Difficulty breathing through the nose is a common complaint among patients referred to Dr. Thompson. Many patients also complain of chronic mouth breathing, snoring, poor compliance with sleep apnea machines, poor exercise tolerance, and bad breath.
A variety of factors can cause or contribute to nasal obstruction. These include:
- Septal Deviation
- Environmental toxins or irritants
- The shape of a person’s nose (this can be present from birth or can occur over time with aging)
- Trauma/Nasal injury
- Prior nasal surgery
Nasal obstruction should be taken seriously. It can contribute to various health problems, including dental caries, difficulty with exercise, sinus infections, sleep disturbances, and obstructive sleep apnea.
Fortunately, there are multiple ways to improve a patient’s ability to breathe. Dr. Thompson prides himself on using a comprehensive treatment approach that incorporates lifestyle changes, medications, and, when necessary, surgery to improve a patient’s nasal airway. Dr. Thompson completed specialized training to address multiple factors that contribute to nasal congestion. A brief outline of a few of these conditions is detailed below.
- A deviated septum. The nose is supported by the septum, a bony, cartilaginous structure inside the nose that divides the two nasal cavities in the midline. When the septum is crooked or deviated, it can cause nasal obstruction.
- Turbinate hypertrophy. The sides of the nose are lined by structures called nasal concha or turbinates. Turbinates are responsible for warming, humidifying, and filtering the air we breathe through our nose. Sometimes these structures can have bony enlargement, or their lining, called mucosa, can swell and cause congestion.
- Nasal valve stenosis and collapse. The openings into the nose, called the nasal valves, may also be narrow and cause difficulty breathing. This condition can be present from birth or develop over time. Additionally, these openings can collapse inward as we inhale through our nose, contributing to nasal obstruction.
Candidates are men and women who would like to enhance their quality of life by improving sleep quality, increasing energy, allowing for greater endurance during physical activity, and providing relief from nasal symptoms associated with allergies and inflammation. Patients who have been involved in an accident or sustained an injury that has changed their nasal anatomy and function may also be candidates. If surgery is needed, it is usually reserved for patients who have no serious medical conditions or illnesses that can pose a safety risk or compromise the results of the procedure.
Before surgery, patients should quit smoking, as cigarettes inhibit healing and can increase the risk of complications. To fully determine if you are a good candidate for nasal surgery, it would be our pleasure to see you for a personal consultation with Dr. Thompson.
Your Consultation at our Denver Practice
An initial consultation aims to create a customized treatment plan that will result in improving symptoms of nasal obstruction. During the consultation, the surgeon will go over the following with the patient:
- Medical history. Medical conditions, previous medical treatments, drug allergies, current medications, herbal supplements, vitamins will be discussed and reviewed.
- Physical exam. The size and shape of the nose’s internal structures that impact breathing are examined in detail using nasal endoscopy (a minor procedure that uses a tiny scope to look on the inside of the nose).
- Goals and expectations. The patient’s goals of treatment are discussed in detail. Questions and concerns are addressed and answered.
Nasal surgery is performed under general anesthesia. During this time, the patient is asleep and cannot feel any pain or discomfort. Dr. Thompson places all incisions within the nostrils to avoid visible scarring. This approach provides access to correct all areas in the nose, including straightening a deviated septum, decreasing the size of obstructing turbinates, and opening or strengthening the nose’s nasal valve area.
Once all the patient’s desired changes have been made, incisions are carefully closed with dissolvable sutures. Dissolvable sutures do not require removal. The nose is not typically packed, but in some instances, a non-adherent splint is left in each nasal cavity. Depending on the surgery’s details, an external nasal splint may be placed over the nose for protection and to decrease swelling. The total procedure time is usually 45-90 minutes. The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. A family member or friend must drive the patient home after they are alert, and their pain is under control.
When indicated, a surgical splint remains inside the nose to support the new nasal structures. Most swelling in the nose will resolve within the first few weeks to months.
Strenuous exercise must be avoided for 10 to 14 days following surgery because elevated blood pressure associated with exercise increases the risk of bleeding, swelling, and bruising. Other routine daily activities may be resumed immediately after surgery. Detailed recovery instructions are given to the patient before surgery. Most patients return to work within 7 to 14 days. Patients who desire to return to work earlier can be cleared within 24 hours after surgery if the work is non-strenuous.
Initial results are noticed as the postsurgical swelling goes down and will emerge within the first week after surgery. If the patient has a history of allergies, they may require medication during flare-ups to help with inflammation inside their nose.
FAQs about Surgery
Medicare and most private insurances cover the surgery, but prior authorization is sometimes required.
Most incisions are made inside the nostrils. These incisions form scars, but they are not visible.
Nasal surgery carries the same risks as all surgeries, including bleeding and infection. Patients can minimize risks by being honest about any potential health concerns and closely following their surgeon’s pre- and post-operative instructions.
Schedule Your Consultation in Denver Today
Dr. Thompson has dedicated himself to acquiring the skill and unique perspective to help patients improve their nasal breathing. Patients ready to schedule their initial consultation can call our Denver office at (303) 667-1474 to set up an appointment.