What is a Septoplasty?

14 December 2018 FAQs 2622
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The nasal septum is the wall of cartilge and bone that divides the nasal cavity into two halves. Deviation or buckling of the septum reduces the air spaces and airflow, causing blockage of the nose and sometimes snoring. Deviation may occur after injury to the nose.

If you look up your nose in a mirror under a good light you will also see two red lumps on either side of the septum. These are known as turbinates and also reduce airflow if too large. Turbinates get swollen in a variety of disorders known as rhinitis-hay fever is the most well-known of these problems.


What does the operation entail?

A septoplasty aims to modify the architecture of the bony and cartilaginous septum so as to straighten it. This may be done on its own or as part of more extensive sinus surgery to gain access to all parts of the nose. At the same time the turbinates may be reduced in a variety of ways to help the patient breathe better.

The sugery is carried out under a general anaesthetic and lasts around half an hour. An incision is carried out inside the nostril and closed by means of absorbable sutures. Very rarely are packs required and there would be no bruising or change in the shape of the nose.

A bloodstained discharge for 24-48 hours is normal and the nose would be blocked for about a week. An appointment with the surgeon is needed for follow-up and nasal cleaning. The nose tends to crust up for a few weeks and saline douches are necessary to help healing.


What are the risks of the operation?

Bleeding may occur in around 5% of patients and may be associated with infection. Bleeding is usually slight and stops within a few minutes. Rarely bleeding requires the insertion of nasal packing. The risk of bleeding is reduced by avoiding physical exertion and exposure to dust or cigarette smoke. A recovery of between one to two weeks is required before returning to work.

A rare complication is the possibility of developing a hole in the cartilage due to excessive friability of the nasal lining (overuse of topical medication), which may result in crusting. Pain in the front top two teeth is also an unusual complication which usually resolves within the first two weeks.




Disclaimer: Patients are advised to discuss their medical condition and any indications for medical treatment or surgery with their general practitioner or the specialist who is delivering health care. This article is designed to help with frequently asked questions and does not take any responsibility for specific patients.

ÓMr. Adrian M Agius