Chalkboard with the words Head Injury written in white chalk, with a coach whistle hanging from the blackboard

Patient question: 
My 16-year-old daughter suffered a broken nose during soccer this season and now has trouble breathing. I’d be okay with rhinoplasty to correct this injury, but worry about permanently altering her appearance. What should we do?

John Chi, MD answer: 
Broken noses (nasal fractures) can have a big impact on both the appearance and function of the nose, ranging from a bump to complete nasal airway obstruction. Depending on the injury, quality of life can be impacted as well, which should not be dismissed.

Functionally, the nose allows us to smell, and it humidifies and filters air that we breathe. Aesthetically, many people associate their identity with facial appearance. For younger patients who are still developing physically and emotionally, a broken nose can be a life-altering event.

The goal of rhinoplasty following a broken nose is to restore the pre-injury nasal appearance and breathing. Before a patient (or his or her family) seeks corrective surgery for a broken nose, however, he or she should take into consideration age and risk for additional injury:

  • Pre-adolescent children are still experiencing significant growth of the nose and mid-facial structures. For those children, we recommend that parents delay elective nose surgery until after adolescence to minimize the impact on growth potential. Also, children and teens still competing in high school or college athletics may want to postpone surgical treatment until after his or her playing days are over.
  • The amount of time that has passed since the injury is also a consideration. Early on, most broken noses will result in both a nasal deformity and nasal airway obstruction. Over time some of these symptoms may improve, while others may require surgery.

After an injury to the face, evaluation by a facial plastic surgeon is a critical first step. Early documentation of the injury and symptoms allows for more accurate medical records and is useful when filing insurance claims should surgery be necessary down the road.

A facial plastic surgeon can assess your daughter’s nasal function and aesthetics to develop a treatment plan that best suits to her needs. For a consultation at the Facial Plastic Surgery Center, call 314-996-3880.

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