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Correcting a Deviated Septum

Sinus pain, sinusitis. Sad man holding his nose, black and white photo with red sore zoneOur noses have many parts that we know little about. So, when we hear about a procedure such as a septoplasty, we return a blank look. Uh, what? 

When a patient has a deviated septum that means the partition between their nostrils has issues and surgery is necessary to correct it — septoplasty. 

Dr. Volpi performs these outpatient procedures in our two eos Sleep locations in the city. 

What is the septum again? 

Made up of bone and cartilage, the septum is the structure in the nose that separates the two nostrils. For various reasons, the septum can become crooked or deviated, making one nostril larger and the other smaller. This problem usually creates issues with airflow, often leading to snoring and sleep apnea. Surgery to straighten the septum is called septoplasty. 

A deviated septum usually has two causes. A person is born with problems with their septum, or trauma caused the displacement of their septum.

What is septoplasty? 

Septoplasty has a singular focus — to correct a deviated septum. Septoplasty is usually required to improve airflow though the nostrils into the nasal passages. Some people confuse septoplasty with rhinoplasty, colloquially known as a “nose job.” Rhinoplasty, however, is a cosmetic surgery whose goal is to change the shape of the nose. Septoplasty is a reconstructive surgery that straightens the septum but doesn’t affect the shape or outer appearance of the nose. 

How is septoplasty performed? 

For this surgery, Dr. Volpi makes any necessary incisions within the nose. The first step is to lift the mucus membrane that covers the septum. He then straightens the nasal septum by trimming, repositioning, and sometimes replacing cartilage or bone. He may need to make a small incision between the nostrils. If the bones are crooked, he may make cuts in the bones before repositioning them. If there is a problem with a depressed bridge, spreader grafts (small reinforcing strips of cartilage) can be used to build it up. When the necessary changes have been made, the mucus membrane is returned and repositioned, and the incision is closed. Silicone splints are placed in each nostril and the nose will be packed to reduce bleeding. The packing will be removed in a day or two, but the splints remain for support during healing. 

How is recovery after septoplasty? 

There will be some pain and swelling for one to two days, but swelling doesn’t tend to linger with this surgery. Dr. Volpi will have placed some splints to support your repaired nose, but you’ll still have to do everything possible to not bump your nose. You’ll need to sleep with your head elevated for a few days, and you can’t blow your nose. Clothing needs to be of the button up variety to minimize the risk of hitting your nose. Strenuous exercise must wait for at least two weeks. This is because this type of exercise raises blood pressure, and this could cause the incision to bleed. The nasal tissues are relatively stable by 3-6 months, but full recovery really takes about one year. 

Do you have a deviated septum? Dr. Volpi can address your problem with septoplasty and improve your nose breathing. Give him a call at eos Sleep, (212) 873-6036, to schedule a consultation.

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