It is not all that rare for a person to have a slightly deviated septum. What is relatively uncommon is for that deviation to make it difficult to breathe. A severely deviated septum can block one side of the nose and decrease breathing capacity to such a degree that a person mouth-breathes, snores, or experiences sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a concerning and chronic condition in which breathing stops for short periods. These episodes can occur dozens of times per hour when a person sleeps, creating significant long-term health concerns. To help patients with severely deviated septums, a sinus specialist may perform septoplasty.
A septoplasty straightens the septum to restore more efficient airflow through the nostrils. The vast majority of patients who are good candidates for this procedure are very satisfied with the improvements in their breathing capacity and lack of nasal congestion after having the septoplasty procedure.
How is Septoplasty Performed?
Septoplasty is an outpatient procedure performed using a closed technique, meaning that incisions are made only inside the nose. There are no external scars. After making the incisions, Dr. Gould lifts the mucus membrane covering the septum. This structure is then straightened by repositioning, trimming or replacing bone and cartilage. If additional structural issues are present, such as a depressed nasal bridge, they can be corrected at the same time. In the case of the depressed bridge, the doctor may place strips of cartilage to act as spreader grafts in this area. After making the necessary corrections, Dr. Gould replaces the mucus membrane over the straightened septum and closes the incision. He may then insert silicone splints in each nostril to support healing. These may be worn for approximately one week.
Because splints are worn for about a week, patients will want to schedule at least that much time off. During this initial healing phase, it is important to rest as much as needed and avoid allowing anything to come into contact with the nose. Patients are encouraged to wear shirts that button down the front to avoid having to pull clothing over the head. Minor pain and swelling may last a day or two and may be helped with approved over-the-counter medication. To minimize the minor side effects, patients can sleep with their head elevated.