What is a septoplasty?
Septoplasty is a surgical procedure that helps to straighten a deviated nasal septum. The septum is the wall in the middle of the nose. It separates the right side of the nose from the left side.
Almost no one has a perfectly "straight" septum. There are often little curves and bends in the septum. In many cases, these minor issues don't cause any real nasal symptoms. The nose can function just fine even if the septum is not perfectly straight.
For some people, the septum is bent or pushed to one side. This is called a "deviated septum." This can make the inside of the nose really narrow. When the septum is quite deviated, that narrowing can affect the function of the nose. A deviated septum can make it hard to breathe properly through the nose. Sometimes, just one side of the nose feels congested. In many cases, though, both sides are congested.
A septoplasty procedure helps to correct the narrowing from a deviated septum. Septoplasty can be performed by an ear, nose, and throat doctor (ENT doctor) to correct a deviated septum. The doctor will work through the inside of the nostrils to perform surgery. The surgery is typically performed under anesthesia at a surgery center.
To perform the surgery, the doctor looks inside the nose using a light or using a little camera. They then look at the deviated parts of the septum. Just like we have skin on the outside of our body, the inside of the nose has a special membrane called "mucosa." Once the deviated parts are identified, the mucosal membrane is lifted off the cartilage and bone. Different types of tools are then used to carve and sculpt the misshapen cartilage and bone.
After the carving and reshaping is complete, the mucosa is laid back into its natural position. Some dissolvable stitches are then placed at the edge of the septum.
In our practice, Dr. Goyal does not have to place nasal packing or splints after correcting a deviated septum.
What is the recovery like after septoplasty?
After septoplasty, most patients have some stuffiness and nasal drainage. After surgery inside the nose, the areas will have some swelling as they heal. This is what leads to stuffiness. The stuffiness is usually most severe in the first 4-5 days. Then, it starts to slowly improve.
The drainage is usually a combination of mucus, some blood, and some clots. Since Dr. Goyal does not use nasal packing, the nose will tend to drain a bit more. The drainage can be a bit annoying, but this is typically still much easier than having packing in place. After surgery, we will ask that you use a sinus rinse to clean some of the drainage from your nose. As the swelling comes down and as the body heals, the drainage becomes better. The first week is usually when the drainage is most significant.
Since septoplasty is a procedure performed under anesthesia, most patients do feel fatigued as they heal after surgery.
Most of our patients don't have much pain after surgery. In the past, many patients having nasal surgery described a lot of pain and discomfort after surgery. In most cases, this was related to pain from having nasal packing and having the packing removed. Now, most of our patients don't even need prescription pain medication after surgery. In our practice, patients most commonly use a little Tylenol as needed to help manage some of their discomfort after surgery.
What types of symptoms does septoplasty usually help?
Most patients having septoplasty surgery have problems with nasal congestion. So, one of the main goals of septoplasty is to improve airflow through the nose. With better nasal breathing, many patients are more comfortable during many different types of activities. Many patients find that they can breathe more comfortably during exercise when their nose is functioning better. Better nasal airflow can also improve sleep quality for patients who struggle with night time congestion.
What are the risks of surgery?
Not every risk can be listed here. Some of the risks of septoplasty are things like infection, bleeding, scar tissue formation, some numbness along the top of the mouth, and persistent congestion. Less common risks include things like a septal perforation, injury to the skull base, leakage of spinal fluid, and a decreased sense of smell. Again, not all risks of surgery can be covered here. Please ask your doctor for more information if you have questions or concerns about risks of surgery.
I feel congested at night. Is that from a deviated septum?
Night time congestion can be from a deviated septum. It can also be from enlarged turbinates.
Many people also notice that their congestion switches from one side to the other. Typically, if they are laying on their side, that side of the nose feels plugged. The other side may open up, but is often not open enough to allow them to breathe comfortably through the nose. This is fairly common, and can be related to a combination of a deviated septum and enlarged turbinates. When that is the case, correcting the deviated septum and shrinking the enlarged turbinates together can help improve the breathing.
Is the procedure covered by insurance?
When it is performed to improve the function of the nose, surgery for a deviated septum is typically covered by insurance plans. Each insurance plan is different, so it is important to check with your specific insurance company about which benefits are covered.
For patients having surgery through our practice, we will obtain authorization from your insurance company before surgery.
Other questions? Want to schedule an evaluation?
If you have other questions about a deviated septum or surgery to correct a deviated septum, we would be happy to evaluate you at our office.
In addition to serving patients from the Syracuse, NY area, we treat patients from throughout the Upstate New York region. We treat many patients from Binghamton, Ithaca, Cortland, Utica, Rome, Auburn, Rochester, Buffalo, and Watertown. Our office is located just a few minutes from the major highways in Syracuse, making it easy for patients from all regions of Upstate New York to reach us.
If you are interested in having an evaluation at our office for your nasal and sinus issues, please contact us. You may request an appointment by calling, sending us a text message, or by requesting an appointment online. We are available by phone or text at 315-254-2030. Our office staff is available Monday – Friday, from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM.
315-254-2030 (Phone or text)