Do boxers get their nose bone removed?

Combat sports have been shrouded in myths since forever, and many of the common misconceptions about the sport are ridiculous. But any myth has some truth in it. One of those is that boxers remove the cartilage in their noses to prevent bleeding and fractures. This in general is not true, and you will have a hard time finding a boxer who did it, but still, isolated cases do indeed exist.

Today we will take a look at one of the most common injuries in boxing-the broken nose.

What is a broken nose?

A broken nose is also called a nasal fracture and occurs when a bone or cartilage in your nose gets cracked or broken. The most common victim is the bone over the bridge of the nose. The nasty injury comes with pain, a nose bleed, and often with visible crookedness. The severity of the fracture can vary from a minor crack to a complete dislocation of the nose, which in turn causes internal problems like obstructed breathing. An aftereffect of the break is black eyes and swelling.

As you can expect, this is a common injury in contact sports like basketball and football and even more frequent in combat sports like boxing and MMA, where hitting people in the face is actually the main goal of the exercise.

Here is an especially nasty compilation of a badly fractured nose.


How to fix a broken nose?

Usually, no surgery is required to fix a broken nose. Most cases can be fixed by just putting the cartilage in its place by using two straight objects. Of course, it’s best to go to a doctor, but if the fracture is not bad, the procedure is fairly simple.


However, in some cases, the break is too severe and will necessitate the services of a surgeon. Combat sports have witnessed numerous gruesome breaks that frequently leave fighters looking… well, like fighters. Almost everything can be reversed and a nose completely rebuilt by nose surgeons. Fighters who use the surgeon’s services usually do so after their fighting career has ended, as there is little point in fixing the nose with such a high daily risk of another fracture. Unless the injury gets in the way of proper breathing.

Does too much damage necessitate the removal of the cartilage? 

As we’ve said, some fractures completely destroy the nose and cartilage. Once the nose is broken, it’s somewhat easy for it to happen again. There are some reports of fighters removing all the cartilage on purpose, so they can’t be broken anymore. A nose without any cartilage looks normal on the outside (unless it’s already deformed by damage) but can be pushed completely in like a sponge. In some people, this is an inborn condition that beautifully lends itself to fighting. It may have been more common in the past, but it is now extremely difficult to find evidence of fighters who underwent the procedure of removing their nose cartilage.

For others, though, it is caused by blunt damage to the cartilage, so in these cases, doctors may have to remove the cartilage that is too badly broken to be put back into place. 


How to prevent fractures?

Despite popular opinion, noses do not break that easily or that often in boxing. You cannot prevent everything and this is one of the dangers of the sport, but working on a tight defense is one of the best decisions, not only against nasal fractures, but against any type of head trauma. Keeping your chin tucked not only protects the chin itself, but it greatly reduces the chance of the nose breaking. 


Wearing a headguard, such as the one above, whilst training can also help prevent a broken nose.

Is there long term damage from a broken nose?

In the case of a crack with no displacement, you shouldn’t worry about long term damage. The body will heal and only the bad memories will remain.  If the nose loses its structure, however, there may be more than cosmetic problems.

If left untreated, a broken nose can lead to some very unpleasant outcomes, such as impaired breathing, frequent sinus infections, sleeping problems, and snoring.

Fighters usually don’t pay too much attention to superficial damage, because pain is an inseparable part of the sport. Some even take pride in their crooked noses and cauliflower ears, wearing them as battle trophies. While appearance may not sit on top of your priorities, a broken nose can lead to nasty outcomes, hindering your fighting ability and everyday life, so a visit to the doctor can spare you a lot of headaches.