A septoplasty is a specialized functional rhinoplasty procedure designed to correct a deviated septum – a problem that develops when the wall separating the nostrils is displaced to one side, making one of the nasal passages smaller than the other. This abnormality leads to breathing challenges, as it is difficult for air to pass through the smaller nostril, as well as frequent nosebleeds and dry skin in the nostril that is exposed to greater airflow and its drying effects. A deviated septum can also cause other difficulties like headaches, snoring, and postnasal drip. Schedule a visit with Dr. Ridgway to get some of the best functioning and looking results from a skilled professional in rhinoplasty Bellevue patients can trust.
Some people are born with a deviated septum, while other people develop the condition later in life as the result of an injury, typically a broken nose. Whether your deviated septum developed due to an injury to the nose or congenital factors, it is treated with a septoplasty.
The Septoplasty Process
To perform this procedure, Dr. Ridgway will begin by administering either local or general anesthesia to ensure your comfort and safety. Both of these anesthesia options have their own set of pros and cons, and Dr. Ridgway will review them with you thoroughly during your initial consultation to help you determine which one is in your best interest.
From there, Dr. Ridgway will make an incision inside the nostril to ensure the resulting scar is completely hidden from view. Depending on the specific causes of your deviated septum, it may also be necessary to make an additional incision between the nostrils. Through the incision(s), the mucous membrane that covers the septum will be lifted. He will then shift the deviated septum to its normal position and remove any extra bone or cartilage that may be contributing to your breathing difficulties. If part of the problem is skeletal, then a portion of the bone may need to be either removed or repositioned. Pieces of cartilage are used to provide structure to the nose, creating a more centered septum that will allow for easy airflow through both nostrils. Then the mucous membrane will be returned to its original position and the incisions will be closed.
Recovery Following a Septoplasty
Sometimes, cotton packing may be sufficient to keep the incisions closed and the nose in its proper position while it heals, though often it will be necessary to have stitches or sutures hold the wounds closed during the healing process. A septoplasty is an outpatient procedure, so once it is complete, you will be sent home to begin the recovery process, which will last approximately one week. The packing around your nose can be removed after the first couple days. The recovery process for a septoplasty is relatively similar to a rhinoplasty recovery.
During the days following your surgery, there are a few things you can do to remain as comfortable as possible during the recovery process:
- Keep your head elevated. Especially while you sleep at night, make sure to keep your head elevated above the level of your heart to reduce swelling by minimizing the effect of blood flow being increased by gravity.
- Don’t blow your nose for a few days. Your nose will be swollen and you may feel congested as a result, but resist the temptation to blow your nose! Doing so will not only be painful; it could also disrupt the healing process by reopening the wounds and causing bleeding.
- Wear button-down shirts. This may sound unusual, but you’ll want to avoid the action of pulling a shirt or sweater over your head for at least a few days. Sticking to button-downs will allow you to change comfortably without worrying about brushing against or putting unnecessary pressure on your healing nose.
- Limit physical activity for several weeks. Contact sports should of course be avoided for obvious reasons, but so should all forms of strenuous exercise, including running, weight lifting, etc. Engaging in these aerobic activities raises blood pressure, and could cause dangerously heavy bleeding if the nose is not yet fully healed.
- Avoid aspirin, ibuprofen, and other blood thinners at first. Again, this is to avoid excessive bleeding. Your doctor will prescribe pain medications to help you manage discomfort during recovery, and any specific concerns regarding medications can be addressed individually with your physician.
Once you’ve completely healed, you can expect to breathe much easier and experience a significant improvement in other nasal symptoms. It may take up to a year for the cartilage and other nasal tissues to completely settle into their new positions, but the wound will heal quickly, and you should notice an almost immediate improvement to your breathing. If you start to experience more difficulty breathing or other symptoms during your recovery, bring them up with your doctor. While most deviated septum cases are resolved with a single surgery, additional procedures are occasionally necessary to fully correct the problem.
Award-Winning Bellevue Plastic Surgery
Dr. James M. Ridgway, MD, FACS is proud to be double board-certified and a lead Bellevue plastic surgeon on the Ridgway Face & Aesthetic Center team. To learn more, contact our office today to schedule an appointment.Schedule a consultation