The nasal septum is a bony, cartilaginous, thin structure that divides the nasal cavity into halves. Ideally, the nasal septum is straight and positioned in the center of the nose. A deviated septum refers to a crooked or off-center nasal septum. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, deviated septums are actually extremely common, occurring in about 80% of the population.
A deviated septum can form during fetal development, representing a congenital condition. After birth, a deviated septum is often the result of a traumatic injury that displaces the septum (i.e. a blunt trauma from contact sports, or a slip and fall accident). Various types of deviations exist. However, depending on the severity of the condition and/or persistent symptoms, you may consider a septoplasty to correct this nasal deformity.
Common symptoms of a deviated septum include:
- Difficulty breathing though one or both nostrils
- Reduction in airflow
- Nasal congestion
- Frequent sinus infections due to poor sinus drainage
- Frequent postnasal drip, especially with allergies or a cold virus
- Frequent nosebleeds
- Facial sensitivity around the nasal septum
- Frequent and/or loud snoring
- Sleep apnea
Deviated septum is not as common in Asians as in patients of other ethnicities; however, when it does occur, it can be corrected. Decongestants, nasal strips, prescription medications and even simple at-home remedies can temporarily relieve symptoms, but the underlying anatomical issue still remains. In order to address the root cause, septoplasty is often recommended for true correction. In severe cases where breathing is impaired, surgical intervention is required.
Patients usually undergo an initial consultative exam with an experienced physician to determine the cause of bothersome symptoms and/or diagnose the deviated septum. An ENT specialist, or otolaryngologist, will then confirm the diagnosis by performing an in-office endoscopic procedure of the nasal septum. In some instances, a CAT scan is ordered for further imaging. If you, your physician and your surgeon decide that surgical correction is the best option, a septoplasty operation is scheduled and performed as a same-day, outpatient procedure.
The goal of septoplasty is to reposition and center the nasal septum. Septoplasty is generally performed internally, within the nostrils. Your surgeon will utilize the appropriate suture technique based on the type of correction needed. This requires an incision in the septum so that the surgeon can remove and/or reposition the obstructing bones, cartilage and tissues.
Asian patients often have insufficient septal cartilage for use in correcting a deviated septum. For this reason, cartilage may need to be taken from the ear or less commonly the rib. Many Asian patients also desire dorsal augmentation at the same time as their septoplasty, which can be achieved with crushed cartilage or fascia. Synthetic implants are also an option but are generally less desirable.
The recovery period following septoplasty is relatively short, lasting about two to three weeks with minimal swelling and bruising. If splints were used for added support and protection, they will be removed in your doctor’s office within two weeks after surgery.
Dr. Nassif specializes in Asian rhinoplasty, including reconstructive techniques such as septoplasty. Dr. Nassif commonly performs septoplasty during a typical rhinoplasty to ensure a patient’s proper breathing. When a septoplasty and rhinoplasty are performed as one procedure, the surgery is called a septorhinoplasty. If you suffer from a deviated septum, please contact Dr. Nassif today at (310) 275-2467 to discuss the benefits and your candidacy for a septoplasty or septorhinoplasty.