Septoplasty

What is a septoplasty?

A septoplasty is a procedure performed to correct or repair an abnormality in the nasal septum (the partition between the two sides of the nose).

What are some of the causes of an abnormal nasal septum?

The nasal septum is usually straight throughout childhood. The most common reason a child may develop a crooked (deviated) septum is through injury or trauma to the nose and face. In contrast, as a person gets older, the nasal septum may start to bend to one side or another with normal growth; few adults have a straight nasal septum.

What are the indications for a septoplasty?

A septoplasty is indicated when the nasal septum is abnormal (crooked or deformed) to the point that it interferes with normal breathing. This deformity creates a narrowing in the nasal passage that makes it hard to breath (think of the difficulty in blowing through a straw that is bent). Unless the symptoms are very severe, septoplasty is usually not indicated in a child that is still growing, as the septum contains the “growth center” of the nose. Therefore, septoplasty is more commonly performed in adolescence or adulthood (at least 16 years of age in girls and 17 to 18 years of age in boys). In certain situations, a limited conservative septoplasty may be necessary at an earlier age.

Septoplasty itself is NOT a cosmetic procedure (it may not change the outer appearance of the nose). However, it can be performed along with rhinoplasty, which is a surgical procedure that does change the outer appearance of the nose. This is called a septorhinoplasty. This operation is designed to straighten a deformed external nose AND correct the septum. A septorhinoplasty is very individualized and involves close communication between the patient, parents and surgeon to achieve the desired cosmetic result. Small hidden in incisions are made in and on the nose during this procedure. These operations are usually 21/2 to 3 hours long and require 2 to 3 weeks for recovery.

What is involved with a septoplasty?

In children, septoplasty is performed under general anesthesia. A small surgical cut (incision) is made inside the nose. The tissue lining the septum (mucous tissue, similar to the lining of the inside of the mouth) is lifted away from the cartilage and bone. The crooked or abnormal portions of the bone are then either removed or straightened. The mucous lining is then replaced, and the septum is splinted (kept in the new position) for a few days. These splints support the repaired cartilage and prevent hematoma formation (blood collection under the tissue).The procedure usually lasts about an hour and a half and usually does not require a hospital (overnight) stay.

What are the risks and complications of septoplasty?

Complications can include bleeding, which is usually easily controlled. A perforation or hole in the septum, infection of the surgical site, or a change in the appearance of the outer nose are other, less common complications.