The nasal septum is the wall between the nostrils that separates
the two nasal passages. It supports the nose and directs airflow. The septum is
made of thin bone in the back and cartilage in the front. A
deviated septum occurs when the cartilage or bone is not straight. A crooked
septum can make breathing difficult. The condition also can lead to snoring and
The septum can bend to one side or another as a part of normal growth during childhood and puberty. Also, the septum can be deviated at birth (congenital) or because of
an injury, such as a broken nose. Very few people have a perfectly straight septum.
Surgery to straighten the septum is called septoplasty, submucous
resection of the septum, or septal reconstruction. The surgery may be done
along with other procedures to treat chronic
sinusitis, inflammation, or bleeding, or to correct
sleep apnea. Septoplasty also may be done to allow access into the nose to
nasal polyps. In general, septoplasty
is needed only when breathing problems or snoring do not get
better without surgery. For more information on surgery to treat
chronic sinusitis, see the topic
Before surgery, the doctor may use a thin, lighted instrument
(endoscope) to look at your nasal passages and to see
the shape of your septum. In some cases, the endoscope may be used during
surgery. You will receive
local or general anesthesia for the 60- to 90-minute
operation, which is usually done in an outpatient surgery center.
The septum and nasal passages are lined with a layer of soft tissue
called the nasal mucosa. To repair the septum, the surgeon works through the
nostrils, making an incision to separate the mucosa from the underlying
cartilage and bone. The doctor trims or straightens the bent cartilage and then
replaces the mucosa over the cartilage and bone.
What to Expect After Surgery
After surgery, you may have a nasal splint or pack placed in your
nostrils to stop bleeding and keep the septum straight while it heals.
You probably will get instructions on how to care for your nose
while it is healing. For example, you may be told not to blow your nose and to
sneeze with your mouth open to avoid pressure changes.
How Well It Works
Septoplasty is a common nasal surgery, and most people recover
All surgery has a small risk of infection or bleeding. Also,
septoplasty carries a small risk of a hole (perforation) forming in the septum.
A perforation rarely requires treatment. Additional surgery may be needed if
the perforation causes discomfort or an infection develops.
Streptococcus and staphylococcus bacteria appear normally in some people.
Packing the nose after surgery in people who have these bacteria increases the
toxic shock syndrome. Call your doctor immediately if
you have any of the following symptoms:
A fever of
101°F (38.3°C) or higher
A rash that
looks like sunburn
Signs of very low blood
pressure, such as dizziness and fainting
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.