Septoplasty Surgery: How to Prepare

Septoplasty is a surgery done to correct problems with the septum—the wall that runs down the center of your nose, separating your nostrils. The operation is usually a same-day surgery done with general anesthesia. It typically lasts one to three hours.

Small abnormalities of the septum are common and don't require treatment, but a more severe deviated septum that results in breathing problems may require surgery to treat. Find out what you need to do to prepare for septoplasty surgery.

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Location

Septoplasty is a surgery typically performed in an outpatient surgery center or a hospital's ambulatory surgery center. There are no exterior cuts as the surgery is performed through the nostrils. Most patients go home the same day as their surgery.

An ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT) or plastic surgeon will perform the procedure, straightening the crooked septum. Septoplasty can be done under general or location anesthesia, but general anesthesia is more common. You should discuss plans for anesthesia with your surgeon before the day of your surgery.

Regardless of which type of anesthesia you will have, septoplasty is usually done as an outpatient surgery. The surgery itself will take place in an operating room, and you will be brought to a recovery area after the surgery until you are ready to go home. When you have local or general anesthesia, you should plan to have someone drive you home afterward.

If you develop any concerning symptoms such as a fever or difficulty breathing before your surgery, call your doctor. Call 911 if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

What to Wear

There are no specific clothing requirements for septoplasty. When you arrive at the surgery center, you will likely be asked to change out of your clothing and into a hospital gown. You should leave jewelry at home, and it's a good idea to remove piercings before surgery.

The surgery lasts for one to three hours, and you will be taken to a recovery area when it is complete until you are ready to go home. You may want to bring comfortable clothes to change into after your surgery—perhaps a shirt that you don't have to lift over your head.

Food and Drink

As with most surgeries, you will be asked not to eat or drink anything the day of surgery. If you are having general anesthesia, you should refrain from eating or drinking—especially alcohol—for at least six hours before your surgery, and possibly from midnight of the day of your surgery.

Follow your surgery instructions exactly for when to stop eating or drinking. Your surgery may be canceled if you have had anything to eat or drink and your stomach is not empty.

Medications

You may be given antibiotics to prevent infection before your septoplasty, but the bigger focus is on the medications your doctor may ask you to stop taking before the procedure.

Before surgery, your doctor may recommend that you stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), and certain herbal medications due to the increased risk of bleeding you may have when taking these.

Your doctor may also ask you to stop taking other medications that may interfere with your recovery, or create surgical risks. You should discuss your specific medication list with your doctor before the surgery.

What to Bring

When you arrive for your septoplasty, you should have information about your medical history, and any insurance or billing paperwork your doctor might require. Each surgical center may have its own requirements, but here is a list of things you may want to bring on the day of your surgery:

  • A driver's license or other identification
  • Insurance card
  • A list of any allergies
  • Information on prior complications with surgery or anesthesia
  • Hearing aids (if you wear them) so you can communicate with your doctor, and something to keep them in during surgery
  • Glasses or contacts, and something to keep them in during surgery
  • Legal documents, such as a healthcare power of attorney form or living will if required by your surgeon
  • A family member or friend for support
  • Someone to take you home after your surgery
  • Loose, comfortable clothing

Pre-Op Lifestyle Changes

Before your septoplasty, you need to take actions that will help improve your overall health and your body's ability to heal. This includes quitting smoking. Smoking can inhibit your body's immune system and delay healing after surgery.

A Word From Verywell

Many people have a deviated, or crooked, septum. When this abnormality causes problems with breathing, you and your doctor may decide that septoplasty surgery is appropriate. Talk to your doctor about surgical options and how to prepare. Surgery is usually over in a few hours, and you can go home that day.

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Article Sources
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  2. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. (2020). Septoplasty. https://www.plasticsurgery.org/reconstructive-procedures/septoplasty

  3. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Preparing for endoscopic sinus surgery.

  4. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Getting ready for your ambulatory surgery. 2017.

  5. American Society of Plastic Surgeons, How should I prepare for a septoplasty? 2020.

  6. World Health Organization. Smoking greatly increases risk of complications after surgery. 2020.