Breathing is one of the vital functions performed by our body every single day. Before you read this phrase you were already breathing, even if you didn't realize. One of its main tasks is replenishing the oxygen levels in our body, increasing energy, improving blood flow, reducing inflammation and acting as a natural painkiller, among other benefits. When you can't breathe well, you can't access all of these benefits easily.
Having a deviated septum or swollen turbinates (the air channels inside your head that lead the air from your nose to your throat) may increase the difficulty of breathing and bring a series of complications when you are suffering from allergies, colds or the flu. Your turbinates are especially sensitive, as they can be affected by multiple circumstances such as weather changes, stress, and hormonal changes, for instance.
Continue reading to find out what is a deviated septum surgery and turbinate reduction surgery, their differences, advantages and how they can improve your wellbeing.
What is deviated septum and turbinate reduction surgery?
Deviated septum and turbinate reduction surgery are two different procedures that can be performed in the same session, with the objective of improving the airflow inside your nose.
A deviated septum surgery is the process of reshaping the nasal septum (the tissue that separates both your nostrils). There are two available methods for this: one involves cutting the bone and cartilage to increase the space inside your nose (depending on the extent of the procedure, general anesthesia might be necessary); the other resorts to laser technology to heat the parts that need to be shaped (only local anesthesia is needed). Both will have the result of straightening your septum. You will leave the hospital on the very same day you came in.
Turbinate reduction surgery can be performed in tandem with the procedures described above or separately. There are two different methods: in the first one, a doctor will use a needle-like device to heat the parts that need to be reduced, effectively burning some of them, and radiotherapy which also contributes to the reduction of tissue (only requiring the administration of local anesthesia, and takes about 10 minutes); the second one is a surgical intervention where bone and tissue are cut, as the doctor increases the space in your airways. It can take up to one hour and a half. This last process is more invasive, usually requires general anesthesia, and is reserved for correcting more difficult circumstances.
How is deviated septum and turbinate reduction surgery different from other procedures to fix a deviated septum?
In cases where the deviation of the septum isn't very serious but the patient still feels a lot of problematic symptoms, then turbinate size could be a problem. This surgery aims to improve the airflow inside your head, in the path between your nose and your throat, without altering the morphology of your nose.
This is the main difference between the two: in a deviated septum surgery the intervention is done to the septum (the nose) and in a turbinate reduction surgery it's the turbinates that get worked on.
How long is the recovery from deviated septum and turbinate reduction surgery?
If the intervention was done resorting only to a combination of radiotherapy and cauterization (the "needle-like" device), the recovery process is short and relatively painless. However, if the surgical version is performed your nostrils will be filled with soft packing, and recovery could take from three to six months.
What are the best tips to prepare for and/or recover from deviated septum and turbinate reduction surgery?
Before the actual surgery date, your doctor will require some exams, such as X-Ray and blood tests, to determine your general health and what is the shape and position of your turbinates.
If the intervention is minor, the combination of cauterization/radiotherapy will be used, along with local anesthesia. Special preparations are not necessary, you just need to show up at the hospital. Local anesthesia will be administered and the whole process should last up to 10 minutes. Since the process is not very invasive, no soft packing will be needed.
If major changes are necessary, then surgical intervention will need to be done, which might require general anesthesia. This kind of sedative requires you not to eat anything the night before. It will take up to one hour and a half to complete the surgery, and your nose will be filled with soft packing for a week to allow for your wounds to heal.
The recovery process and surgery times could be different if the turbinate surgery is being combined with a deviated septum surgery.
While you're recovering, you should:
What else should a patient know about deviated septum and turbinate reduction surgery?
The side effects of a cauterization/radiotherapy intervention are almost nonexistent. In the case of surgery, however, there are some things you should know: since the process involves cutting tissue and bone, you could experience varying levels of pain, bleeding, swelling, irritation, dryness of the nasal cavities and even infection. Using saline irrigation and an antibiotic ointment will help you tackle these difficulties.
There's a chance that some of the tissues modified may grow back, which calls for an additional intervention in the future.
Regarding the costs of the whole procedure, the less invasive version costs $2000. The more invasive version can cost from $400 to $5000, depending on the complexity and special needs; if you combine the turbinate reduction surgery with the deviated septum one, you can expect to pay double. The values mentioned above are without medical insurance.
Whether you need a combination of both a deviated septum surgery and turbinate reduction or just the latter, we hope that this information has shed some light on the issue, and has given you a base for making a decision regarding your own condition (if you do suffer from it). The advances in medical science have provided many different ways to deal with these problems, and the interventions are becoming easier and less painful, as more discoveries are made and current processes are upgraded. Improving your wellbeing has never been this simple.