10 Surprising Nose Cauterization Long-term Side Effects

Do you experience frequent nasal bleeding (epistaxis)? If you do, this article is for you. Keep reading for more understanding of nose cauterization long-term side effects.

Nosebleeds can be very frightening. However, most are not dangerous. They can be treated from home and aren’t a sign of any severe condition.

For many, the frequency of nosebleeds reduces, and they clear altogether.

Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky. Some people undergo nose cauterization to stop the bleeding. However, one should be aware of nose cauterization long-term side effects before the procedure.

What is Nose Cauterization?

Nationwide Children’s define nasal cautery, or nasal cauterization, as treating nosebleeds (epistaxis). Silver nitrate or an electrical device is used on the mucous membranes of the nose to stop bleeding.

Silver nitrate helps speed up blood clotting to stop bleeding, even though it is not recommended for long-term use because of its side effects.

The blood vessels are sealed, which leads to scar tissue build-up, which prevents further nosebleeds.

What Causes Nose Bleeds?

Picking your nose, minor injuries, blowing your nose so hard, and changes in humidity or temperature are some factors that may cause nose bleeding.

Blood thinners may cause or worsen nose bleeding.

Pinching your nostrils for 10–15 minutes, lying down facing up, or using a cold compress are some short-term, traditional methods to avoid nose bleeding.

The Mayo Clinic recommends lubricating your nostrils with a water-based product to reduce nasal bleeding. Also, ensure the air in your home is not dry.

In the last few years, the use of nose cauterization, which is a more long-lasting solution, has rapidly grown. However, it has some side effects.

10 Nose Cauterization Long-Term Side Effects

Nose cauterization has many benefits, but with it comes some surprising side effects, including the following.

1. Grey or Blue-Black Discoloration of Treated Skin (Argyria)

The NIH defines argyria as an acquired dermatological condition. It is caused by ingestion of or exposure to silver or silver compounds.

Repeated applications of silver nitrate intensify the nose cauterization long-term side effects.

Argyria presents itself with the insidious onset of gray or blue mucocutaneous (where the mucous membrane and skin meet) discoloration.

2. Empty Nose Syndrome (ENS)

ENS is another nose cauterization long-term side effects. It is a likely complication after a minor or significant nasal surgical procedure that may affect the nasal turbines.

When affected or infected, nose turbines can swell, blocking unrestricted airflow. This leads to suffocation, nasal dryness, nasal openness, and impaired airflow.

A study published in the National Library of Medicine lists nasal cautery as one of the causes of ENS if it is done in an overly aggressive manner.

3. Increased Infection Level

The use of electrocautery, which is burning blood vessels to mitigate bleeding, is one of the significant causes of nose cauterization long-term side effects.

Experts say that electrocautery coagulation current is associated with increased tissue damage and a significant reduction in the rate of healing wounds.

The process destroys some tissues while mending the bleeding blood veins. Research has shown that the damaged tissue provides a conducive environment for bacterial growth, leading to infections.

4. Nose Cauterization Causes Necrosis

Necrosis is another one of the severe nose cauterization long-term side effects. Since nose cautery processes use chemical and alternating currents, it can easily damage body tissues.

MedlinePlus defines necrosis as the permanent death of body tissues where too little blood flows due to injury, radiation, or chemicals.

There is no known cure for necrosis.

Furthermore, nasal necrosis manifests as sinusitis with a severe fever, nasal congestion, nasal discharge, and migraines.

It can also affect vision.

5. Repeated Nose Cauterization

Some epistaxis (nosebleeds) is recurrent and self-limiting, mainly without a specific known cause.

The American Family Physician (AFP) study states that nearly 9% of children have recurrent nosebleeds.

This may necessitate more than one nose cauterization, which increases the risk of infection, septal perforation, rhinorrhea, and increased bleeding.

6. Develop Nasal Septal Abscess

Patients can develop a nasal septal abscess after nasal cauterization. The nasal septal abscess is a bacterial infection that can occur in the nasal cavity primarily due to trauma.

Once a pre-diagnosis is made, the draining of the abscess is done.

The drainage process may reveal bacterial growth, such as Staphylococcus aureus and Corynebacterium amycolatum.

In the long run, the nasal septal abscess can lead to saddle nose deformity (sunken or collapsed nasal bridge). Patients with chronic diseases are also at a higher risk of developing a nasal septal abscess.

7. Nose Cauterization May Lead to Blindness

Though rare, blindness can occur as a secondary nose cauterization and long-term side effects.

According to research, monopolar electrocautery to the orbital apex can lead to visual loss and third-nerve palsy.

In some cases, third-eye palsy can get resolved, and vision is regained.

A case study by NIH shows that it is possible to lose visual acuity after septoplasty.

Septoplasty is a procedure to straighten the nasal septum (bending the cartilage dividing the two noses).

The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery explains that septoplasty has minor complications. However, rare cases have serious side effects, such as blindness.

One can lose vision after a septoplasty due to direct trauma to the optic canal and an inflamed and edematous optic nerve.

8. Itching

Nose cauterization can lead to itching.

This is because it’s a process of recovery as the wounds heal.

The itching doesn’t last more than five days but if it does, avoid picking at it. This can reopen the wounds and bring the risk of infection.

9. Pain

It takes about a month for nose cauterization to heal.

During this time, you will experience pain.

You can also experience stinging in the nose and a tingling sensation in the upper teeth.

This can go away with painkillers.

10. Bleeding

If the procedure is done poorly, you may experience bleeding down the back of your throat.

If this happens, ensure that you contact emergency medical services immediately.

How Long Does Nose Cauterization Take to Heal?

The average duration for the nasal mucosa to heal after cauterization is 4 to 6 weeks.

However, the healing process differs from one person to the next depending on age, body type, immunosuppression, and nutritional status.

Healing will also depend on whether complications, such as rhinorrhea, increased bleeding, septal perforation, or infection, occur.

What Should you not do after Nose Cauterization?

After the nose cauterization procedure, you may experience increased pain and itching for about 3 to 5 days.

Try the following to boost easy and fast healing and prevent some long-term nose cauterization side effects:

  • Avoid touching the treated area.
  • Avoid bumping your nose.
  • Don’t blow your nose hard, but gently wipe one at a time.
  • Don’t do any heavy exercises.
  • Avoid heavy lifting.


Nose cauterization has tremendously grown over time. The process is temporary since there are no permanent remedies for epistaxis, but it provides a better option than traditional methods.

Regardless of the multiple advantages of nose cauterization, when considering going for it, it is essential to consider nose cauterization long-term side effects.

It is also essential to choose a reputable facility. Nose cauterization is regarded as a simple procedure but can have adverse effects if done in an overly aggressive manner.

To reduce secondary side effects such as a nasal septal abscess or even death, it is advisable to go to experienced ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeons.

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