patients to avoid flying for at least two weeks after a surgical procedure. Besides swelling, taking a flight soon after surgery can lead to pain, discomfort, and severe bleeding. It can also interrupt the natural healing process, similar to why you should avoid flying after having certain dental work done.

If you must fly in the days following a nasal operation, consult with your doctor first to rule out any major medical risks. Dr. Max also suggests taping your nose and using a decongestant before taking off.