Under ideal circumstances, the nasal septum is perfectly straight and located precisely in the middle of the nose, which makes both sides of the nasal cavity equal in size. Unfortunately, this ideal situation is seldom the reality. More than 80% of the population has some degree of deviation or crookedness of the nasal septum.
The septum is usually straight at birth and remains straight throughout childhood. However, as a person ages, the septum has a tendency to bend to one side or the other. Sometimes the septum is bent as a result of birth trauma. Although trauma may be a factor in producing septal deviation during childhood or adult life, in many cases, there is no history of injury to account for the irregularity.
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Sometimes the deviation of the septum is severe enough to cause nasal obstruction and affect the person’s breathing. Chronic nasal obstruction can contribute to decreased exercise tolerance and sleep disorders, such as snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. It can impair normal breathing, forcing patients to breathe through the mouth, affecting their daily activities in many cases.
Septoplasty is performed under general anesthesia. It is extremely important not to eat or drink anything eight hours before the surgery. Otherwise, the operation will have to be postponed to avoid risk to the patient.
This surgery is performed entirely through the nostrils – no incision is made in the skin. The doctor makes an incision inside the nostril through which the mucosa (the thin membrane lining the septum and nasal cavity) is lifted up so the bone and cartilage of the septum can be seen.
The surgeon removes or reshapes the deviated portions of bone and cartilage, then returns the mucosa to its original position and sutures the incision. After the effects of anesthesia have worn off, the patient is discharged to go home.
At Los Angeles Sinus Institute, Dr. Zadeh implements a distinctive approach to nasal and sinus surgery, using the safest, most advanced, and most minimally invasive techniques. He focuses on cutting-edge techniques and treatment options to maximize outcome and minimize risk for our patients.
What to expect after Septal Surgery
Because septoplasty is performed under general anesthesia, you will sleep during the operation and spend about an hour in the recovery room afterwards to allow time for you to wake up. Most patients feel well enough to go home an hour after septal surgery.
You can expect drainage from the nose that is red in color after the surgery. The volume of drainage will decrease and the color will lighten over the few days following the surgery. You may have a minimal amount of blood-tinged drainage for approximately 10 to 14 days.
As with most surgeries, septal surgery causes swelling of the tissue in the nasal cavity, which can produce a feeling of congestion and fullness in the nose and sinuses. This swelling is temporary, and the congested, stuffy feeling will subside over time.
To help prevent bleeding, do not blow your nose for 14 days after the surgery. You may gently sniff back any nasal secretions. After your first post-operative office visit, you will flush your nasal cavity with a saltwater solution we prescribe for you. If you need to sneeze, do so with your mouth open.
It is important to avoid any strenuous activity for 2 weeks after septal surgery. Avoid bending over and lifting anything weighing more than 20 lbs. It is acceptable to take a gentle walk for moderate exercise. Sleep with your head elevated with at least 2 pillows to help reduce nasal congestion.