What is a septoplasty?

The nasal septum is the bone and cartilage that separates the right and left nasal passages. Deviations can create obstructions that will not improve with time or medication.  Deviations can occur through birth, nasal trauma, or growth.

Mild deviations that do not affect airflow can be safely observed.  Because the septum is a growth center for the midface, younger children with septal deviations are managed conservatively, reserving surgery for severe deviations.

Septoplasty is more commonly performed in adolescence or early adulthood (at least 16 years of age in girls and 17 to 18 years of age in boys).
For those with significant septal obstruction, a septoplasty is a procedure to straighten the offending part of the septum.  It involves a small incision inside the nose, and does not usually alter the external appearance of the nose itself.

What is a turbinate reduction?

Turbinates are structures in the nose that expand and contract. They have many roles, including warming, filtering, and humidifying the air.  They also may progressively enlarge and cause obstruction. Allergy testing and medical therapies are useful to identify and treat any contributing allergic conditions. For those not responding to these treatments, reducing the size of the turbinate can offer significant relief of obstructive symptoms.

Turbinate reduction is to either prevent the turbinate from swelling by removing or scarring the contractile component, or to thin the turbinate by removing the bone in its center. Regardless of technique, the turbinate has the potential to recover over time and reproduce the obstruction.  Removing the entire turbinate is not recommended though, as this has been shown to lead to a variety of other nasal conditions that are best avoided.