A wall of cartilage divides the nose into 2 separate chambers. It’s called the nasal septum. A deviated septum is when this wall is shifted away from the midline. This may cause congestion, problems with breathing, or nasal discharge.
The most common symptom from a deviated septum is trouble breathing through the nose. The symptoms are often worse on one side. In some cases, normal sinus drainage is affected. This can result in repeated sinus infections.
You may be born with a deviated septum. Or, it can result from injury, or damage from past treatments.
Other people normally can’t tell you have a deviated septum. Trouble breathing through the nose, or one side of the nose, is the most common symptom. You may also have stuffiness, congestion, or a feeling of fullness. A deviated septum can also impair normal drainage from the sinuses. This can lead to recurrent sinus infections.
Your healthcare provider will take a health history and do a physical exam. He or she will ask questions about any previous injury, and symptoms. The physical exam may include a nasal speculum, otoscope, or nasal endoscopy. If needed, a CT scan of the nose may be done.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, surgery may be advised. Septoplasty is a reconstructive surgery done to correct a deviated nasal septum. The procedure is done through the nostrils. During the procedure, parts of the septum may be removed, or readjusted and reinserted into the nose.
Septoplasty may be done with the traditional open surgery from inside the nose. When open surgery is done, small scars are made on the base of the nose. They are usually not noticeable. Scarring is not visible when internal surgery is done. Depending on the severity of the deviation, septoplasty may be done in:
The surgeon will let you know when you can get back to normal activities. Many people recover within a few days and are able to return to school or sedentary work in a week or so.
After surgery, you may have a splint on the nose to help hold its new shape. You may also have nasal packs or soft splints in the nostrils to stabilize the septum.
Short-term side effects of surgery may include:
Healing is a slow process. You may have some swelling for months, especially in the tip of the nose. Final results of nasal surgery may not be clear for a year or more.
As with any surgery, there can be complications. People vary greatly in their anatomy and ability to heal. The outcome is never fully predictable. Complications include:
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