Facial plast Surg 2017; 33(04): 411-418
DOI: 10.1055/s-0037-1603791
Rapid Communication
Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Care of the Cocaine User with Nasal Deformity

Abigail Walker
Department of ENT Surgery, University Hospital Lewisham, London, United Kingdom
Anil Joshi
Department of ENT Surgery, University Hospital Lewisham, London, United Kingdom
Alwyn D'Souza
Department of ENT Surgery, University Hospital Lewisham, London, United Kingdom
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
28 July 2017 (online)


Cocaine is the most commonly used stimulant in the Western world, and its use is increasing not only in young people but also in people older than 40 years. Intranasal use is associated with several pathologies, ranging from crusting and blockage, to fibrosis and scarring, to destruction of the osteocartilaginous structures of the midface. As its use becomes more prevalent in society, the reconstructive surgeon can accordingly expect to be faced with an increasing number of patients with cocaine-related nasal deformity. However, the use of cocaine adds a significant layer of complexity to the perioperative and operative care that requires careful consideration by the whole health care team. We present a practical evidence-based guide to management of reconstruction of the cocaine nose, taking in all aspects of periprocedural care. Finally, we present a model for surgical approach based on best evidence and the experience of the senior author. A search was performed of the Medline, Embase, and Cochrane Collection database using both MeSH keywords and free text words, identifying key articles on the epidemiology, pathophysiology, and medical and psychiatric comorbidities of cocaine users. Both case series and case reports reporting cocaine-associated defects and their reconstruction were reviewed together with the senior authors (A.D.S., A.J.), and a series of recommendations synthesized based on these recommendations. The nasal deformities associated with cocaine use represent only the tip of the iceberg of underlying associated pathology. The surgeon who embarks upon reconstruction of the cocaine nose should be aware of possible coexisting medical and psychiatric comorbidities that may complicate both the patient's motivations for surgery and their fitness to undergo anesthesia. Ultimately, successful reconstructive outcomes are critically dependent on holistic perioperative care and the surgeon's ability to be flexible in their surgical approach.