Blockage problems in the nose often arise as a result of a variety of different problems. These can include conditions causing inflammation of the lining of the nose (rhinitis) which cause the internal lining of the nose to swell up. These can include allergies and irritation by environmental factors.
The main structural problem occurring in the nose is that of a deviation of the nasal septum. The septum is the (normally) midline structure of the nose, made up of cartilage and bone, that divides the nose into its two halves. The septum can deviate due to prior trauma. This may have occurred in childhood as an otherwise slight innocuous injury - the cartilage may then grow in an abnormal way and hence patients often cannot recall any specific injury. There is some thought that a septal deviation can even occur secondary to the nose being squashed as we are born through the birth canal.
Whatever the cause for the deviation, septal deflections can block breathing in the nose on one or other side and are particularly troublesome during the night when patients find it difficult to breathe, particularly if lying on their side.
Septoplasty surgery is often required as part of dealing with breathing or cosmetic problems with the nose and is carried out simultaneously. It normally involves a small hidden incision in the front of the nose through the nostrils. The lining on each side of the nose is then lifted and the cartilage and bone of the septum repositioned into its correct place.
The operation is performed as a daycase procedure, often in combination with other procedures, including for functional and aesthetic purposes.
Normally the recovery period is straightforward with a minor amount of bleeding and blockage to be expected as the nose heals. It is surprisingly rarely painful.
Risks of surgery to the nasal septum are unusual. Bleeding and infection following surgery are potential risks but are generally minor problems. There is a small risk (less than 1%) of getting a small hole (perforation) in the septum long term and an extremely small risk of getting a change in the overall shape in the nose (when not planned).
We explain all such risks in detail preoperatively but these are very rare.
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Consultant Nasal and Facial Plastic Surgeon