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Alternative names

Nasal septum repair


Septoplasty is an operation that corrects any defects or deformities of the nasal septum, which is the wall between the two nostrils.

See also rhinoplasty (nose reshaping surgery).


The goal of the surgery is to straighten out the nasal septum or to relieve obstructions or other problems related to deviation of the septum.

An incision is made internally on one side of the nasal septum. Afterwards, the mucous membrane is elevated away from the cartilage and bone, obstructive parts are removed, and plastic surgery is performed as necessary. Then the mucous membrane is returned to its original position. The tissues covering the septum are maintained in the midline by either sutures or packing.


The main conditions that call for nasal surgery are:

  • Nasal airway obstruction
  • Septal spur headache
  • Uncontrollable nosebleeds
  • Nasal septal deformity in the presence of other intranasal surgery

Nasal airway obstruction is usually the result of a septal deformity that causes breathing by mouth, sleep apnea , or recurrent nasal infections. A septal spur headache is defined as a headache secondary to pressure from the nasal septum on the inside the nose (septal impaction) that is relieved by topical anesthesia (applied to a localized area of the skin) on the septal impaction .

Other intranasal surgeries that may be modified to include septoplasty include the following:

  • Polypectomy (removal of a polyp)
  • Ethmoidectomy (operation on the ethmoid bone at the superior part of the nasal cavity)
  • Turbinate surgery (operation on the concha nasalis)
  • Tumor removal

People who snort drugs such as cocaine in large quantities for long periods of time may require this surgery if drug use has damaged the septum.


  • Infections
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Relapse of the nasal obstruction may require revision surgery.

Expectations after surgery

The surgery can be done either under local anesthesia on an outpatient basis or under general anesthesia during a short hospital stay. After surgery, both sides of the nose are tightly packed to avoid bleeding and to serve as a splint and maintain the mucosa in place. Packing is usually removed 24 to 36 hours after surgery.


To help the healing, it is recommended that you avoid blowing the nose or performing any Valsalva maneuver (for example, when you hold your breath and tighten your muscles while bearing down for a bowel movement) for a few days after surgery. Ice packs on the nose will enhance comfort.

Update Date: 11/18/2002

Hebe Molmenti, M.D., Ph.D., Private Practice specializing in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT