Nasal Surgery

Nasal surgery refers to surgery performed on the outside or inside of the nose. Nasal surgery may be performed to:

  • Improve breathing
  • Correct congenital (present at birth) or acquired deformities
  • Change the size or shape of the nose (cosmetic surgery) [LINK to Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery page]
  • Remove abnormal growths such as nasal polyps
  • Repair nasal injuries                

This type of surgery is performed by otolaryngologists—ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialists with advanced training in head and neck surgery. Cooper’s Division of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery is home to an entire team of fellowship-trained otolaryngologists with extensive experience performing nasal surgery.

Types of Nasal Surgery

These are the most common types of nasal surgery performed by otolaryngologists –head and neck surgeons:

  • Septoplasty is the surgical correction of defects and deformities of the nasal septum (the partition between the nostrils). It’s most frequently performed to correction a deviated septum [LINK to Deviated Septum page], a condition in which the septum isn’t in straight vertical alignment, causing obstructed airflow.
  • Rhinoplasty is the surgical repair of a defect of the nose, including reshaping or resizing the nose, narrowing the nostrils, or changing the angle between the nose and the lips. It can be performed for medical or cosmetic [LINK to Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery page] purposes.               
  • Turbinate reduction is a procedure to shrink the turbinates, the bones on the outer walls inside the nose that project into the nasal passages as ridges of tissue. When enlarged, they can block nasal passages and obstruct breathing. There are several options for turbinate reduction:
    • Cauterization, coblation, and radiofrequency ablation use energy delivered through a special device to heat a portion of the turbinate from below the surface. Scar tissue eventually forms, causing the turbinate to shrink.
    • Submucosal resection is minimally invasive surgery to remove some of the turbinate bone from below the mucous membrane
    • Resection is directly cutting off a portion of the bottom of the turbinate
  • Polypectomy is the surgical removal of polyps in the nose. You’re given either a local or general anesthetic, and an endoscope (a long, thin tube with a video camera) is inserted into your nose. Polyps are then cut out using micro-telescopes and surgical instruments.  

What to Expect from Nasal Surgery

Although each procedure varies, here is some general information about nasal surgery:

  • Where it’s performed: Because many of these procedures are minimally invasive, they often can be performed in the surgeon’s office-based surgical facility, an outpatient surgery center, or in the hospital on an outpatient basis. If you have certain health issues or a more invasive procedure is required, you may need to be admitted to the hospital on an inpatient basis.
  • Anesthesia: Many nasal surgeries can be performed with local anesthesia (often with sedation to help relax you), but general anesthesia may also be appropriate.
  • After surgery: After septoplasty or rhinoplasty, you may have a splint on the nose to help hold its new shape. You may also have nasal packs or soft splints in the nostrils to stabilize the septum (after septoplasty) or to control bleeding (after turbinate reduction, for example).
  • Short-term side effects: Short-term side effects after surgery may include:
    • Facial puffiness
    • Nose may ache
    • Dull headache
    • Swelling and/or bruising around the eyes
    • Small amount of nasal bleeding in the first few days
  • Recovery: Recovery periods vary depending on the procedure performed as well as other factors such as your age and general health. Most patients can go home the same day as surgery, and are able to return to school or sedentary work in a week or so. Your surgeon will provide guidelines for resuming normal activities, tailored to your situation.
  • Post-operative pain: Most patients find they can control post-operative pain with over-the-counter pain relievers. Depending on the extent of surgery, your surgeon may prescribe something stronger.
  • Healing: Healing is a slow process. You may have some swelling for months, especially in the tip of the nose after rhinoplasty. Final results of nasal surgery may not be evident for several months to a year.

Contact Us

To learn more about the services available in the Division of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery or to schedule an appointment, please call 856.342.3113.