What is a septoplasty?
Septoplasty is a type of rhinoplasty procedure which is designed to reconstruct the nasal airway by removing or reshaping deviated parts of the cartilage or nasal bones. The procedure results in better airflow in patients who suffer from nasal airway obstruction often related to having a deviated septum. Septoplasty is designed to improve function by treating nasal blockage which differs from an aesthetic rhinoplasty for improvement of the appearance of the nose. Septoplasty is commonly combined with rhinoplasty to improve both appearance and function in one procedure. This surgery is known as a septorhinoplasty.
Centre for Surgery is home to some of the best rhinoplasty surgeons in London with expertise in both aesthetic and functional rhinoplasty for bent septum correction.
Benefits of septum surgery
Septoplasty is a minimally invasive type of rhinoplasty procedure and the benefits include:
- An improvement in nasal airflow and ease of breathing
- Improved sense of taste and smell
- Less risk of developing sinus infections resulting in headaches
- Less nasal congestion due to better sinus drainage
- Improved quality of sleep
Is nasal airflow blockage always caused by a deviated septum?
There are several conditions which may cause blockage of the nasal airway including a deviated septum, enlargement of the turbinate bones, narrowing of the nasal internal or external nasal valve, scar tissue from previous rhinoplasty surgery and functional conditions which affect the internal lining of the nose. All of the above conditions may result in the turbulence of airflow through the nasal passages which may result in resistance to airflow and this can give rise to symptoms of nasal blockage.
RELATED: What is a deviated septum?
A skilled rhinoplasty surgeon has the skills and experience to diagnose and correct all of these problems. In fact, many of our surgeons are regularly referred difficult cases by other surgeons in London and the rest of the UK. This is because they are known for their expertise which allows them to address all the issues which may be contributing to symptoms of nasal airway obstruction.
What are the symptoms of nasal blockage and nose septum problems?
Patients who have a deviated septum may develop blockage of the nasal airways due to malposition of the internal septum partition which separates the two nostrils. Many people are born with a deviated septum but it can also be due to traumatic injury and the natural ageing process.
Common symptoms of a deviated septum include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Inability to smell partially or completely
- Recurrent nosebleeds or epistaxes
- Sinus infections
- Facial pain
- Excessive snoring and sleep apnoea
Am I suitable for septoplasty?
Septoplasty or nose septum surgery is an excellent treatment option for addressing the negative effects caused by a deviated septum with a subsequent improvement in quality of life. Many patients report difficulty breathing with recurrent nosebleeds which affect their daily activities. Partners may be unable to sleep due to excessively loud snoring and periods of sleep apnoea. Having any of the symptoms may mean you are ideal for septoplasty surgery.
We would recommend stopping smoking at least four weeks before the procedure as smoking has a negative effect on healing and recovery. The constituents of cigarette smoke delay healing with an increased risk of wound infections and may result in irritation of the delicate internal nasal lining. Smoking affects the blood supply to the healing area. Patients should be over the age of 18 to be considered for treatment and there are certain medicines which should be stopped before surgery including aspirin and medicines containing aspirin. These medications have an increased risk of causing bleeding during or after the procedure. You should also avoid taking over-the-counter herbal supplements.
What does the septoplasty procedure involve?
Before the procedure, you will have a detailed preoperative assessment by one of our skilled nurses to review your medical history and organise blood tests as required by your surgeon. Septoplasty surgery is most commonly carried out under a general anaesthetic although in some cases particularly when it is performed on its own, the procedure can be performed using a local anaesthetic and sedation. The complexity of the procedure as well as your surgeon’s preference will determine the most appropriate type of anaesthetic.
Nasal septum surgery involves strengthening the septum with several techniques which may include shortening the septum, restoration or repositioning cartilage and bone to lie in a more central position for adequate support septum. Septoplasty does not involve any external incisions being made on the skin of the nose. All incisions are made inside the nose on each side of the nasal septum. In a small number of cases, it may be necessary to make a decision between the nostrils on the columella. This is more often the case when a septorhinoplasty is performed. The incisions are then closed with dissolvable stitches. Septoplasty on its own takes approximately one hour to carry out depending on the amount of septal reconstruction required. Septoplasty is a day case procedure which means patients can recover in the comfort of their own home later the same day.
Recovery after nose septum surgery
Once the septoplasty surgery is complete, your surgeon will place internal splints into the nostrils to support the healing septum and this should be worn for at least 2 to 3 days after the procedure before they are removed in the clinic. It is common to notice bruising and swelling under the eyes. There are several ways to reduce localised bruising and swelling and we would recommend the following measures for two weeks after the procedure including:
- Sleep on your back with your head raised on a couple of pillows
- Avoid strenuous exercise including going to the gym
- Avoid blowing your nose
- Be careful when putting on shirts which go over the head to avoid contact with the nose
The vast majority of patients can return to their normal activities after 48 to 72 hours although physical exercise should be restricted for at least four weeks after deviated septum surgery. You should avoid blowing your nose for at least two weeks after septoplasty surgery as this can increase the risk of bleeding. Gently cleaning the nose can be carried out using sachets of sterile saline. Patients should avoid exercising for a minimum of four weeks after nose septum surgery and should avoid all contact sports for a minimum of eight weeks to minimise the risk of injury to the nose.
We would recommend stopping smoking for at least six weeks after the surgery as smoking lengthens the recovery time and can increase the risk of wound breakdown and infection.
What are the risks and complications of septoplasty?
Septoplasty as with any type of surgical procedure carries a number of risks and potential complications which include bleeding, infection or an allergy to the anaesthetic. Other potential complications of septoplasty include:
- Persistence of nasal blockage symptoms
- Recurrent bleeding
- A change in the appearance of the nose
- Nasal septum perforation
- Reduced sense or no sense of smell
- Septal haematoma formation
- Numbness of the middle third of the face
How much does septoplasty cost?
The cost of the septoplasty procedure will depend on the complexity of the septal correction required and whether the procedure will be combined with a cosmetic rhinoplasty also known as a septorhinoplasty. For patients who would like to improve the appearance of their nose, we would always recommend having a combined septorhinoplasty procedure which can significantly save on costs. Septorhinoplasty at Centre for Surgery costs £5995.
Once you have had your face-to-face consultation, your dedicated patient coordinator will give you an all-inclusive quotation which includes the facility costs, anaesthetic and surgical fees and the cost of care.
Is septoplasty covered by private medical insurance?
Septoplasty is a type of functional nose surgery and may therefore be covered by private medical insurance. If you are unsure please ask your surgeon at the consultation.
Will septoplasty alter the appearance of my nose?Septoplasty is designed to improve symptoms of nasal airflow obstruction by altering the position of the internal nasal partition between the two nostrils. The appearance of the nose is not affected in most cases. In a small number of cases where there is a severe deviation of the septal cartilage, there may be a minor change in the shape of your nose.
Is it possible to combine nose septum surgery with a cosmetic rhinoplasty?Yes. Your surgeon may even prefer to combine these two procedures in the same surgery. This is because any cartilage which is removed from the septum in order to straighten it can often be used as a graft for the cosmetic part of the rhinoplasty.
Choosing to have a rhinoplasty separately after your septoplasty may mean that any septal cartilage is not available for use as a graft. Cartilage grafts may then need to be taken from other areas such as the ears or the ribs.
Combining a septoplasty with a rhinoplasty also means a much initial quicker recovery of approximately one week as opposed to having two separate recovery periods from each procedure.
Does septoplasty hurt?The surgeon will inject local anaesthetic during the procedure to ensure you are completely numb and this anaesthetic affect will last long into the post-operative recovery period meaning you will be comfortable. Any mild discomfort can be easily controlled with over-the-counter painkillers for a couple of days after the procedure.
Septoplasty recovery is relatively quick without significant discomfort meaning patients can get back to daily activities much quicker.