Obstructed breathing can have far-reaching consequences, affecting your quality of sleep, athletic performance, and general enjoyment of life. As a board-certified otolaryngologist Dr. Albert Chow is specifically trained and experienced in surgical treatment of the inner structures of the nose and the sinuses. He performs turbinate reduction and septoplasty at his San Francisco practice to help patients breathe freely. The procedure requires minimal downtime.
The cartilage and bone that make up the septum divides the nasal airway into 2 passages. The front of the septum, beginning in the middle of the upper lip between the nostrils, is a firm but bendable structure covered by skin with an abundant supply of blood vessels. It extends to the back of the nasal cavity. When the septum separates the left and right sides of the nose equally, air flows comfortably through both passages.
Having a septum that is exactly midline is fairly rare, yet most people don’t notice if their septums are a bit off-center. However, when the septum is severely shifted away from the midline, a deviated septum occurs. The most common symptom of a deviated septum is difficulty breathing through one of the nasal passages.
Septoplasty is a surgical procedure that corrects a deviated septum. Dr. Chow typically doesn’t perform this surgery for individuals younger than 18 because the cartilaginous septum continues to grow until that age.
What Are Turbinates?
Dr. Chow may also perform turbinate reduction. This corrects problems due to enlarged nasal turbinates, structures on the side wall of the nose that when inflamed and enlarged due to allergies can project into the nasal passages.
What Causes a Deviated Septum?
The most common reason a person develops a deviated septum is a traumatic injury sustained by the nose. This might occur during childbirth or at some later date. A deviated septum could also be the result of a genetic condition that emerges later.
Whatever the cause, the symptoms of a deviated septum include one or more of the following conditions:
One or both nostrils blocked
Nasal congestion, sometimes on only 1 side
Frequent sinus infections
Occasional facial pain or headaches
Noisy breathing during sleep (in infants and young children)
Some people with mild deviated septums only notice symptoms when they have a cold because the respiratory infection triggers inflammation in the nose. That worsens airflow problems that may be fairly mild under normal circumstances. After getting over the cold, these individuals again don’t notice symptoms.
During your consultation, Dr. Chow examines the inside and outside of your nose to determine the cause of your breathing difficulties and decides whether surgery is the right approach.
Dr. Albert Chow
Triple Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon
Dr. Albert Chow is one of the few Bay Area surgeons who is board certified in plastic surgery, facial plastic surgery, and otolaryngology. In addition to his impressive credentials and decades of experience, Dr. Chow is a kind, approachable doctor who truly listens to his patients. He specializes in cosmetic and functional rhinoplasty and procedures for patients of Asian descent.
Many patients consider rhinoplasty not only for nasal breathing and function, but for cosmetic enhancement of the nose. As a board-certified plastic surgeon, a board-certified facial plastic surgeon and a board-certified otolaryngologist, Dr. Chow is well trained. He can provide both functional and aesthetic improvements with a single surgery and recovery period.
He is a believer in “conservation nasal surgery”. He will restore function and improve and create aesthetics while maintaining function and preserving natural structures in order to maintain a natural appearance. He preserves and reshapes rather than removing and destabilizing the nose structure to ensure long-lasting function and aesthetic appeal.
Does Insurance Cover Septoplasty and Reduction of Turbinates?
When nose surgery is performed to improve breathing, it is typically covered by medical insurance. Dr. Chow performs an endoscopic examination of the inside of your nose during the consultation to determine whether insurance can cover septoplasty or reduction of turbinates. If you have Dr. Chow combine cosmetic rhinoplasty with septoplasty and or reduction of turbinates, you will need to pay for the portion of the fees not covered by insurance.
Deviated Septum Diagnosis
Dr. Chow’s specialized training as an otolaryngologist and plastic surgeon enables him to both diagnose and treat patients who have difficulty breathing through their noses. A deviated septum and enlarged turbinates are the most common causes of nasal blockages, but it’s important that the issue is correctly diagnosed so it can be properly treated.
At Your First Visit
A physical exam and conversation about your medical history help Dr. Chow determine whether you have a deviated septum. He asks patients if they’ve sustained an injury to their nose or have had nasal surgery. Not all patients with deviated septums require surgery and Dr. Chow will discuss the available options based on his expertise.
What to Expect
Dr. Chow performs septoplasty using general anesthesia or, in some cases, a local anesthetic with sedation. It’s an outpatient procedure, meaning you can return home the day of the surgery, and it typically takes about an hour to 1.5 hours to complete.
The surgery itself is performed inside the nose, so you won’t have external incisions or bruising. Dr. Chow straightens the cartilage and bone during the procedure, unblocking the airway to relieve your symptoms. Nasal packing used to prevent excessive postoperative bleeding is removed during a post-op appointment.
You can expect mild discomfort after the surgery. Oral pain medication is usually enough to manage the symptoms. Swelling typically causes stuffiness after the procedure, but it generally starts to improve after the first week. You may have drainage of some mucus and blood from your nose after surgery. This is a normal part of the healing process.
In San Francisco, the cost of septoplasty involves several factors. Dr. Chow’s practice provides a detailed quote after your examination. Some of the things considered when determining the price of septoplasty include:
The extent of the surgery
Number of appointments
Any additional tests
It’s important to note that cosmetic rhinoplasty adds to the cost of the surgery and generally won’t be covered by insurance. Dr. Chow and his staff will be glad to discuss the financial aspects of the procedure during your consultation.