The wall that separates the two sides of your nostrils is called the nasal septum. Ideally this separation on the right and left are the same.
If one side of your nasal passage is smaller than the other this is called a deviated septum.
If this deviation is severe it can cause difficulty in breathing, nosebleeds, frequent sinus infections, facial pain and noisy breathing during sleep. Sometimes these symptoms can be controlled with medications such as decongestants, antihistamines or steroid nasal sprays.
If you continue to suffer chronic sinus infections or pain your consultant may recommend surgical correction of your deviated septum. This procedure is called a septoplasty.
What happens during a septoplasty?
The length of surgery and the anaesthetic used depends on the your level of deviated septum. The operation can take 60 - 90 minutes and is performed using general anaesthetic.
Your surgeon makes an incision (cut) inside your nose. They will reposition your septum to the centre of your nose. They may need to cut or remove parts of your septum during this process. In some cases surgery to reshape your nose (rhinoplasty) is also performed at the same time.
They may pack your nose with dressing to control any bleeding just after your operation. The packing is only temporary and will be removed before you are discharged. Your nose will feel blocked for a few days. Any pain can be controlled using over the counter medication such as paracetamol.
Septoplasty is usually performed as a day case surgery meaning you will go home on the day of your operation. Please arrange for someone to drive you home.
To avoid the risk of bleeding or swelling your consultant may ask you to avoid any strenuous activity for the first few weeks. You should also avoid blowing your nose until your follow up appointment. Sleep with your head slightly elevated.
Discuss any return to work with your surgeon. It can take up to 12 months before you see the final results of your septoplasty.
Most people recover well from septoplasty. As with any surgical procedure there can be complications including:
Specific complications in septoplasty might include:
- Change in the shape of your nose
- Septal perforation (an opening in the septum)
- Decrease in the sense of smell
- Symptoms return meaning the procedure must be repeated
Why not print this treatment page so you can discuss any concerns you have with your surgeon?
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