You've battled against the drawbacks of having a deviated septum for quite some time. You've had trouble breathing. Allergies and sinusitis are familiar words. Any time you get a cold or the flu, your nose got blocked and swollen for days, and you had to take medication to try to ease the effort. Your nose has been like a diva all this time, requiring constant care and attention, and any minor misstep usually meant bad results.
All the breathing difficulties you've experienced probably reduced the quality of your sleep at night. You got up tired, and your better half also didn't get a lot of sleep because of the snoring. Will this ever end? Does it have a solution?
Those days will be over soon now that you've made the decision of undergoing surgery. For more serious deviations, when medication and other tools don't have significant effects, it is the surest way to regain your quality of life, breathe easier, suffer less from seasonal weather changes and sleep better.
The next task on this journey is to choose the doctor who will put your septum where it truly belongs. Here are some tips and information you should keep in mind as you schedule consultations and meetings:
Otolaryngologists, ENTs, Rhinologists, and Plastic Surgeons
When you start your search, you will come across these terms many times. To understand what each doctor does and how can he help you, we're going to clarify what these job titles mean:
Otolaryngologists are doctors trained in the medical and surgical care of problems in the neck and head regions, with ears, nose, thyroid, voice, and throat being some of the areas that they study and treat. This term is the most generalist designation, and every doctor able to help you with your deviated will have this title;
ENT stands for "ear, nose, and throat", and is used as an interchangeable synonym with the term above.
Rhinologists are ENT doctors that chose to further specialize in treating disorders in the nose and the paranasal sinuses. Their base training is in otolaryngology, and because of this special focus, they understand better conditions related to the sinuses, such as sinus tumors, nasal polyps and difficult cases of chronic sinusitis. As a result, they have a wide range of experience and knowledge about these issues, and are able to give valuable advice that generalist otolaryngologists can't;
Plastic surgeons are also otolaryngologists, so they have all the core knowledge of the area, but they have further specialized in facial plastic surgery.
This kind of surgery has two categories: the first one is called reconstructive plastic surgery, where functional defects in the face (such as a crooked smile or a deviated septum) and/or birthmarks and skin conditions are treated; the second one is the cosmetic facial plastic surgery, which has the main aim of improving the visual appearance of the face, with procedures such as facelifts, eyelifts, rhinoplasty, liposuction, and cheek implants, to name a few.
All the kinds of doctors we've described above are, in theory, able to help you in the procedure. However, depending on what you need to do and the complexity of your deviation, some doctors might be more experienced than others depending on the cases that they've worked on. Keep reading to know how to find a good match.
1. Finding Otolaryngologists Near You
Head to the American Academy of Otolaryngology website, head to the "Find ENT" section and enter your location details. You will get a list of doctors near you, and you can get started on making a shortlist. You can also ask friends and family who have had similar problems to tell you who their ENT of choice is.
It is important to note that since this is a serious undertaking, you should consult at least 3 different doctors, as interacting and hearing their opinions will both give you a detailed idea of your condition, and also a feel of the professional expertise of each doctor.
2. Check Insurance Coverage
In case you have medical insurance, you should check with your company if the doctors you want to set meetings with are covered by your insurance plan. If they are, the next step is to confirm if you need the insurance company to pre-approve any procedures before your doctor can provide them.
This step is very important, as insurance can cover up to 50% of the cost of the procedure, but only if the company has an agreement with the particular doctor.
3. Questions to Ask at the First Meeting
Once you meet the doctor for the first time, there are some important questions you'll need to ask. These will not only allow you to know more about your septum but will also allow you to evaluate the doctor's experience and past cases:
As the conversation goes on, you'll find that your doctor will provide you with the necessary explanations, allowing you to have a good idea of what they do and how they do it.
If you're still unsure if a particular doctor is a good match for you, you can perform a search in Google and visit a website of doctor reviews. There you'll see the opinions of past patients, and will be able to better judge who to choose.
4. Choose the Best and Schedule the Procedure
After you've met a couple of doctors, asked them the questions and went online to see how other patients felt after surgery, it's time to choose one of them and start arranging the details! Your chosen doctor will take you through all the preparations necessary. Follow his or her advice closely, as it will make the whole process easier to go through, and also ensure a quick recovery.
As you recover after surgery, you'll start feeling the benefits of having a properly positioned septum. You'll thank yourself for making this decision of undergoing surgery, and will reap all the rewards from having fully functional and unobstructed airways!
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