Considering deviated septum surgery

If you have trouble breathing through your nose, you may need deviated septum surgery, or septoplasty, to open your nasal passages. This surgery is fairly common, and it’s typically recommended if your breathing hasn’t improved with nonsurgical treatments.

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Deviated Septum Symptoms

The septum is the thin dividing wall between your nostrils. Made of cartilage and bone, this wall may be crooked from birth or the result of an injury, such as a broken nose. A deviated septum usually isn’t visible from the outside unless it is severe enough to make your nose look crooked. Severe deviated septum symptoms include blocked air flow through one or both nostrils, which impairs breathing and often leads to snoring and trouble sleeping.

Who Is a Candidate for Deviated Septum Surgery?

If the deviation is so severe that it impedes breathing and sleep — and more conservative measures such as prescription nasal sprays fail to provide relief — your doctor may recommend surgery. This surgery also may be performed along with other surgeries to remove nasal polyps or improve chronic sinusitis.

What to Expect From Deviated Septum Surgery

A common procedure, deviated septum surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis so you can go home the same day. Since it is most commonly performed under general anesthesia, someone will have to be available to drive you home.

Under most circumstances, the procedure is done through the inside of the nose without an incision on your face. More extreme deviations may require a small, well-hidden incision between the nostrils. The surgeon will trim, repair, or replace the cartilage and bone to straighten the septum. The procedure usually takes about 45 minutes to an hour but can take longer depending on the severity of the deviation.

After surgery, hollow splints are placed in the nose to reduce bleeding and to help stabilize the newly reconstructed septum. These splints are later removed in the doctor’s office. You’ll need to limit physical activity and heavy lifting for about a week, since elevated blood pressure can cause bleeding. Patients usually can return to their normal activities five to seven days after surgery. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions on how to care for your nose after surgery. And avoid blowing your nose until it has healed completely.

For most patients, deviated septum symptoms subside once the nose has healed. Be sure to discuss the risks and benefits of septoplasty with your doctor.

The experienced surgeons at UPMC Facial Plastic Surgery perform septoplasties and other reconstructive procedures. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call 412-621-0123.

About Ear Nose and Throat

Ear, Nose, and Throat Services at UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside ranks among the best nationally on U.S. News & World Report’s listings. Our team includes board-certified physicians and highly skilled speech-language pathologists and audiologists. We treat a variety of ear, nose, and throat conditions in both children and adults and provide both surgical and non-surgical options. Our doctors also take part in research and clinical trials. We have locations throughout western Pennsylvania for patient convenience.