Can Septoplasty Help Improve Your Breathing?

Are you having trouble moving air through your nasal passages? In other words, are you a mouth breather? Is your snoring becoming a bad joke that includes your partner threatening to move you to the couch? Whether you’re dealing with breathing issues or looking for some relief from almost constant sinus infections, your physician may recommend nasal septoplasty.

However, what exactly is nasal septoplasty, and how do you know if you’re a good candidate for the procedure? We’ll cover what you should know about the relatively simple outpatient surgery in this brief yet comprehensive article.

What Is Nasal Septoplasty?

Nasal septoplasty is a relatively simple medical procedure. Yes, it involves surgery but don’t start panicking. Most patients only spend a few hours in the hospital or doctor’s office. Septoplasty is typically an outpatient procedure which means you don’t need to pack an overnight bag.

The procedure addresses a deviated septum, meaning that your septum is crooked instead of straight. What is your septum? Your septum is what divides your nose into two chambers. For example, take a look at your nose in the mirror. Notice how you have two nostrils? Your septum is made of bone and cartilage and runs down the center of your nose.

When your septum is crooked or bent, it can affect airflow through one or both of your nasal cavities. Sometimes, a bent septum is caused by an injury. If you hit your nose hard enough, it can cause your septum to bend or even break.

You can also be born with a deviated septum, and this is actually more common than you may think. But, a deviated septum isn’t typically considered a birth injury nor does it automatically require immediate surgery. Some people go through life without any problems even though they have a deviated septum.

Since nasal septoplasty is usually an outpatient procedure risks associated with the surgery are minimal. You typically only need a few days of downtime, which is usually enough time for the swelling to start going down. However, it can take a few months to make a full recovery. You should expect your nose to be a little sore during your recovery.

Is Septoplasty Surgery Right For You

Only you and your physician can answer this question. In other words, don’t start trying to schedule the procedure simply because you’re snoring at night.

However, if you have a nasal obstruction like a deviated septum, the procedure can be a viable option. Some other reasons to consider having the procedure performed can include:

  • To remove nasal polyps
  • As treatment for chronic sinusitis
  • Help prevent chronic nosebleeds

While frequent nosebleeds are a less common symptom associated with nasal blockages. They can be embarrassing, life-disrupting, and lead to other nasal issues.

Septoplasty is a procedure that’s typically performed on adults and teens. Since children’s noses are still developing, most pediatricians recommend holding off on the surgery until the child reaches adolescence.

If you’re wondering how common the nasal procedure is, it’s estimated that around 260,000 septoplasties are performed annually. Sometimes, it helps to know you’re not the only one dealing with a deviated septum.

What To Expect During Septoplasty

Even though most septoplasties are done as an outpatient procedure, it’s still nice to know what to expect. This can help lessen your anxiety, especially if the thought of any type of surgery sends you into a panic.

Chances are, your healthcare provider will administer general anesthesia. Yes, you get to sleep through the surgery. This way, you don’t need to worry about seeing what the surgeon is doing or the implements they may be using. After all, no one wants to see a scalpel heading towards their face.

Another option is using local anesthesia. You’re still awake during the procedure but the area around your septum is numb. You can discuss your options with your physician before starting the procedure.

During the procedure, your physician will make a small cut on the side of your nose. This allows them to lift the thin layer of mucosa covering the septum. Once this membrane is moved out of the way, the surgeon can start reshaping your septum. Occasionally, the surgeon may need to remove a bit of the bone and cartilage, but don’t worry; the anesthesia will keep you from feeling any discomfort.

Once your septum is reshaped, the thin membrane is repositioned over the septum. You should expect the surgery to last anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour. How long the surgery takes generally depends on the severity of the bend.

Some soft packing material is often placed around your septum. Yes, this means you have cotton shoved up your nose. Don’t worry, it’s only temporary. The material will help reduce your risk of nose bleeds and minimize any scarring.

If you’re wondering if nasal septoplasty is painful, the answer is yes and no. You aren’t going to feel anything during surgery but should expect to experience some discomfort afterward. Most people compare the feeling of discomfort to what they experience during a sinus infection. After a few days, most people report feeling little to no discomfort.

Are There Risks Associated With Nasal Septoplasty Surgery

As with any type of surgery, there are a few risks. Even though complications during the procedure are rare, they can occur. Some of the potential risks you should be aware of can include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infection
  • Scarring inside your nasal cavity
  • A perforation (hole) in your septum
  • Numbness of your nose and teeth which is usually temporary and only lasts for a day or so

In extremely rare cases, toxic shock syndrome can occur. If you believe you are experiencing any issues after your septoplasty surgery, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

A Septoplasty Can Help Improve Your Breathing

Surgery is rarely at the top of anyone’s list of enjoyable activities, but sometimes it’s necessary. If you’re having problems breathing through your nasal cavities or your snoring is out of control, you may be dealing with a deviated septum.

You can probably continue through life breathing through your mouth and snoring loudly through the night, but there can be a solution that can help you live a better life. If you’re dealing with a deviated septum, talk to your physician about the benefits and risks of nasal septoplasty.

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