Septoplasty is a plastic surgery performed on the nose to straighten a deviated septum or a crooked nose. The septum is the flat cartilage in between our nostrils. Normally, the septum is straight and located along the medial line of the face. Because the cartilage is soft, it is not uncommon for the septum to deviate from the medial position and become crooked from injury or disease, sometimes even occur as a congenital birth defect.
A deviated septum is not only an aesthetics issue. In severe cases, one of the nostrils may be partially or fully obstructed, causing impaired breathing.
Septoplasty, when performed successfully, can restore a deviated septum to the medial position by adjusting the cartilage and if required, the bone structures supporting them. This straightens the nose and clears any obstruction caused by the cartilage.
Septoplasty is not to be confused with the following plastic surgery procedures involving the nose:
• Rhinoplasty: Augmentation of the nose and nose bridge
• Tip plasty: Augmentation of the tip of the nose
• Alarplasty: Widening/narrowing of the nostrils not involving the septum
Nevertheless, these procedures may be performed together if required/desired. Do discuss this with the plastic surgeon if you wish to do so.
Septoplasty is performed under local or general anaesthesia. During the procedure, the surgeon will make incisions on the medial side of the nostrils to expose the nasal cartilage. A small incision may be made on the skin at the base of the septum sometimes for more complex operations.
From these incisions, the surgeon will shift and remove the deviated nose cartilage and bones as required. When the septum is in the desired position and shape, the incisions are closed with dissolvable sutures.
Small plastic splints may be inserted for several days to facilitate healing and prevent the septum from deviating again while it reforms.
As with all surgical procedures, there are some risks involved. Depending on the success of the surgery, the following complications may occur:
• Temporary/permanent impaired smell, taste and sensation of the nose resulting from disturbed/damaged nerves around the surgical area.
• Excessive bleeding from the nose
• Infection and inflammation
• Perforation of the nasal septum during or after the surgery. This can cause intense pain and should be addressed immediately
If the nose does not heal well post-surgery, or severe complications arise, a follow-up session may be required to rectify the issue and prevent long-term damage.
However, most of these complications can be avoided with skilled techniques and experienced hands. Be sure to consult a reputable surgeon for your septoplasty.
Septoplasty is usually an outpatient procedure and patients can be discharged on the same day.
Nasal splints may be inserted into the nose to facilitate healing and prevent distortion of the nose while it heals. The surgeon will remove this after about 7 days.
Some bloody discharge is expected from the nose for several days. This is perfectly normal and you should not be alarmed. However, if bleeding is excessive, please inform the doctor immediately.
Avoid smoking and tobacco for at least 2 weeks post-surgery.
Daily activities can resume about 7 days after the surgery, or after the splint has been removed, whichever comes later. However, strenuous activities should be avoided for about 6 weeks.
Do not put any excessive force/weight on your nose for at least 4 weeks after the procedure. This includes:
• Blowing your nose
• Sneezing. Try to open your mouth while doing so to redirect the air away from the nose
• Wearing glasses/shades unecessarily. Glasses should be substituted for contact lenses, or suspended from your forehead using a specialised tape.
Adhere to the post-care instructions given by the doctor/surgeon closely.
A complete recovery will take about 3 months.