Ear, Nose & Throat

What You Should Expect From Septoplasty, Before and After

Thu, Apr 13, 2023

What You Should Expect From Septoplasty, Before and After

Do you have difficulty breathing through one or both sides of your nose? Suffer from ongoing nasal congestion, snoring, or sleep apnea? Experience nose bleeds, headaches, or facial pain? You may have a deviated septum, where the cartilage inside the nose is off-center (deviated) and blocks airflow. Each year, more than 250,000 septoplasties—or deviated septum surgeries—are performed in the United States to straighten the septum. If you’re considering this surgery to help improve airflow and other symptoms, find out what you can expect to happen with septoplasty, before and after the procedure.

Preparation For—and Recovery FromDeviated Septum Surgery

When you first visit your Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist (ENT), you’ll be examined to determine if a deviated septum causes your symptoms. They will look into your nostrils with a bright light and a speculum to see if the septum is crooked and blocking one of your nasal passages. They may also do a nasal endoscopy or a CT scan if needed. Lastly, they’ll look for any other conditions that could result from the deviation, including sinus infections, swollen membranes, large adenoids or tonsils, and congestion.

How to Treat a Deviated Septum

If your ENT diagnoses you with a deviated septum, they may first pursue non-surgical ways to treat swollen mucous membranes, such as:

  • Decongestants
  • Nasal sprays
  • Antihistamines

If these medications don’t provide enough relief, your ENT may talk to you about septoplasty.

What is Septoplasty?

Working through small incisions inside the nose, the surgeon will trim, reposition, or replace the cartilage to straighten and open up the blocked airway for better breathing. This outpatient surgery generally takes 30 to 90 minutes and is usually performed under general anesthesia.

How to Get Ready for Deviated Septum Surgery

Your doctor will ask for a list of medications you take and may advise you, for a period of time before and after the surgery, to stop taking certain medications that could carry a risk of increased bleeding (such as aspirin or ibuprofen). They may also ask you to stop smoking if you are a smoker. Be sure to follow any other instructions they provide, including when to stop eating and drinking before the surgery.

What Happens During Surgery

After your deviated septum is repaired, your ENT may use (absorbable) sutures to close incisions in your nose and insert soft splints to support the healing septum. Your nose will be packed with gauze to help prevent bleeding afterward.

You’ll be in recovery for a little while after surgery so the staff can watch for any complications. Then you’ll be allowed to leave on the same day as long as your recovery is stable. A friend or family member will need to drive you home as you will still be under the effects of anesthesia.

Septoplasty Recovery Day by Day

The good news is that recovery from septoplasty is fairly short and uncomplicated, although it can take up to a year for the bone and cartilage to heal.

You’ll be told to rest at home for several days. Your surgeon will tell you when the packing can be removed, generally after a few days. You’ll also be prescribed pain medication to take as needed, as your nose will be swollen and tender from the surgery.

A young woman with sinus pain holds her fingers to her nose and wonders about septoplasty recovery day by day.To aid in your recovery:

  • Avoid blowing your nose for several weeks
    • And avoid crowds to keep the risk of catching a cold or flu to a minimum
  • Sleep with your head elevated
  • Avoid exercise and contact sports for up to five weeks
  • Avoid heavy lifting that could increase heart rate and blood pressure
  • Choose clothes that fasten in the front so as not to pull them over your head and nose

You’ll want to watch out for:

  • Bleeding
  • Signs of infection, including fever, pain, and unusual discharges
  • Numbness in your teeth or nose

If you experience any of these symptoms during your recovery, contact your ENT.

The Region’s Most Trusted ENT Specialists

If you’re having problems breathing and are considering septoplasty for your deviated septum, make your first call to North Carolina Specialty Hospital’s ENT specialists. We have a long-standing history of almost 100 years of providing Triangle area residents with cutting-edge medical services and superior patient care. You can trust that we’ll be there for you for every part of your septoplasty, before and after.

Learn more about our Ear, Nose, and Throat Department here. Then, request an appointment with an ENT specialist today by clicking on the ENT doctor’s photo and completing the form. We look forward to seeing you soon and helping you breathe easier.

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