The wall that separates the nose into two nasal cavities is called the septum. It is made of cartilage and bone. Ideally it should run down the center of the nose, equally separating the nasal passages. In many people, the septum is not straight, so that one nasal passage is smaller than the other. If the septum is significantly off-center, airflow in one side of the nose may be reduced and breathing may be difficult. This is called a deviated septum.
A deviated septum is typically only treated when it causes nasal airway obstruction, sleep apnea, snoring, nasal congestion, sinus infections and/or nosebleeds. If symptoms are not adequately managed with medications, septoplasty surgery may be performed.
Septoplasty can be performed under local or general anesthesia. Working through the nose, a surgeon at Gwinnett Medical Center will make an incision inside the nostril to elevate the lining of the septum and remove the excess cartilage or bone that causes the deviation. Then small, soft plastic splints may be used to stabilize the septum. The splints are removed in the office five to seven days after surgery. Recovery from septoplasty usually takes about a week, with full recovery after a month.
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