When the wall of bone and cartilage that separates the nostrils, called the septum, becomes crooked, it causes difficulty with nasal breathing. Depending on the severity of the deviation and the position of the septum, either a septoplasty or septal reconstruction, both surgical procedures, are performed to restore healthy breathing and comfort.
The nasal septum is the wall that divides the right and left nasal passages. It is comprised of cartilage and bone, and it supports the overall nasal structure. The nasal septum can become deviated, or crooked, as a result of trauma or natural growth and development. This deviation can block the nasal passages, making it difficult to breathe. The condition can lead to snoring or sleep apnea.
The surgery to correct a deviated septum is called a septoplasty or septal reconstruction. At The Comprehensive ENT Center of Texas in Austin, Dr. Daniel Leeman specializes in septoplasty and septal reconstruction. Because the septum continues to develop until the age of 18, the procedure is most often performed on adults. Either the septoplasty or septal reconstruction procedure may help correct:
Depending on the degree of deviation, a septoplasty can last from one to one and a half hours. Dr. Leeman often performs this outpatient procedure under local or general anesthesia.
Access to the septum is via a small incision on the side of the nose. The procedure begins by first septal cartilage lifting off the lining of the septal cartilage to reach the septum. It will then be moved into the correct position and, if there are any obstructions in the area, such as extra pieces of bone or cartilage, they will be removed.
In most cases, the procedure is done on an out-patient basis in our ear nose and throat (ENT) clinic, rather than a hospital, and takes 30 to 90 minutes.
Because there are so many structures and cavities within the nose that can have blockages, there are potentially multiple reasons for having difficulty breathing, and a deviated septum is just one.
Another is the enlargement of what is called “turbinates.” Turbinates are small, seashell-shaped structures in the nasal passages. They contain blood vessels and other types of tissues. As part of your entire breathing network, they allow air into the system that will reach the lungs. The purpose of turbinates is to humidify and warm the air you breathe in, so that cold air does not reach the lungs.
If you have ever inhaled icy cold air that hit your lungs, you know how painful that can be, and you have probably seen the “mist” when you exhale in very cold weather. This is because the turbinates are doing their job of humidifying the air you breathe. When the turbinates become enlarged, their functionality is reduced, and they no longer provide adequate protection for the lungs.
This is not particularly uncommon and, as a short, out-patient procedure, turbinate reduction often accompanies surgery to correct a deviated septum.
With the latest diagnostic and treatment equipment onsite, Dr. Leeman can evaluate your situation and create and implement a treatment plan often far more quickly than many other practitioners. With issues such as difficulty breathing, this must occur as soon as possible. Along with his expertise, Dr. Leeman is also known for his care and compassion, you can feel comfortable working with him, as well as confident in his ability to resolve your situation.
Dr. Leeman will provide detailed instructions for your aftercare. As a general rule of thumb, avoid any strenuous activity or anything that might spike your blood pressure, as this may trigger excessive bleeding.
The first 48 hours are often the most difficult, and you are likely to experience pain, fatigue, stiffness, and nasal drainage. Dr. Leeman will give you a prescription for medication to reduce any pain or discomfort during this time. Facial swelling can last two to three days.
You may have been given packing or splints. Packing will be removed 24 to 36 hours after surgery. Splints can be left in place for one to two weeks, which is the normal recovery time. Dissolvable sutures are most often used to close the incision, and these will disintegrate and be absorbed into the skin on their own.
As a double board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Leeman’s training and experience go well beyond that of a cosmetic surgeon. For nearly 20 years he has been providing the Austin community with top-of-the-line cosmetic and reconstructive procedures for all areas of the head, face and neck in his state-of-the-art facility.