Most people with a deviated septum aren’t aware it exists because it doesn’t affect their breathing, their sleeping or their lifestyle. Other people aren’t so lucky.

If your ENT has recommended that you have septum surgery it is to restore breathing, alleviate sleep apnea, or improve your upper respiratory health.

While septum surgery (septoplasty) is a common surgical procedure for ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists, all surgery carries risk.

Here are questions ENTs are common asked about septum surgery.

Why is surgery the best treatment?

Generally, treatment for a deviated septum doesn’t start with septum surgery. Your ENT won’t recommend surgery until exhausting other less invasive treatments first.

Usually medication is used to manage swelling and drainage. Antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal steroid sprays may be prescribed. Sometimes these are all that are needed to alleviate your symptoms. But if the ENT prescribed medication and you followed all the dosing instructions and still found no relief it is time to look to a new course of treatment. That is nasal septum surgery. It may be your best treatment for permanent relief.

What happens during septum surgery?

During the procedure you will be asleep. There will be an anesthesiologist and a nurse along with the ENT in the operating room with you. The ENT will work to straighten and realign the cartilage and bone in the septum. To do this, the ENT will cut and remove parts of the septum and reattach it in the proper position.

The incision will be closed with absorbing sutures. You may have soft, flexible splints placed in your nose after the procedure.

You will not feel anything during the procedure and when you awake afterwards you will not remember the procedure.

What happens during recovery?

During the recovery period your body heals itself from the incision. It is important that be careful not to further damage the area while it is trying to heal. The following tips will help.

Wear loose fitting clothes or button down shirts. It reduces the chances of you hitting your nose.

Don’t blow your nose. It could cause bleeding.

Sleep with your head elevated. This will reduce swelling and make it easier to breathe while you sleep. Some snoring is normal while you heal, and sleeping with your head elevated can reduce snoring.

Don’t perform strenuous physical activity or exercise. This can elevate your blood pressure and the elevated blood pressure

What else do I need to know?

Your ENT will provide specific instructions for you to follow before your surgery. It is important to follow these instructions exactly.

If you take certain medications, you will be instructed to stop in the week before surgery. This is important to avoid the risk of excessive bleeding during surgery.

The day of surgery, wear a button down shirt to the surgical center. You don’t want any clothes that pull over your head.

After the procedure, follow the ENT’s instructions for the recovery period. Be sure to keep all follow up appointments as well.