Inside your nose is a delicate framework of cartilage and bone. This framework provides support to the nasal cavity, regulates the flow of air in and out of your nose, and protects your sinuses and olfactory senses. One of the most important components is the septum, a piece of cartilage that divides your nose into the left and right sides. When the septum is bent, broken, or mangled (commonly referred to as a deviated septum), it can have profoundly negative effects on your health. A septoplastyis a form of functional rhinoplasty that can straighten out the septum to improve breathing and the overall function of the nose.
How Does a Deviated Septum Occur?
There are two broad manners in which a patient can get a deviated septum: trauma and genetics. Trauma from a sports injury, an accident, or abuse can cause a broken nose which will lead to a deviated septum if not set properly. Some people have a genetic or congenital condition, meaning that a person is born with a deviated septum. Another less common cause is a previous rhinoplasty surgery. In the Asian population, a bent or broken septum is usually caused by trauma because Asians have weaker cartilage than other ethnicities, making it easier to get a broken nose.
Why Is It a Health Issue?
The most common symptom in patients with a deviated septum is a limited ability to breathe out of one or both sides of the nose. Other symptoms include congestion, frequent nosebleeds, sensitivity around the nose, and frequent sinus infections. These can all cause or contribute to major health problems. For example, impaired breathing can cause heavy snoring or sleep apnea, a dangerous condition in which a person can stop breathing while they sleep. Difficulty breathing can also cause problems while exercising, which can lead to obesity and other weight-related health conditions. Sinus infections can spread through your whole body if they are not treated quickly and effectively.
A deviated septum can range in severity in symptoms, but it always poses a danger to the patient, especially if it is never corrected.
Functional Asian rhinoplasty is a form of rhinoplasty designed to improve the overall health and function of the nose and nasal cavity. A septoplasty is a very common element of the procedure. It can be performed by itself, or in conjunction with other functional rhinoplasty corrections. Septoplasty can also be performed with cosmetic Asian rhinoplasty, which improves the overall appearance of the nose.
Septoplasty can be performed internally or externally, depending on the extent of surgery needed. If it can be performed internally, this is usually accomplished with incisions made inside the nostrils so the surgeon can access the septum cartilage. For external access, the surgeon will make incisions on the outside of the nose, usually on the outside of the nostrils where the nose meets the rest of the face. An external incision will most likely be needed if the septum is especially mangled or if other functional or cosmetic adjustments will be made at the same time.
The procedure involves returning the septum to the midline of the nose by replacing or enforcing the existing septal cartilage. Because Asians have weaker cartilage than those of other ethnicities, it is common practice for a functional rhinoplasty surgeon to use cartilage from another source. Usually this source is the patient’s own ear, but it can also come from the patient’s rib. There are other materials that can be used to repair the septum, but most surgeons prefer using the patient’s own tissue to reduce the risk of complications or rejections.
What to Expect During and After Surgery
Septoplasty surgery can be performed under local or general anesthesia and is an outpatient procedure. It usually takes a one to two hours followed by some time in a recovery room. The incisions are closed with absorbable or removable sutures, usually absorbable if made inside the nose. The nasal passages are also usually stabilized with splints or packing.
Recovery will vary depending on the amount of surgery performed. Sutures and splints can be removed after one to two weeks and normal activities can be resumed after two weeks. There will be some swelling and bruising around the nose. The extent will also depend on the amount of surgery and the patient’s tendency to bruise. If the septoplasty is performed inside the nose, there will be little visible bruising and most of the swelling will be concentrated on the inside. However, if the septoplasty is performed along with cosmetic corrections or as part of a major surgical fix, the amount of bruising and swelling will be significantly greater.
Schedule a Septoplasty Consultation Today
Dr. Paul Nassif of Beverly Hills is known worldwide for his expertise in all things rhinoplasty-related. If you have trouble breathing or other health concerns resulting from a deviated septum, contact our office at (310) 275-2467 to schedule an initial consultation with the Asian rhinoplasty expert.