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Septoplasty is a corrective surgical procedure done to straighten the nasal septum, the partition between the two nasal cavities. Ideally, the septum should run down the center of the nose. When it deviates into one of the cavities, it narrows that cavity and impedes airflow. Often the inferior turbinate on the opposite side enlarges, which is termed compensatory hypertrophy. Nasal obstructions caused by serious deviations frequently lead to chronic sinus problems. Turbinate reduction may also be advised to further enlarge the nasal cavities. If turbinate resection is indicated special care should be taken to avoid over-resection leading to Empty nose syndrome. Most surgeries are completed in 90 minutes or less, not including recovery time.

Typical flexible splints that may be used in septoplasty. They are held in place in the nose with a stitch through the hole, and are typically removed seven to 10 days after surgery.

Procedure

Because the deviation is a result of a cartilage and/or bone surplus, the procedure usually involves an excision of a portion of any of these tissues. Under general or local anesthesia, the surgeon works through the nostrils, making an incision in the lining of the septum to reach the cartilage targeted in the operation. Often an "L" strut of cartilage in the dorsal and caudal areas (1 cm width or more) is preserved for structural support. After excess cartilage and bone have been taken out, the septum may then be stabilized with small plastic tubes, splints, or sutures.

Post-operation

Considerable swelling and bruising can be expected. The nasal cavities may or may not be packed, and a piece of gauze is taped underneath the nose to absorb blood. Postoperative care includes frequent changing of this gauze (roughly every hour or so) and after 1 to 2 days, the excess bleeding normally stops and the inner nasal packing may be removed. The following day, saline irrigations of the nasal cavities are often advised, and it is only then that a patient is allowed to gently blow his/her nose. After 1 to 2 weeks, patients are allowed to blow their nose normally.

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