Septoplasty is a surgery to straighten a deviated septum. The septum is the wall dividing the left and right nasal cavities. It is made of cartilage and bone and is lined with a thin mucus membrane.
A normal septum is straight and in the center of the nose. A deviated septum is bent or off-center. Septal deviation may occur during fetal development, during birth, as your nose grows, or after a traumatic injury. Septoplasty may be done at the same time as other nasal surgery, like rhinoplasty.
Septoplasty is considered if a deviated septum obstructs your nasal passages. The obstruction can cause impaired nasal breathing, sinus infections, obstructive sleep apnea, recurrent nose bleeds, or a runny nose. A deviated septum may also need to be corrected with septoplasty if it causes chronic headaches.
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Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications, such as:
To prepare for surgery, follow any instructions provided by your doctor.
Septoplasty can be done using local or general anesthesia. Local anesthesia will numb the area. General anesthesia will put you to sleep.
An incision will be made inside the nose. The lining of the septum will be lifted up and out of the way. The bent bone or cartilage will be straightened by moving it, reshaping it, or cutting off the bent piece. After the repair is done, the lining will be replaced over the top of the septum. Gauze may be placed in the nose to soak up any blood. A plastic splint may also be inserted to keep the septum in place while it heals.
About 1 to 1-½ hours
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
Most people leave the care center after 3-4 hours.
During your stay, the care center staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
If nasal packing is used, it is removed 1-2 days after the surgery. The splint remains in the nose for up to a week. After the surgery, do the following to ensure a smooth recovery:
It is important for you to monitor your recovery after you leave the care center. Alert your doctor to any problems right away. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
The American Rhinologic Society
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
Deviated septum. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at http://www.entnet.org/content/deviated-septum. Accessed May 23, 2014.
Deviated septum. Cedars-Sinai website. Available at: http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Health-Conditions/Deviated-Septum.aspx. Accessed May 23, 2013.
Deviated septum in children. Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh website. Available at: http://chp.staywellsolutionsonline.com/Search/90,P02062. Updated May 27, 2012. Accessed May 23, 2014.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Michael Woods, MDLast Updated: 5/23/2014