Do you have trouble breathing easily? Maybe you're beset by sinusitis every now and then, or suffer from sleep apnea? If this is your case, it's easy to notice if your nasal septum has a deviation that is obstructing your airways. Have you been injured in your nose? Is it misshapen?
The central part of your nose, that area of cartilage and bone that separates both your nostrils, could be crooked or otherwise not well centered, causing difficulties in breathing, along with possible headaches and nosebleeds in the most extreme cases. This is what having a deviated nasal septum means. The air is not passing evenly and smoothly through the inside of your nose, reducing the overall quality of your breathing. If you have allergies, this condition can be very unfavorable.
Having a deviated nasal septum is a condition that affects 80% of the people, most of them unknowingly. Some people are born with it, while in other cases trauma or serious injury is the origin of this problem. Fortunately, there are many different procedures to correct this situation. We have prepared a description of the whole process, so you know what to expect, what to look out for and how to recover well. Be sure to watch the videos as well, as they will give you a better idea of how it works.
Deviated septum surgery (septoplasty) procedure
When you decide to have your septum corrected, your doctor will make some routine exams (such as a blood test and an X-Ray) and enquire about your general health. If you want to change the aesthetic look of your nose (a rhinoplasty, the technical expression for getting a "nose job"), let your doctor know, as it can be combined with the intervention on your septum. After reviewing the exams and your special needs, your doctor will schedule a date.
You can watch Dr. Ryan Kauffman talk about the process here:
When you come to the hospital, an anesthetist will either administer a local or general anesthesia, depending on the circumstances. The doctor will work inside the nose, first lifting the mucosa lining, then making an incision and cutting excess bone and cartilage to even the available space between each nostril. In some cases, the turbinates (long and narrow passageways that warm and regulate the moisture of the air coming in) could be responsible for some of the blockage as well; they can be shrunk through radiotherapy or by removing a portion of them.
The whole procedure takes up to one hour and a half, and you can expect to be ready to go home in about four hours.
If you want to see how it's done, you can also watch the following video, but please beware as it is very graphic:
During the recovery process, you will have internal splints (in complex cases, will take 7 days until you can take them off) or soft packing material (taken off on the same day) inside your nose to help in healing the tissue and restore the mucous membrane. If you only had your septum re-centered, there should be no swelling or bruising; however, if you opted for rhinoplasty, expect one or two weeks of it.
There should be some bleeding and congestion episodes as your body adjusts to the changes, but after two weeks you can expect to start using your new nose in its full glory! Allow for at least 3 weeks before returning to work. Your doctor will also schedule a consultation in the 3 to 4 following months to check up on your progress.
Deviated septum surgery before and after
After surgery, 81% of patients report improvements in their nasal blockage, along with some aesthetical changes. You can see the before and after pictures in this video:
Deviated septum surgery recovery
The recovery process might entail some small short-term changes to your lifestyle and habits, such as:
To ensure that you're back to your best self in the least amount of time possible, Dr. Samir Undavia has some tips for you:
Deviated septum surgery and rhinoplasty surgery
This procedure also called septorhinoplasty not only corrects your septum but also improves the shape of your nose. It allows repairing any injury or trauma to your nose that created the breathing difficulties in the first place. Since the intervention is more extensive, your face might be bruised or swollen and it will take a bit longer to heal. You can find an animation of the procedure here:
There are some extra measures you'll have to take to ensure good recuperation: you'll find a very detailed guide for that here.
Deviated septum and turbinate reduction surgery
When the blockage is being created by the turbinates (the air channels we mentioned above), the doctor will have to use radiotherapy or remove some parts of them to ensure good airflow in the future. You can learn more about this process with Dr. Hubert Low:
How to fix a deviated septum without surgery
Fixing the issue without surgery can be possible, depending on how serious is your case. The options are:
Dr. Sreenivasa Murthy discusses this issue in this video:
Deviated septum surgery cost
The prices for a deviated septum surgery, without any health coverage, are on average $10,425
Here are some external references for further reading: