Nasal Septum Surgery

What is nasal septum surgery?

Nasal septum reconstruction is surgery that straightens or repairs the nasal septum. The septum is the wall of bone and tough, but flexible tissue (cartilage) between the 2 nasal passages in the nose.

Other names for this procedure are nasal septum reconstruction or nasal septoplasty.

When is it used?

This procedure may be done when:

  • The septum is deviated (bent out of shape) from an injury and it’s hard for you to breathe through your nose.
  • You have repeat sinus infections or pain because of a deviated nasal septum. The crooked septum keeps air from reaching the sinuses or touches an inside part of the nose that is very sensitive.
  • The septum has a blood clot from an injury that makes it hard for you to breathe normally.
  • You have a lot of nosebleeds.

After the surgery you should be able to breathe more easily, or you may have fewer nosebleeds.

Ask your healthcare provider about your choices for treatment and the risks.

How do I prepare for this procedure?

  • Make plans for your care and recovery after you have the procedure. Find someone to give you a ride home after the procedure. Allow for time to rest and try to find other people to help with your day-to-day tasks while you recover.
  • Follow your provider’s instructions about not smoking before and after the procedure. Smokers may have more breathing problems during the procedure and heal more slowly. It is best to quit 6 to 8 weeks before surgery.
  • You may or may not need to take your regular medicines the day of the procedure, depending on what they are and when you need to take them. Some medicines (like aspirin) may increase your risk of bleeding during or after the procedure. Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines and supplements that you take. Ask your healthcare provider if you need to avoid taking any medicine or supplements before the procedure.
  • Your provider will tell you when to stop eating and drinking before the procedure. This helps to keep you from vomiting during the procedure.
  • Follow any other instructions your healthcare provider gives you.
  • Ask any questions you have before the procedure. You should understand what your healthcare provider is going to do. You have the right to make decisions about your healthcare and to give permission for any tests or procedures.

What happens during the procedure?

This procedure is usually done at an outpatient surgery center or at the hospital.

You will be given a local or general anesthetic to keep you from feeling pain. Local anesthesia numbs the part of your body where you will have the surgery. If you have local anesthesia, you may also be given medicine to help you relax. General anesthesia relaxes your muscles and you will be asleep.

Your healthcare provider will make a cut inside the lining of your nose. If you have a blood clot in the nose, your provider will drain it. Your provider will reshape the septum so that it will heal in a more normal position. Your provider may put a splint in your nose to hold the septum in place.

After surgery, your provider may pack thin pieces of gauze into each side of your nose to control bleeding.

The procedure usually takes 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

What happens after the procedure?

You may go home the same day as your surgery, or you may stay overnight in the hospital.

Sleep with your head up on at least 2 pillows, and limit your physical activity for a few days after surgery. This helps decrease swelling and the chance of bleeding.

Don’t push on or jar the nose while it is healing. Don’t blow your nose. It’s OK to draw a breath back into your nose and swallow.

If you have packing in your nose:

  • Your loss of smell will lessen your appetite. You may prefer a liquid or soft diet, but you can eat whatever you feel like eating. It’s best to avoid hot and spicy foods because they may increase bleeding.
  • You will be breathing through your mouth until the packing is taken out of your nose. This will make your mouth dry, so drink lots of fluids.
  • The packing will be removed in 1 to 7 days. After the packing is removed, don’t blow your nose for 48 hours. Also try not to cough too hard. Blowing your nose or coughing may start bleeding.

If you have a nosebleed, lean your head forward (so the blood does not go down your throat) and put gauze over your nostrils. If the bleeding does not stop within 10 minutes, call your healthcare provider. You may need to go to the emergency room to have the bleeding stopped.

Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. Ask your provider:

  • How long it will take to recover
  • If there are activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

What are the risks of this procedure?

Every procedure or treatment has risks. Some possible risks of this procedure include:

  • You may have problems with anesthesia.
  • You may lose some of the feeling in your upper lip or teeth. Your front teeth may be numb because of stretching of the nerves that go from the base of the nose down into the front teeth.
  • You may have infection or bleeding.
  • Your septum may develop a hole if it doesn’t heal properly.
  • Rarely, the front part of your nose may be flatter than before.

Ask your healthcare provider how the risks apply to you. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2015-01-02
Last reviewed: 2015-01-01
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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