When people think of nose surgery, they often think only of rhinoplasty, or a nose reshaping procedure. But there are other procedures performed on the nose that go beyond the cosmetic. One procedure is septoplasty, which is performed to correct a deviated septum. Septoplasty doesn’t change the shape of the nose, unless it is performed as part of a procedure called septorhinoplasty. If your doctor has recommended the surgery to you, there are several things you should know about it.
Why It’s Performed
Septoplasty is often performed to correct medical issues connected to a deviated septum. Simply having a deviated septum doesn’t mean you are a candidate for the procedure and doesn’t mean you have to undergo surgery. The surgery is typically reserved for people who have breathing problems and other symptoms related to the deviated, or crooked, septum, that can’t be fixed with medications or more conservative treatments. Typically, the surgery is done if your symptoms have a negative impact on your quality of life.
What Happens During Surgery
The purpose of the procedure is to straighten the septum, the wall between your two nostrils. It is usually best to perform the surgery under twilight sedation and local anesthesia. In some cases, a surgeon can perform the procedure using general anesthesia, which means the patient is completely unconscious.
A surgeon can perform septoplasty using either an open or closed technique. During an open septoplasty, the incision is made on the outside of the nose, along the bottom edge. During a closed surgery, the doctor makes the incisions on the inside of the nose. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
An open procedure gives the surgeon a better view of the inside of the nose as he works, allowing him to better shape, trim and straighten the septum. It also is usually the preferred technique for performing the cosmetic work on the nose.
A septorhinoplasty surgery combines functional nose surgery, performed to correct a medical issue, with cosmetic surgery, performed to change the shape or appearance of the nose. A septoplasty to fix a deviated septum can slightly alter the shape of the nose, depending on how crooked the septum was.
Septorhinoplasty can also change the size of the nose, either making it wider or narrower, to better complement the size and shape of the patient’s face. During the surgery, the doctor can remove a bump or hump from the middle of the nose as well. Since it is a more involved procedure, septorhinoplasty typically takes longer to perform than a basic septoplasty. Sometimes the surgeon will use the cartilage from the septum for cosmetic purposes.
How to Get Ready
Septoplasty is an invasive procedure and you need to be in good health before you undergo it. The surgeon will go over your medical history and give you an exam to see if you are healthy enough for surgery. If you are on certain medications that increase the risk for bleeding such as Aspirin, your doctor will tell you to stop taking them. You might have to switch to a different medication or take a reduced dose of other types of medicine in the weeks leading up to the surgery.
In many cases, the surgeon will take photographs of your nose before the procedure. Some surgeons, such as Dr. Epstein, use computer imaging to create a picture of the possible outcome from the surgery. If you are undergoing septorhinoplasty, the images are a useful tool, as they let you know if you and the doctor are on the same page when it comes to expectations for the procedure.
Your surgeon will also give you a list of specific things to do to prepare for the procedure. Number one would be to stop smoking a few weeks before surgery, if you haven’t already. You’ll also want to recruit a friend or relative to take you to the surgical center and bring you home afterwards.
This procedure is usually performed on an outpatient or ambulatory basis, so patients return home the day of their surgery. It’s important to take it easy, especially in the first week after surgery. Usually, you’ll need to take about a week off of work. To reduce swelling, surgeons often recommend sleeping with your head propped up, lying on your back.
You’ll have to avoid any sort of strenuous activity for the first few weeks after the procedure. You might also have to change the way you dress. It’s often recommended that you avoid pull-over shirts for the first week, as putting the shirts on and taking them off can lead to you bumping your nose. Instead, wear button up or zip-up tops until your surgeon says otherwise.