The nasal septum is made of cartilage, and divides the nose into two separate chambers. A deviated septum is an abnormal configuration of the cartilage that divides the two sides of the nasal cavity, which may cause congestion, problems with proper breathing, or nasal discharge. Estimates are that 80 percent of all nasal septums are off-center. A deviated septum is when the septum is severely shifted away from the midline.
The most common symptom from a deviated septum is difficulty breathing through the nose. The symptoms are usually worse on one side, and in some cases the drainage of the sinuses is curtailed and results in repeated sinus infections. A deviated septum may be present at birth, caused by an injury, or result from damage from previous medical treatments.
Septoplasty is a reconstructive plastic surgery performed to correct an improperly formed nasal septum. The procedure is performed entirely through the nostrils. During the procedure, badly deviated portions of the septum may be removed entirely or they may be readjusted and reinserted into the nose.
In addition to correcting a deviated nasal septum, septoplasty may also be performed to correct other problems, such as cleft defects, that affect the nose and nasal cavity, and a fistula in the maxillary sinuses.
Individuals vary greatly in their anatomy and healing ability, and the outcome is never completely predictable. Complications may occur, including:
Septoplasty may be performed with the traditional open surgical technique from inside the nose. When open surgery is performed, small scars will be located on the base of the nose, but they usually are not noticeable. Scarring is not visible when internal surgery is performed. Depending on the severity of the deviation, septoplasty may be performed in:
The surgeon will provide guidelines for resuming normal activities. Many patients are up and around within a few days and able to return to school or sedentary work in a week or so.
Short-term side effects of surgery may include:
Healing is a slow and gradual process. Some swelling may be present for months, especially in the tip of the nose. Final results of nasal surgery may not be apparent for a year or more.
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