Let’s face it, no one wants a broken nose. Who wants to deal with pain in the first place? Not to mention that in some cases, it can permanently change your appearance.
But unfortunately, it can be unavoidable.
Your nose sticks out, so it’s relatively easy to break. A broken nose is actually the most common type of facial injury.
However, whether you have fallen on your face or been punched by your worst enemy, it can sometimes be hard to tell that your nose is broken. Since it’s the result of an injury, you’re likely going to be in pain no matter what.
But there are definitely ways to tell.
And whatever you do:
Don’t try to push your bones around or anything like that, please!
But do learn about the signs and symptoms of a broken nose.
If you see that you are exhibiting any, it would be a very good idea for you to go to a doctor. Your doctor can tell you for sure whether or not your nose is broken.
And if it is, never fear!
There are plenty of ways that you can deal with it and recover wonderfully.
When you think of your nose, you probably just think of this thing that protrudes from your face that helps you smell your favorite foods. However, it’s a lot more complicated than that.
If you want to know it’s broken, it can be useful to learn about all the ins and outs of your nose.
Parts of the nose
Your sinuses are hollow areas in the bone around your nose. Mucus from the sinuses drains into the nasal cavity.
How a broken nose can disrupt its functioning
Depending on how your nose is broken, it can actually interfere with your ability to breathe.
Think about it:
If the broken bone is jutting into the nasal cavity, it will interrupt the passage of air. You will experience a harder time than usual breathing. This is often one of the telltale signs that someone has a broken nose.
Causes Of A Broken Nose
Essentially, common causes of a broken nose are just what you would think. It’s usually the result of some sort of physical impact.
Common causes include physical fights, falls, car accidents, and contact sports.
Basically, anything that hits your nose hard enough can break it.
Signs And Symptoms Of A Broken Nose
Many signs and symptoms can potentially tell you your nose is broken. It’s not always completely obvious though.
Some people can have broken noses and not even know it.
If you experience any of these symptoms, there is definitely a chance your nose could be broken.
What to do when you suspect your nose may be broken
Of course, if you think your nose might be broken, you should go to a doctor. But that’s not always immediately possible.
So, what you should do is make sure that you know how to take care of it in the meantime. There are certain things that you should do right after you’ve gotten hurt in order to minimize the risk of permanent damage.
Try to minimize any pain and swelling and stop any bleeding.
Stopping the bleeding
In many cases, this comes first.
Pain and swelling reduction happen over a period of days, but you’ll want to stop the bleeding right away.
Sit up. You won’t want to lean back or especially lie down. Your nose needs to be in a higher position than your heart.
Make sure to lean forward, so that you won’t have blood running into the back of your throat. Who wants that?
Pinch the soft tissue in your nose with your index finger and thumb. Hold it tightly for five minutes. Once you’re done, see if the bleeding has stopped.
Well, it’s still bleeding:
Resume pinching your nose. Keep your fingers there for 10 more minutes and see if that works.
If nothing you do works, it is time to see a doctor.
To reduce the pain as much as possible, you should take over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Make sure that you follow the instructions on the package and do not overmedicate, even though it might be tempting to do so because of the pain.
Sleeping with your head propped on extra pillows could also be helpful.
You’ll want to use an ice pack in order to keep swelling down as much as possible.
Find an ice pack, and wrap it in a towel. Put it on your nose for intervals of 10 minutes at a time. Basically, put it on your nose for 10 minutes, then take it off for 10 minutes, and keep doing this over and over.
But use caution:
Don’t put too much pressure on the ice pack while it is on your nose. This could cause you additional pain and damage.
Do this at least four times a day for the first two days after your injury.
When to see a doctor
Although a broken nose doesn’t always require emergent medical attention, it’s always a good idea to see a doctor if you suspect that you have one.
If what you’re feeling is limited to moderate pain and swelling, it might make sense not to go to the doctor right away. The symptoms could improve, and everything could just get better spontaneously.
But the truth is:
You should definitely seek emergency medical attention in certain cases, however. If you have a nose injury that is accompanied by certain other symptoms, it is not a good idea to just sit and hope that they resolve themselves.
Sign that you should see a doctor
If you have difficulty breathing or are not able to stop bleeding from your nose, go to your doctor.
Not only that:
Clear and watery fluid that is draining from your nose is also a sign that you should see a doctor. This could actually be cerebrospinal rhinorrhea, in which the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding your brain starts leaking out your nose.
Don’t freak out.
But this is definitely something you SHOULD NOT ignore.
And that’s not all:
If you have a head or neck injury along with your nose injury, you should go to a doctor. You might be able to tell this is the case if you have neck pain, a severe headache, vomiting, or a loss of consciousness.
Look in the mirror:
If you see a change in the shape of your nose that isn’t related to swelling, you should make a trip to your doctor. Basically, if you see that it looks crooked or twisted after a nose injury, don’t just do nothing.
How to decide whether or not to go to the doctor
If your symptoms are minor compared to the ones listed above, you may opt not to go to a doctor right away. You might just try self-care to see if it gets better.
If it’s been a few days, and the pain and swelling aren’t getting any better, you might need a doctor at this point. The same is true if you don’t have swelling, but your nose looks crooked.
If you are having a hard time breathing even after the swelling has gone away. Or if you have frequent nosebleeds or a fever.
Basically, use your judgment, and be smart about it.
How a doctor will diagnose a broken nose
Basically, your doctor will diagnose this condition by conducting a physical exam and taking your medical history. Just as is the case for most diagnoses.
Your doctor might do an x-ray of your nose. If he or she is suspect any other fractures or facial injuries, you’ll likely get a CT scan as well.
And the doc might do this:
In some cases, your doctor might elect to delay evaluation and diagnosis until the swelling has gone down. This could take a few days, so it’ll likely require more than one visit.
Potential Complications Associated With A Broken Nose
Many complications can arise when you break your nose. None of these are desirable, obviously, which is why medical intervention is always recommended.
These complications include the following:
- A change in the appearance of your nose, even if just at the tip
- Nasal septal hematoma, or an excessive amount of blood in the nasal septum
- Septal perforation, meaning a hole in your nasal septum
- Saddle nose deformity, meaning a collapsed bridge
- Deviated nasal septum, meaning a crooked septum
- Permanent difficulty in breathing
- Constant and persistent drainage from one or both of your nostrils; this could actually be cerebrospinal fluid from your brain draining into your nose and is common after you have had surgery or a head injury
- An infection in your nose, facial bones, or sinuses
- An alteration or even loss of your sense of smell
So, pay attention to your nose.
My Broken Nose Can Heal On Its Own
It’s quite possible that your broken nose will heal on its own.
In fact, most broken noses do not require treatment for the actual healing process. You might need treatment for managing the symptoms and pain, but not for the bone to actually heal.
However, in some cases, treatment is needed. In these cases, it is usually done within one to two weeks of breaking your nose.
Options for those who do not want medical intervention
Typically, without treatment, a broken nose will heal on its own within approximately three weeks. If this doesn’t happen for you, seek medical attention.
Rhinoplasty, commonly known as a nose job, is a very common treatment in these situations.
However, if someone is not interested in rhinoplasty, it may not be necessary. Even if your fracture does not heal spontaneously, there are other options.
If you have a simple fracture, your doctor might treat it by straightening out the cartilage or bone in your nose. A lot of the time, they do this using either splints or nasal packing, which is basically just packing your nose with gauze.
In addition to that:
If the fracture is more complicated, then you might need surgery.
The doctor might need to move the cartilage or bone back to its rightful place. Splints and nasal packing can also be used in these situations. You might also need to take antibiotics.
Rhinoplasty is basically a nose job. Some people refer to it as a “nose reshaping.”
A lot of the time, rhinoplasty is done in order to change the appearance of the nose. There are a lot of people who want more shapely noses.
But not always:
Sometimes it is done to repair the results of a breakage. Rhinoplasty is a common solution for a deviated septum, which is a common symptom of a broken nose.
Basics of the procedure
Essentially, the steps of rhinoplasty include anesthesia, the incision, reshaping the structure of the nose, correcting a deviated septum (if applicable), closing up the incision, and observing the results.
But keep in mind:
No two rhinoplasties are alike. Your surgeon will customize your procedure for your needs.
Think of the following steps, then, as a general framework that can be altered on a case-by-case basis.
Different Types Of Rhinoplasty
Although the concept of rhinoplasty is similar across the board, there are subtle differences in procedures. Your doctor will help you figure out which type of procedure is right for your situation.
There are four main categories of rhinoplasty to consider:
Historically, this has been the choice for most people who needed extensive work on their noses.
With open rhinoplasty, your surgeon will make incisions in your columella. This is the bit of skin and tissue that separates your nostrils.
Then, your surgeon will lift the skin to expose the inside of the nasal cavity, so that he or she can do the required reshaping.
This is a good choice for anyone who needs extensive grafting or who might need revision surgery later on. It is best for people who have:
- Acquired deformities from trauma, such as a broken nose
- Genetic or structural deformities in the nose
- Collapsed valves from previous tissue removal
- Dissatisfaction with the cosmetic appearance of the nose after earlier nasal surgery
After open rhinoplasty, the surgeon will suture up your columella and tape your nose for stabilization.
Your doctor will position a nasal splint that has been customized for your nose over the tape. It will help protect the tissues of your new nose while they are healing. You will be able to take it off about a week after the surgery.
This is the most common type of rhinoplasty. All incisions are hidden within the nose, and there is no external scarring.
The surgeon lifts the soft tissue slightly and is then able to access the bone and cartilage in order to make the necessary shaping adjustments.
Once inside the structure of the nose, the technical steps of the closed rhinoplasty are similar to those of the open rhinoplasty.
But here’s the truth:
Because the closed rhinoplasty is less invasive, it has several advantages over the open procedure. These include less nasal tissue irritation, less likelihood of nasal tip support reduction, less likelihood of postoperative edema, less detectable scarring, less time spent In the operating room, and a faster recovery.
This type of rhinoplasty is less common. It is actually non-surgical and can be done by various types of physicians and even physician assistants.
A filler rhinoplasty does not involve incisions, only injectable filler that is used to fix minor imperfections in the nose. Common fillers used are Restylane and Juvederm.
The bad news is:
The results are not permanent. Also, scarring from these fillers can be permanent, and it can end up obstructing your vessels and causing necrosis of the nasal skin.
This is very unlikely to be effective for someone who wants to repair damage from a broken nose.
Essentially, revision rhinoplasty is exactly what it sounds like.
It’s a subsequent rhinoplasty done for a patient who wants to make changes after a first rhinoplasty.
Here are the facts:
Sometimes, the first surgery will have uncovered or created breathing difficulties. A revision rhinoplasty can be a good way to correct that problem.
The primary reasons for revision surgery are typically a bump or irregularity on the bridge of the patient’s nose or breathing difficulties.
Pros And Cons Of Rhinoplasty
Before you actually undergo rhinoplasty, you should think about the pros and cons.
It’s not right for everyone.
There are definitely advantages to this procedure, especially for someone with a broken nose.
One of the big ones is:
Many people who undergo rhinoplasty do so primarily because they want to change the appearances of their faces. This is even the case with people who have broken their noses because they might be left with a crooked or distorted nose.
Another is more functional breathing. Rhinoplasty can correct breathing difficulties that are the result of a deviated septum that can result from a broken nose. It can also be helpful for people with sleep apnea.
And that’s not all:
It can also lead to better health in general.
Because it’s associated with higher confidence, it can lead to people simply taking better care of themselves and being happier.
Don’t rush out to get rhinoplasty.
If you have unrealistic expectations, this might not be the surgery for you. There’s only so much one procedure can do. You shouldn’t be expecting it to transform your entire life.
It can also be very expensive. There are available financing options, especially if insurance will cover it. However, you will likely have to pay for at least part of it on your own.
Also, keep in mind:
And there will be a long recovery period. It’s major surgery, and you will likely need to take adequate time to rest and heal. It might be several days or even weeks.
What To Do (And Not To Do) Before And After The Procedure
Of course, as rhinoplasty is a major surgical procedure, you will face certain limitations before and after the surgery.
Before the surgery
Obviously, you will need to prepare for the surgery.
You may be asked to take certain medications and also have to adjust certain medications in your existing regimen.
And this part might be tough for some:
If you are a smoker, you’ll likely have to stop.
In addition, you should avoid taking anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements, as well as aspirin and ibuprofen. These things can make bleeding worse during surgery.
After the surgery
While certain restrictions will be lifted after about a week, there are many that will be in place for several weeks in some cases.
In the first week…
You will likely have to keep the internal dressings for between one and seven days after the procedure. You will also have to wear a splint on your nose for support and protection for the first week.
And don’t freak out:
A little bit of bleeding, as well as drainage of mucus and old blood, are to be expected in the few days after the surgery. You may actually have to wear a drip pad under your nose. This is just a small piece of gauze that will be held in place with tape.
Not only that:
For a period of time following the surgery, you will have to lie in bed with your head higher than your chest. This will minimize swelling and bleeding.
You may also experience congestion because of swelling or as a result of the splints that are in your nose during rhinoplasty.
Lasting for several weeks…
Your surgeon may also ask that you follow certain precautions for many weeks after the procedure. These can include the following:
- Avoiding strenuous physical activities
- Not blowing your nose
- Taking baths instead of showers while the bandages are on your nose
- Eating high-fiber foods to avoid constipation, as constipation can cause strain and pressure on the site of surgery
- Being gentle while brushing your teeth, so that you limit the movement of your upper lip
- Avoiding strenuous facial expressions, such as laughing and smiling
- Wearing clothes that fasten in the front rather than having to be pulled over your head
- Not wearing eyeglasses or sunglasses that will rest on your nose, although you can use cheek rests or tape the glasses to your forehead
- Limiting sodium in your diet to help swelling go away more quickly
- Using sunscreen when you are outside, as too much sun could lead to permanent irregular discoloration in the skin of your nose
And Now That You Know All About Broken Noses…
You probably can’t wait until you get one so that you can apply all of this fun information!
Well, no, that’s probably not true.
But knowing more on this topic will likely come in handy if it ever ends up happening in the future.
The truth is:
A broken nose is no fun. Even in the best of situations, it’s going to be a lot of pain. But just as is the case with any bad situation, you just have to make the best of it.
And here’s some good news:
As long as you take the right steps immediately after it happens to take care of the bleeding, pain, and swelling and go to a doctor if it becomes necessary, you should be fine.
But as you’ve read, you could need surgery.
In these situations, you might end up with a permanently altered appearance. This may not be what you wanted, but again, the thing to do is make the best of it.
If you have the money, you can get your nose altered again to look the way it originally did.
Some people even embrace their new looks in these situations.
“You know, probably my nose wouldn’t have been that great even if it hadn’t been broken.” — Owen Wilson, one of the rare times he talks about his trademark bent nose, for which he never had rhinoplasty. Even after it was broken twice.
In any case, while you definitely don’t want to break your nose, it’s not going to be the end of the world. Just educate yourself on your options, make smart decisions, and deal with it in the best way possible.
Have you ever had a broken nose or suspected you have? Tell us all about your experience in the comments!