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Septoplasty, or deviated septum surgery, is a surgery that straightens a deviated septum and clears the airway for better breathing. The procedure can also help with a number of other health problems. In some cases septoplasty is combined with cosmetic rhinoplasty to improve both nasal function and appearance.
Deviated Septum Causes

A deviated septum may be congenital (present at birth), stem from trauma or be the result of a previous rhinoplasty procedure. The most common cause is trauma from car accidents, sports injuries (particularly those involving contact sports) and other accidents that cause the septum to shift to the left or right. Even tripping and banging the nose into a hard surface can lead to a deviated septum.
No matter what the cause, a deviated septum can contribute to a myriad of health issues, including nasal obstruction, allergy problems, epistaxis and obstructive sleep apnea. Therefore, it is usually very important to correct a deviated septum.

What Septoplasty Corrects

Septoplasty is always intended to restore proper function to the nose. The procedure can improve a patient’s life by improving breathing and eliminating associated problems such as obstructive sleep apnea, which is potentially dangerous and leads to sleep problems that can, in turn, make it difficult to stay awake during the day and lead a productive life.

 

Septoplasty can be performed to correct several issues, including the following:

Nasal obstruction. Septoplasty can effectively clear an obstructed nasal airway caused by a deviated septum. The procedure may be combined with rhinoplasty or sinus surgery in some cases. If the nasal obstruction is caused by something other than a deviated septum, a different procedure — such as turbinate reduction, endoscopic sinus surgery or surgery to correct internal valve narrowing — may be performed instead.

Crooked nasal bridge. If the septum is fractured it may be twisted both inside and outside, resulting in the appearance of a crooked nasal bridge. Septoplasty can correct this to restore symmetry and nasal airway function. In some cases the procedure may entail straightening both the cartilage bridge and the bony bridge. If the bones are pushed to one side, controlled breaks called osteotomies may be necessary. Special suturing techniques and grafting may be required as well. Typically, the procedure can be performed with small internal incisions to access the damaged, obstructive or deviated tissue, bone and cartilage. Your surgeon may use 3D technology to view the tissues, which allows him or her to minimize trauma, and therefore recovery time. It is usually possible to use tiny instruments to further minimize trauma. With all of this having been said, straightening a crooked nose is quite challenging and requires the expertise of an experienced, board-certified facial plastic surgeon. Also note that if your nose was recently fractured, you may have to wait a few months before undergoing surgery to correct your crooked nose.

Difficulty breathing. If left untreated, a deviated septum can cause obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially dangerous condition that must be addressed. Sleep apnea is characterized by shallow breathing. People with this condition often wake up frequently during sleep without remembering it. Sleep apnea prevents the body from entering deep sleep, which can lead to serious sleep deprivation as well as fatigue during the daytime hours. Snoring is a good indicator of sleep apnea. Luckily, septoplasty can reverse all of these issues, restoring the airway and improving breathing.

The Septoplasty Procedure

The septoplasty procedure often involves several steps, including straightening the septum, repositioning cartilage and reducing the turbinates. The procedure usually takes about an hour to two hours and is typically performed under general anesthesia. The surgeon may use a small scope to view the internal structures, which minimizes trauma and leads to better outcomes and a shorter recovery.

During septoplasty, the surgeon lifts and separates the mucus membrane above the septum. He or she then straightens the septum, removing and/or repositioning any cartilage and bone that may be blocking airflow, and then re-places the membrane in its original position. If the inflamed turbinates are contributing to the problem, the surgeon may opt to surgically reduce them. Stitches (likely dissolvable) and special tissue glues will be used to seal the wounds, and internal splints may be placed.

Following your septoplasty procedure, you will remain at the clinic for a few hours before being released to a friend or family member to drive you home. Your surgeon will provide you with detailed instructions for your recovery.

If your septoplasty procedure is performed alone (without other procedures), any swelling and bruising is likely to be minimal. You should expect to experience some congestion and minor difficulty breathing for a few weeks. You will need to avoid strenuous activities during this time. However, you should be able to return to your everyday routine within a few days. Full recovery takes a few months or longer.