Septoplasty: Recovery

In This Article

Septoplasty is a surgery to repair or remove portions of the bone and cartilage that make up the septum. The septum separates the two nostrils, and can usually be accessed and repaired from within the nasal cavity.

As an outpatient procedure with minimal incisions, recovery from septoplasty is less complicated than other surgeries, but can still require a bit of time and patience.

Recovery and follow-up from septopasty
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Surgery Follow-Up

In the immediate period after your surgery, be prepared for some pain and swelling. This should subside after a few weeks, but it may take months to experience the full benefit of your septoplasty.

You should have a follow-up appointment with your surgeon, who will advise you on removing dressings, packing, or splints. This usually takes place a day or two after your surgery.

While physical therapy or special exercises are not required for septoplasty, your surgeon will give you other instructions on how to care for yourself after your surgery. These instructions may include:

  • Taking pain medication
  • Taking medications to reduce inflammation or swelling
  • How to take care of the surgical area
  • Risks or other side effects that require immediate action
  • Instructions on when and how to call your doctor with concerns  
  • Avoiding blowing your nose or straining by lifting objects over 20 pounds for at least 10 days after surgery
  • Avoiding steroid nasal sprays for at least two weeks after surgery as the nasal passages heal
  • Avoiding aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) due to an increased risk of bleeding
  • Using a saline nasal spray or sinus irrigation to increase comfort after your surgery 
  • Using an ice pack to help reduce pain and swelling
  • Sleeping with your head elevated to decrease swelling and congestion
  • Avoiding showers for the first 24 hours after surgery
  • Trying to avoid people who are sick, and dusty or smoking places, to prevent irritation or illness

Recovery Timeline

Septoplasty might not require ongoing therapies and visits, but recovery can still be a process. Plan to minimize activities--especially those that involve lifting or straining for a week or two after surgery.

You should plan to miss about two weeks of work or school. You may be asked to avoid strenuous activities, like playing sports, for up to a month after your surgery. 

While most people recover well after septoplasty, you may not feel the full benefit of your surgery for some time. Incisions will health fairly quickly, and pain and swelling should decrease in a short period of time. Full healing of the repaired or removed septum may take much longer.

Cartilage and nasal tissue can take three to six months to heal fully, and changes can even occur a year later. In the time after surgery, patients should also see improvements in the problems that led them to a septoplasty, like breathing problems or snoring. These results can take time and vary from person to person.

Alert your doctor if you notice a severe headache, fever, pain, chills, neck stiffness, nosebleeds, or have trouble breathing. Call your doctor or 911 for any medical emergency.

Coping with Recovery

Even though septoplasty is an outpatient procedure, recovery can still be challenging. Follow your doctor's advice for relieving pain and swelling immediately after surgery, and be sure to restrict activities as advised to avoid complications.

You may not feel the full effect of the repairs or removal of a deviated septum for some time, and a second surgery is needed to further correct the problem in some cases. 

A Word From Verywell

Septoplasty is generally a simple procedure. It's an outpatient surgery involving few, discreet cuts. Still, like most surgeries, there is a risk for complications and the chance that the problem you were looking to have corrected is not fixed. Make sure you discuss your goals and possible risks with your surgeon, as well as tips for optimal recovery.

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Article Sources
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  1. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. What should I expect after a septoplasty?. 2020.

  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Post operative instructions: What to expect after endoscopic sinus surgery. 2020

  3. Cleveland Clinic. What Can I Expect After Septoplasty? https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/17779-septoplasty/recovery-and-outlook. 2018.

  4. Cleveland Clinic. What Should I Call My Doctor After Septoplasty?https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/17779-septoplasty/when-to-call-the-doctor. 2018.