Surgery for Deviated Septum

If a deviated septum makes breathing through your nose difficult or impossible and medication doesn’t provide symptomatic relief, NYU Langone specialists can perform surgery to straighten the septum.

Our otolaryngologists—who specialize in head and neck surgery—and plastic and reconstructive surgeons can perform one or more procedures to reposition the septum and provide more space in the nasal passages. They use minimally invasive techniques and perform surgery in an outpatient setting, so you can return home on the same day.

If the results of diagnostic imaging tests indicate that structural abnormalities other than a deviated septum are present, our surgeons address those as well. For example, if an injury displaced the septum, other structures in the nasal passages may grow over time and fill the empty space. This includes the turbinates, small bones that help keep air humidified as it passes through the nose. In order to reposition the septum, surgeons may need to reduce structures such as the turbinates to make room for nasal passages.

A traumatic injury to the nose may also require reconstructive surgery in addition to a procedure to reposition the septum. Our plastic and reconstructive surgeons can restore the shape of the nose, ensuring that you can breathe easily and your nose looks natural when it heals.

These procedures are performed using general anesthesia, and you may still feel groggy afterward. You should arrange for someone to accompany you home.

Septoplasty

Septoplasty is a procedure to center the septum, creating two nasal passages that are the same size. This corrects any airflow disturbance caused by a deviated septum. 

A surgeon uses small surgical instruments to make an incision in the tissue lining the septum. He or she straightens or repositions the deviated section of the septum to maximize airflow through the nasal passages. If the septum is damaged in addition to being out of place, doctors may remove small pieces of cartilage or bone.

Septorhinoplasty

If an injury such as a fracture is the cause of a nasal obstruction, or if surgery to reposition the septum changes the appearance of your nose, our specialists work with facial reconstructive plastic surgeons to perform septorhinoplasty. During this procedure, NYU Langone surgeons eliminate the nasal obstruction and use cosmetic techniques that ensure that the nose looks natural. 

Our surgeons perform septorhinoplasty through the nostrils. They correct the position of the septum and address any other structural problems. For example, if the small area inside the nose between the septum and the bridge of the nose is too narrow, it may restrict airflow. A reconstructive surgeon may widen this area to help you breathe more easily.

Frequently, surgeons remove cartilage from the septum and place it in other areas to improve breathing. They may also do this, if desired, to alter the shape of the nose.

If you have a broken nose, a reconstructive surgeon may perform a more complicated procedure to ensure that the septum and other structures are repaired and positioned properly, so you can breathe after the nose heals. Our experienced surgeons understand that the appearance of the nose is also important and can recreate a symmetrical, natural-looking nose even after serious injury.

If a deviated septum has caused sinus problems in addition to obstructed breathing, the surgeon may perform sinus surgery in addition to septorhinoplasty to prevent sinus infections from occurring. In more complex procedures like these, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon and an otolaryngologist may work together to provide you with the best care.

Submucosal Resection

In submucosal resection, a surgeon removes small sections of the septum, the turbinates, or both to open the nasal passages. 

A surgeon accesses the septum or turbinates through the nostrils, and makes a small incision in the layer of soft tissue lining the nasal passage. This incision allows surgeons to remove portions of the underlying bone structure without disturbing the outer layer of tissue, which plays an important role in keeping the nasal passages hydrated. 

Surgeons may use a laser or a small device called a microdebrider, a powered instrument that removes bone and soft tissue, to reduce the size of turbinates.

Turbinate Outfracture

In addition to a submucosal resection or laser procedure, surgeons may also permanently reposition the turbinates to provide more space in the nasal passages. This permanent repositioning, called outfracture, involves breaking the thin bones of the turbinates in order to reposition them.

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