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Septoplasty (Deviated Septum Repair)

For patients who suffer from nasal airflow obstruction, chronic sinus infections, snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, and related conditions, a deviated septum could be the cause of their symptoms. By performing an outpatient septoplasty procedure, Board-Certified Otolaryngologist (ENT) and fellowship-trained Rhinologist Dr. Shawn Allen can help reduce nasal obstructions so that the patient can breathe through their nose more easily. An expert in treating nasal and sinus conditions, Dr. Allen is proud to serve patients from Houston, The Woodlands, and surrounding communities.

Woman smelling bouquet of flowers at the beach

What is a Deviated Septum?

The nasal septum is a structure made of bone and cartilage that separates the nasal cavity into two nasal passages. The septum is intended to divide the left and right nasal passages equally, but up to Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Deviated Septum American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery Go to Source 80% of people have a septum that is crooked. This is known as a deviated septum. A deviated septum is rare in childhood, and tends to develop during the growth of bone and cartilages within the head throughout the teenage and early adulthood stages of development. In other cases it may be caused by an injury to the nose.
Illustration of a deviated septum

Man holding sinuses while sitting on park bench

Symptoms of a Deviated Septum

Depending on the severity of the deviation, a deviated septum can restrict airflow and may cause a number of symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing through the nose (Nasal Congestion)
  • Nosebleeds
  • An increased risk of sinus infections (sinusitis)
  • Headaches
  • Noisy breathing
  • Mouth breathing
  • Snoring
  • Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Deviated Septum Cleveland Clinic Go to Source Sleep Apnea

Septoplasty: Deviated Septum Repair

In cases where a deviated septum causes mild to no symptoms, treatment is often not necessary. An otolaryngologist may recommend a septoplasty procedure for patients whose deviated septum causes breathing problems, chronic sinus infections, sleep apnea, or other problems.

A septoplasty is an outpatient, endoscopic surgical procedure performed to straighten the septum and improve the shape of the nasal passages to alleviate symptoms of a deviated septum. This may involve removal of portions of the deviated bone or cartilage, Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Septoplasty Mayo Clinic Go to Source repositioning of bone or cartilage , or inserting small pieces of cartilage (spreader grafts) to provide additional support to the septum.

Septoplasty is the only effective treatment for a deviated septum, as medications are unable to alter the shape of the septum beyond reducing surface swelling when present. Roughly Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Septoplasty Cleveland Clinic Go to Source 260,000 septoplasty procedures are performed every year in the United States.
Septoplasty illustration

Hopeful woman taking deep breath

Preparing for Septoplasty

Before your septoplasty procedure, you will meet with Dr. Shawn Allen for an examination. During this appointment, Dr. Allen will review your medical history, physically and visually examine your deviated nasal septum, and possibly obtain a CT scan of your sinuses to further explore any abnormalities impacting nasal airflow. If you are determined to be a good candidate for septoplasty, your procedure recommendations will be discussed in detail. You will be given comprehensive pre- and postoperative instructions prior to the day of your surgery.

The Septoplasty Procedure

Septoplasty is an outpatient procedure performed endoscopically under local anesthesia or general anesthesia. Incisions for septoplasty are most often made inside of the nostrils, though in rare cases an incision is made externally between the nostrils.

Through a small incision, Dr. Allen will lift the mucous membrane that covers the septum (the mucosa) so that he can access the bone and cartilage below. He will then reshape the septum, sometimes removing parts of bone and/or cartilage. Dr. Allen may also use cartilage splints (spreader grafts) to support the septum. He will ensure that the septal support mechanism is as straight as possible and continues to provide needed structural support for the nasal tip before repositioning the mucosa and closing the incision on the septum with dissolvable sutures.

Once the septoplasty surgery is complete, Dr. Allen may insert splints within the nasal cavities to hold the septum in place as it heals, but most cases do not require these splints. Nasal packing is no longer used routinely, and any packing material used is biodegradable and no longer obstructs nasal breathing during the healing process.

Recovery After Septoplasty

Dr. Allen’s patients are able to go home on the same day as their septoplasty procedure. It is common to experience swelling, discomfort, drainage, and/or bleeding for the first few days after septoplasty surgery. While bleeding is mild and often resolves within hours after surgery, precautions to avoid further bleeding are in place for approximately 10 days following the surgery including avoiding exercise, blowing the nose, lifting heavy objects, and any other activities that increase the pressure within your head. Swelling, nasal congestion, and discomfort increase for 2 to 3 days while healing-related inflammation builds, and gradually resolves over the following 7 to 10 days. Pain varies among patients, but in most cases is mild to moderate and experienced in the nose, roof of the mouth, and occasionally in the front teeth.

Following your septoplasty procedure, Dr. Allen will encourage you to keep your head elevated while sleeping and use nasal saline irrigations to gently clear your nose of blood and mucus for several weeks while healing. Most patients are able to return to work within one week, though you’ll need to wait 10 to 14 days depending upon the extent of your surgery before engaging in exercise and more strenuous activities.

Frequently Asked Questions About Septoplasty

What are the risks of septoplasty?

Septoplasty is a common procedure that is widely considered to be safe, especially when performed by a Board-Certified Otolaryngologist (ENT) and fellowship-trained Rhinologist such as Dr Shawn Allen. Risks and complications of septoplasty are rare, and may include:

  • Infection
  • Excessive bleeding
  • A hole between the nostrils (septal perforation)
  • Changes to the sense of smell
  • Numbness of the nose and upper teeth (often temporary)
  • Change in the Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Deviated Septum American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery Go to Source appearance of the nose

How long will I be off work after my septoplasty?

The majority of Dr. Allen’s patients are able to return to work roughly one week after septoplasty.

Shawn Allen, ENT

Contact Dr. Shawn Allen

If a deviated septum is causing you to experience nasal obstruction, snoring, frequent sinus infections or other symptoms, consulting with a Board-Certified Otolaryngologist (ENT) who specializes in treating nasal and sinus conditions is the best way to achieve lasting relief. If you live in Houston, The Woodlands, or surrounding areas in Texas, Dr. Shawn Allen can perform an outpatient septoplasty procedure to help you breathe more easily and feel better. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Allen, please contact us today.

1 American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. Deviated Septum. Available: https://www.enthealth.org/conditions/deviated-septum/. Accessed December 19 2022.

2 Cleveland Clinic. Deviated Septum. Available: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16924-deviated-septum. Accessed December 19, 2022.

3 Mayo Clinic. Septoplasty. Available: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/septoplasty/about/pac-20384670. Accessed December 19, 2022.

4 Cleveland Clinic. Septoplasty. Available: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/17779-septoplasty. Accessed December 19, 2022.

5 American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. Deviated Septum. Available: https://www.enthealth.org/conditions/deviated-septum/. Accessed December 19 2022.

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Dr. Shawn Allen has either authored or reviewed and approved this content.

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