A deviated septum is when the bone and cartilage that divides the nasal cavity is out of alignment. Congestion, headaches, and breathing issues can all be a result of a deviated septum. In this article, we discuss how to fix this issue and whether surgery is necessary to fix it.
A deviated septum develops when the thin wall (nasal septum) between your nasal passages shifts to one side. Due to this misalignment, people often experience one nasal passage being smaller than the other.
Patients suffering from a significantly deviated septum can find one side of the nose is obstructed, resulting in decreased airflow, and making breathing difficult. When a deviated septum is exposed to the drying effects of airflow through the nose, it can occasionally cause crusting or bleeding in some individuals.
The main cause of a deviated septum is due to typical development, this is when the septum expands along with the nose as it grows, occasionally moving to one side.
A deviated septum may result from an injury to the nose. Sporting events, slips and falls, car crashes, or getting hit in the nose can all result in nasal injuries. Additionally, a deviated septum may be congenital, or present from birth. The irregularity could be the result of a challenging birth or a connective tissue disorder.
Most septal displacements go unnoticed, and you might not even be aware that your septum is deviated. However, certain septal deformities may result in the following symptoms:
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A functional rhinoplasty, in which the nose is reshaped to promote airflow and drainage, can correct a deviated septum. Typically, during surgery, your doctor may trim, reposition, and replace either cartilage, bone, or both to straighten the nasal septum. The beauty of rhinoplasty is that each patient's needs may be carefully considered when designing the procedure to fit them.
While it is most frequently done for cosmetic reasons (and can even be performed with dermal filles for the nose to improve aesthetic appeal), a rhinoplasty can also be done to improve function by addressing breathing problems and assisting in the relief of sleep apnoea and snoring symptoms. In these situations, a septoplasty or submucosal resection, also known as an operation on the septum or turbinate that is restricting the airway, is likely to be performed as well.
A deviated septum is not something that will simply go away on its own, so while some people have such a mild form of nasal septum misalignment that they are unaware of it, others with noticeable symptoms may want to look into permanent treatment options if they don't wish to live with the pain and discomfort.
Some symptoms, such as swelling within the lining of the nostrils, can be treated with over-the-counter medications. This does not treat the deviated septum itself, but one of the symptoms it causes. As aforementioned, if your quality of life isn’t being impacted, it is not always necessary to undergo surgery to correct your septum.
However, patients with a more severe deviated septum may, over the course of their lifetime, also develop regular sinus infections. Chronic sinus infections cause nasal passages to become inflamed and irritated over time, which increases the risk of developing more severe infections.
Sleep apnea, a sleep disorder, can also result from an untreated deviated septum. This is where a person momentarily stops breathing while sleeping at night. The most prevalent kind of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, occurs when an obstruction in the airway reduces oxygen flow, which also can be caused by a deviated septum.
These two conditions alone can drastically affect your quality of life, so if you find that you are being impacted to the point of disturbed sleep or regular infections, you may benefit from surgery to correct this. For more less severe cases, it may be that you are suitable for non-surgical ultrasonic rhinoplasty, though your surgeon will discuss the possibility of this with you.
You can usually ignore a deviated septum if it doesn't impair your ability to breathe or cause frequent sinus infections. However, you may want to think about surgery if your deviated septum closes one or both nostrils, making it difficult or impossible to breathe through your nose. It is less invasive than a cosmetic rhinoplasty, so your nose's swelling and healing should be simple to manage between you and your surgeon.
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Deviated septums are one of the most common nose deformities, but many people don’t even realise they have one. If you are experiencing problems with your breathing or sleeping due to a deviated septum, you can get a surgical procedure to alleviate your symptoms. A functional rhinoplasty, also known as a septoplasty, is when the nose is reshaped to promote airflow and drainage.
You will discuss your goals for the surgery at the appointment with the surgeon, as well as what may or may not be feasible given your nose's current structure. Using specialist technology, a visualisation of the outcome you can expect will be generated, depending on which specialist you see. In addition to a discussion of the post-procedure and recovery period, a thorough discussion of risks and complications will also be held. As part of the evaluation of your surgical readiness, your prior medical history, including any past surgeries, medications, allergies, etc., will also be noted. You are free to communicate with the Cadogan Clinic as often as you like during this time to speak with your patient advisor about your future procedure(s) or follow-up revision.
Functional rhinoplasties, or septoplasties, are regularly performed at the Cadogan Clinic and our surgeons are leading experts in their respective fields. If you’re considering undertaking any of the procedures mentioned, get in touch with us today for a consultation with an experienced surgeon.
Treatments mentioned in this article
Rhinoplasty, or a nose job, reduces the shape and size of the nose for health and aesthetic purposes.View Treatment
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