A septoplasty is a surgery in which we straighten a deviated septum. The septum is the divider between the two sides of your nose that’s made up of cartilage and bone. It can become bent to one side or another making it harder to breathe out of the resulting narrow nostril. This is one of the signs that a patient notices. In some cases, the nose may still look straight on the outside, while in other cases the nose can appear crooked, especially when looking at the nose from underneath. One nostril will appear smaller and the nose may point toward that side.
A septoplasty is performed to straighten the septum so that it’s more in the midline, giving the patient more equal space on both sides of their nose and making it easier to breathe. However, sometimes there is more to the obstruction of a nostril than just a deviated septum. In such cases, a swollen turbinate can be the cause.
Turbinates are structures inside the nose that look kind of like hot dogs, and they shrink and swell in response to heat and humidify the air. If you live in a place like Houstont that has a lot of irritants in the air you may have allergies that cause your turbinates to swell. You could also just happen to have big turbinates. During turbinate reduction surgery, we can reduce the size of the turbinate during surgery.
Another common cause of a swollen turbinate is a deviated septum. If your septum is bent to one side, your turbinate on the other side will swell. We call this compensatory hypertrophy. It’s where the turbinate swells in an attempt to take up the extra space left by the septum, knowing that your body needs something to fill that void. In this case we perform a septoplasty turbinate reduction. If we were to just fix the septum by placing it back in the midline, but we didn’t shrink the turbinate, you’ll still have difficulty breathing out of the nostril with the enlarged turbinate. Because of this, we do both surgeries at the same time, straightening the septum and shrinking the turbinate. The downtime is about the same as if we just fixed the deviated septum or turbinate alone.
How is a septoplasty and turbinate reduction done?
A septoplasty and turbinate reduction are done inside the nose, resulting in no external incisions. For the septoplasty, we make an incision in the mucosa, the covering of the cartilage and the bone that makes up your septum. Then we reshape that cartilage and bone to make it more straight and in the midline.
With the turbinates, there’s a lot of different ways to reduce them. We can physically remove a piece of that turbinate to make it physically smaller or we can remove a sliver at the bottom of the turbinate. We can also reduce the size of the turbinate with radio frequency or a microdebrider. There are so many different ways to approach it, so find out which method your doctor uses and what the efficacy has been for them with that approach.
I personally remove a small triangular piece of the turbinate that looks like a missing piece of pie at the bottom. I then bring the edges together, resulting in a smaller turbinate. I find this to provide the best efficacy for my patients.
How long does it take to recover from a turbine reduction?
Luckily, the recovery is quick with a turbine reduction.. Patients feel pretty good that night and the next day. You could probably go to work if you wanted to. The only downtime may be a little stuffiness from the swelling on the ends of the nose where the procedure was done.You may also have some some dripping, where your nose may run a little bit more than what it normally does, and there may be some blood mixed in with the mucus. That’s totally normal for the first few days. So if you had the procedure on a Friday, you should be able to go back to work on Monday.
Have questions? I’d sincerely love to hear from you.
Call me at (281) 336-9300
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About Dr. Angela Sturm
Dr. Angela Sturm is a double-board certified facial plastic surgeon with certifications with the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and the American Board of Facial Plastic Surgery. Dr. Sturm’s meticulous nature makes for exceptional results and satisfied patients. Dr. Sturm was named Texas Monthly’s Super Doctors Rising Star in 2016-2017, Texas Monthly’s Super Doctor in 2018-2019, H Texas Magazine’s Top Doc in 2013-2018, Top Doc by Houstonia Magazine in 2016-2018, Houston Business Journal’s People on the Move and 40 under 40, Blazing Star Award by Texas Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Top Women in Business, one of the Top 30 Influential Women of Houston, Best Female Cosmetic Surgeon in Out Smart, and given the Patient’s Choice Award, On Time Doctor Award and Compassionate Doctor Award by Vitals.com.