A septoplasty is a surgical procedure carried out to correct a deviated septum. The procedure straightens the septum, allowing for better airflow.
The septum is the thin wall of bone and cartilage that divides the right and left nostrils. The majority of people have a septum that is slightly off centre, with most having one nasal passage much smaller than the other. If the septum is noticeably misaligned or largely different in size, surgery may be recommended.
Causes of a Deviated Septum
Some people are born with deviated septums, but it can also be caused through injury to the nose. If your condition does not affect your breathing or lead to frequent sinus infections (sinusitis), you can probably avoid surgery.
Symptoms of a Deviated Septum
Symptoms of a deviated septum can range from mild to severe, but typically include:
- Trouble breathing
- Facial pain
Preparing for Septoplasty
Before surgery, you will have a pre-assessment appointment with a clinician to take a detailed medical history and check your vital signs, including blood pressure, height and weight. You may be asked to stop taking certain medication about 2 weeks before surgery; these include aspirin, ibuprofen and other blood thinners. This will reduce your risk of excessive bleeding during and after the procedure. If you have any allergies to medication such as penicillin, or a history of bleeding, ensure you inform your clinician.
Most cases are performed under a local anaesthetic, but if you do require a general anaesthetic, make sure you do not eat or drink anything after midnight before your surgery, as this will prevent you from vomiting if you become nauseous from the anaesthetic. If you have a general anaesthetic you will be asleep during the operation; with a local anaesthetic, you will be awake but unable to feel the surrounding area.
Your surgery is likely to be carried out by an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeon, although some plastic surgeons also carry out the procedure, particularly if being performed for aesthetic purposes.
The surgeon may take pictures of your nose before surgery to compare before and after the procedure to see how your nose has altered.
There will not be any cuts made to your face so there will be no visible scarring. An incision is made on 1 side of your nose to access the septum, after which the mucous membrane is lifted; this is the protective cover of the septum. The deviated septum is moved into the right position, and any loose pieces of cartilage or bone are removed. If the surgeon has to cut the bone in order to straighten your nose, silicone splints will be put in place to support the septum. You may also require nasal packing, which is a gauze-like material that is placed in the nasal cavity to absorb blood or other fluids. This will be removed on your follow-up appointment.
The whole procedure takes approximately 30 – 90 minutes, depending on the severity and complexity of the condition.
Most Septoplasty procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, meaning you will be able to go home on the same day once the anaesthetic has worn off and there are no complications.
Your nose will be swollen and painful immediately after the operation and you are likely to be prescribed pain relief if needed.
You should avoid physical activities for several weeks after surgery to minimise swelling and promote healing. This includes high intensity sports such as contact sports, running and weight lifting as they can increase your blood pressure and lead to heavy bleeding. In order to accelerate your recovery, try doing the following:
- Do not blow your nose for at least 3 days following surgery
- Elevate your head at night with an extra pillow to reduce swelling
- Wearing clothing that buttons up at the front to avoid pulling it over your head
- Avoid lifting heavy objects
Risks and Complications
Septoplasty is a relatively safe procedure with good outcomes, although some people may require a second a surgery if they are unsatisfied with the initial results. Complications include:
- Discolouration of the nose
- Altered nose shape that does not meet your expectations
- Perforation of the septum (a hole forms in your septum)
- Decreased sense of smell
Outlook after Septoplasty
Healing time is relatively quick, and your breathing is likely to improve soon after the procedure; however, cartilage and other nasal tissues can take up to a year to fully settle into their new shape. Most people do not experience any ongoing symptoms, although a second surgery may be required if the cartilage and nasal tissues shift over time, as this can result in blocked airflow.
At One Healthcare we can book you in to see a specialist Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon, usually within 48 hours, for an initial consultation. Septoplasty treatment is available at One Ashford Hospital in Kent and One Hatfield Hospital in Hertfordshire.
You can use your private medical insurance or pay for your Septoplasty treatment. We offer competitive, fixed price packages as well as the ability to spread your cost with the option of 0% finance. If you are using your health insurance please do contact your insurer first for approval and let them know you’d like to be treated at either the One Ashford Hospital or One Hatfield Hospital.
Why One Healthcare
- Modern purpose-built hospital opened in March 2016 (Ashford) December 2017 (Hatfield)
- Fast access to diagnostics including MRI, Xray and Ultrasound
- Private, spacious, en-suite rooms
- Specialist Physiotherapy and nursing teams
- Little or no waiting time
- ‘Ultra clean air’ theatres
- Freshly prepared food
- Calm, dignified experience