Fixing a Broken Nose: Don’t Try This at Home

broken nose
  • The severity of the break will determine whether your nose requires surgical repositioning.
  • Trauma to the nose can also result in a deviated septum or a serious condition called septal hematoma.
  • Rhinoplasty is the preferred method of correction in extreme cases, and can be combined with deviated septum surgery if necessary.

Nasal fractures vary in severity. You could just experience mild pain and bruising, or wind up with a permanently crooked nose and a deviated septum.

A severe break will likely require correction with surgery (rhinoplasty or septoplasty). A nasal fracture may also entail secondary complications, such as neck injury and damage to the nasal cartilage.

Ultimately, how it’s fixed depends on the severity of the damage, your expected outcome, and previous injuries or trauma. Read on for answers to some of your frequently asked questions on fixing a broken nose.

How Can I Tell If My Nose Is Broken?

Identifying a broken nose can be difficult. Generally, a broken nose may appear bent or crooked. Typical symptoms include swelling, pain, nosebleeds, bruising, black eyes, trouble breathing through the nose and a cracking sound when touched. Ultimately, the only guaranteed way to confirm a break is with an X-ray or CT scan.

The Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery warns that an untreated break can lead to septal hematoma, a buildup of blood and bacteria in the septum. This medical emergency can lead to permanent complications, including septum deformities. Seek immediate medical attention if you believe your nose is broken.

Can A Broken Nose Heal Without Surgery?

Not entirely, but there are some actions you can take to facilitate faster healing if your condition isn’t severe. If the nose is only fractured and hasn’t been knocked out of position (i.e. a non-displaced fracture), some mild repositioning can be done without surgery. A physician may administer local anesthesia before manually putting the nose back into place.

If the nose is severely misaligned or if the nasal septum is broken, surgery may be required. Note that nonsurgical interventions should always be monitored by a doctor to avoid complications during healing.

Can I Fix My Broken Nose At Home?

The first step following a nasal fracture should always be a trip to the emergency room. This is crucial as untreated broken nasal bones can migrate and lead to more severe conditions.

However, if your injury isn’t deemed severe, your doctor will explain how to speed up healing at home. In these cases, you may be given an anti-inflammatory pain medication, such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) and asked to regularly ice the injury to control pain and swelling.

Note that, in general, aspirin is not recommended for reducing pain for a broken nose as it can act as a blood thinner and cause excessive nosebleeds. Pay close attention to your doctor’s instructions if you plan to heal at home.

When Is Surgery Necessary?

Serious cases of broken noses may require facial plastic surgery, functional surgery, or both – if the nose is severely out of place or there are multiple facial fractures that may cause deformity.

Occasionally, trauma to the nose can result in a deviated septum, a condition where the wall dividing the nostrils becomes displaced or narrowed, causing breathing problems. In this instance, surgery (septoplasty) may be necessary.

When the nasal bone fractures or breaks, there’s a good chance of significant trauma impacting the surrounding areas as well, so further surgical corrections may be required.

Can I Combine Rhinoplasty With Cosmetic Enhancements?

Rhinoplasty can be divided into two primary categories: functional and aesthetic. The first deals with realignment, a deviated septum, saddle-nose deformity, septal fractures and other conditions caused by trauma, injury or birth defect. Internal nose corrections can be performed by either a plastic surgeon, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor or an oromaxillofacial surgeon (OMFS).

Opting For Aesthetic Improvements

Aesthetic rhinoplasty or a “nose job” deals with the cosmetic side of things – specifically, the shape and size of the nose, including dorsal hump reduction or lengthening. You may need one or both kinds of surgery, depending on the severity of the trauma and your desired outcome.

These procedures are usually performed by a facial plastic surgeon (i.e. plastic surgeon, ENT or OMFS) and are not typically covered by insurance.

» If this option appeals to you, get suggestions from our medical review team before proceeding.

Correcting A Deviated Septum

If you are looking to fix a deviated septum, there’s a form of rhinoplasty (septorhinoplasty) that combines aesthetic rhinoplasty with surgical correction of a deviated septum.

Combining these two surgical goals can seriously lower cost and recovery time. However, some doctors warn against making any serious cosmetic changes after trauma so consult with an expert to figure out your options first.

What Does Surgery Entail?

Surgery to fix a broken nose is not a one-size-fits-all intervention as there are a myriad of options available. Yet, the primary method used to correct a displaced and broken nasal bone is a closed nasal fracture reduction. Your doctor will usually wait a few days or up to a week before performing surgery to ensure that the swelling has subsided, but not too long to risk broken bones moving.

An Overview Of The Operation

Once you’re in the operating room, your surgeon will administer anesthesia – general or local, depending on your preferences and the complexities of the surgery. Special instruments will be used to apply steady pressure to the nasal bone and manually move it into the proper position.

Your surgeon will also check for other issues at this juncture and may manipulate the position of the septum or drain hematomas, if needed. Then, your surgeon will stabilize the new position of the nose using internal gauze and/or an external splint placed on top of the nose.

Recovery And Aftercare

You’ll likely have to keep the gauze or packing inside your nose for a few days and wear the nasal splint for about a week. During recovery‚ you’ll experience some uncomfortable bruising and swelling for the first few days, and you’ll be required to take antibiotics to prevent infection.

Can a Broken Nose be Fixed Years Later?

It would be ill-advised to wait to have a broken nose repaired, especially as fractures can cause the bones to migrate if not treated. Failure to treat a fractured septum can lead to loss of support of the nose, resulting in a “saddle nose” deformity over time.

If for some reason you didn’t seek treatment immediately after a fracture, your nose can still be reset by a skilled plastic surgeon – even years later. In some cases, a surgeon will re-break the nose to properly reset it. This procedure can prove to be more intricate and complex, so choose a well-qualified surgeon.

How Can I Prevent a Broken Nose?

The best way to prevent a broken nose is to avoid any contact sports or situations where you might put your nose in harm’s way. It’s much more susceptible to injury and trauma than other bones as it protrudes from the face.

If you do engage in contact sports, wear protective gear, such as a nose guard or helmet with a face mask, and avoid violent scuffles as much as possible.

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