Your septum is the thin bone and cartilage that divides your nose into two parts. Its job is to give the nose support and direct airflow. When a septum is not straight, it is called a deviated septum, which may require surgical correction.
Dangers of a Deviated Septum
A deviated septum can cause sleep apnea, which has been found to be a causal or contributing factor in several serious medical conditions such as
- acid reflux
- adult asthma
- type 2 diabetes
- heart disease
- weight gain
- high blood pressure
Causes of a Deviated Septum
A deviated septum can be present at birth or it can develop as the nose grows through childhood and puberty. A broken nose is also a common cause of deviated septum. Most people have a slightly deviated septum that causes no problems during their life. Others will have symptoms such as
- dry mouth
- optimal breathing when sleeping on a particular side
- disturbed sleep
- facial pain
- noisy breathing during sleep
- difficulty breathing
- abnormal nasal congestion
Surgery to Open the Airways
Corrective surgery for a deviated septum is a form of rhinoplasty called a septoplasty. The surgeon straightens the septum so that your airflow is no longer obstructed. It is generally recommended when all other treatments methods have failed to produce lasting results. Septoplasty is usually perfomed on an outpatient basis, and takes from 30 to 90 minutes.
Risks and Recovery
Septoplasty carries all the risks of any surgery requiring general anesthesia, which your doctor will explain to you beforehand. You will have swelling and pain after the procedure, for which you will likely be prescribed pain medication. You should not take any blood-thinning, over-the-counter pain medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, to prevent the risk of bleeding problems. During the first several weeks after your operation, all forms of exercise such as contact sports, running and lifting weights should be limited, since they can increase your risk of heavy bleeding. Your doctor will give you explicit instructions on things you can and cannot do during your recovery. While it can take up to a year for your nose to heal completely, normal activities can be resumed as soon as your doctor feels it is safe.
A deviated septum can restrict airflow to your body and cause serious physical problems. If you have any of the symptoms of a deviated septum, consult your doctor for treatment. If treatments fail to correct the problem, consult a trusted plastic surgeon to see if a septoplasty is the right choice for your particular case.
For a rhinoplasty surgeon in your area, contact a doctor such as William M. Parell, MD, PSC.