Broken noses (Nasal fractures)

Written by Dr Jill Tomlinson on .

One of the most common types of fractures is a broken nose, or nasal fracture. Nasal fractures may occur in a variety of situations including from sporting injuries, motor vehicle accidents and interpersonal violence.

The upper part of the nose is made of bone, and the lower part is cartilage. When a nose is broken it is generally the upper part that breaks although the cartilage can break or warp as well. It the broken parts of the nose haven’t moved from their original position then the break does not require treatment and will usually heal without any problems. However, if the broken parts of the nose have shifted then the nose will look abnormal and there may be problems with breathing through the nose.

My nose is broken, what should I do?

If you have a broken nose it is advisable to seek prompt medical attention so contact us to arrange an urgent appointment. X-rays and CT scans are usually unnecessary unless there are concerns about other facial fractures or injuries. When you see Dr Tomlinson she will ask you questions about your breathing and the appearance of your nose, and together you will determine if surgery is necessary to restore your nose. If there is a visible deformity most individuals choose to undergo surgery to correct the nose position.

Surgery for a broken nose

Ernst-Joubert-broken-nose-260x298Surgery for a broken nose should be performed within 2 weeks in adults and within 10 days in children. If the nasal bones are broken but the cartilage part of the nose (the ‘septum’) is unbroken then nasal fracture surgery is relatively straightforward. An anaesthetic is administered and then Dr Tomlinson manipulates the bones back into their normal position and ensures that the nasal airway is open. A simple cast or splint is then applied to prevent the bones moving out of place over the following week.

If the surgery is performed more than 2-3 weeks after the time of the injury then it is not possible to simply manipulate the nose back into position. In these circumstances if the nose is to be fixed it must be re-broken to move it from where it has set in position. If the nose has set in position then a full “septorhinoplasty” may be required to restore the nose to its former position (or a new position, should you wish to change the shape of your nose from its original appearance). A septorhinoplasty involves surgically repositioning the cartilage and bones of the nose.

Recovery

It is wise to take a couple of days off work after having a broken nose fixed. After three weeks no restrictions are required, as the nose heals relatively quickly.

Are there Medicare or private health insurance rebates for nasal fracture surgery?

Surgery to repair a broken nose and to correct nasal deformities after trauma is eligible for Medicare and health insurance rebates. Correcting pre-existing deformities including nasal humps and nasal tip work is not eligible for Medicare and health insurance rebates.

 Image from Larry Brown Sports

Website Disclaimer

This website is authored by Dr Jillian Tomlinson, a fully qualified plastic, reconstructive and hand surgeon who practices in Melbourne, Australia. This website aims to inform patients and health professionals about hand surgery, illness prevention and the practice philosophy of Dr Jill Tomlinson. This website's content is designed to complement, not replace, the relationship between a patient and his/her own doctor. The information is not intended to replace the advice of a health professional. This website does not host or receive funding from advertising or from the display of commercial content.