Septoplasty is a surgical procedure used to correct a deviated septum. When the bone and cartilage making up the septum – the wall that divides your nostrils – is crooked, it causes obstruction of the nasal airways and makes breathing difficult. This can lead to nosebleeds, snoring, sleep apnea, and chronic sinusitis. Surgery to straighten the septum can eliminate these conditions and improve your quality of life.
Very few people have a perfectly straight septum. It can be deviated at birth, or naturally bend to one side or another during childhood and puberty. Trauma or injury, such as a broken nose, can also cause a deviated septum.
In determining whether you are a candidate for septoplasty, your doctor will examine your nasal passages and discuss your medical history, especially the symptoms you are experiencing as a result of your deviated septum. Typically, septoplasty is not performed unless other methods to treat your breathing problems are unsuccessful.
Septoplasty is generally performed in an outpatient surgery center using either local or general anesthesia. Your surgeon will reposition the septum by trimming and straightening the bent cartilage and bone, working through the nostrils. The incisions are stitched shut with absorbable thread. Some physicians use silicone splints or packing inside the nostrils after surgery to help keep the septum straight and to minimize bleeding. Others do not use packing or splints.
Afterwards, you’ll be given instructions that will help prevent swelling and bleeding. You’ll want to avoid blowing your nose, limit strenuous activities, and elevate your head while sleeping.
Symptoms improve in the majority of people undergoing this procedure, and complications are rare.
Click here to read Dr. Becker’s Chapter on the “Surgery on the Septum, the Turbinates, and other ‘non-sinus’ causes of nasal blockage.”