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The septum is the wall of bone and cartilage that separates the nasal cavity into two different nostrils. When the septum becomes severely deviated, one nasal passage is much smaller than the other, and that can lead to problems breathing through the nose, frequent nosebleeds, and other uncomfortable or painful symptoms. Septoplasty, also known as septal surgery, is performed to straighten a deviated or crooked nasal septum.

Most babies are born with a straight septum, properly centered in the nose, and it remains that way throughout childhood. However, in adulthood, the septum tends to bend toward one side or the other. More than 80% of the adult population has a nasal septum that is deviated to some degree.


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When the deviation is severe enough to cause nasal obstruction and affect breathing, septoplasty may be indicated. Chronic nasal obstruction can contribute to headaches, sleep disorders such as snoring and obstructive sleep apnea, and impair normal breathing, forcing patients to breathe through the mouth and often affecting their daily activities. The main indications for septal surgery are:

  • Nasal airway obstruction
  • Uncontrollable nosebleeds
  • Nasal septal deviation preventing adequate visualization of the sinuses during endoscopic sinus surgery.

At Los Angeles Sinus Institute, Dr. Zadeh implements distinctive surgical approaches, using the safest, most advanced, and minimally invasive techniques. Dr. Zadeh is focused on cutting-edge medical technology and treatment options that offer his patients the greatest outcomes while minimizing risk.

Goals of Septoplasty

Ideally, the nasal septum would be perfectly straight and located precisely in the center of the nose, so that each side of the nasal cavity would be the same size as other. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Birth trauma and trauma during childhood can cause a deviated septum, but even when no injury has occurred, many people have a crooked, deviated septum blocking their airways in adulthood.

The primary goal of septal surgery is to straighten the nasal septum, thereby relieving the obstruction and improving breathing through the nose. Septal surgery may also reduce nasal drainage and post-nasal drip. Our Los Angeles septoplasty can improve the patient’s quality of life by decreasing nasal obstruction, headaches, snoring, and sleep apnea. It is often performed in conjunction with turbinate reduction surgery. (Turbinates are the narrow shelves of bone protruding into the breathing passages that can become enlarged, obstructing the patient’s airways.)

Preparing for Septoplasty:

During your initial consultation with Dr. Zadeh in Los Angeles, he will perform an examination, study your CT scan, if available, and discuss your medical history to determine whether you are a good candidate for septal surgery. Dr. Zadeh will explain the procedure, advise you of what to expect, address any concerns, and answer any questions you may have.

If septoplasty is scheduled, Dr. Zadeh will ask you to avoid certain medications for two weeks before and two weeks following the procedure, as they can increase your risk of bleeding during and after the surgery. You may take Tylenol instead. Medications to avoid include:

  • Aspirin
  • Advil
  • Motrin
  • Aleve

Please advise our office of any supplements and prescribed or over-the-counter medications you are taking. Certain supplements and herbal medications may also increase the risk of bleeding, including:

  • Vitamin E
  • Gingko biloba
  • Ginseng
  • Garlic tablets

As septal surgery is performed under general anesthesia, it is extremely important that you do not eat or drink anything eight hours prior to the surgery. The procedure would otherwise have to be rescheduled to avoid placing you at risk.

Septal Surgery Procedure

Dr. Zadeh performs the most advanced and least invasive medical therapies and surgical procedures to treat nasal and sinus disorders for patients throughout the greater Los Angeles area. He practices with a focus on treating the whole patient, not only the disorder, and on treating the source of the problem, not only the symptoms. A basic outline of the septal surgery procedure at Los Angeles Sinus Institute is:

  • Our Los Angeles septoplasty is performed under general anesthesia.
  • No incisions are made in the skin -- septal surgery is performed entirely through the nostrils.
  • Through an incision made inside the nostril, the mucosa (thin soft membrane of tissue lining the nasal cavity) covering the septal bone and cartilage is lifted up to allow direct visualization of the cartilage and bone.
  • The deviated portions of bone and cartilage are removed or reshaped.
  • The mucosa is returned to its original position and the incision is stitched closed.
  • After septal surgery, once the effects of the anesthesia have worn off, the patient is discharged home.

What to expect after septal surgery

You will be discharged to go home as soon as you feel well enough and recover from the effects of general anesthesia. It is important to avoid all strenuous activity for 2 weeks after the surgery. This includes running, aerobics, swimming, exercising, and contact sports. Avoid bending over and lifting anything that weights over 20 lbs. A walk is acceptable for moderate exercise.

You will have red-colored nasal discharge after the surgery, which should lighten in color and decrease in volume over the following few days. You could have blood-tinged discharge for 10 to 14 days after septoplasty.

Septal surgery can cause temporary swelling of the nasal tissues, which can make your nose and sinuses feel congested and full. Do not blow your nose for 14 days after the surgery to prevent bleeding. If you need to sneeze, do not hold it back, but sneeze with your mouth open. Sleep with your head elevated above your heart to assist in reducing swelling.

We will prescribe antibiotics and painkillers, although we encourage you to take Tylenol instead of relying upon prescription pain medications. In your first post-operative office visit, we will prescribe a saltwater solution to flush your sinuses.