The septum is the cartilage and bone between the nostrils on the inside of the nose. The inferior turbinates (incorrectly called polyps) are a combination of bone and vascular tissue that can enlarge or shrink and alter airflow in the nose. There is one on each side of the nasal cavity. A bent septum and enlarged inferior turbinates may block one or both nostrils and result in nasal blockage and or snoring. A bent septum is not always symptomatic but may require correction to allow for telescopic access in sinus surgery or as part of a rhinoplasty operation.
A septoplasty is an operation where the septum is carefully straightened. It is usually performed under a general anaesthetic (fully asleep). The incision is hidden inside one of the nostrils. Once the septal cartilage is exposed, fractures are removed and the remaining cartilage straightened. The tissue covering the cartilage is then carefully stitched back into place.
Turbinate reduction surgery is usually undertaken at the same time as septoplasty. Excess tissue of the enlarged inferior turbinates are trimmed and a new smaller turbinate carefully created. This allows the inferior turbinates to return to their normal function and relieves the nasal obstruction. This newer technique, called turbinoplasties, allows for faster healing with less chance of bleeding and superior outcomes.
The nose may require a gentle nasal pack to minimise any bleeding. If a pack is required it will be removed the day following surgery prior to leaving the hospital.
It is unusual to have any bruising or swelling following septoplasty and turbinate reduction surgery. Most patients have minimal discomfort , easily controlled with panadol (see post op advice below).