A septoplasty is a form of plastic surgery used to straighten the nasal septum.
The purpose of a septoplasty is usually to correct a deviated nasal septum, one that is not in its normal position either because of a deformity present from birth or a previous injury.
A septum that deviates to one side can narrow that nasal cavity, decreasing the airflow. A septum deviated toward the front of the nose can become dry and cracked as air runs across it. This can cause the nose to bleed. If frequent bleeding occurs, then straightening of the septum is recommended.
A septoplasty may also be recommended if the septum deviates into a deeper part of the nasal cavity. This can affect sinus drainage and lead to chronic sinusitis. Surgery may be done in an individual whose septum tightly contacts other structures inside the nose, causing chronic headache, facial pain, or a poor sense of smell.
A septoplasty can be performed under general anesthesia, in which the person is put to sleep, feels no pain, and has no awareness of the procedure. It may also be done under local anesthesia, with numbing only of the area involved in the surgery.
An incision is made in the septum to reach the cartilage and bony structures beneath its lining. A small strip of cartilage is usually removed from the lowest part of the septum. This helps to free it from the bone beneath. The remaining crooked portions of the septum are then removed. To hold the straightened septum in place, small plastic sheets, splints, or packing may be used.
A septoplasty may be combined with other procedures if there are additional problems. Opposite the septum are bony structures called turbinates. If the septum deviates to one side, the turbinates on the opposite side will enlarge. It may be necessary to push these out of the way or reduce their size. Doing this will improve the airway on both sides.