Treatment: Septal Surgery

Surgery to straighten the septum.

Why you might need? Septal Surgery

The septum is the partition in the middle of the nose that separates the two nostrils and is made of cartilage and bone. In some people it can be bent into one or both nostrils, either because of an injury or sometimes because it grows that way. This can cause a blockage in the nose and so septal surgery is required to straighten the septum.

Septal surgery is recommended for patients who have a bent septum that is causing a nasal blockage. It may also be necessary to straighten a bent septum if it is in the way of carrying out other procedures such as sinus surgery.

Septal surgery may also be combined with nose re-shaping surgery to become septorhinoplasty if the bent septum occurs alongside a twist in the outside shape of the nose.

Treatment Info

This procedure can be carried out under general anaesthetic, but it is also possible with just a local anaesthetic to your nose. It usually takes about 30-45 minutes and will be carried out entirely inside the nose, requiring no cuts to the skin around your nose. Your surgeon will make a cut inside your nose to remove the excess cartilage and bone, so that they can move the rest of the septum back to the centre of your nose. It will then be held in place with stitches, which will later dissolve.

It may be necessary for your surgeon to put packs or dressings on the inside of your nose to hold things in place and stop any bleeding. These will be removed the day after your operation and may result in a small amount of bleeding which should stop quickly. Your surgeon may also put splints (small pieces of plastic) into your nose to stop the formation of scar tissue, which will be removed after about a week.

The procedure should not be painful, but the front of your nose may feel tender for a few weeks afterwards.

What are the alternatives to surgery?

If your septum is bent, the only way to fix it is with surgery. However, using drops or spray may be possible to reduce any swelling that is causing a nasal blockage.

Treatment Aftercare

Septal surgery is safe but, as with all surgical procedures, there are risks involved and your surgeon will discuss these with you before undertaking the procedure.

  • Bleeding – your nose may bleed after the operation requiring packs to be put in your nose to stop it. This can happen any time from the first few hours to 5-10 days after the surgery. Very rarely more major bleeding may occur, requiring a further surgical procedure to stop it.
  • Infection – This is very rare but if it happens it can be serious so you should consult your doctor if your nose begins to feel more and more blocked and sore.
  • Hole in the septum – This is also rare, but you may end up with a hole in your septum between your two nostrils, which causes whistling when you breathe, nosebleeds or crusting with blockage. This usually wouldn’t cause problems and require further treatment but, if necessary, further surgery can be performed to repair the hole.
  • Change to the shape of your nose – very rarely this may happen, with a slight dip forming in the bridge of your nose. You may not notice a change but if you do and are not happy with it, you can have further surgery to fix it.
  • Teeth numbness – also very rare but you may experience some numbness of your teeth which should go away by itself with time.

Treatment Recovery

You will usually be required to stay overnight but, in some cases, you will be able to go home on the day of your surgery.

After the operation has been completed, your nose will feel like it is blocked on both sides for 10-14 days. Your doctor may give you drops or spray to help with this.

For the first week after your surgery, you should not blow your nose and your doctor will confirm when you should be able to gently do so. It is normal for mucus or blood-stained fluid to drip from the nose within two weeks of completion of your surgery, but if you experience heavy bleeding you should see your doctor.
There will be stitches inside your nose that will eventually dissolve and fall by themselves.

Avoiding dusty or smoky environments is very important during your recovery.

Following your operation, you should rest at home for at least a week and if your work involves heavy lifting/carrying you should take two weeks off. You should also avoid any sports with a risk of contact to your nose for around a month.