Septoplasty is the correction of a deviated nasal septum. This surgical procedure can improve problems such as pain, nosebleeds and breathing problems which can occur when the cartilage between the nostrils has moved out of position. Septoplasty can usually be carried out as day surgery, under either general or local anaesthetic.
A deviated septum can be present from birth, or can occur as a result of an injury. The majority of people who have a deviated septum will have one nostril smaller than the other. This can cause problem breathing and other unpleasant symptoms such as facial pain and nosebleeds. Surgery is the only option for improving these issues.
Preparation for Septoplasty
A couple of weeks before the scheduled surgery, you may need to stop certain medications, particularly those which thin the blood such as ibuprofen and aspirin. It is important to do this to reduce the chances of excessive bleeding both during the procedure and afterwards. If you have, or have had in the past, any issues with bleeding, or are allergic to any medications, it is vital you let your doctor know.
Although some people have a local anaesthetic, the majority of people choose to have their septoplasty carried out under a general anaesthetic. Before a general anaesthetic you will be asked not to eat or drink after a certain time. As a general anaesthetic can make you very drowsy for several hours, you will not be able to drive home following the procedure, so you will need to ask a friend or family member to drive you home afterwards.
The Procedure Itself
The Septoplasty procedure can take between 30 and 90 minutes, depending upon how complex your condition is. Typically, an incision will be made on the side of your nose so your surgeon can access the septum itself. The mucus membrane is lifted and the septum repositioned. If the surgeon finds anything else, such as extra pieces of cartilage or bone, he or she will remove these. Finally, the mucus membrane will be replaced. It may be necessary to keep both the membrane and the septum in place with stitches, although for some packing the nose with cotton will be sufficient.
In the majority of cases the septoplasty will prove entirely successful. Occasionally, however, a second operation will be required. As with any type of surgery there are some other risks involved, but these are very rare. These might include scarring, bleeding, perforation of the septum, decreased sense of smell and a slight discolouration of the nose.
In most cases septoplasty will be carried out as a day case, so once you have come round sufficiently from the anaesthetic you will be allowed to go home. There may be some pain, but your doctor will prescribe appropriate pain medication to help with this. One or two days after the surgery any packing will usually be removed. Physical activity such as running, weight lifting and contact sports should be limited for several weeks. The wound itself should heal quite fast and you should notice an improvement in your breathing quite soon after the procedure, however the nose may take anything up to a year to heal completely.