Two Procedures to Breathe Easier

January 12, 2018

Have you ever had a stubborn cold that just wouldn’t go away? The cold morphs into a sinus infection. The congestion builds, creating sinus pressure that makes your head pound. Surely with all this pressure your head will explode soon. Your face hurts, and food has lost its appeal because you can’t smell or taste it.  The congestion makes a restful night of sleep nearly impossible. Your partner complains about your loud mouth breathing or snoring. You pray it will go away, but it persists for months.


For most people, these symptoms are easily treated with medication and they disappear within a month. For others, however, there’s another answer: a chronic nasal obstruction.


Some people are born with anatomical nasal obstructions including a deviated septum, enlarged turbinates or nasal polyps. Failed rhinoplasty procedures and trauma to the nose such as a car accident or sports injury can also cause nasal obstructions.


Chronic sinusitis, a sinus infection lasting longer than 12 weeks, can also cause chronic nasal obstruction.


Those suffering from chronic nasal obstruction often experience the following symptoms:

  • Chronic Sinus infection
  • Chronic congestion
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Reduced ability to taste and smell
  • Headaches
  • Increased sinus pressure


These symptoms can seriously interfere with a person’s quality of life. For someone experiencing this on a daily basis, there are two different options to improve quality of life. For those suffering with an anatomical nasal obstruction, a functional rhinoplasty procedure could improve breathing. For those suffering from chronic sinusitis, a balloon sinuplasty would be a better option.

Functional Rhinoplasty

A functional rhinoplasty procedure is nose surgery that alters the structure of the nose to improve breathing. Functional rhinoplasty procedures are often covered by insurance since they’re used to correct chronic breathing problems. This procedure is often performed in conjunction with cosmetic rhinoplasty.


When to get functional rhinoplasty:

  • Chronic difficulty breathing
  • Trauma to the nose that restricts nasal passages
  • Failed rhinoplasty


For this procedure, a plastic surgeon will consult with you and examine your nose to check for anatomical blockages, then tailor the procedure to address those issues. Some common blockages include: a deviated septum and enlarged turbinates. There are specific procedures surgeons perform during a functional rhinoplasty procedure to address these issues.  

To treat a deviated septum – Septoplasty

The septum is the cartilage and bone layer that separates the nostrils. Ideally, the septum leaves equal amount of space on each side of the nose, allowing free air flow through both nasal passages. If the septum is deviated, or displaced to one side, the air flow through one or both nasal passages is restricted.



  • Birth defect
  • Appears as someone grows up
  • Traumatic injury


Nearly 80% of Americans have a deviated septum, but for many, there are no symptoms associated. Minor symptoms that occur with a cold such as congestion and post-nasal drip can often be treated with medication. In severe cases, doctors may suggest surgery to clear the nasal passage obstruction. This type of surgery is called a septoplasty. In this procedure, the surgeon works to straighten the cartilage and bone to restore air flow.



During a septoplasty procedure, the patient is sedated with general anesthesia. The surgeon makes an incision in the nose then lifts the mucous membrane. The surgeon then corrects the position of the septum, removing whatever is necessary. Then the membrane is repositioned and the incision is stitched up.


This is an outpatient procedure, so patients can return home the same day. The doctor will most likely pack the patient’s nose with cotton to limit bleeding. The swelling and pain from the procedure should decrease within a week of the procedure, but it could take up to two months to fully heal.

To treat enlarged turbinates- Turbinate Reduction

Turbinates are ridges of tissue in the nasal passages that warm, humidify and filter air as it enters the body. There are three different turbinates in the nose: the upper, middle and lower. When the turbinates come in contact with allergens, they can become inflamed. Although this inflammation can temporarily restrict air flow, it’s normal and can be treated with nose spray or other medications. When the inflammation doesn’t go away on its own however, there can be complications. The restriction of airflow through the nasal passage can cause difficulty breathing and congestion. If medication alone doesn’t reduce the swelling, functional rhinoplasty may be necessary. It is important for nasal health that the turbinates aren’t removed entirely, but surgery can be used to reduce their size.



The turbinate reduction procedure is often performed in conjunction with septoplasty. During this procedure, local or general anesthetic are used. The surgeon removes a portion of the bone underneath the turbinate by making an incision in the mucous lining of the turbinate. The surgeon can also reduce the turbinate size by cauterizing them with an electrical current.


This is an outpatient procedure, so the patient will be able to return home the same day. The swelling and pain from the procedure should be reduced within a week.


Balloon Sinuplasty

The balloon sinuplasty is a non-surgical, minimally invasive procedure designed to treat those suffering from chronic sinusitis.


Chronic sinusitis:

With a sinus infection, the mucus secreting lining of the sinus cavities becomes inflamed and swollen due to a viral, microbial or bacterial infection. When this occurs, the mucus can’t drain, causing uncomfortable sinus pressure to build up. This condition is known as sinusitis. Most cases of sinusitis go away on their own or with medication in less than a month. Some cases, however, are resistant to medication and treatment. If you suffer from chronic sinusitis, it’s important to seek treatment so that the fluid buildup doesn’t cause an infection of the facial bones.


The procedure:

The doctor will insert a balloon catheter into the nasal cavity. The doctor will then gently inflate the balloon, widening the passageway and allowing the fluid to drain and the pressure to be relieved.


This procedure is performed in-office without anesthesia. Patients are able to resume usual activities within 48 hours of the procedure because there’s limited swelling and discomfort associated with this procedure. The full breathing benefits of this procedure appear two to three days after when all swelling has gone down.


Ready to feel better?

If you’re ready to seek treatment for your chronic breathing problems, make sure you choose a surgeon who is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. You should also carefully examine your surgeon’s previous work to make sure he or she can offer you the results you desire. Make sure that your surgeon has your safety and best interest at heart.

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