What is a deviated nasal septum?
The septum is the cartilage and bone inside your nose that divides your nostrils. The septum is usually straight but it can be deviated (bent), causing symptoms of a blocked nose (see figure 1).
What are the benefits of surgery?
Your septum will be straight which should relieve your symptoms of a blocked nose.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
Surgery is recommended as it is the only dependable way to cure the condition. You cannot straighten your septum without surgery.
What does the operation involve?
The operation is performed through your nostrils and does not result in any facial scars or black eyes.
The operation is usually performed under a general anaesthetic but a local anaesthetic can be used. The operation usually takes about 45 minutes.
Your surgeon will make a cut on the lining of your nose. They will remove the parts of the cartilage and bone that are bent and put the rest back in a straight position.
What complications can happen?
1 General complications
- Infection of the surgical site (wound)
- Blood clots
2 Specific complications
- Developing a haematoma or abscess
- Making a hole in your septum
- Injury to nerves
- Change to the shape of your nose
- Reduced sense of smell
- Toxic shock syndrome
How soon will I recover?
You should be able to go home the same day. If you had non-dissolvable packing in your nose, you will need to stay overnight and the packing will be removed the next morning.
You will need to stay off work and away from groups of people for two weeks. This is to avoid catching a cold, which could result in an infection.
Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.
Most people make a full recovery and can return to normal activities. However, the deviation can come back because the cartilage can gradually return to its original position.
Surgery will result in you having a straight septum, which should relieve your symptoms of a blocked nose. However, no serious complications can happen if a deviated septum is left untreated.
Author: Miss Ruth Capper MD FRCS (ORL-HNS)
Illustrations: Medical Illustration Copyright © Nucleus Medical Art. All rights reserved. www.nucleusinc.com
This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.