A deviated septum is a common condition that involves a displacement of the septum, the wall that separates the nostrils, to one side of the nose. In adults, the septum is made of cartilage and bone, and helps to support the nose, regular air flow and support the mucous membranes of the nose. A deviated septum may be a result of trauma to the nose or may be a developmental condition. Deviated nasal septum is quite common . This condition makes one nasal passage smaller than the other, which can affect breathing if the displacement is great enough.
Patients with a deviated septum may experience nasal congestion, nosebleeds and frequent or recurring sinus infections or ear pressure or plugged sensation in the ears as a result of their uneven nasal passages. Difficulty breathing and other symptoms are usually worse on one side of the nose than the other. This condition can also lead to facial pain, headaches and postnasal drip, which can significantly affect a patient’s quality of life. Those with only minor displacement may not even be aware that they have a deviated septum and experience no symptoms.
A deviated septum can be diagnosed through an exam with a specialist.
Treatment for a deviated septum can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the symptoms associated. For most patients, this condition can be managed through nasal steroid sprays that aim to reduce nasal congestion. For more severe cases, surgery may be required to correct the displacement. Surgery involves a procedure called a septoplasty to reposition the septum in the center of the nose. This procedure may be performed in conjunction with rhinoplasty, or nose reshaping surgery, to resculpt the appearance of the nose while correcting structural abnormalities.
During the endoscopic septoplasty procedure, an endoscope is inserted into the nose to provide visual access to the septum. The surgeon makes a small incision in the specific area of the septum that is deviated to separate the mucosa and adjust the underlying bone and cartilage to reposition it in the center of the nose or remove a spur or deviated bone. The mucosa is then replaced over the septum. This procedure is performed under local or general anesthesia.
Results and Recovery from Surgery
After septoplasty, patients will may experience some bleeding. The nose especially the tip tends to be tender after this surgery for many months. These side effects are considered normal and will subside on their own . Cool compresses on the nose help reduce bleeding, swelling and pain. Your doctor will provide you with pain medication to manage symptoms. We generally do not use splints to support the treated septum unless absolutely necessary.
It is important for patients to avoid strenuous activity, such as jogging and aerobics, for several weeks after surgery. You should also avoid blowing your nose and pulling clothing over your head.
In general about 90% of the time the septum remains in the midline permanently. however in up to 10% of the patients it may re-deviate necessitating a second septoplasty procedure. This occurs due to memory within the cartilage. Many people experience significant improvements to the symptoms caused by their deviated septum. Results may vary depending on the severity of the deviation.
Risks of Surgery
Although septoplasty is considered a safe procedure, there are certain risks associated with any type of surgery. These may include bleeding, infection, septal perforation, slight depression of the nasal profile and scarring. Some patients may not be able to achieve effective symptom relief from this procedure. Your doctor will discuss the risks of septoplasty, as well as answer any questions or concerns you may have prior to surgery.