Septoplasty – What is It and How Does it Work?

Posted June 23, 2022
How does septoplasty work

One of the most common issues with the nose is an accident or a medical condition that blocks the nasal airway of a person. A deviated septum is defined as a displacement of the wall located between the nostrils that causes blockage that impacts the ability of a person to easily breathe. In addition, turbinates (AKA enlarged bone structures) can also block sections of the nose. Septoplasty is performed to address nasal blockage as well as swelling of the tissue that lines the sinuses (sinusitis) and remove nasal polyps. Let’s take a look at what patients can expect during septoplasty and the results they can expect to enjoy after the surgery.

The Septum and Nasal Turbinates – Why are They Important?

The nasal septum is the structure that separates the left and right airways, so the two nostrils are divided. The nasal septum also supports the nose, and it is covered by mucosa (a thin layer of mucous membrane) which is there to protect the nose.

Nasal turbinates are bone structures that extend into the breathing passageway. They are long, narrow, curly, and covered by mucosal tissue. The turbinates create four air passages in the nasal airway. When air is inhaled through the nose, the larger of the turbinates filter and heat the air while the mucosal lining traps and filters airborne particles to help fight any disease that might occur.

Septoplasty – Procedure Steps

The surgeon will administer anesthesia so the patient will not be in pain or uncomfortable during the surgery.

During the septoplasty surgery, the doctor will have the goal of improving the septum by straightening any bent bone or cartilage in the area. The process begins by lifting the mucosa lining that covers the bone and cartilage. Then, the surgeon will start to reshape the bone and cartilage and even remove some portions of them (if necessary). Once the desired changes have been made to the cartilage and bone, the lining will be put back in its proper place.

If necessary, the surgeon will address enlarged turbines by removing a portion of the turbinate to help make it easier for the patient to enjoy breathing on a daily basis.

Septoplasty – The Recovery Process Examined

Septoplasty RecoveryOnce the procedure is over, the surgeon will place packing in both nostrils to stop any bleeding right after the surgery. The patient will need to breathe through the mouth until the doctor removes the packing when it is time for the person to go home.

There might be some splints placed in the nose for about a week after the procedure. The patient can expect to experience some bleeding and congestion for around two weeks after they have septoplasty. These conditions will resolve on their own during the initial two weeks after surgery.

In addition, some pain is common, but this can be controlled by painkillers and pain medication prescribed by the surgeon. The patient should also avoid blowing the nose for two to three days after they have septoplasty.

Some of the risks that are common after septoplasty include moderate to excessive bleeding, an infection in the area where septoplasty was performed, numbness, skin discoloration, bruising, swelling and a small perforation developing in the nasal septum during the procedure or after the surgery.

Septoplasty – Are There Alternatives to This Surgery?

Before making the commitment to have septoplasty, people suffering from breathing problems might want to try decongestants or saline rinses as well as allergy shots (if the doctor determines the cause of the breathing difficulties might be related to allergies).

Antibiotics can also be an option if the doctor thinks a bacterial infection is the cause of the blockage of the nasal airways.

Septoplasty – Is it a Cosmetic Procedure?

Unlike rhinoplasty which can be performed to alter or enhance the outer size, shape or appearance of the nose, septoplasty is performed to correct issues related to a deviated nasal septum. The need to correct a nasal septum that is deviated will provide functional results (such as fixing airflow obstructions) as opposed to changes in the aesthetic appearance of the nose.

Septoplasty and rhinoplasty can be performed at the same time. If this is the case, it is referred to as a septorhinoplasty because it is being performed to improve both the appearance of the nose (rhinoplasty) and how the patient breathes through the nose (septoplasty).

Since septoplasty is normally performed for functional reasons related to making it easier for the patient to breathe, there is a good chance that insurance will cover part of the bill since it might be determined to be medically necessary. Patients will need to check with their specific insurance provider to determine if any part of their septoplasty will be covered by insurance.

Septoplasty – How Long Do the Results Last?

Anyone who has septoplasty needs to be patient as swelling and bruising can limit the viewing of the results until they resolve on their own. It can take up to a year to see the final results and they should be permanent for the patient.

- MA


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