My Septoplasty Experience

I get a lot of hits to my blog related to septoplasty and septoplasty recovery.  I thought I could do an overview since it has been 6 months.  Also, my perspective has changed a bit since the days immediately following the surgery.

First, if you’re here because you had a septoplasty, I’m sorry.  It sucks.

Second, if you’re here because you’re considering a septoplasty, in spite of the suckage I don’t regret it.

I decided to have a septoplasty in December 2009 because my breathing was quite obstructed, apparent to me mostly when I laid down to go to sleep.  I had to sleep in certain positions so my hand was available to pull slightly on my cheek to hold my nostril open.  It sounds absurd to say now, but that was my reality for a number of years.  It was annoying, certainly, but I had gotten used to it and it didn’t seem like a big deal.  My deviation was also extremely apparent when I had allergy issues or had a cold.  What might irritate other people nearly decommissioned me because my nose did a horrid job at air exchange if there was any congestion.

I had septoplasty only.  I did not have anything done with my sinuses or any rhinoplasty.  My septum was one of the most deviated septums the doctor had ever seen, so that may have contributed to my experience.

I felt quite awful in the recovery room at the hospital, but before I knew it I was being discharged.  Really, it had been several hours but I slept as much as possible.  Unfortunately, I started getting nauseous on the way home, and when we hit the driveway I vomited, thereby dislodging some of the packing in my nose.  It was extremely uncomfortable, so we called the doctor and he suggested we pull the packing, especially if there was a possibility it had been contaminated with vomit.  I did this, and it felt much better – much less like I was going to continue to throw up.  The early removal of the packing may have contributed to my more difficult recovery, however.

Early recovery was awful.  Positively awful.  My nose bled for a substantial number of days – I think ten?  I had gauze taped to my nose for the first 7 or 8.  After that the bleeding was slow enough to allow me to manage without the gauze.  I blew my nose, probably more than I should have.  There was SO much swelling, and it constantly felt like I needed to blow due to that or due to dripping blood issues.  Gross, but true.  There was a fair amount of pain.  I’ve had other surgeries and have received Vicodin to use for post-surgery pain relief.  It helped with those surgeries, but it wasn’t crucial.  For this surgery I was given Percocet, which is apparently stronger than Vicodin.  This was a good thing.  I needed the Percocet – really, truly needed them.  I was miserable.

At about 2 weeks I could start to see the sunshine again.  It was especially improved when the splints were removed.  This was an entirely painless experience.  I was worried, but I shouldn’t have been.  With them out, my breathing felt so clear!  It was lovely!  My nose felt a little odd, but over time I’ve gotten used to it and now am not bothered by the strange sensations I had immediately after removal.  (The basic sensation was that when I sniffed quickly my nose didn’t seem to work the same way it used to.  I didn’t feel like I could effectively sniff.  I don’t know if my nose healed or if I just adjusted to the new way my nose worked, because I don’t have a problem now.)  The doctor said there was still a substantial amount of swelling and that I’d continue to experience improvements as the swelling decreased – and that it could take 6 months for the swelling to totally decreased.

Unfortunately (for my nose – fortunately for me overall, but not so much for my nose), I got pregnant several months after the surgery.  Around 10-12 weeks I started noticing my nose getting a little more congested, which is normal during pregnancy.  Unfortunately for everything and everyone in my proximity, I lost the baby just before 13 weeks, which resulted in a LOT of crying.  The strain of crying caused me substantial pain in my nose, enough so that I rounded up some leftover Vicodin from another surgery and took it.  My nose definitely swelled during this experience.

Your septum extends down to an area above your palate and connects to the palate with a small bone.  My bone was not straight to begin with, thereby making it more difficult for my surgeon to fully correct my septum.  He said he went down as low as he possibly could without poking a hole through my palate (thanks, doctor!) and tried to straighten as much as I could.  I think this is why I have some minor ongoing pain.  I’m not sure if he modified the bone or not, but the pain I have in my lower nose, palate, and upper front teeth is unmistakable.  It is not unbearable by far but was very uncomfortable to begin with.  Also, my upper lip stayed swollen for quite a while.  Now, I mostly have the pain if I’m upset and have cried.  The crying creates swelling, and I think the swelling is what causes the pain.

Immediately after I had the surgery and for several months after, I said I wished I hadn’t had the surgery.  It – the surgery, pain, and recovery – totally exhausted me.  N0w that I’m on the other side of it and am more fully recovered, I don’t regret it.  When I lay in bed at night in any position of my choosing and can breathe freely, I am even thankful for it.  I won’t go so far as to say I’d recommend the surgery, but I would certainly recommend considering it.  I would be more likely to recommend it had I been more prepared for it.  I was surprised by the intensity of the recovery.  I expected it to be easy peasy, and it wasn’t.  I know it is for some people, but it wasn’t for me.  Not at all.  However, had I realized that in advance I think I would have coped with it more effectively.

So those are my thoughts.  Which reminds me – I need to go in my my 6-month check.  The doctor said if I remembered it to make an appointment.  I’ve remembered it, so I guess I’ll be making the appointment…

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  1. wow – that sounds awful! I’m glad it’s a distant memory now.

  2. I’m glad that you updated us on this – I had been wondering about it, but never remembered to ask you! It sounds like it was worth it in the long run. I’ve noticed that my nose is definitely bent and one nostril is more congested than the other and I can get some wicked sinus infections. One of my friends had the same procedure as you and it was really rough and she’s STILL getting sinus infections. Yuck!
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..three things- walking in the front door =-.

  3. I’m now going to have the same Septoplasty as you, plus Turbinate Reduction as well. After reading your experiences, I’m trying to mentally prepare myself to be out of work for at least a week. Hopefully it won’t be more. I hate that its going to be right before Christmas and may even end up affecting Christmas plans, but I’m SO ready to have this surgery. I’m glad to see that it was worth it in the end. =)

  4. I’ve been considering a septoplasty for years but can’t decide whether to go through with it – it’s funny because I do the exact same thing when I sleep – I pull one nostril open with my cheek. Other than that I don’t really notice it, except when allergies are bad. Good to read your experience… I’m still debating whether to get it!

  5. Thanks for sharing your experience on having septoplasty. I rarely encounter women sharing their stories openly as you did and i understand because it’s a private matter. And when i read your post, it was really helpful since it shed a new light to this because I’ve planned to undergo this as well.
    Kaye´s last blog post ..Can Cosmetic Surgery Change Your Personality?

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  7. Hello Heidi,
    Thank you for sharing your personal insight on your septoplasty experience. It is such a great resource coming from someone with firsthand experience, I really appreciate it.

  8. So many insights! I’m going to have septoplasty, too. The post is so useful.

  9. Wonderful blog. I had septoplasty last July 21. I’m at 3 months soon still have some inflammation and pain inside my nose as my surgeon checked it for me. I was told that healing processing takes about three to six months for septoplasty because of swelling, inflammation and pain needs to go away. I assume that you have some pain in your nose for awhile up to six months? Hopefully my nose will be fully opened! Thanks for your amazing story.

  10. Linda Gunter says:

    I’ve been breathing out of one nostril at night too and sleep better on my side. Snoring and sleep apnea are also problems. Hopefully, this will all be resolved. My surgery is this week…Feb 11. The doctor told me no bruising and in two weeks I could fly. He never mentioned the splints or head garb the other lady had. Sure hope I have pain meds, but then I need to be able to think clearly to clean my nose and change the gauze. Never mentioned the numb teeth for maybe 6 months? If they told us everything we’d never have the surgery. Good luck everyone!

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