Washington Univesity Facial Plastic Surgery Center
Washington Univesity Facial Plastic Surgery Center
Nasal Obstruction
Breathing problems through your nose can be very disturbing to sleep, exercise and simple daily activities. There are numerous causes of stuffiness or nasal airway obstruction that include common medical conditions like allergies, sinusitis, rhinitis, or nasal polyps. Many of these issues can be treated with medications to open the nasal passages for better nasal airflow.

Stuffiness, despite medical treatment, can sometimes require surgery. In addition to the common medically-treated conditions mentioned above, nasal blockage can be caused from a deviated septum, collapsed nasal sidewalls, nasal valve collapse, or enlarged nasal turbinates. These conditions are more likely to improve with a surgical procedure to remove the obstruction and open the airway for better nasal breathing.
Close up of boy's face
The importance of healthy nasal breathing extends beyond the improved feeling of breathing freely through your nose rather than your mouth. As an “obligate mouth breather” you risk developing several additional health problems such as dental carries, snoring, sleep apnea, or heart disease.

By improving your breathing through the nose, with either more aggressive medical therapy or directed surgical treatment, both your nasal health and general well being will benefit.

Rhinoplasty versus Septoplasty

Many people have small deviations in their septums that don't necessarily have a negatively impact upon  their nasal function. For others, nasal obstructions such as deviated septums can have a severe effect upon their breathing function.

To understand the important role of the septum, however, an explanation about nasal anatomy is necessary. 

The nose is a complex tubular structure with an external lining of skin, internal lining of mucosa, and middle support layer of bone and cartilage. The septum is the backbone of these support layers.

Its strength gives shape to your nose and its flexibility protects you from trauma. The septum supports the nose with its many functions: breathing, sense of smell, and the filtering and conditioning of the air that you breathe.

A septal deviation is simply a bent or deformed shape to the nasal septum. Depending where it is located and how severe the deviation is, you can develop other medical problems as a direct result, such as obstructed nasal breathing, blocked sinus passages leading to sinusitis, or drying of the internal mucosa causing nose bleeds or a drippy nose.

Other medical problems can worsen in the presence of a deviation. Examples are congestion, allergies, and obstructive sleep disorders. If you are experiencing any of these medical problems, you may benefit from surgical intervention.

Surgical correction of a deviated septum may include septoplasty or rhinoplasty. So what is the difference? Septoplasty reshapes the septum to straighten a bend, reverse the deformation, or to cut out the portion of the septum obstructing the airway. Rhinoplasty reshapes the entire nose correcting both form and function. When performed in combination with a septoplasty it is called a septorhinoplasty. For all procedures, the choice of technique and the skill of the surgeon directly impact the success of the surgical outcome.

Improvement in nasal breathing can be achieved with septoplasty. To correct a contour irregularity while straightening a septal deviation, a septorhinoplasty is likely preferable. However, you and your specialist should determine the most beneficial procedure that is individualized to your particular anatomy, medical conditions, and personal objectives.
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