What you can expect

Septoplasty straightens the nasal septum by trimming, repositioning and replacing cartilage or bone. The surgeon works through incisions inside the nose. Occasionally it is necessary to make a small incision between the nostrils. If the nasal bones are crooked and pushing the septum off to one side, it may be necessary to make cuts in the bones of the nose to reposition them. Spreader grafts are small, reinforcing strips of cartilage that can be used to help correct a deviated septum when the problem is along the bridge of the nose. Sometimes these are necessary to effectively straighten the septum.

During the procedure

Septoplasty requires local or general anesthesia, depending on your and your surgeon's preferences and on the complexity of the surgery.

  • Local anesthesia. This type of anesthesia is limited to your nose. Your doctor injects the pain-numbing medication (anesthetic) into your nasal tissues. If you will also have sedation, this is produced with medication injected through a catheter placed in a vein — an intravenous (IV) line. The medication makes you groggy but not fully unconscious.
  • General anesthesia. With general anesthesia, you inhale an anesthetic agent or receive an anesthetic through an IV line. This type of anesthesia affects your entire body and induces a temporary state of unconsciousness.

Discuss with your doctor beforehand which kind of anesthesia is best in your case.

During surgery, the incision is closed with absorbable suture. Soft silicone splints may be inserted inside each nostril to support the septum. To prevent postoperative bleeding, your doctor may place bandage-like material in your nose.

After the surgery, you're moved to a recovery room, where the staff monitors you and watches for any complications. This procedure is typically performed on an outpatient basis, so you'll likely be able to go home the same day.

After the procedure

To further decrease the chances of bleeding and swelling, your doctor may ask that you follow these precautions for several weeks after surgery. Depending on the extent of your surgery, you may not be asked to comply with all of them:

  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as aerobics and jogging. This is to decrease the chance of a blood pressure elevation that could cause a nosebleed.
  • Don't blow your nose.
  • Elevate your head when you're sleeping.
  • Wear clothes that fasten in the front; don't pull clothing, such as shirts or sweaters, over your head.