What Is Septoplasty?
The septum is
the wall of bone and cartilage that divides your nose into two separate
nostrils. A deviated
septum occurs when your septum is moved to one side of your nose. Some
people are born with a deviated septum, but it can also be caused by an injury
to your nose. Most people with a deviated septum have one nasal passage that’s much
smaller than the other. This can cause difficulty breathing. Other symptoms of
a deviated septum may include frequent nosebleeds and facial pain. Surgery is
the only way to fix a deviated septum.
Septoplasty is a surgical procedure to correct a deviated septum.
Septoplasty straightens the septum, allowing for better airflow through your
Preparing for a Septoplasty
Your doctor may ask you to stop taking certain medications two
weeks before the surgery. These medications may include aspirin, ibuprofen, and
other blood thinners. This is done to reduce your risk of excessive bleeding
during and after the procedure. Be sure to tell your doctor if you’re allergic to
certain medications or if you have a history of bleeding problems.
Your doctor might take pictures of your nose before the procedure.
Comparing photos from before and after the procedure can help you see how your
nose has changed.
In some cases, people have a septoplasty under local anesthesia,
which numbs the area to prevent pain. However, most people have the surgery
under general anesthesia, which means they’re asleep during the procedure. Don’t
eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the procedure if you’re
going to be under general anesthesia. This will help prevent you from vomiting
and choking if you become nauseated from the anesthesia during surgery.
Bring a family member or friend who can drive you home after the
septoplasty. General anesthesia may make you drowsy after the procedure. You shouldn’t
drive until the effects have fully worn off.
A septoplasty takes anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes to complete,
depending on the complexity of the condition. You’ll be under either local or
general anesthesia, depending on what you and your doctor decide is best for
In a typical procedure, the surgeon will make an incision on one
side of your nose to access the septum. They’ll then lift up the mucous
membrane, which is the protective covering of the septum. Then, the deviated
septum will be moved into the right position. Any barriers, such as extra
pieces of bone or cartilage, will be removed. The last step is the
repositioning of the mucous membrane.
You may need stitches to hold the septum and membrane in place. However,
packing the nose with cotton is sometimes enough to keep them in position.
Potential Risks of a Septoplasty
Some people will need a second surgery if they’re unsatisfied
with the results. Other risks associated with a septoplasty are rare, but they
- perforation of your septum, which happens when a
hole forms in your septum
- an altered nose shape
- a discoloration of the nose
- a decreased sense of smell
Excessive bleeding and infection are possible risks of any
surgery. Keeping your nose clean and washing your hands frequently can reduce
Recovering from a Septoplasty
Septoplasty is usually performed as an outpatient procedure
unless major complications arise. This means that you’ll be able to go home on the
same day as the procedure, once the anesthesia has worn off. Your nose will be
swollen, painful, and packed with cotton to control bleeding. The packing can
be removed a day or two after surgery. Your doctor will also prescribe pain
medication as needed.
Your doctor will likely ask you to avoid aspirin, ibuprofen, and
other drugs that thin the blood. This is done to lower the risk of bleeding
problems after the procedure.
You should also limit your physical activity for several weeks
after surgery to minimize swelling and promote healing. This includes most
forms of intense exercise, such as running, lifting weights, and playing contact
sports. These activities can increase your blood pressure and lead to heavy bleeding.
Tips for a quicker recovery include:
- elevating your head at night to keep the swelling
- not blowing your nose for at least three days
- wearing shirts that button up in the front so
you won’t have to pull clothing over your head
The wound on your nose will heal fairly quickly, and your breathing
is likely to improve shortly after the procedure. However, the overall healing
process can be slow. Cartilage and other nasal tissues can take up to a year to
fully settle into their new shape.
people experience no ongoing symptoms after the surgery. In some cases,
however, the cartilage and nasal tissues continue to shift over time and eventually
block airflow through the nose again. This means that a second surgery will be needed
to reshape the nose and septum further.