Septal deviation (or deviated septum) is the term for a misalignment of the cartilage that separates the nasal pathways.
Deviated Septum Information
The nasal septum is a structure in the nose composed of cartilage and bone that separates the right and left sides of the nasal cavity. The septum helps to give the nose structure, allowing air to flow smoothly through the nasal passages. A deviated septum occurs when the cartilage and/or bone are bent to one side or the other, either as a result of fetal development (congenital) or an injury to the nose (acquired). Many people with a septal deformity may never have any symptoms. However, others may experience symptoms such as nasal obstruction or congestion where one or both sides of the nose feel blocked, nosebleeds, facial pain or pressure, headaches, chronic or recurrent sinus infections, dry mouth due to inability to breathe through the nose, fatigue, snoring, or restless sleep.
Septal deviations can be diagnosed during a physical examination; however, CT scans of the nose and nasal sinuses can help to determine the severity of the septal deviation and whether or not it is accompanied by underlying sinus disease. At Del Rey MD, we provide an in-office CT scan so that you can be diagnosed quickly and efficiently.
Medications can sometimes help with the symptoms of a deviated septum. If medical treatment is ineffective, a surgical surgery called septoplasty may be required to correct a crooked septum and improve breathing.
One of our highly skilled surgeons will make a small incision in the septum and then remove the excess bone or cartilage required to balance out the breathing space of the nostrils.
To improve the appearance of the nose, a rhinoplasty, or "nose job," is sometimes combined with septoplasty. Septorhinoplasty is the medical term for this treatment. Septoplasty and sinus surgery are two procedures that can be combined.
Surgery to correct a deviated septum is normally done as an outpatient procedure under local or general anesthesia. It takes one to one and a half hours, depending on the amount of work that needs to be done. Three to four hours following surgery, you should be able to go home.
The septum may be stabilized with internal splints or soft packing material as it heals. There should be minimal to no edema or bruising after surgery if a septoplasty is the only procedure performed. If a septorhinoplasty is performed, however, a week or two of swelling and bruising is to be expected.
If you feel you may have a deviated septum or other physical abnormality that keeps you from breathing freely, contact our office for an appointment. We pride ourselves on having available appointments so you can be seen quickly.
What Causes a Deviated Septum?
A deviated septum is when one side of your nasal passages is displaced. This is usually the result of a traumatic injury, but it can also occur from birth. In fact, it is possible for this type of injury to occur when the mother gives birth. A deviated septum can also happen from sports, such as wrestling or football, and being involved in a vehicle accident.
What Are The Symptoms of a Deviated Septum?
In most cases, people do not generally suffer from any symptoms. In fact, a lot of people may not even realize they have a deviated septum. But there are cases where people with deviated septum have shown the following symptoms:
- One or both of the nostrils are obstructed, which can make it difficult to breathe.
- You have an increased occurrence of nosebleeds.
- Your breathing is noisy while you sleep.
- You have a preference for sleeping on a specific side.
- You experience facial pain.
Preferring to sleep on a certain side is a potential symptom, as it is what ultimately optimizes your breathing. Experiencing facial pain is somewhat rare and is usually the result of a severely deviated septum.
When Should I See a Doctor About a Deviated Septum?
A deviated septum is not usually a cause for concern. But if it is severe enough, such as having excessive nosebleeds and sinus infections, you might need to schedule a visit with your doctor.
How Is a Deviated Septum Treated?
The only way to treat a deviated septum is to have a septoplasty done. This procedure usually takes about 30 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on the severity of the ailment. A septoplasty repositions the nose, but it is possible for the surgeon to remove certain parts if the situation requires it.
Are There Any Risks Associated With a Septoplasty?
A septoplasty is a basic procedure, but like other surgical interventions, there are risks involved. The typical surgical risks include bleeding, increased risk of infection, noticeable scarring, and having an allergic reaction to the anesthesia.
The unique risks of a septoplasty can include a hole in the septum, seeing no improvement in symptoms, having a decreased sense of smell, blood clots in the nasal space, and experiencing numbness in your nose, teeth, and gums.