The Septum is the bone and cartilage that divides the nose into two different nostrils. The two nostrils are normally of equal size. However, when the septum moves towards one side of the nose making one smaller or larger than the other, the condition is referred to as deviated septum. There are cases where a person is born with such a condition but a good number of them are caused by injuries. You may experience breathing difficulties as a result of a deviated septum. You may also experience a number of other symptoms such as pain and frequent nose bleeding. The only treatment that has proved to be effective in fixing deviated septum is a surgical procedure known as ‘Septoplasty.’ This procedure is used to straighten the septum allowing you to breathe without any difficulties.
The most common nose procedure is ‘Rhinoplasty’ which involves the reshaping of the nose. There are a number of other surgical procedures that are performed on the nose, septoplasty being one of them. Septoplasty does not involve reshaping of the nose but rather focuses on straightening the septum. Both procedures can be performed consecutively if need be and this combination is referred to as ‘Septorhinoplasty.’ Below are a number of facts about septoplasty that you should probably know before you get started.
Facts You Need to Know About Septoplasty
- It is a surgical procedure that is meant to correct a deviated nasal septum. This condition is caused by abnormal repositioning of the septum that separates the two nostrils. This may be as a result of injuries or other natural causes. It can lead to breathing difficulties, pain, and frequent nose bleeding.
- The main purpose of this procedure is to put the septum back to its natural position so as to allow free airflow through the nose.
- Septoplasty is normally an outpatient procedure and can be performed under either general or local anesthesia.
Even though septoplasty is often used to correct a deviated septum, you will not automatically qualify for the procedure just because you have the condition. You will only be considered a candidate if the deviated septum has resulted in breathing difficulties and other related symptoms, and the other alternative treatments have failed to work. Basically, the surgery becomes an option only if it is negatively affecting your quality of life.
What to Expect During the Procedure
You should expect to be put under local anesthesia or twilight sedation during the procedure. You can also however be put under general anesthesia in some cases which means you will probably be unconscious during the procedure.
Septoplasty involves two techniques known as open and closed.
- Open septoplasty – when performing an open septoplasty, the surgeon makes the incision on the outside part of the nose along the bottom edge.
- Closed septoplasty – a closed technique involves putting the incision on the inside of the nose.
Both open and closed techniques have their pros and cons. The surgeon will have a better view of the nose during an open technique, making it the more preferable of the two especially where cosmetic work of the nose is involved.
As mentioned earlier, septoplasty is the repositioning of the septum to allow free airflow through the nose while rhinoplasty is a surgical procedure performed to reshape the nose. In some cases, both of these procedures may need to be performed at the same time. The procedure that involves the two combined is referred to as septorhinoplasty. The nose can sometimes be disfigured as a result of septoplasty. If this disfigurement occurs, then rhinoplasty may be required immediately after to put the nose back to its normal shape.
During septorhinoplasty, the nose can also be enlarged or reduced to better match the physical structure of the patient’s face. The surgeon can also use the procedure to get rid of bumps or humps from the inside of the nose. It is normal for this procedure to take longer than septoplasty or rhinoplasty since it involves a lot more work. In some cases, the surgeon may be forced to use the tissues from the septum for cosmetic purposes.
How to Prepare for a Septoplasty
How you prepare for the surgery will greatly affect the success of the procedure. You may be advised by your doctor to discontinue certain medications two weeks prior to the procedure. Some of these medications may include blood thinners such as ibuprofen and aspirin. The main reason why you will be advised to discontinue these medications is to avoid any excessive bleeding during and after the surgery. It is also advisable to keep your doctor informed of any history of bleeding conditions or allergies since some of them may require a different approach.
Pictures of your nose may be taken before the procedure for comparison purposes after. This will enable your surgeon to check if the changes were applied correctly. During the procedure, you can either be put under local anesthesia which numbs the incision area to make it a painless procedure, or be given a general anesthesia that keeps you unconscious during the surgery. If general anesthesia is used, you will be advised not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the night prior to the procedure. This is to avoid cases where the subject vomits and chokes if nauseated as a result of the anesthesia during the procedure. It is not recommended to drive yourself home after the procedure due to the effects of general anesthesia. For this reason, you should be accompanied by a family member, friend, or any other designated driver that can get you home when you are done with the procedure.
What Septoplasty Procedure Involves
The whole procedure normally lasts for about 30 to 90 minutes depending on any complications or complexities involved. You and your surgeon will decide on whether to use local or general anesthesia depending on which one is more convenient.
Normally, the surgeon will be required to make an incision on any side of the nose to get a clear view of the septum. He or she will then lift up the membrane that protects the septum before putting the deviated septum back to the required position. The surgeon will then get rid of any unwanted pieces of cartilage or bone before the membrane is put back into place. Packing some cotton in the nose is often enough to hold the membrane and septum back in place. However, a few stitches may be necessary in some cases.
Risks Involved with Septoplasty
A second surgery may be required if the patient or the doctor is not satisfied with the outcome of the first surgery. It is rare to encounter risks that are associated with septoplasty but they do occur nevertheless. Some of these risks are:
- A disfigured nose
- Perforation of the septum due to formation of a hole in it
- Sense of smell may be affected
- Discoloration of the nose
Just like any other surgery, infections and excessive bleeding may be possible complications. These risks may be reduced by maintaining a clean nose and regular washing of your hands. Make sure to consult with your doctor immediately if you witness any of these complications so as to avoid further damage. Cleanliness is the best way to ensure that you heal faster without any infection.
- Even though septoplasty is often used to correct a deviated septum, you don’t automatically qualify for the procedure just because you have the condition.
- During septorhinoplasty, the nose can also be enlarged or reduced to better match the physical structure of the patient’s face.
- It is not recommended to drive yourself home after the procedure due to the effects of the general anesthesia.