If you suffer chronic nasal congestion, difficulty breathing, or recurrent sinus infections, a deviated septum may be the cause. A deviated septum occurs when the thin wall (nasal septum) between your nostrils is crooked. The result can be uneven nasal passages that don’t allow adequate airflow through the smaller of the two nostrils. This issue may be more common than you think. About 20% of the population has a deviated nasal septum, and 25% of those who do, report difficulty breathing as a result.
About 22,000 Americans opt to correct their deviated septums with a septoplasty annually. Dr. Mani Zadeh, a board-certified head and neck surgeon based in Los Angeles, has performed countless septoplasties. Here he breaks down each step of the procedure.
Before surgery, you’ll be administered medication to ensure your comfort throughout the procedure. The anesthesia options may include intravenous sedation or general anesthesia.
Usually, the incisions for septoplasty are made within the nasal cavity. However, for more complex septoplasties or those performed in conjunction with rhinoplasties (cosmetic nose surgeries), a small incision may be made across the columella. The columella is the narrow strip of tissue that separates the nostrils and is barely noticeable once healed.
To access a deviated septum, the delicate nasal mucosal lining that covers the septum's surface is gently lifted away. This step requires great care since the lining is fragile and, in the wrong hands, can tear. The mucosal lining is lifted away from one side of the septum, and the same is done on the opposite side.
With the mucosal lining safely separated, Dr. Zadeh focuses on correcting the deviated septum. The bone and cartilage causing the deviation are carefully removed, ensuring the special mucosal lining remains intact.
Once the septum is in the desired position and straightened, the nasal mucosal lining is repositioned around it. The lining is sutured back together to maintain the corrected alignment. These internal sutures used during the surgery will dissolve over time.
After surgery, splints or packing materials may be used to stabilize your newly constructed septum. These are typically removed shortly after the procedure, allowing you to breathe more freely. As you recover, you will notice improvements in your nasal airflow and a reduction in the symptoms that led you to seek a septoplasty.
If you suspect you have a deviated septum, and for all of your nasal and sinus care needs, contact Dr. Zadeh by requesting an appointment online or calling 310-286-0123.