Do you have trouble breathing through your nose? Maybe you have a deviated septum. (But maybe not! Read on…)
A septum is a wall, or divider, between two chambers. The nasal septum is a partition made of bone and cartilage between the left and right sides of your nose. If your nasal septum is twisted, curved, or bent we call it a “deviated septum” and if significant, it can interfere with breathing through your nose.
“How did I get a deviated septum?” you may ask. Well, you may have been born with it, or maybe it was that basketball to the nose in middle school gym class. We don’t usually know why, but if we see a deviated septum, and you have trouble breathing, a septoplasty may be very helpful.
A septoplasty straightens the septum by removing or repositioning the cartilage and bone that are blocking airflow through your nose. The procedure is done completely through the inside of your nose, and other than a stuffy nose, and a little runny nose for a few days, is typically an easy recovery. Here at The Spiegel Center, we’ll also address your turbinates at the same time. The turbinates are bones in the nose that can swell up and block your breathing as well. We can shrink and move them over so they’re not a problem.
How can you know if a septoplasty is right for you? First, a qualified facial plastic surgeon can tell you by looking. But, before surgery, it’s good to evaluate the nature of the blockage. Does Afrin, neosynephrine, or similar nasal sprays help a lot? If so, you may have swelling in the nose which is the main culprit. It’s important to know that these particular nasal sprays are effective if you use them for a short time (a day or two), but after that have the reverse effect; they start to block your nose even more. More effective for the long term are steroid type nasal sprays such as Flonase, Nasocort, and Rhinocort. Some of these are available over the counter at your local pharmacy. These sprays work best only after you’ve used them for a week or more. Try one of these for a couple of weeks. If they don’t help enough, it’s time for a doctor to take a look and evaluate you for a septoplasty.
Sometimes, however, a septoplasty won’t do everything you need. You may have “valve collapse” where the sides of your nose collapse inward when you inhale. Take a look in the mirror and inhale deeply. If one side of your nose flattens, we can help you breathe better, but it may require more than a septoplasty.
In these situations, the experienced surgeons at TSC will reinforce the weak cartilage and strengthen your nose. To do this, you need a rhinoplasty. Rhinoplasty simply means, “changing the shape of the nose.” And, we should be able to make your nose look better at the same time. A droopy nose, a hump on the nose, and a bulbous or round nasal tip can all interfere with breathing and don’t look great. Rhinoplasty at TSC will help you look better, and breathe better. It’s a win-win.
Rhinoplasty is done either through the inside of your nose, or with a few small stitches on the small piece of skin between the nostrils. You’ll have a plastic splint on your nose for a week and can expect to look good after 10 days, and even better as time passes. Breathing well can take a bit longer, but some people report they notice the difference immediately. It’s beautiful to look better and take nice clean breaths without feeling stuffy.
One important thing! If you think you want a rhinoplasty, do it at the same time as the septoplasty. Getting the septoplasty first makes future nose surgery more complicated. This is because we facial plastic surgeons sometimes use the cartilage in the nasal septum to help with the rhinoplasty. If it’s missing, you may need cartilage from somewhere else such as behind your ear, or from a rib.
Rhinoplasty and septoplasty are two of the most common procedures we do at TSC. We’ll get you looking and breathing better than ever!