A deviated septum is when the bone dividing the cartilage of the center of the nose is twisted and blocks the normal airflow in the nose. Many people don't have completely straight septums but not all conditions require serious medical attention. Combined with other symptoms such as allergies, congestion, or turbinate hypertrophy, breathing can be difficult and cause sleep apnea as well as other conditions.
A deviated septum can be caused by a childbirth injury as the baby passes through the birth canal. Another theory as to the cause of a deviated septum is that any trauma that could have occurred to the nose during childhood or adolescence can cause the septum to twist. As the person gets older the nose continues to grow in that twisted manner.
If after trying other medical means necessary to deal with symptoms and nothing seems to improve breathing, a surgical procedure called a "septoplasty" may be required. The outpatient procedure is done most commonly with general anesthesia and usually takes from 30 minutes to an hour and a half total.
During the procedure, the septum is straightened and repositioned in the middle of the nose. The surgeon does this by making an incision to separate the mucosa (the soft layer of tissue lining the nasal passages) from the cartilage and bone. The surgeon then trims or straightens the bent cartilage and replaces the mucosa over the cartilage and bone.
After the surgery, you may have a nasal splint or pack placed in your nostrils to keep the septum in place during the healing process. Breathing can begin to improve in as little as a week after the procedure and will continue to improve over the next 12 months.
As with most surgery, there will be a recovery period where you may experience pain, swelling, and other symptoms related to the procedure. The average recovery time for a septoplasty is 7-10 days.
By that point, the nose should be basically healed but care should be taken not to do any strenuous activity such as exercise, flying\traveling, blowing your nose, heavy lifting, or anything else that might cause injury to the nose, until at least 3 weeks after the surgery. If you smoke you should stop before the procedure. Smoking can cause increased risks during the procedure and slow down the healing process.
There are some risks involved in the procedure such as excessive bleeding, clotted blood that needs to be drained, and numbness in the nose or lip area. It is uncommon but, in some cases, the symptoms of nasal obstruction continue or return even after the procedure and additional surgery may be required.
In most cases, it will not change the nose (other than the position of the septum) or the shape of the nose. To decrease the chances of bleeding and swelling after the procedure, get plenty of rest and make sure to keep your head elevated when you're sleeping. Wear clothing that is loose in the front to avoid causing harm when putting on and taking off your clothes.
There are a few ways to speed up the healing process and ensure a smooth and successful recovery. When you get home, try to rest as much as possible with your head elevated. Try having someone around for the first few days to help you move around. You will have lost blood and therefore may feel weak and unsteady on your feet.
If you experience constipation, take care not to strain when using the bathroom and ask your doctor to prescribe you a laxative or stool softener. Avoid alcohol and smoking, even second-hand smoke, as it can cause irritation and even an infection. Be sure to only resume wearing contacts once any swelling has gone away.
Rinsing your nose with a saline spray (once any packing has been removed) can help prevent any crusting that may form in the nose as the skin heals. It helps prevent healing and protect against any infection that might try to set in. Your doctor will probably also instruct you to apply vaseline on a q-tip to soften and crusting and promote healing.
Peroxide is also another form of lubrication you can use. Take care not to try and remove the dissolvable stitches, they will come out on their own over the next few weeks.
Septoplasty procedures have over a 90% success rate, the key is getting the proper diagnosis and using an experienced and qualified surgeon. If the nasal obstruction is due to other things like allergies then the procedure won't help relieve the symptoms. The best way to guarantee a successful outcome of the procedure is to work with a surgeon who has plenty of experience performing these operations successfully.
The cost of the surgery is another thing to consider when weighing your options. The cost for a septoplasty procedure can be anywhere from $5,000- $12,000 depending on where you are having the procedure done and if there are any complications that would require additional medical attention.
There are websites such as costaide.com that can help you figure out what the upfront cost of the procedure is at different surgery centers across the US. Most insurances do cover the procedure if it is absolutely medically necessary but the cost is definitely a big factor in choosing whether or not to do the surgery.
Overall, the luxury of being able to breathe without any difficulty is something that most of us take for granted. Someone who was born with a deviated septum or has had a nose injury and as a result, their nasal airway was obstructed can suffer on a daily basis.
This procedure has helped thousands of people be able to do things that were very difficult for them in the past like participate in sports, get a good night’s sleep, and just breathe normally without any discomfort. The question of is it worth it depends on whether having a deviated septum affects your quality of life. If the answer is yes, you would definitely benefit greatly from having the operation done.
WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER NASAL SURGERY | Post-Sinus (Septoplasty) Operation Recovery