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Information about this procedure is listed under the following headings:


Why do I need this operation?

What are the intended benefits of the surgery?

How is the surgery performed?

What are the potential risks and how great are these risks?

What am I to expect after the operation?

How long will I be off work/school?

Frequently asked Questions





Why do I need this operation?

The septum is the wall of cartilage and bone in the middle of your nose. It separates your two nostrils. Sometimes this is bent or buckled (see drawing). This reduces the space for air to flow through your nose and causes obstruction or snoring. Sometimes a septoplasty is required to gain access to the sinuses surrounding the nose.



What are the intended benefits of the surgery?

A septoplasty is performed to straighten the cartilage of the septum and allow air to pass through the nose more easily. A Submucus resection of the septum (SMR) is performed where there is only a small bump in the septum. This is simply cut away to leave a straighter septum. Sometimes a septoplasty/SMR is performed to allow easier access through the nose for sinus surgery.



How is the surgery performed?

Septoplasty is performed under general anaesthesia. A small cut is made inside one of the nostrils and from this cut the lining of the septum is lifted off. The septum is then refashinoned and stitched into place with the lining reapplied. Packs are sometimes put into the nose to prevent the build up of blood between the cartilage of the septum and the lining.



What are the potential risks?

1) Bleeding - this may result in a nose bleed, but this usually stops quickly. A bloodstained ooze may persist for a few days.
2) Infection - as with any operation, infection may occur in the area that is involved but this is not very common.
3) Septal perforation - if blood builds up between the cartilage and the lining that was lifted away, the pressure from this blood may damage the cartilage and result in a hole. This is also a possibility when the surgery was technically difficult and the lining of the septum was damaged.
4) Collapse - this unusual complication occurs when the damage to the cartilage is more extensive and the septum can no longer bear the weight of the nose. This leads to a deformity where the nose lies flattened against the face. This is a very uncommon event and occurs in about 1 in 200 patients.
5) Packs - you may wake up from the anaesthetic with pack in your nose. These will make it impossible to breathe through your nose. They are removed the next day.
6) Numbness of the teeth - this is not a common complication but can result if the nerve that supplies your teeth, which is located near the septum, is bruised or damaged. This usually settles in a few months.



What am I to expect after the operation?

You may notice some pinkish fluid coming from your nose, this is normal for a few days after the operation. Your nose will feel blocked for up to six weeks after the procedure, the swelling will need to subside before you notice any improvement. There is not usually very much pain associated with this procedure.



How long will I be off work / school?

Two weeks. This is to decrease the chance of getting an infection in your nose while you are healing.You must avoid any social contact for two weeks after the procedure. You should take extra care to avoid smoky crowded places eg. pubs. A doctor's note will be provided.



Frequently asked Questions

Will this operation affect the shape of my nose?

No. The external appearance of your nose will not be affected.

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Last updated: 23 October 2004