What is septoplasty?

Septoplasty is a surgical procedure used to correct a deviated septum, which is the structure that separates the two nostrils in the nose. A deviated septum occurs when the septum is not straight, causing one nasal passage to be smaller than the other, leading to breathing difficulties, sinus infections, nosebleeds, and other related issues.

During septoplasty, a surgeon makes an incision inside the nose and lifts the mucous membrane covering the septum. The surgeon then reshapes and repositions the septum, removing any excess bone or cartilage that is blocking the nasal passage. Subsequently, the mucous membrane is carefully readjusted to its original position over the septum, and the incision is meticulously sealed to ensure proper closure.

Septoplasty is commonly executed with the administration of general anesthesia, ensuring the patient’s optimal comfort throughout the surgical intervention. Moreover, it is typically conducted on an outpatient basis, granting the individual the convenience of returning home on the same day of the procedure. Recovery time varies but typically takes about one to two weeks, during which time the patient may experience mild pain, swelling, and bleeding.


Indications for septoplasty

Septoplasty may be recommended in cases where a deviated septum is causing significant breathing difficulties or other related problems.

Some of the indications for septoplasty include :

  • Chronic nasal congestion : A deviated septum can cause chronic nasal congestion, which can make it difficult to breathe through the nose ;
  • Sleep apnea : A deviated septum can contribute to the development or worsening of sleep apnea, a condition where a person stops breathing momentarily while sleeping ;
  • Recurrent sinus infections : A deviated septum can make it difficult for the sinuses to drain properly, leading to recurrent sinus infections ;
  • Nasal polyps : A deviated septum can contribute to the development of nasal polyps, which are small growths in the lining of the nose that can cause nasal obstruction and other related problems ;
  • Nosebleeds : A deviated septum can cause chronic nosebleeds, which can be disruptive and uncomfortable ;
  • Facial pain : A deviated septum can cause facial pain, especially in the area around the nose ;
  • Difficulty with exercise : A deviated septum can cause difficulty breathing during exercise, making it challenging to engage in physical activity ;

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or have been diagnosed with a deviated septum, you should talk to your doctor to determine if septoplasty is right for you.

Course of the septoplasty procedure

The course of the septoplasty procedure typically involves the following steps :

  • Preoperative evaluation : Before the surgery, your doctor will evaluate your medical history and perform a physical examination to assess the severity of your deviated septum and other related issues. They may also order imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI to get a detailed view of the nasal structures ;
  • Anesthesia : Septoplasty is typically performed under general anesthesia, which means you will be asleep during the procedure. In some cases, local anesthesia with sedation may be used instead ;
  • Incision : The surgeon will make an incision inside your nose to access the septum ;
  • Reshaping of the septum : The surgeon will then reshape the septum, which may involve removing excess bone or cartilage or repositioning the septum to correct the deviation ;
  • Closing the incision : After the reshaping is complete, the surgeon will reposition the mucous membrane over the septum and close the incision with sutures ;
  • Recovery : After the procedure, you will be monitored in a recovery room until the anesthesia wears off. You will likely be able to go home the same day, but you will need someone to drive you home. Your doctor will provide instructions on how to care for your nose after the procedure, including medications for pain and swelling and restrictions on physical activity ;

The entire procedure typically takes about 30-90 minutes, depending on the extent of the deviation and any additional issues that need to be addressed.

Post-operative septoplasty and recovery

After septoplasty, you will need to follow certain post-operative instructions to ensure proper healing and recovery.

Here are some common steps and tips that your doctor may recommend :

  • Nasal packing removal : If nasal packing was placed during the procedure, your doctor will remove it a few days after surgery. While it might cause some discomfort, it is important to note that it should not induce any significant pain ;
  • Pain management : Following the surgical procedure, it is possible to encounter sensations of unease and varying degrees of pain. In order to manage this, your medical practitioner might provide a prescription for pain-relieving medication or suggest utilizing non-prescription analgesics ;
  • Nasal care : You will need to keep the inside of your nose clean and moist by using saline sprays or rinses as directed by your doctor ;
  • Rest and recovery : You should avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting for several days after surgery. Most people can return to work or school within a week, but recovery times can vary depending on the extent of the surgery and your overall health ;
  • Follow-up appointments : You will need to attend follow-up appointments with your doctor to monitor your progress and ensure proper healing ;
  • Avoid smoking : Smoking can slow down the healing process and increase the risk of complications. Engaging in smoking habits can have detrimental effects on the body’s natural healing mechanisms, impeding the recovery process and heightening the likelihood of encountering complications. You should avoid smoking and secondhand smoke for several weeks after surgery ;
  • Be patient : It can take several weeks or even months for the full benefits of septoplasty to be realized. Be patient and follow your doctor’s instructions to ensure the best possible outcome ;

It is important to note that complications can occur after septoplasty, such as bleeding, infection, and breathing problems. If you experience severe pain, bleeding, or other symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.

Possible complications and sequelae following septoplasty

While septoplasty is generally a safe and effective procedure, as with any surgery, there are potential complications and sequelae that can occur.

Some of the possible complications and sequelae that can occur following septoplasty include :

  • Bleeding : Bleeding from the nose is common after septoplasty, but severe bleeding may require additional treatment ;
  • Infection : Infection of the surgical site is a possible complication of septoplasty, which may require antibiotics to treat ;
  • Scarring : Scarring can occur inside the nose following septoplasty, which can lead to breathing difficulties or blockages ;
  • Persistent nasal obstruction : In some cases, septoplasty may not completely correct the deviated septum or may lead to a new deviation, resulting in continued nasal obstruction ;
  • Perforation of the septum : Rarely, septoplasty can result in a hole or perforation in the septum ;
  • Changes in sense of smell : Some people may experience changes in their sense of smell after septoplasty ;
  • Nasal crusting and dryness : After surgery, the nasal tissues may become dry and form crusts, which can be uncomfortable ;

It is important to discuss the potential risks and complications with your doctor before undergoing septoplasty. Your doctor can help you determine if the benefits of the procedure outweigh the risks in your specific case. If you experience any complications or sequelae following the procedure, contact your doctor immediately.

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