The bone and cartilage wall that separates your nose into two nostrils is called a septum. It is a part of the respiratory system. When the septum is shifted to one side of your nose, it is called a deviated septum.
In other words, a deviated septum is a condition that some people are born with, but it can also be caused by a nose injury. A deviated septum causes one nasal channel to be significantly smaller than the other. This can make breathing difficult. Frequent nosebleeds and face pain are further signs of a deviated septum. There is no other way to correct a deviated septum except for surgery.
Septoplasty is a technique that corrects a deviated septum by surgery. The septum is straightened during septoplasty, providing for greater airflow through the nose.
A. What Happens During the Surgery?
- During a Septoplasty procedure, the surgeon typically creates an incision on one side of your nose to reach the septum. The mucous membrane present in the nose is a protective covering that has to be lifted.
- The deviated septum is then pushed back into place. Any stumbling blocks, such as excess bone or cartilage, are removed by the surgeon.
- The end of surgery is marked by the mucosal membrane being repositioned to the correct place which is also called the final stage.
- Depending on the severity of the procedure and deviation, a septoplasty might take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes to complete.
- Depending on the patient’s preference and doctor’s recommendation, local or general anesthesia is given during the surgery.
- In most cases, stitches may be required to keep the septum and membrane in right place. Cotton and bandages are used for packing the nose at the end of the procedure.
B. Possible Risks
One of the most common risks of septoplasty is that if the outcomes aren’t satisfactory, some patients will require a second surgery.
Other dangers of a septoplasty are uncommon, however, they can include:
- Perforation of your septum: This occurs when a hole appears in your septum, causing bleeding and scars.
- Prominent change in the physiology and functions of the nose: A change in the shape of your nose, a change in the color of your nose, or a reduction in your sense of smell can occur after surgery.
- Other dangers: Any surgical procedure comes with the danger of excessive bleeding and infection. These hazards can be reduced by keeping your nose clean and washing your hands frequently.
C. Effects and Benefits
- After three to six months of the surgery, the nasal tissues will be largely stable. It’s still possible that cartilage and tissue will change shape or shift over time. Some improvements after the surgery may take up to a year or longer.
- The degree of improvement that septoplasty can provide varies from person to person. Most people find that septoplasty alleviates problems caused by a deviated septum, such as breathing difficulties.
- Some people find that their issues persist after surgery and decide to get a second septoplasty to refine their nose and septum even more.
The following are some of the advantages of septoplasty:
- Improved breathing – After this surgery, the nasal passageways are cleared and more open due to which the overall breathing function is substantially improved.
- Improved sleep quality – After operating and correcting a crooked septum there’s improved airflow. There is also a reduction or elimination of snoring and sleep apnea leading to improved overall sleep quality.
- Fewer sinus infections – By expanding the airways, mucus from previously restricted or partially clogged sinuses can drain regularly.
- Improved senses – This surgery may help individuals who previously had a diminished sense of smell or taste due to the consequences of a deviated septum.
D. Recovery after the Surgery
- Unless there are serious difficulties, septoplasty is normally done as an outpatient treatment. This implies that once the anesthetic wears off, the patient can go home the same day as the surgery.
- The nose remains bloated, uncomfortable, and has to be kept stuffed with cotton for a few days to keep the blood at bay.
- After a day or two, the bandaging can be removed. A regular visit must be scheduled with the doctor to prescribe any pain medications, if necessary.
- Various blood-thinning medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, and others are to be avoided after the surgery until advised by the doctor. This is done to reduce the chance of bleeding complications following the procedure.
- Most forms of vigorous exercises, such as running, lifting weights, and participating in contact sports, etc, are restricted for several weeks after surgery to reduce swelling and aid recovery. The core reason behind the same is that these activities can raise your blood pressure and cause you to bleed profusely.
A few other suggestions and recommendations for faster recovery are:
- Not blowing your nose for at least three days following surgery.
- Wearing shirts with buttons in the front so you don’t have to pull garments over your head which will cause strain to the nose.
- Elevating your head at sleep to keep the swelling down.