A septal perforation is a hole in the nasal septum. This causes airflow through the nasal cavity to criss-cross through the hole in the septum causing turbulence, which adds drag to the air as it flows through the nose, causing the sensation of obstruction. Nasal septal perforation repair is ultra specialized, requiring very advanced knowledge of rhinoplasty techniques as well as tissue advancement and grafting. Placing sutures deep in the nose is extremely delicate and takes supreme concentration and patience. Midlothian, VA facial plastic surgeon Dr. Matthew Bridges M.D. FACS trained with a world-renowned expert in rhinoplasty and septal perforations. He has extensive experience and a special interest in the repair of septal perforations.
Septal Perforation Reviews
"Dr. Bridges was great. He listened to me during my consultation and did what was best for both of our interests. He's an ENT so he took my breathing into account as well as the desired shape of my nose without doing too much. He even gave me a discount because it was just a finesse rhinoplasty. I'm still only 5 weeks post op with swelling but when I don't have blockage, I can definitely breathe better. I would recommend him to other patients in this area seeking rhinoplasty or septoplasty."- L / RealSelf / Nov 26, 2016
"Dr Bridges is wonderful, so relatable and made me feel comfortable from the start. Thorough assessment that led to a wonderful result. Was sent to him for my deviated septum and insurance ended up covering it was so bad. He was in surgery for a good while, but dang does it look good. Thanks so much Dr Bridges!"- J.H. / Google / Jul 17, 2019
"Dr. Bridges helped fix my highly deviated septum from multiple nose injuries and at the same time helped sculpt my nose into something more appropriate for my features. I recommend him to everyone I know looking at getting nasal surgery done. I've had several friends who have seen him through my recommendation and have also had wonderful results that they are extremely happy with. He's a a fantastic doctor and I'd go as far to say an artist in his craft!"- P. / Healthgrades / Jun 22, 2020
"Gave Me the Nose That Was Meant for my Face. - I went to Dr Bridges for help with a severely deviated septum as well as in the hopes of altering my nose for aesthetic preferences. I sobbed when I took the bandages off, his work is absolutely stunning. He turned the thing I was most self-conscious about to my favorite part of my body. He gave me medication that made my recovery SO easy, I did not bruise at all despite him having to break my nose in order to fix previous breaks. I can breathe SO easy now and my profile looks like what it was always supposed to."- K. / RealSelf / Jun 22, 2020
"Doctor Bridges is the best doctor I have ever met. I had a nasal perforation that whistled with every single breath I took to the point that it drove me insane. I visited five doctors, none of who could help me. Doctor Bridges did what five other doctors could do - he closed that hole in my nose and in doing so gave me my sanity back. My breathing has never been better. His skills, demeanor and level of care are unlike anything I have experienced before in the medical community."- A. / Healthgrades / Nov 21, 2016
Open Perforation Surgery
Septal perforations can be approached via an open rhinoplasty technique, which places a small incision in the skin between the nostrils. This exposes the nasal cartilages and allows wide access to the septum for repair. The disadvantage of this approach is the recovery, which can be somewhat longer than the closed approach. Also, there may be more of a chance of causing external cosmetic changes to the nose due to the more extensive dissection involved.
Closed Perforation Surgery
Endonasal, or "closed", septal perforation repair involves making incisions only inside the nose. The term "closed" is a misnomer, since the nose/septum is certainly opened during surgery, but only with internal incisions. Dr. Bridges does most of his septal perforation repairs using this technique. There is significantly less external swelling/bruising with this procedure vs the "open" approach. Also, the risk of unintended cosmetic change is minimized. Performing closed septal perforation repair is highly technical and requires very advanced surgical skill. Only surgeons with this skill, such as Dr. Bridges, should even attempt this approach.
Septal perforation surgery is an outpatient procedure performed under general anesthesia. The approach used during the surgery varies for each patient, depending on the severity of the perforation. This actual technique used to close the hole is similar in both approaches (closed vs open), however. The tissue surrounding the perforation is carefully elevated on both sides to separate the flaps and allow the hole to be closed in each flap independently. This is done with careful suturing inside the nose. An "interposition" graft of tissue is then placed between the flaps and the flaps are then sewn back together, incorporating the tissue. Various tissue sources are available for grafting, including tissue from behind the ear, or even from the leg. Dr. Bridges typically uses acellular dermis, or Alloderm, which is prepared donor tissue that does not require another incision for harvesting. This tissue works very well.
After surgery, thin silicone sheets are kept in place on both sides of the septum for 3-4 weeks. This allows the tissue to completely heal without drying out and is very important in the overall process. The silicone sheets are typically well tolerated by patients. With the closed approach, there is usually little to no external swelling or bruising, and external taping/splinting is not necessary. Overall, the procedure is not particularly painful.
Plan Your Procedure
Septal Perforation Surgery FAQ
Does It Work?
The success rate of septal perforation surgery depends on the severity of the perforation. About 90 percent of patients who undergo septal perforation surgery (both open and closed techniques) experience a successful procedure with minimal risks and side effects.
Open or Closed?
The technique used during the procedure depends on the size and severity of the perforation. Most patients with small or medium-sized perforations have closed septal perforation surgery, while patients with larger perforations may reuqire open surgery. During the initial consultation, the surgeon evaluates the perforation to determine which technique would be the most successful.
Covered by Insurance?
Some insurance companies may cover the cost of surgery because of its medical effect on patients suffering from a septal perforation. Patients are encouraged to speak with an insurance representative before surgery to find out what will be covered by their insurance policy.
When Can I Exercise?
Most patients can return to routine exercise 3-4 weeks after surgery. However, patients should be extremely careful to not hit or injure their nose during exercise.