Very few people have a perfectly straight septum – the wall inside the nose that separates the nostrils. When the septum is crooked, it's known as a deviated septum. In most people, this condition is hardly noticeable and remains undiagnosed their entire lives. But in other people, the condition causes snoring, chronic nose bleeds, and difficulty breathing. This is a serious medical problem!
Let's look at the causes and symptoms of a deviated septum, as well as treatment at our Los Angeles facial plastic surgery practice.
Basic Parts of the Nose
Your nose is mostly made up of cartilage and bone. The nasal bone is at the bridge of your nose, where your glasses or sunglasses rest. Below that are areas of cartilage – the nasal tip and nostrils – that support breathing and greatly influence the appearance of the nose.
Inside the nose, the nasal passage is divided into two airway pathways by the septum. Deep inside your nose, close to your skull, the septum is made of very thin pieces of bone; closer to the tip of your nose, the septum is made of cartilage. The septum ends in the columella, the visible division between the two nostrils that attaches to your upper lip.
Causes and Symptoms of a Deviated Septum
The septum can be bent or deviated to one side from birth (congenital), as a part of normal childhood growth, or due to an injury later in life, such as a broken nose. When the septum is deviated, it can make the nasal passages on one or both sides of your nose smaller or blocked, preventing proper airflow and making breathing and smelling difficult. It can lead to chronic sinusitis (infection), inflammation, bleeding, snoring, and sleep apnea (when your breathing is disrupted during sleep). A deviated septum can also negatively affect the appearance of your nose, making it look crooked or twisted, with a hump on the bridge, or with an over-projected tip.
Surgical Treatment for a Deviated Septum
Surgery to straighten the septum is called septoplasty. It is usually performed under general anesthesia as an outpatient procedure at our state-of-the-art surgical center. During the 60- to 90-minute surgery, thickened cartilage is trimmed and bent cartilage is repositioned. The surgeon works through the nostrils, making incisions entirely inside the nose (closed rhinoplasty), so scars will not be visible.
Benefits of Septoplasty
When cartilage within the nose is reshaped, it can improve the overall appearance and function of the nasal cavity. Specific cosmetic and health-related benefits of septoplasty can include:
- Unobstructed breathing
- Decreased congestion
- Decreased snoring or sleep apnea
- More flattering shape of nose
- Improved balance of the nose and other facial features
The surgical treatment can also have a positive effect on your self-image and provide other emotional and personal benefits.
Learn More about Rhinoplasty for Deviated Septum
Septoplasty can be a life-changing procedure, often covered by health insurance. If you're suffering from difficulty breathing and want to learn more about nose surgery for a deviated septum, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Keyes. We can help determine if this surgery is right for you and whether your insurance will cover any of the costs.