WARNING: Graphic image
A man is warning of the dangers of snorting cocaine after he faced needing a prosthetic nose after it began to collapse.
Fraser, 49, who did not wish to give his last name joined ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctors in Lanarkshire to urge people to beware after seeing a rise in the number of patients who have suffered irreparable damage to the nasal septum after continued snorting of cocaine.
Damage to the nasal septum – the cartilage and bone inside the nose – can cause the nose to collapse and can lead to patients having their nose removed and being fitted with a prosthetic nose.
After snorting cocaine regularly, Fraser saw his nose start to collapse and was told it may have to be removed.
Following several consultations, Natarajan Balaji, an ENT consultant at University Hospital Monklands (UHM), carried out reconstructive surgery at the end of last year and rebuilt his nose.
Fraser said: “I cannot thank the ENT team at Monklands enough. Having been told I would lose my nose and to then be told they would be able to rebuild it was incredible.
“However, I am one of the lucky ones as I started taking cocaine for fun and it was a part of my life for a long time.
“I am not ashamed of that but I do want other people to think of the damage that snorting cocaine can do to not just their nose but their body.
“The nose is one of the most visible parts of the body and losing that would change your life forever.
“I am extremely lucky and have changed my life but my story could have been very different and I could be going to bed at night removing my prosthetic nose.”
The 49-year-old initially used cocaine as a recreational substance, but began snorting it regularly after his personal circumstances changed.
Gradually, as his nose started to collapse, he stopped going out and isolated himself socially, although he found some unexpected relief when the wearing of face masks became compulsory during the Covid-19 pandemic, as he could face the outside world without people noticing the damage to his nose.
After deciding to seek help he stopped using cocaine and was referred by his GP to the local ENT department for support.
He is delighted with the outcome of the surgery, although he is aware that he may need some more minor surgery in the future.
Mr Balaji said that the number of patients with nose problems due to cocaine use has increased enormously and wants people to be aware of the damage snorting cocaine can do.
He said: “Cocaine is cut with other ingredients including Levamisole, which is used in deworming tablets for dogs and cats, and Phenacetin, an analgesic and fever-reducing drug used in veterinary medicine.
“Cocaine also has certain types of acids mixed with the ingredients. When snorted, cocaine causes the blood vessels to contract very strongly, and the nasal septum is very sensitive to reduced blood flow.
“After using cocaine a few times, the nasal structure can begin to die, causing perforations.”
Nicholas Calder, an ENT consultant at NHS Lanarkshire, who also specialises in nasal reconstructive surgery, emphasised that the consequences of cocaine use should not be underestimated.
He said: “The number of patients we are treating is increasing year on year and patients come to us from a cross section of the population.”