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Reconstructive Surgery American Board of Otolaryngology - ABO

Deviated Septum FAQ

What is a deviated septum?

What is a deviated septum? The septum is the long strip of cartilage tissue that separates the two air passageways of the nose. A deviated septum refers to an asymmetry in this area, which may or may not be visible on the surface. Often times, a deviated septum can be the cause of health complications, but sometimes no health repercussions occur due to the condition.

What causes a deviated septum?

Deviated septums are often congenital, meaning that they originated at birth. This could be due to a genetic predisposition, or a development that happened during the fetal growth process. The other common cause of deviated septa is trauma to the nose. Whether from a fall, accident, or contact sport, the nose's position on the face makes it vulnerable it to physical damage and possible dislocation. A deviated septum is not a disease, but rather a condition that describes an asymmetry of the nasal passages.

What's the problem with a deviated septum?

Sometimes nothing. Hardly anyone has a perfectly straight septum, but for some, this asymmetry can cause a variety of problems and/or be aesthetically undesirable in some people. A deviated septum disrupts normal airflow through the nostrils, which may result in breathing problems. Although this can be avoided by breathing through the mouth, such disruptions in airflow may also increase an individual’s susceptibility to sinus infections. Other issues may include snoring, problems sleeping, and frequent bleeding.

How can I tell if I have a deviated septum?

If you can't tell and you don't experience any of the aforementioned health issues, then there is little need to be worried about a deviated septum. If, however, you are experiencing health issues or cosmetic concerns that you feel may be related to a deviated septum, you should contact Dr. Rizk’s office in New York to schedule a consultation.

How is a deviated septum fixed?

The surgical procedure designed to correct a deviated septum is called septoplasty. Dr. Sam Rizk makes a series of incisions within the nasal cavity to expose the underlying tissues. Parts of the cartilage may be excised and thinned in order to remove obstructions. The septum is then repositioned and held in place by dissolvable sutures and splints.

How long does the surgery take?

Septoplasty generally takes less than two hours. Patients will be under general or twilight anesthesia for the duration of the operation. If you are undergoing an outpatient procedure, you should arrange for a friend or family member to take you home after the surgery. You may experience the lingering effects of anesthesia for the next day or two; during this time, you should not operate heavy machinery.

What is the recovery time?

Full recovery typically takes several months. Breathing through the nose will be limited at first; therefore strenuous exercises should be avoided during the first few weeks. Splints will be removed after the first week. Prescription or over-the-counter medications can help alleviate any pain and discomfort.

Are there risks associated with the surgery?

The risks associated with septoplasty include infection, reaction to anesthesia, and bleeding. Septoplasty is a very safe procedure and is known to drastically improve nose function. In rare instances, perforations may form along the septal tissue, resulting in possible discomfort or additional problems.

What will happen to the appearance of the nose?

Dr. Rizk takes the aesthetics of the nose very seriously when planning any nasal surgery. All septoplasty procedures should restore both the function and original appearance of the nose.

Can I have my nose's appearance improved during a septoplasty?

It is possible to combine septoplasty and rhinoplasty (a surgical cosmetic enhancement to the nose) into a single operation; however, rhinoplasty procedures demand a different skill set and approach, thus the procedures should not be combined solely for convenience. Only your doctor will be able to determine if cosmetic changes can safely be made in conjunction with a septoplasty.

Does insurance cover septoplasty?

Many insurance plans do cover procedures to correct a deviated septum. If you choose to combine it with a rhinoplasty that portion of the operation is unlikely to be covered. Schedule a consultation in Dr. Sam Rizk's office in NYC to learn more about deviated septum and whether a septoplasty is the appropriate treatment.

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