Patients with chronic nasal obstruction may suffer from a deviated septum. The septum is the divider of the nose separating the right and left nasal passage; it is made of cartilage and bone. The septum can become deviated (bent) due to nasal injuries or some people can have natural curvature of the septum. It is estimated that over 25% of people have a deviated septum but only a small fraction complain of nasal obstruction.
Correction of a deviated septum is called septoplasty. Septoplastyis performed under general anesthesia. A small incision is made inside the nose allowing the surgeon to remove or reshape bent cartilage and bone. After the abnormal tissue is removed a dissolvable suture is used to close the incision. Packing of the nose is rarely necessary. Unlike cosmetic nasal surgery (rhinoplasty), septoplasty does not cause external bruising. Patients typically are discharged to home one hour after surgery is complete and follow up in the office in one to two weeks.
Care after surgery includes nasal saline rinses and analgesics such as Norco or Vicodin. Most patients return to work in one week. Final results are expected after three months, however most patients experience significant improvement after 2-3 weeks.