Are you experiencing crust formation around the edges of your nose holes or constant whistling every time you breathe? If your answer is yes, you might have a septal perforation.
It is a condition in which a hole forms in the nasal septum due to an injury, trauma, inhalation of chemicals or drugs, etc. Nasal septum perforation is a complex issue that might lead to several other health-related diseases, such as breathing issues, nose bleeding, nasal infection, etc.
This blog will enlighten you on septal perforation and all the crucial information related to this condition. Besides that, this informational piece will also discuss the methods and types of surgeries used to treat perforated nasal septum. But before that, let’s start with the basics: what is the nasal septum?
What Is the Septum?
The septum (or nasal septum) is the part of your nose made of cartilage in the front and bone in the back that divides your nose into left and right nostrils. In fact, you might see at least the front section of the septum every day when you look in the mirror.
When it gets torn, or a hole forms through part of it, you can say the septum is perforated.
What Causes a Septal Perforation?
There is no single reason why a hole forms in your nasal septum. In fact, a combination of causes can lead to nasal septum perforation.
- Nasal trauma from an accident that occurred in the past
- Complications from previous procedures
- Infections and inflammatory disorders
- Inhalation of illegal drugs or chemicals
- Issues from septal piercing
- Side effects from prescribed medications
What Is the Difference Between a Deviated Septum and a Perforated Septum?
If your nasal septum has deviated, your nose will appear to be crooked and might bulge out to the one side of the nose. According to a study conducted on 638 people residing in a large city in the UK, almost 30.4% had a deviated septum.
However, in the case of the perforated septum, a hole forms through the septum, which is not visible from the outside. It allows air to spill over and flow from one nostril to the other.
What Are the Possible Surgical Techniques to Resolve the Problem?
Before treating nasal septum perforation, it is crucial to understand its causes and the condition of your septum. Several non-surgical methods and medical treatments, such as using saline nasal sprays and topical ointments, can reduce the symptoms to a large extent if the perforated hole is not that big.
However, if the symptoms remain the same and the perforation increases, your doctor would probably recommend surgery. Here are some of the possible surgical techniques that can resolve this condition:
- Placing a Septal Button
In this procedure, your surgeon will use soft, plastic temporary implantation to fill the hole. This process is painless and invisible to others. Your doctor can let it there as long as needed to resolve the issue.
- Nasal Skin Grafts
- Reconstructive Nasal Procedure
What Is the Procedure Like?
The procedure is generally straightforward but needs precision. It usually takes almost one to three hours, and mostly the patients can head to their homes the same day. However, they are given drugs to sleep through it.
The surgeons have two options to go with while treating nasal septum perforation:
- Closed surgery
- Open surgery
Many doctors prefer closed surgery, which has to be done through the opening in your nostrils. However, several other surgeons use the open procedure in which your nose is opened for better access. Your doctor’s method depends primarily on the perforated area and location.
As mentioned, the procedure is not that complicated. The surgeon will take out tissues from your nose to cover the perforated hole properly. Besides the nose, they can also take the tissues from other body parts. After adding one layer, they will cover each side of the hole by adding some more flaps of the tissue. Some doctors also recommend adding cartilage, bone, and more tissues for additional support.
What Is the Recovery Process After the Surgery?
For recovery, you will likely have thin nose splints that cover and protect the tissue flaps. They will probably be there for at least one or two weeks.
To ensure that there will be no issues while your nose heals after the treatment of nasal septum perforation, here are a few things you can do:
- Avoid blowing your nose too hard
- Sneeze using your mouth
- Rinse with Saline solutions as much as your doctor recommends
- Avoid bending over or lifting heavy things
Ensure that you have follow-up checkups with your doctor after surgery for the following things:
- To clear out the crust and clean the interior of the nose
- To check the splints and remove them if needed
- For regular checkups to ensure that your nose is healing properly
When Should You Reach Out to a Doctor?
When you follow the instructions recommended by your doctor, your recovery process will speed up automatically. However, ensure that you look for specific signs while healing and call your doctor if the following issues come into the picture:
- High fever
- Redness on the outer parts of your nose
- Unbearable pain and swelling
- Trouble in breathing
- Excessive fluids draining from your nose
How to Know Whether You Need a Surgeon or Not?
One of the most complicated questions with any complex issue related to health and the body is whether you should rely on medications or consult your doctor for surgery.
Of course, no one wants to go for a surgical procedure in the first place. However, it becomes essential to opt for one when things get worse.
When it comes to nasal septum perforation, the doctors don’t usually consider surgery as the first step unless the situation is intense. They will generally recommend an ointment or saline rinse in the beginning to reduce the symptoms of septal perforation. You must visit your doctor regularly to ensure the issue is not too big.
However, if these things don’t work and the perforation persists or grows, you might need to consult a proficient surgeon for the surgery.
Surgery is not always the first option to go with, but it becomes essential when no other options work. Several doctors consider nasal septum perforation a complex problem, and it is, as it deals with the critical parts of the nose. If the perforated hole enlarges, multiple severe issues, such as blockage in breathing, nose bleeding and infections, can happen.
That’s why it is crucial to understand the seriousness of this problem and get it checked and treated as soon as possible. Moreover, if the hole gets too big, nasal procedures might be the right step to opt for. However, make sure you choose an experienced surgeon with immense knowledge and expertise in septal reconstruction and repair. A proficient surgeon will analyse your issue and customise their repair methods to minimise the chances of operation failure.