It is estimated that 80% of the population of the United States has a deviated septum, a condition that can impact the quality of life depending on the severity of the deviation. This physical deformation, which usually happens during childbirth or due to injury to the nose, reduces the available space for air to comfortably flow into your body, which leads to several complications such as headaches, nosebleeds, stuffed and/or runny nose.
Fortunately, there are many ways to deal with this problem. There is medication, such as decongestants, nasal steroid sprays, and antihistaminics; if you suffer from sleep apnea (have trouble breathing while sleeping), there are many tools to help you lie down on your bed in the most beneficial position; and, if none of the above represent a positive change on your wellbeing, you can have surgery to correct the deformation.
The traditional deviated septum surgery usually involves lifting your mucous membrane and then performing the necessary cuts to straighten the septum. If your turbinates (the air channels that lead the air from your nose to your throat) are swollen, the doctor can also remove parts of them or shrink them resorting to radiotherapy. After the procedure is done, you will be recovering for at least 3 to 4 weeks.
However, there is another way to correct a deviated septum through surgery. Instead of cutting the bone and cartilage and all the bruising associated with this, laser surgery offers a different, effective and easier way to solve this problem.
What is Deviated Septum Laser Surgery?
Unlike the procedure we described above, this particular type of surgery uses laser technology to do the corrections to your septum. The heat generated by the laser will soften the tissues, allowing the doctor to shape your septum to achieve a form that will improve your breathing.
Thanks to the precision of lasers, only the parts that need to be modified will be affected, and there is no cutting or bruising involved as the laser cauterizes any wounds that would appear.
How is Deviated Septum Laser Surgery Different from Other Procedures to Fix a Deviated Septum?
Using a laser in this surgery brings many benefits when compared to the traditional way:
- 1The laser is very precise, which means that the doctor can point it directly at the areas that need to be shaped, without touching areas where intervention isn't needed;
- 2While general anesthesia might be sometimes considered for the traditional surgery, in the laser version only local anesthesia is required;
- 3The heat cauterizes the wounds as it cuts, which reduces the bleeding;
- 4After the surgery is complete, your nose won't be filled with internal splints or soft packing material, sparing you from that discomfort;
- 5that the healing time is two times quicker;
- 6The procedure lasts up to 20 minutes (down from up to one hour and a half);
How Long is the Recovery from Deviated Septum Laser Surgery?
Since there is no cutting, stitching, use of splints and packing material, the recovery process is much shorter. You could be ready to resume your normal life within one week, a much better prospect when compared with the three weeks needed to recover from a traditional deviated septum surgery.
What are the Best Tips to Prepare for and Recover from Deviated Septum Laser Surgery?
In preparation for the surgery, your doctor will require exams to be carried out (such as an X-Ray and a blood test, for instance) and will observe the inside of your nose to determine how serious is the deviation, and what is the shape and size of your turbinates. These exams will help in understanding how the blockage is happening and what places can be modified to increase the airflow.
On the day of the procedure, local anesthesia will be administered and surgery will begin. Since the process is not as complex as other kinds of more invasive surgery, you can expect to leave the hospital on the same day without stitches, splints or packing material inside your nose. Patients that have undergone this process say that the pain is minimal.
Although the recovery process is faster and easier, you should still take some precautions with your nose:
What Else Should a Patient Know About Deviated Septum Laser Surgery?
Some tissues in our body can "remember" their shape, something that is called the "shape-memory effect". Because of this, 7 to 10 days after the surgery, your septum might fluctuate back towards its original shape. This is only temporary, as 3 to 4 weeks later the septum tends to assume the shape that resulted from the procedure, and it will remain in that state for years to come. This is why it is important to mess as little as possible with your nose in the first few weeks, as it is adapting and finding its new place.
76% of the patients in this study saw great improvement to their airways, with reduced symptoms regarding nasal blockage, leading to a higher quality of life. In a separate study, patients also reported less overall nasal blockage and an improvement in snoring symptoms 4 to 6 months later.
In some more extreme cases of deformity, or of patients with more conditions such as rhinitis or chronic allergic conditions affecting the nasal area, the septum assumed a shape close to the original in the weeks after surgery and remained there without further changes. This situation happened to 24% of the patients in this study.
If you’ve been suffering from the symptoms associated with having a deviated nasal septum, and medicine and positional devices for sleeping haven't greatly improved the quality of your life, surgery is the permanent solution to this problem.
We understand that the procedure might be a little daunting when you imagine it. However, the introduction of laser technology to this procedure added a lot of benefits, such as greater precision, less bruising, faster surgery times and a quicker and painless healing process.
The path to having a functional nose is not as painful and difficult as it used to be, so don't be afraid to take the necessary steps to improve your life.