Some types of nasal surgery, like septoplasty, are designed to improve the function of the nose and help patients who suffer from breathing problems. Since a septoplasty can improve breathing, some patients wonder if it, or rhinoplasty, which focuses on reshaping the nose, can be a useful way to improve their allergies or reduce their allergy symptoms.
While allergy sufferers can enjoy the benefits of nasal surgery, such as getting a nose that looks the way they want, in most cases, the surgery won’t improve the symptoms of allergies. In some instances, allergies can actually make recovering from the procedure more uncomfortable.
What Causes Allergies
It’s important to understand that allergies aren’t caused by a problem with the structure of the nose. Instead, they are triggered by an inappropriate response by the immune system. When a person suffers from hay fever or is allergic to a cat or dog, an irritant, such as pollen or pet dander, enters the nose from the air. Instead of ignoring the pollen or dander, the body sends out antibodies to attack it, triggering an allergy attack. A runny nose, sneezing and congestion are all common symptoms of nasal allergies.
The best way to control allergies is to avoid the thing that causes them. For example, people who are allergic to pets often don’t have a cat or dog and avoid homes that do. People who are allergic to tree pollen or grass pollen try to avoid exposure to those plants.
Since it’s not always possible avoid allergens, there are a number of medications available to treat or help manage symptoms. Medications don’t usually cure allergies, but they can make it a lot easier for an allergy sufferer to get through the day or through allergy season.
Timing the Surgery
If you do have allergies and decide on rhinoplasty to change the shape of your nose, you’ll want to be careful about scheduling your surgery. Once you and your surgeon decide that the procedure is right for you, you’ll want to figure out the ideal time to schedule it. Since you might need to avoid taking any allergy medications in the weeks leading up to the procedure, it might be best to schedule the surgery for a time when you don’t suffer from allergies. For example, if you have seasonal allergies, it’s a good idea to time your surgery so that it takes place in the off-season.
If your allergies are year-round, there may not be an ideal time for surgery. That means you’ll need to try to avoid your allergy triggers in the weeks leading up to the procedure, as well as the weeks following it.
Recovering From Surgery
Many allergy sufferers experience no difficulty recovering from rhinoplasty. A feeling of congestion is common after the surgery, due to swelling of the nasal passages. Having an allergy attack as you recover can make the feeling of congestion worse. You won’t be able to blow your nose for some time after the surgery, which can also make the congestion more uncomfortable. If you do have an allergy attack in the weeks following your surgery, you’ll want to check with your surgeon before taking any medication, to make sure that it won’t affect your nose’s healing.
While rhinoplasty or septoplasty won’t cure your allergies, some types of surgery, which focus on function more than form, can make your allergy symptoms a little more bearable. If you have a deviated septum and allergies, breathing through your nose can be particularly challenging when an allergen triggers an attack. Septoplasty can correct your deviated septum, opening up the airway. Keep in mind that you can have a deviated septum without having allergies or you can have allergies without a deviated septum.
In some instances, your surgeon can reduce the size of the turbinates inside your nasal passages or remove polyps, or growths, from inside the nose, which can improve your breathing, particularly when you’re suffering from allergies. Reducing the turbinates or removing polyps won’t cure allergies, but it can help you breathe easier, in the midst of allergy season and throughout the year.
Don’t let seasonal allergies keep you from getting the nose you want.Dr. Jeffrey Epstein, a double board certified facial plastic surgeon and otolaryngologist, can help you learn more about your options. Dr. Epstein has practices in Miami and New York City. For an appointment, call (305) 666-5884 in Miami or (212) 759-3484 in New York.