The nasal septum is made up of bone and cartilage, lined with mucous membranes. This structure separates the two nasal passages, providing structural support to the outside of the nose, and improving airflow dynamics inside the nose. A deviated septum can cause and combination of the following issues:
direct physical obstruction of the nasal passages causing difficulty breathing
obstruction of the sinus openings resulting in decreased drainage and ventilation of the sinuses and propensity to sinus infections irritation of the nasal lining resulting in intermittent nose bleeding and/or chronically runny nose
Background: A septoplasty is a surgery to enhance the function of the nose, specifically the septum.
Evaluation: Trauma and/or variations in natural nasal anatomy can lead to anatomic issues causing obstruction.
Pre-op Considerations: Septoplasty surgery has risks and benefits like any surgery. Please see below for specifics.
Surgery: Septoplasty surgery can be done through incisions inside the nose, at times requires an external incision between the nostrils depending on the severity of the problem.
Post-op care: Recovery after septoplasty is typically one week off work, followed by another week of decreased activity.
A septoplasty is a surgical procedure that is performed, often by a head and neck surgeon, to correct a crooked or “deviated” septum. The septum of your nose is the bone and cartilage in between your nostrils. If the septum is deviated, it may cause a nasal blockage or nasal obstruction, difficulty breathing, or narrow nasal passages. A crooked septum can be caused by trauma, such as a broken nose, or can occur naturally. A deviated septum can obstruct your nasal passages and can cause you to have chronic sinus infections, runny nose, or nosebleeds.
Septoplasty is often performed at the same time as a functional and/or cosmetic rhinoplasty surgery, turbinate reduction, and/or sinus surgery.
How is a nasal septoplasty performed? Will I have scars from this type of nasal surgery?
During a septoplasty, your ENT surgeon will remove, contour, reposition, and/or strengthen portions of your nasal septal cartilage to stabilize the structure and improve symmetry of the left and right nasal cavities. Septoplasty surgery is most often performed under general anesthesia and can often be executed with incisions inside your nose. Depending on the severity of the type of deviated septum and severity of the problem, an external incision is made on the skin between your nostrils, usually about 5 mm in length. Nasal packing is not usually required, but you may need thin plastic splints inside your nose for the first week, post-operatively, to help reinforce the septum correction and to prevent scarring.
You are considering an operation to improve your nasal breathing and/or nasal health by straightening the nasal septum (the thin sheet of cartilage and bone that divides the nose into two halves). The operation is called septoplasty, which involves surgical incisions inside the nose. The vast majority (~90%) of patients who undergo this operation for the appropriate indications have an improvement in their subjective breathing ability. Rarely, complications such as nosebleeding, recurrent septal deviation, and septal perforation (small hole connecting the two sides of the nose) do occur, but in the vast majority of patients, the desired surgical result is readily achieved.
During septoplasty, portions of the cartilage and bone are removed, thinned, repositioned, and/or strengthened to stabilize the overall nasal structure and improve symmetry of the nasal cavities. This is done to address any combination of the issues mentioned above. Packing is usually not required with this surgery, but most patients will have thin plastic splints placed inside the nose to aid keeping the tissues in the desired position and to decrease the risk of scarring in the immediate post-operative period.
Dr. Michael Reilly is double board-certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology--Head & Neck Surgery and The American Board of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. He specializes in facial plastic surgery.
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