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Septoplasty

Anatomy
The nasal septum is a wall that divides the nose into two nasal cavities. It is made of cartilage and bone and lined by mucous membrane. A crooked/deviated septum causes nasal obstruction, breathing difficulty, snoring, sinusitis, nosebleeds, and can lead to nasal infections. This abnormality may be congenital (present at birth) or traumatic (acquired through accidents/injuries).

Surgery
Septoplasty is a very common procedure that straightens the septum. It is an outpatient operation performed under general anesthesia. An incision is made inside the nostril and the mucous membrane is elevated off the cartilage and bone. This gives the surgeon complete access to repair the septum. Absorbable sutures are used to close the incision.

Turbinate surgery is often performed at the same time as septoplasty. On each lateral nasal wall there is a structure called the inferior turbinate. It is often enlarged due to a deviated septum and requires surgery to make it smaller. Decreasing the size of the turbinate helps to alleviate stuffiness and decrease sinus blockage.

Healing and Aftercare
Before the patient is awake, a nasal packing (sponge) is placed in each nasal cavity to promote healing and stop bleeding. Oozing is expected. The packing is usually removed the day after surgery in the office. A Teflon splint may be used in severe cases to support the septum and promote straight healing. It is removed in two to three weeks.

Complications of septoplasty and turbinate surgery are uncommon and include bleeding, infection, scarring, and perforation (a hole in the septum). Additional surgery may be required if this occurs.

The external appearance of the nose does not change after surgery. Two office visits are usually needed after the packing is removed in order to ensure proper healing and alignment.

Copyright ENT and Allergy Associates, LLP
04/15/2010

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