The septum is the separation inside your nose, between your nostrils. It is made of bone and cartilage, and ideally creates two equal, symmetrical nasal passages which allow for easy breathing. A septoplasty, also known as deviated septum surgery, is surgery to repair a deviated, or crooked, septum.
It is very common to have some level of deviation in your septum. It’s estimated that as much as 80% of the population has this condition – although in many cases the deviation is minimal and does not cause breathing problems.
Generally, our Orange County and Los Angeles septoplasty procedure is offered only to patients who have a significant deviation in their septum, and are suffering with the side effects. Often patients seek treatment for a deviated septum because of breathing difficulties, especially on one side of their nose.
Causes & symptoms of a deviated septum
Some people are born with a deviated septum, but in other cases it can be caused by an injury. Since a deviated septum causes one side of the nasal cavity to be much smaller than the other, breathing problems can occur.
People who have a deviated septum also may experience facial pain and tend to have more nosebleeds. The nosebleeds can be a result of extra friction from the air passing through the nostril on the side that is bigger. This friction can cause drying out of the inside of the nasal passage, which may lead to crusting and/or bleeding.
Surgery is the only way to repair a septum that is deviated, whether it has been that way since birth or was caused by injury. The surgical treatment for a deviated septum is called a septoplasty.
Our Orange County and Los Angeles septoplasty procedure straightens out the septum, which creates two equal breathing passages. During the deviated septum surgery, we will move cartilage and other nasal tissue to create symmetry in your nasal passage.
This is usually done as an outpatient procedure, which means you’d go home the same day. Patients who have this surgery generally report more ease in breathing, less pain, and fewer nose bleeds.
How a septoplasty is performed
A septoplasty is performed under general anesthesia, so you will sleep throughout the procedure. It usually takes about 90 minutes, although this can depend on whether you’re having another procedure performed at the same time. During the procedure, your Los Angeles or Orange County septoplasty surgeon works to straighten out the crooked bone and cartilage. The surgeon may remove little pieces of bone or other tissue from your nose, depending on how the septum is deviated, and how it will best be repaired. Deviated septum surgery is often done through an incision on one side of the nose.
If you’re going to have a septoplasty, we’ll give you detailed instructions several weeks before the procedure. Generally these instructions will include when to stop taking certain medications like ibuprofen or aspirin. These are blood thinners and may cause excess bleeding during a procedure.
We’ll also ask you not to consume any food or liquids after midnight on the night before your septoplasty, since you’ll be receiving general anesthesia.
Finally, you’ll also need to prepare ahead of time to have a friend of relative who can drive you home from your deviated septum surgery. Since you’ll be under anesthesia for the procedure, we cannot allow you to drive or leave on your own after you wake up.
When you wake up from your LA area or Orange County septoplasty, you’ll likely feel drowsy until the effects of the general anesthesia have worn off. You shouldn’t feel too much pain since we will have given you pain medicine during and after the surgery. Usually our patients go home the same day as they have the septoplasty.
Your nose will be swollen at first, and you may have packing in your nostrils. This swelling will go down, and you’ll likely be given pain medication while you heal. It is important that you do not blow your nose for the first few days of the recovery process. We will give you detailed instructions for recovery when we meet with you before and after your deviated septum surgery.
For several weeks after your procedure, we’ll likely ask you not to engage in strenuous activity. Avoid running, heavy lifting, or intense exercise. These activities can increase swelling or the risk of bleeding. Although the septoplasty is an outpatient procedure, you’ll want to be careful for a few weeks in order to promote healing.
You can take steps to make your recovery process quicker, like sleeping with your head elevated. This can help reduce swelling. It can also be beneficial to wear button-down shirts, so you don’t have to pull clothes on or off, and risk bumping your nose.
Improvement after surgery
Generally the visible signs that you’ve had surgery will diminish quickly. Many of our patients say they have improvements in their breathing within weeks of the procedure and as the swelling goes down. However, inside your nose the recovery process can take longer. The cartilage and tissue that we’ve moved can take months or a year to fully settle.
In addition to improvements in breathing, some patients tell us they experience less post-nasal drip, and less nasal discharge after they’ve healed from deviated septum surgery.
Risks of a septoplasty
A septoplasty is a low-risk procedure, but all surgeries have some level of risk. Though the risks are rare, they can include:
- Nose bleeds
- Decrease in your sense of smell
- An altered nose shape
- Tearing of the septum
Recovery after septoplasty
Usually our patients go home the same day as they have their septoplasty in one of our Orange County, Los Angeles or surrounding offices. Your nose will be swollen at first, and may have packing in your nostrils. This swelling will go down, and you’ll likely be given pain medication while you heal. You’ll want to be careful not to blow your nose for several days, and to sleep with your head slightly raised. We will give you detailed instructions for recovery when we meet with you before and after your surgery.
If you have trouble breathing, experience a large number of nosebleeds, or have a dry or painful feeling on one side of your nose, you may have a deviated septum. If you believe your deviated septum is substantial enough that it may be best treated with a septoplasty, call us. We are happy to talk to you about all our treatment options, and examine you to figure out what is causing your symptoms, and if a septoplasty may be a good option for you. Contact the ENT specialists at West Medical at (855) 690-0565.
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