A septoplasty is a surgical procedure to correct a deviated septum.
The septum is the section of cartilage and bone inside the nasal passage that separates the nostrils. Being deviated means the septum is not aligned in the correct central position, or isn’t straight. Some people are born with a deviated septum, but it most commonly occurs as a result of injury to the nose.
It’s often possible to detect a deviated septum by looking at the nose. One nostril may appear narrower than the other, or the nose may look crooked – although this isn’t always the case. They don’t always cause any problems so corrective surgery isn’t always required. However, a deviated septum may cause symptoms such as nasal obstruction and difficulty breathing, which can result in chronic nose, throat and sinus infections, plus nosebleeds and snoring. If a deviated septum is causing ongoing problems and impacting quality of life, surgery can be an effective long-term treatment.
Septoplasty surgery is carried out under general anaesthetic. The procedure usually takes around 60-90 minutes to complete, depending on the level of correction required. Very small incisions will be made inside your nose, enabling the surgeon to reposition the septum. Sometimes, removing a small section may be required, and in more severe cases an additional procedure to reshape the nose (rhinoplasty) will be carried out at the same time, although this isn’t always necessary. Your consultant will discuss exactly what will happen with you beforehand.
When you wake up from the anaesthetic, there may still be some dressing in your nostrils to help with bleeding. These are usually removed shortly afterwards. Depending on the time of the surgery, most people are able to go home the same day or the next morning. However, you won’t be able to drive for at least 24 hours after, until the effects of the anaesthetic have completely worn off, so you will need somebody to take you home, and you’ll need some time off work to recover. It’s normal to experience some pain, along with some minor bleeding, while your nose heals – painkillers will help and your surgeon and nurses will explain how to manage any side-effects.
Septoplasty surgery is not 100% successful in all cases, and sometimes the procedure needs to be repeated. However, most people experience significant improvements, although it can take a number of months before the full results are apparent.