Septal Perforation Repair in Denver, CO
Our experts specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of septum perforation, and we’re here to help you find lasting relief from your symptoms.
What Is a Perforated Septum?
When a hole develops in the nasal septum, this is known as a “septal perforation”. A perforated septum is usually caused by the loss of blood flow to both sides of the septum. This causes the cartilage to deteriorate, which prevents proper airflow and worsens as air slips through from one nostril to the other through the hole.
What Is the Nasal Septum?
The nasal septum is a barrier made of cartilage and bone that divides the nose into two separate left and right air passages. The tissue that surrounds the septum fluctuates in order to heat, humidify, and purify air as it enters our airways. Each side of the nose typically swells or contracts every 2 to 6 hours in a cycle that allows the nasal passages to take turns filtering and recovering. When the septum cartilage is damaged, torn, or deteriorated, as it is with a septum perforation, it can affect your ability to properly regulate airflow.
What Causes a Septal Perforation?
A perforated septum can be caused by many different things. Some of the reasons for developing a septum perforation include:
- Nasal trauma from injury
- Use of nasal drugs such as cocaine
- Exposure to harmful chemicals
- Septum piercings
- Complications from prescription medication or surgery
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What Is the Difference Between a Perforated and Deviated Septum?
Both a perforated septum and a deviated septum can cause troublesome symptoms, but they are different conditions and have to be treated accordingly. A deviated septum means the septum is bent or crooked, while a septal perforation means a tear or hole has formed in the septum wall. Both of these conditions can make it difficult to regulate breathing normally, but it is important to recognize that they have separate root causes and can’t be treated with the same methods.
How Do I Know If I Have a Perforated Septum?
Symptoms of a septal perforation can vary depending on the size and location of the hole. Many patients who have a perforated symptom are completely unaware of it. Perforations that bring on symptoms are typically larger and closer to the nostril, towards the front of the septum. These symptoms commonly include:
- Nasal obstruction (stuffy nose)
- Nasal discharge
- Abnormal or foul smell in the nose
- Intermittent whistling with breathing
If a perforated septum goes untreated for too long it can lead to more serious side effects such as the collapse of the nose. This is referred to as a “saddle-nose deformity”, which causes both functional and aesthetic problems for the patient.
Can a Perforated Septum Heal on Its Own?
Whether or not a septal perforation can heal on its own depends on the size and location of the hole or tear, but it is typically unlikely that it will heal completely without any treatment. In fact, if gone untreated a perforated septum can become infected, which often expands the hole and worsens the condition. It is important to have an experienced doctor look at your septum right away if you start experiencing uncomfortable symptoms of septal perforation.
Septal Perforation Repair Treatment Options
There are a variety of treatment options available to help patients who suffer from a perforated septum. Treatments range from topical ointment to surgery, though some are designed to alleviate symptoms rather than fix the problem long term. It’s important to consider all of the treatment options with your doctor before deciding on the right treatment plan for your unique case.
Topical Ointments and Moisturizers
Moisturizing ointment or cream can be used to keep the nasal septum from drying out, allowing it to heal and regulate more effectively. Make sure to approve the ointment or emollient with your doctor before using it in your nose, as some can contain harmful ingredients.
Regular saline rinses can soften crusting and help moisturize the inside of the nose, alleviating discomfort and helping humidify the air as it enters the airways.
Certain prescription nasal spray medications can be helpful to reduce symptoms of a perforated septum, but these need to be considered carefully since other nasal sprays will dry out your nose and worsen the condition.
A septal button is a soft, plastic plug that can be placed to fill the hole in the septum. The implant is not visible to others and is usually painless, though occasionally certain patients experience discomfort. The septal button can be easily removed, either when the septum heels or if the patient experiences any issues.
Septal Perforation Surgery
When the symptoms of a perforated septum are bad enough that they affect your quality of life, it may be time to consider septal perforation repair surgery. This is the best way to fix your perforated septum long term, and on the first try. The goal of this surgery is to close or decrease the hole in the septum, using healthy tissue from elsewhere in the nose to cover or patch the perforation. This skin graft technique restores the barrier between the left and right airways, resulting in improved breathing, decreased crusting and whistling, and reduced bleeding.
If the septal perforation is small, the procedure can typically be completed through the nostrils with no external incisions needed, leaving no visible scars. If an external incision must be informed to treat your perforated septum (typically in severe cases) the procedure can be done though a small, well-hidden incision just underneath your nose. The surgery is usually done under general anesthesia, but is still a minor procedure meaning you will be discharged home on the same day.
What Does Septum Repair Surgery Recovery Look Like?
After surgery, you will likely have nasal packing or splints in your nose for 1 – 2 days. These function as internal casts that helps the structures to heal properly. You may also have an external nose cast to reduce swelling and keep everything stable as it heals. It is recommended that you take several days off from work for recovery, and then avoid strenuous activity for the next several weeks after surgery. You will also have some splints that will need to be removed by your doctor 1-2 weeks after surgery. It is common to experience some minor swelling for 2 -3 weeks, but in rare cases this can last several months.
Find Relief from Your Perforated Septum with Denver’s Nasal Experts
The specialists at Advanced ENT & Allergy Center are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of nasal issues such as septum perforation. Countless patients have found relief from troublesome symptoms and breathing issues, allowing them to focus on living their life. The experienced doctors at Advanced ENT and Allergy Center are here to help you determine the best treatment plan for your unique situation.