Deviated Septum (Septoplasty)
We often see patients who present to us with a crooked appearing nose as well as breathing problems. Many of our patients are confused about what the difference is between septoplasty and rhinoplasty and when either procedure is recommended.
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To begin with the septum is the piece of cartilage and bone that separates one side of the nose from the other. Normally, the septum is straight and allows normal airflow. If the septum is crooked, either normally or arising after an accident or trauma, it is termed a deviated nasal septum. A deviated septum can decrease or block the nasal passage and cause nasal obstruction.
Correction of a deviated septum with a septoplasty is generally done by making an incision on the inside of the nose. The mucosa covering the septum is lifted off the cartilage and bone and the deviated portion(s) of the septum is either removed or reshaped to make the breathing passages more open. While septoplasty will correct breathing significantly when the septum is significantly deviated, if there are other factors contributing to nasal obstruction arising from the nasal bones or the upper lateral cartilages having problems, those issues will still continue to exist and breathing may still not be perfect. For patients who do not have a significantly crooked external nose and who do not want to change the appearance of their nose for any other reason, a septoplasty is a great procedure that can significantly enhance your breathing with relatively minimal downtime, no bruising or swelling. And if you have health insurance, this procedure is covered by insurance.
If you not only have a deviated septum but also notice that your nose itself, externally, is crooked and/ or you have a desire to change the actual appearance of the nose, then the procedure that we would recommend is a septorhinoplasty (rhinoplasty or nose job for short). This procedure would then not only take care of the septum but would then also address the causes of the crooked nose, the nasal bones, the nasal tip, and or the upper lateral cartilages. This can be done via an open or closed procedure depending on what your goals are. Depending on the cause of your crooked nose, for example if it was broken in an accident, insurance may also help cover some of the costs in restoring your nose to its original appearance.
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