What is Septoplasty: Overview, Benefits, and Expected Results
Definition and Overview of Septoplasty
Septoplasty is a common procedure used to correct a deviated septum, a condition in which the arrangement of the nasal septum (the tissue and cartilage separator between the two nostrils) becomes displaced causing difficulty breathing. To treat the deformity, a surgeon will use septoplasty to remove, adjust, or reshape the septum.
Septoplasty is also sometimes referred to as submucous resection of the septum, submucous resection and septal reconstruction, septal repositioning and domal suture, septal perforation repair, open septoplasty, and septal vault reduction.
While many people associate septoplasty with the cosmetic improvement of a deviated septum (also referred to as septal deviation or crooked nose), this is only one of the benefits of a correctly performed septoplasty.
Benefits of a Septoplasty
A septoplasty can improve many of the issues associated with a deviated septum such as breathing difficulties, sinus infections, and an overproduction of mucus leading to a runny nose. Here are a few of the other benefits of a septoplasty:
- Enhanced sleep quality: A deviated septum can cause airways to become blocked at night, leading to a difficult time breathing. Septoplasty helps to open up these airways, enhancing sleep quality.
- Reduced snoring: Difficulty breathing can also contribute to snoring due to air desperately fighting its way through a blocked airway. Septoplasty improves this situation significantly, reducing the amount of snoring.
- Reduced postoperative complications: Many people think that septoplasty and rhinoplasty (which is commonly used for cosmetic reasons) are the same procedure. However, septoplasty is a reconstructive surgery while rhinoplasty is more focused on the shape, size, and appearance of the nose. Therefore, performing septoplasty can reduce the risk of postoperative problems arising from the cosmetic procedure.
Preparing for a Septoplasty
Prior to undergoing a septoplasty, it is important to follow the direction of your doctor. This includes:
- Undergoing a physical examination: To determine the extent of the deviation of the septum, the doctor may need to perform a physical examination of the nasal cavity and sinuses.
- Quitting smoking: Smoking before, during, and after the surgery has been known to cause postoperative complications and can slow down the healing process.
- Avoiding aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs: These drugs can increase bleeding.
- Discussing any chronic medical conditions: It is important to make sure these conditions, such as diabetes or excessive bleeding, are taken into consideration before beginning the procedure.
- Having realistic expectations: It is important to talk to your doctor about your expectations before the surgery.
During the procedure, the affected area of the nasal septum will be exposed and corrected using a combination of incisions and sutures. There are two types of incisions that are commonly used:
- The open rhinoplasty technique, which involves an incision made inside the nostrils that will require stitches after the surgery is over.
- The endonasal technique, which is done entirely inside the nose without any visible scars.
The surgeon will then remove, adjust, or reshape the septum in order to improve the shape of the nasal passage. Once the operation is complete, it may be necessary to splint the nose with small stitches in order to maintain the proper shape.
Recovering from a Septoplasty
Recovery time from a septoplasty procedure can vary from person to person, but it usually takes around 2-3 weeks. During this time, patients may experience some swelling, bruising, soreness, and discomfort. To reduce the swelling and pain, the doctor may suggest applying cold compresses and taking an over-the-counter painkiller.
Patients should also avoid blowing their nose during recovery, as this can cause further damage to the inside of the nose. It is also important to keep the head elevated while sleeping so that the swelling of the nose can be reduced.
Expected Results of Septoplasty
In most cases, septoplasty surgery is successful and results in improved breathing and improved appearance of the nose. The nasal airway should be more open and free from obstruction, and the external appearance of the nose should be more symmetrical. Any improvements in breathing or reduction in congestion should begin shortly after the surgery and continue to improve as swelling decreases and the nose heals.
In some cases, the desired result of surgery is not achieved, and additional surgery may be required. Additionally, it is possible that some breathing problems can persist as the results may not be immediate. Some patients may require the use of a humidifier or nasal spray in order to reduce any remaining signs of congestion.
Septoplasty is a common nasal surgery that can help to correct a deviated septum, allowing for improved breathing and a more symmetrical appearance of the nose. The surgery usually takes around two to three hours to complete and recovery time is usually between 2-3 weeks. Most patients are able to return to their normal activities after a few days of rest, and any swelling or soreness should subside during this period.
While complications from the surgery are rare, they can include scarring, infection, and pain. Additionally, it is possible that the desired result of the surgery is not achieved, and additional surgery may be required. As with any surgery, it is important to discuss the potential risks and benefits with your doctor and have realistic expectations for the procedure.
Definition and Overview
Also known as septum surgery, septoplasty is the reshaping or repositioning of a deviated septum by adjusting the cartilages and bones in the nose.
The septum is the part of the nose that separates the two nostrils and is composed of bones and cartilages. For a number of reasons, the septum can become crooked or deviated, which means that one nostril is bigger than the other. Although this condition isn’t always serious, which means surgery may not likely be needed, more often, it can interfere with the flow of air in the nasal passage. It can also lead to other problems like pain and nasal bleeding.
Septoplasty, which is the only procedure that treats a deviated septum, should not be confused with rhinoplasty, which is also called a nose job. Although both procedures affect the nose, septoplasty doesn’t change the shape of the nose. Rhinoplasty is also cosmetic in nature while septoplasty is a reconstructive procedure, which means it may be covered by insurance.
Who Should Undergo and Expected Results
There are two general reasons why deviated septum develops: congenital and trauma. The congenital defect may be brought about by the way the foetus has developed or it could be that the baby is injured as it passes through the birth canal.
Traumatic injuries can also contribute to the development of a deviated septum, and the displacement of the septum may be sudden or gradual. It can be sudden if the impact is severe such as when a person falls flat on a concrete floor or gets involve in a vehicular accident. It can be gradual if the person is active in sports and the nose is repeatedly hit by a ball, for example.
Many cases of deviated septum are mild, and they don’t interfere with breathing. A doctor or an ENT specialist can confirm the condition through a simple test that uses a scope to assess the deeper tissues of the nose. A problematic septum is highly likely if the person experiences regular nasal bleeding with no other underlying condition or if he experiences pain in at least one side of the nose. Some factors such as age and nasal problems like rhinitis can exacerbate the condition.
By undergoing septum surgery, it’s expected that the patient will have a better air flow and breathe more efficiently. This can then significantly improve his mobility, endurance, and quality of life.
How Does the Procedure Work?
Before the septum surgery, which is performed by an ENT surgeon, the patient undergoes certain tests like X-rays, blood test, and physical examination to ensure that he is fit for the procedure. If he’s taking some medications especially blood thinners and aspirins, he may be requested to stop taking them for at least two weeks before the procedure to prevent excessive bleeding. The surgeon also plans for the procedure and will usually take nasal photos for comparison later.
The surgery can be performed either under local or general anaesthesia. Often, the latter is administered for maximum patient comfort. On an operating table, the patient lies face up with the nose exposed and the rest of the face covered. A small incision is then made on any side of the nose. Using a micro tool, the mucus membrane that covers the septum is lifted.
The surgeon then works on correcting the septum by reshaping or moving the bones and cartilage, as well as removing any excess bones or cartilage. The membrane is returned and repositioned, and the incision is closed. A splint is usually added to offer stability to the nose while it’s still healing. A packing material can also be placed on the nose to reduce bleeding. This can be removed within one or two days.
Septum surgery is often an outpatient procedure and takes between one to two hours to complete.
Possible Risks and Complications
Pain and discomfort as well as swelling are very common following a septoplasty, but these resolve on their own within 24 to 48 hours. Other possible risks and complications are bleeding and scarring. In very rare cases, the shape of the nose may appear changed. If certain nerves are damaged, the patient may experience an altered smelling capability.
- Kridel RWH, Strum-O’Brien A. The nasal septum. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund LJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA:Elsevier Mosby; 2015:chap 32.