Would Nose Surgery Solve Infection Problems Caused by Past Drug Abuse?

A substance abuse habit from five years ago seems to have eaten passageways in my nose, and I was wondering if it is related to this ear infection that I got, where fluid builds up in my ear and down the side of my neck. They build up in knots which I drain out regularly, and very painful at that. Would I need surgery to take care of this? Would insurance cover any of the cost? Help please!!!

Doctor Answers 8

Complex Problem Needs a Good Workup

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You may well be right about the destructive consequences of your past drug abuse.

A thorough evaluation by a Otolaryngologist is necessary to see which, if any procedures would be of benefit.

Be aware that the problems you are experiencing from past drug abuse may also predispose yo for a greater risk of surgical complications.

Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Septal perforation repair

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It sounds like you may have a septal perforation and possible blockage of your eustachian tubes.  Septal perforation repair is complex and can be performed in special cases.  We should begin with an evaluation and examination.

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

Drug Abuse and Rhinoplasty

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Inhaled and snorted drugs, in particular cocaine, can destroy the lining of the nose.  This can create something known as a septal perforation which can create pain, infection, crusting.  A septal perforation must be managed both medically as well as sometimes surgically.  In some cases, it is not possible to correct a septal perforation surgically if it is too large.  Seek  a surgeon with experience in closing septal perforations. 

Anil R. Shah, MD
Chicago Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 181 reviews

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Rhinoplasty in patients with previous drug abuse

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Rhinoplasty is a popular and effective surgery to recontour the shape of your nose. If your nose has been damaged from previous drug abuse, you may benefit from a rhinoplasty with internal reconstruction of your bony and cartilaginous framework. Keep in mind that this is a complicated procedure which may require using a portion of your rib to provide the structure that is necessary to reconstruct your nose. For this reason, it is essential that you only work with a board-certified plastic surgeon was great deal of experience in rhinoplasty, cartilage grafts, and correcting septal defects.

Surgery might help your nose

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First of you need an examination. You may well have a septal perforation with crusting, blockage and possibly bleeding. This can also affect your function and drainage of your ears. They are connected by short small tubes call the Eustachian tubes. The more nasal symptoms you have the more likely your nose is adversely affecting your ears.

Nasal Damage Secondary to Drug Use

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The "passageways" are probably secondary to previous drug use. Depending on the severity of the problem, surgery may improve or eliminate the anatomic deformity. However, you must be evaluated to determne the cause of the recurrent ear infections and neck swelling.

Richard W. Fleming, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Nose surgery for problems caused by past drug abuse

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Dear Browneyes92679,

The treatment you require must be based on your problem(s). Many cocaine abusers end up with damage to the nasal septum. These problems could be made worse by sinusitis and chronic rhinitis. You should seek an experienced Otolaryngologist (ENT). Septal perforations require various procedures based on their severity. Sinus inflammation may require surgical removal of the lining. The only way to find out is to seek expert care. As to the insurance issue -- it depends on your particular policy. Sometimes they do -- sometimes they will not pay for it. The only way to find out is to read your book and find out.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Go see an Otolaryngologist

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Your problem is worrisome. I would go see a head and neck surgeon (Otolaryngologist) and get a CT scan of your head, neck, and sinuses to determine why you might get fluid nodules along the side of your neck that you can drain. That is not normal at all.


Manish H. Shah, MD, FACS
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.