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Septoplasty

Septoplasty is surgery to correct any problems in the nasal septum, the wall inside the nose that separates the nostrils.

See also: Rhinoplasty

Most patients receive general anesthesia before septoplasty. This will make you asleep and pain-free. Some people have the surgery under local anesthesia, which numbs the area to block pain. You will stay awake if you have local anesthesia. Surgery takes about 1 to 1 ½ hours. Patients usually go home the same day.

Your surgeon will make a cut inside the wall on one side of your nose.

  • The mucus membrane that covers the wall will be lifted up.
  • Then your surgeon will remove or move any cartilage or bone that is causing the blockage in the area.
  • After this, your surgeon will put the mucus membrane back in place. This membrane will be held in place by stitches, splints, or packing material.

Alternative Names

Nasal septum repair

Why the Procedure Is Performed

The main reasons for this surgery are:

  • To repair a crooked, bent, or deformed nasal septum that blocks the airway in your nose. People with this condition usually breathe through their mouth and may be more likely to get nasal or sinus infections.
  • If you are having uncontrollable nosebleeds
  • To repair a hole in the nasal septum. This is called nasal perforation.

People who snort large amounts of cocaine or other drugs over long periods of time may need septoplasty. Snorting drugs can damage the septum.

Risks

Risks for any surgery are:

Risks for this surgery are:

  • Return of the nasal blockage. This would require another surgery.
  • Scarring
  • A perforation, or hole, in the septum wall
  • Changes in skin sensation
  • Unevenness in the appearance of the nose
  • Skin discoloration
  • Fluid buildup in the nose

Before the Procedure

You will meet with your anesthesiologist -- the doctor who will give you your anesthesia medicine and monitor your condition before, during, and right after your surgery. You will discuss your medical history to help determine the right amount and type of anesthesia to use. You may be asked to stop eating and drinking after midnight the night before the procedure.

Be sure you tell your doctor or nurse about any medicines you take, even drugs, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription. Also tell your doctor if you have any allergies or if you have a history of bleeding problems.

You may be asked to stop taking any drugs that make it hard for your blood to clot 2 weeks before your surgery. Some of these are aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), and some herbal supplements.

After the Procedure

You will go home on the same day as surgery. After surgery, both sides of your nose may be tightly packed (stuffed with cotton or spongy materials) so you do not get nosebleeds. Usually this packing is removed 24 to 36 hours after surgery.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Most septoplasty procedures successfully straighten the septum. Breathing often improves.

References

Kridel RWH, Kelly PE, MacGregor AR. The nasal septum. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2010:chap 34.

Updated: 3/5/2011

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


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