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Septoplasty is a corrective surgical procedure that can fix a deviated septum and improve a patient’s ability to breathe. The nasal septum is a dividing wall of cartilage and bone that separates the two nasal passages. A crooked septum can restrict airflow in one or both of the nasal passages, creating difficulty when breathing and even chronic headaches or frequent nosebleeds. A septoplasty procedure seeks to straighten a crooked septum and improve the patient’s quality of life.

Candidates for Septoplasty

Patients experiencing the symptoms of a deviated septum, including difficulty breathing, constant stuffiness, excessive snoring and frequent nosebleeds, may benefit from undergoing a septoplasty procedure. A deviated septum may develop as a result of physical trauma to the nose, but can also be a condition present since birth. A deviated septum is not always externally visible, but for those patients with a noticeably crooked nose, a septoplasty can be used as an opportunity to realign and restore symmetry to the external nasal structure. This can be discussed during an initial consultation.

A good candidate for septoplasty should be prepared to spend time recovering, including taking time off from work for 5-7 days and refraining from strenuous physical activity for the first two to three weeks following the procedure.

The Procedure

Septoplasty is typically performed under general anesthesia, but occasionally may also be done under local anesthesia with intravenous sedation. A septoplasty performed without additional procedures can last 30 to 90 minutes and is an outpatient surgery, meaning patients can return home the same day.

Once the anesthesia has taken effect to begin the procedure, an internal incision is made in the mucosa, a thin membrane lining the septum, in order to allow access to the cartilage and bone of the septum. The exposed septum is trimmed and repositioned to correct the deviation before the mucosa is laid back down. Small portions of the septum may be completely removed depending on each patient’s needs, and artificial splints may be used to temporarily hold the septum’s new shape as it heals. Dissolving sutures may be used inside the nose if necessary to close the incisions.

More complex septoplasty procedures may require an “open approach” in which a small external incision is made in the columella (strip of skin that separates the nostrils) allowing access to the deviated portions of the septum. In these more complicated septoplasty procedures, the septum is often re-built using cartilage grafts from the septum itself or cartilage from an ear or rib.

Results and Recovery

During recovery from a septoplasty, patients should refrain from blowing their nose. Blood thinners should be avoided both before and after the procedure to prevent complications from excessive bleeding. During the first 24 hours, a small amount of bleeding can be expected as the incisions continue to heal. The head should remain elevated during the first 48 hours while sleeping to reduce swelling and minimize bleeding.

Common side effects of a septoplasty procedure include mild pain, swelling, nasal stuffiness and nasal drainage. As the swelling subsides during the first week, the sensation of stuffiness will continue to improve. Physical activity will need to be limited for several weeks as the nose continues to heal. Contact sports will need to be avoided for the first few weeks and proper protection should be worn once the activity has been resumed. Results are sometimes evident immediately after surgery but will usually evolve over the first several months following the procedure.

If the surgery is carried out through internal incisions, no external bruising or swelling should be expected following the procedure. If an external incision is utilized, the nose will have a mild degree of swelling that will resolve over the first few weeks after surgery. Patients frequently choose to undergo a rhinoplasty at the same time as their septoplasty in order to improve the size, symmetry, or shape of their nose. Common cosmetic requests include removing a hump from the bridge of the nose, narrowing the nose, and making the tip of the nose smaller or more defined.

If you are experiencing the symptoms and effects of a deviated septum, a septoplasty can improve your ability to breathe and increase your overall quality of life. Dr. Steven Daines has published his nasal surgery techniques in medical textbooks and scientific journals and dedicates his practice to surgery of the face, nose and neck to provide the highest level of service and care to his patients. Call Daines Plastic Surgery today at 949-397-6499 to schedule your initial consultation. Dr. Daines will evaluate your concerns and work with you one-on-one to answer any questions you have and explain the septoplasty procedure in detail.

*Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon Dr. Steven M Daines has written information about Septoplasty that has been carefully reviewed. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us using our form below.

"Thanks for healing me. I will always be grateful. My recovery has been a piece of cake. I feel like a new person!” - Jody M.

Procedure Details

Septoplasty is performed under general anesthesia and usually takes an hour or less unless it is combined with other procedures. A small incision is made inside the nose and crooked portions of cartilage and/or bone are removed or repositioned. The incision is then closed with sutures that dissolve on their own. No external dressings are typically needed, although small sponges may be placed inside the nostrils and removed the following day.

Discomfort after surgery is mild. Light bleeding can occur the first day and tends to dissipate by day two. The use of saline spray is encouraged to minimize scab formation inside the nose. Breathing in some patients is immediately improved, although it is more common for patients to gradually notice an improvement in nasal airflow as healing progresses. Most patients can go back to work in 5-7 days and resume light exercise in 10-14 days.

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