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How can drug use like snorting cocaine increase chances of septal perforation?

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Long-term, habitual drug use can wreak havoc on lives and health. When drugs, such as cocaine, are snorted, the interior of the nose can become vulnerable to damage. A flexible but delicate three layer system of bone, cartilage and the mucosa nasal lining known as the nasal septum separates the two nasal passages. Drugs can erode this tissue wall, eventually resulting in a puncture, or hole. This hole is known medically as a septal perforation.

A septal perforation starts as a small tear through and may initially be asymptomatic. When the hole first appears, the individual might notice a whistling noise in the nasal passages. As the hole enlarges, other symptoms will begin to arise, such as bleeding, crusting, infection, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms tend to be worse the closer the perforation is to the nostrils.

Drug Use and Permanent Nasal Damage. Snorting drugs irritates the septum. The delicate system of tiny blood vessels supplying the septum is negatively affected by drug use, depriving the septal tissue of needed oxygen and nutrients. As a result, the septal lining breaks down.  A septal perforation is a permanent loss of tissue and, if the hole becomes sufficiently large, it can lead to a collapsed bridge. The internal damage that was once was hidden can come into a visible sight. The cosmetic consequences can be psychologically and emotionally devastating. And the discomfort can become a constant burden.

Repairing a severe septal perforation is a complex procedure. Because the tissue has been permanently lost, severe damage requires reconstructive surgery and tissue grafting. To make matters more complicated, the nasal septum is composed of different tissue types, making the grafting procedure a particularly difficult one.

Healing the nose after damage from drug use. Once a septal perforation has appeared, it needs to be monitored and treated. The first step to healing the nose is to discontinue the drug use. Any therapeutic treatment or medical intervention intended to address a perforated nasal septum will be undermined if the initial cause of drug abuse is not addressed. Symptoms can be alleviated, but the root problem will not be resolved until the behavioral and lifestyle changes are permanently made.

There are different treatment options available for a perforated septum. Moisturizers and emollients can soothe the nasal passages and may abate further damage, but they will not close the hole. A septal button, a silicone plug, can be inserted as a temporary measure, but it is generally not recommended by Drs. Litner and Solieman. For permanent nasal reconstruction, corrective surgery is necessary. Surgical treatments can be highly effective. However, they require specialized skill and experience. Profiles Beverly Hills is one of the the few plastic surgery offices in the country that specializes in treating septal perforations. Headed by Los Angeles-based facial plastic surgeons Drs. Solieman and Litner, Profiles Beverly Hills offers the most advanced septal perforation repair procedures available.

If drug use has led to the deterioration of your nose, we can help restore your nasal function and appearance. At Profiles Beverly Hills, we will talk candidly about your condition and the underlying causes. We understand that healing the body after excessive drug use is a journey. We look forward to being a part of your commitment to a healthier, drug-free life! Rhinoplasty and septoplasty specialists, Drs. Solieman and Litner have successfully performed the surgery on patients with complex and challenging nasal problems.

 

Come in for a Consultation with Drs. Solieman and Litner

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(310) 276-6800 or click here.

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