Septoplasty is surgery to correct any problems in the nasal septum. The nasal septum is the wall inside the nose that separates the nostrils.
When You're in the Hospital
You had septoplasty to fix the problems in your nasal septum. This surgery takes about 1 to 1 ½ hours. You may have received general anesthesia so you were asleep and pain free. You may only have had local anesthetic in the area having surgery but this is less likely.
What to Expect at Home
After surgery, you may have either dissolvable suture, packing (to stop bleeding) or splints (to hold the tissues in place) inside your nose. Most of the time, packing is removed 24 to 36 hours after surgery. Splints may be left in place for as long as 1 to 2 weeks.
You may have swelling in your face for 2 to 3 days after surgery. Your nose may drain and bleed a little for 2 to 5 days after surgery.
Your nose, cheeks, and upper lip may be numb. The numbness on the tip of your nose may take several months to completely go away.
Rest all day after surgery. DO NOT touch or rub your nose. Avoid blowing your nose (it is normal to feel stuffed up for several weeks).
You may apply ice packs to your nose and eye area to help with pain and swelling, but make sure to keep your nose dry. Cover the ice pack with a clean, dry cloth or small towel. Sleeping propped up on 2 pillows will also help reduce swelling.
You will get a prescription for pain medicines. Get it filled when you go home so you have it when you need it. Take pain medicines, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or a prescription painkiller, the way you have been told to take them. Take your medicine when pain first starts. DO NOT let pain get very bad before taking it.
You should not drive, operate machinery, drink alcohol, or make any major decisions for at least 24 hours after surgery. Your anesthesia may make you groggy and it will be hard to think clearly. The effects should wear off in about 24 hours.
Limit activities that could make you fall or put more pressure on your face. Some of these are bending over, holding your breath, and tightening muscles during bowel movements. Avoid heavy lifting and hard physical activity for 1 to 2 weeks. You should be able to go back to work or school 1 week after surgery.
DO NOT take baths or showers for 24 hours. Your nurse will show you how to clean your nose area with Q-tips and hydrogen peroxide or another cleaning solution if needed.
You may go outside a few days after surgery, but DO NOT stay in the sun for more than 15 minutes.
Follow up with your provider as you have been told. You may need to have stitches removed. Your provider will want to check your healing.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your health care provider if you have:
- Trouble breathing
- A heavy nosebleed, and you cannot stop it
- Pain that is getting worse, or pain that your pain medicines are not helping with
- High fever and chills
- Neck stiffness
Nasal septum repair; Submucus resection of the septum
Gillman GS, Lee SE. Septoplasty - classic and endoscopic. In: Myers EN, Snyderman CH, eds. Operative Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2018:chap 95.
Kridel R, Sturm-O'Brien A. Nasal septum. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 32.
Ramakrishnan JB. Septoplasty and turbinate surgery. In: Scholes MA, Ramakrishnan VR, eds. ENT Secrets. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 27.
Review Date 3/6/2019
Updated by: Josef Shargorodsky, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.