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Why does my child need septoplasty?

Septoplasty (sep-toe-plas-tee) is a surgical procedure to straighten the bone and cartilage in the nose (nasal) that separates the space between two nostrils (septum). The nasal septum is a divider that separates the left side of the nose from the right side. It supports the nasal shape and helps air flow into the nose. If the nasal septum develops a bend (due to injury or abnormal growth), it can block the normal air flow. This is called a deviated septum. Fixing the bend improves breathing through the nose.

Is my child old enough to have a deviated septum corrected?

The nasal septum plays an important role in the growth of the face. A medical procedure that changes the structure of the nose before puberty may affect facial growth. Your ear, nose, and throat provider may recommend waiting until you child is older before correcting a deviated nasal septum.

How is nasal septoplasty performed?

A septoplasty is a surgical procedure performed in the operating room under general anesthesia. General anesthesia is very safe, and your child will be carefully monitored during the procedure. Ask your anesthesiologist any questions you have about anesthesia on the day of surgery.

Your surgeon will make an incision (cut) inside the nostril and lift up the mucus membrane (lining) of the nasal septum to see the  bone and cartilage. Bent parts of the cartilage and bone are removed or straightened. Sometimes, large membranes inside the nose (nasal turbinates) may also be made smaller to improve nasal breathing. The mucosal lining is then fixed with dissolving sutures or stitches. Sometimes, soft rubber stents (tiny tubes) are left inside the nose to help with healing.

Are there any instructions I need to follow before surgery?

Your child should NOT take Motrin® (ibuprofen) or other medicines that can increase bleeding risk for at least 3 days before surgery.

Your child must have a physical examination by his or her pediatrician or family doctor within 30 days before surgery. The doctor you see needs to complete the History and Physical form provided by our office. Bring the completed form with you the day of surgery.

It is very important your child has an empty stomach when anesthesia is given. Follow Children’s Hospitals’ Eating and Drinking Guidelines. If you do not follow these guidelines, your child's surgery will be canceled.

What can I expect after surgery?

The procedure usually takes 1 to 2 hours. Your child will wake up in the recovery room after surgery. This can take 30 to 60 minutes. When your child is awake, they will be taken to the discharge area to complete the recovery. They may spend another 1 to 2 hours in this second phase of recovery. You can be with your child once they have been moved to the discharge area. Most patients will go home the same day.


Your child may experience:

  • Nasal pressure and stuffiness, especially in the first week after surgery. Pain medicine may not help with the pressure. After 7 days, the nasal bandages are removed and the pressure will improve.
  • Bloody and/or crusty nasal drainage. Your nurse will show you how to change the bandages to keep the area clean and germ free.
  • Numbness in the tip of the nose, upper front teeth, or roof of the mouth. Feeling slowly returns to normal over the next 3 to 12 months.
  • Loss of the sense of smell and changes to taste. This gets better after 1-2 weeks.

Pain Control

  • Mild nasal or facial pain is normal after surgery. Give your child Tylenol® (acetaminophen) or Motrin®(ibuprofen). If the pain is severe, your doctor may prescribe pain medicine.

Wound Care

  • Nasal Saline
  • Begin using saline nasal spray the day after surgery and continue for 3 weeks
  • Spray the saline nasal spray in each nostril 4-5 times a day
  • Using nasal spray makes splint removal a week after surgery easier and more comfortable
  • Nasal saline is available without a prescription at all drug stores
  • Follow- up with your child’s surgeon in the clinic 1 week after surgery.
  • Your child can take baths or showers as they usually do once they are home
  • Soft rubber splints (if used) are removed in the clinic one week after surgery.


  • Your child should NOT blow their nose after surgery. It could cause bleeding and change the result of surgery. If your child needs to sneeze, have them sneeze with their mouth open.
  • Your child should not do any forceful exercise or activity for at least 2 weeks. Walking is okay. Do not run, play team sports, or lift weights for 3 weeks.

When should I call my doctor?

  • Fevers up to 102.0 F are considered normal after surgery. Call your provider for fevers over 102.0 F that do not come down with acetaminophen (Tylenol) and/or Ibuprofen 
  • Nasal bleeding that completely soaks the bandage in under 15 minutes
  • Any injury to the nose


The information provided in this brochure is not specific to your child. This information is provided as a service to our patients. The information is for educational and informational purposes only and should NOT be used as a substitute for the advice of your child’s physician.

If you have any questions, please call Children’s ENT and Facial Plastic Surgery Clinic.

Reviewed 10/2022

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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