Deviated Septum

Deviated Septum Specialist
Your septum is a very thin wall in the middle of your nose that separates your nasal passages. Having a deviated -- or displaced -- septum leaves you with one nasal passage that is narrower than the other. While snoring is often a common side effect, what is also worrisome is that having a deviated septum can affect your breathing and ability to get a good night’s sleep, leaving you groggy during the day. Otolaryngologist Dr. Michel Babajanian -- an expert ear, nose, and throat surgeon serving Century City, California -- can help you resolve issues associated with a deviated septum.

Deviated Septum Q & A

by Michel Babajanian, MD, FACS

What should I expect from surgery for a deviated septum?

When performing surgery to treat a deviated septum, known as a septoplasty, Dr. Babajanian uses modern, minimally invasive techniques to help patients have a speedy recovery. Patients generally are put under general anesthesia for the procedure, but this can vary depending on individual needs and extent of surgery. During surgery, which usually lasts less than one hour, Dr. Babajanian trims and recontours any bone or cartilage deformity, also known as spurs, in the middle wall inside of your nose, removing the blockage that causes your difficulty breathing through the nose. There are significant nuances to performing a good septoplasty which can only be attended to by an experienced Otolaryngologist. To get good results after septoplasty you need a good surgeon with expertise and experience in this type of surgery.

Occasionally, reduction in size and volume of nasal turbinates (tissues at the side-walls of the inside of the nose) is necessary to optimize the nasal airway. At times, if the patient is interested and desires, rhinoplasty (reconstruction and reshaping the external shape of the nose for cosmetic or functional reasons), this component of nasal surgery can be added on. This operation, which is not the same as septoplasty, requires modifying the external shape and size of the nose.  Dr. Babajanian and his caring team perform the appropriate surgical procedure to solve your nasal problems, whether functional to improve breathing or combination of functional and cosmetic, whichever the case may be. Deviated nasal septum is quite common and may result in varying degrees of nasal obstruction. The treatment is quite predictably successful with very low rate of complications and undesirable results.

What causes a deviated septum?

Most commonly people are born with a deviated septum. Interestingly sometimes it happens during birth by passing through the birth canal and it goes unrecognized at birth. In these cases, it is likely that you will have obstructive symptoms like chronic nasal obstruction or audible nasal breathing from childhood. Other times, trauma such as nasal fracture can cause a deviated septum. if you are involved in a sport, such as martial arts, or football, where nose injuries can happen, do your best to wear protective gear for prevention. It is also important to take proper safety measures when doing daily activities like driving. Wear your seatbelt so, if an accident does happen, you are restrained and less likely to have facial trauma by impacting your face against the steering wheel or the windshield.

Snoring and heavy and noisy breathing while sleeping could be symptoms of a deviated septum. But even without these nighttime disturbances, you might exhibit some other issues that could also be signs of a deviated septum. These include:

  • Frequent nosebleeds particularly from one side only (the deviated side)
  • Difficulty breathing while exercising or exerting (mouth-breathing)
  • Recurrent sinus infections (in cases of severe deviated septum blocking sinus passages)
  • Sleeping on one side to improve breathing
  • Pulling on nostril or cheek to be able to breathe better
  • Snoring or exacerbation of obstructive sleep apnea

If you feel you may suffer from a deviated septum and its consequent symptoms, contact Dr. Babajanian to discuss the options for treatment, which may include a surgery only in the event conservative and medical treatment for relief of nasal obstruction does not work.

Are there non-surgical options for a deviated septum?

Sometimes. Dr. Babajanian tries non-surgical options to help manage a deviated septum. He first conducts a thorough examination and determines if the patient is a good candidate for the course of treatment. Some patients may respond well to decongestants, antihistamines, or nasal steroid sprays. At times using an external nasal splint to temporarily widen the nostrils and nasal valves helps the breathing and avoids the need for repairing the deviated septum or shrink the nasal turbinates. While such treatments truly do not address the actual problem, they can buy time and cause enough improvement where the patient is improved enough. However, because it is not always feasible or desirable for patients to stay on medications for the rest of their life, and because at times medications are not tolerated and cause undesirable side effects, Dr. Babajanian might suggest a more permanent surgical solution for your deviated septum. In any case, septoplasty is a surgical procedure with low level of potential complications and high level of predicted success when performed in appropriately selected candidates. All you need to do is hear or read testimonials from patients who have undergone the procedure and see how they are raving about the results! If you have any questions about the details of the surgery, expected recovery time and expected results please contact Dr Babajanian and have a consultation with him at his office.

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Michel Babajanian, MD, FACS
2080 Century Park East
Suite 1700
Los Angeles, CA 90067