The most frequent nasal surgery an adult patient undergoes involves the correction of chronic nasal obstruction associated with a deviation of the nasal septum. The septum is the cartilaginous and bony wall that divides one nasal airway from the other and separates the nostrils.
Septal deviation may result from a trauma that the patient has experienced, or not uncommonly, has been present since childhood.
The Septoplasty and Turbinate Reduction Procedure
A septoplasty and turbinate reduction is performed as an outpatient procedure under general anesthesia. An incision is made inside the nose to allow access to the bent or crooked cartilage and bone. A minimal amount of cartilage and bone is removed. The shape of the nose is not changed during a septoplasty. (If there is an external deformity of the nose, a rhinoplasty may be performed in conjunction with the septoplasty to repair and reshape the nose’s aesthetic appearance).
During the procedure, self-dissolving sutures are used inside the nose. Frequently, small plastic splints are placed on either side of the nasal septum to ensure that the septum remains in the midline. These “septal splints” are removed after about a week. Patients that also undergo a rhinoplasty or external nasal reconstruction will have an external splint on the nose that is usually removed after one week.
Nasal turbinates are vascular tissue in the nose that function to promote efficient airflow and increase the surface area for humidification of inspired air. Turbinates are only partially removed during surgery, since they are an important part of our nasal system. Through a process called coblation, a probe is used to send a radiofrequency current to decrease swollen vascular tissue while maintaining the anatomical structure and function of the turbinate.