A septoplasty is an operation to correct problems with the nasal septum. This is the piece of cartilage (gristle) and bone that separates the two sides of the nasal cavity.
Septoplasty may be performed as a day case, but an overnight stay in hospital is often required.
A septoplasty is usually performed under general anaesthesia, which means you will be asleep throughout the procedure and will feel no pain. Your surgeon will explain the benefits and risks of having a septoplasty, and will also discuss the alternatives to the procedure.
About the operation
Your surgeon will make an incision inside the nose, to one side of the septum. The inner lining of the nose is lifted away from the cartilage and bone. The surgeon can then straighten the septum, or remove any parts that are causing obstruction. Once this has been done, the lining is replaced and stitched in place.
The operation usually lasts from 20 to 40 minutes, depending on how much work your surgeon needs to do on the septum.
After septoplasty surgery, your nose will feel blocked for about three days, and there may be some numbness on the tip of your nose or your upper lip. This is almost always temporary. Very occasionally, there may be bruising around the lower part of the eyes, which will settle naturally.
Septoplasty surgery is a commonly performed and generally safe operation. For most people, the benefits in terms of improved symptoms are greater than any disadvantages. However, all surgery carries an element of risk.
Specific complications of a septoplasty are uncommon but include swelling caused by blood collecting under the lining of the nose. This may need further treatment. Sometimes septoplasty results in a hole in the septum. This may not cause any problems, but further surgery may be required.
In very rare cases, there may be a reduction or loss of the sense of smell. This is difficult to correct.
The chance of complications depends on the exact type of operation you are having and other factors such as your general health. Ask your surgeon to explain how any risks apply to you.