Can a Septal Perforation Be Fixed? Does It Need To Be?

Hello I hear Septal perforation can be fixed? is this true? the other Question do people live okay with a septal Perforations? Mine is from a Surgery? it is posterior to the front of the Inferior turbinate. Can this be fixed? I know some doctors in the USA can do it. I went to one, but he wants $50,000 US. I have kids to go to college etc I can't afford that price

Doctor Answers 6

Can a Septal Perforation Be Fixed? Does It Need To Be?

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  Septal perforations can cause whistling with breathing and as such can be an issue for patients.  These perforations can be anterior or posterior and fixing either can be challenging.  No, if the septal peforation is clen, without crusting, well healed and without symmptoms...there's no reason to have it fixed.  If however, inflammation continues around exposed cartilage in the perforation, the perforation and septal damage may continue to expand to the point of creating a dorsal collapse and saddle nose deformity.  For that reason, IMHO, you may want to have a full evaluation and examination by an ENT surgeon that specializes in septal repair.

Repairing a septal perforation

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Septal perforation come in different shapes and sizes.  Usually posterior perforations cause very few problems, and often go unnoticed by the patient.  Anterior perforations can be a bit more problematic as they may disrupt normal nasal airflow, sometimes resulting in the sensation of obstruction and even a "whistling" sound.  In addition, an anterior perforation can disrupt the humidifying ability of the nose and result in significant crusting, sometimes malodorous, and frequent epistaxis (nosebleeds).  With very large perforations, the structural support can be compromised.  

The question of whether or not a perforation needs to be fixed depends on if you are having any or all of the above issues.  If you didn't know it was there until a physician looked inside your nose, then you are probably ok to live with it until it becomes problematic.  If you are having issues, then look around.  There are many qualified surgeons performing the surgery for less than $50k.    

Donald B. Yoo, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 60 reviews

Septal perforations can be repaired

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Septal perforations can indeed be repaired.  Common symptoms for which people seek repair are crusting, bleeding, whistling, difficulty breathing, and loss of nasal support.   The most common causes of perforations are prior surgery, intranasal drug use, and repeated trauma.  Perforations up to 2.5 cm in diameter can often be fully closed; larger perforations have little chance of complete closure are frequently left alone.

William D. Losquadro, MD
Westchester Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Living with a Septal Perforation

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Determining whether a perforation can be repaired depends on the size and position or location. This can be determined during examination with an experienced surgeon who performs septal perforation repair. There many people and patients of mine that have gone a long time with a septal perforation, sometimes without knowledge of it. It can be a complication of a septoplasty or other sinus related surgeries. They are not always something to be concerned about. But when they lead to or show signs of a potential collapse or deformity surgery may be required. Speak with an ENT that specializes in septal perforation repair. As for the cost it could potentially be covered under insurance so make sure to find someone that works with your insurance provider.

Septal trauma

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septal perforation can result from trauma or disease processes.

they can be very difficult to repair, and the outcome is never assured ;  re-perforation is common

luckily, not all perforations need to be repaired 

frequently symptoms can be made less severe by treating co-existing disease states

hope this helps

David V. Martini, MD
Elkton Facial Plastic Surgeon

Repair of Your Septal Perforation

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Thanks for the question. Septal perforations (holes in the septum) can absolutely be repaired by ENTs, Facial Plastic Surgeons or Plastic Surgeons. Perforations can occur from nasal trauma, surgery, or exposure of the septum to drugs such as cocaine. This surgery does require specialized training so be sure to consider the surgeon's training and experience carefully before making a decision. 

The bottom line is that a perforation is worth fixing if the patient is experiencing symptoms. The symptoms which can be associated with a septal perforation include difficulty breathing, nasal congestion, persistent crusting, epistaxis (bloody nose), and whistling with breathing. Patients who do not have any of these symptoms may not necessarily need to have the perforations fixed, as long as the perforation is not affecting the structural integrity of the bridge of the nose. 

In general, smaller perforations and perforations closer to the front of the nose are simpler to repair.  Depending on size and location, the perforation can be closed by rotating local flaps in the septum, moving tissue from the turbinates, or bringing in fascia from another location. This temporalis fascia, the thin covering of the temporalis muscle, is harvested by making a tiny incision behind the hairline in the temple.

An exciting new development in septal perforation repair is the use of the PDS plate, approved by the FDA in 2010. This is a very thin (0.15 mm), perforated plate which dissolves slowly over a few months. In my practice, I have successfully repaired many perforations using these plates, covered on each side by septal flaps or temporalis fascia. 

Lastly, surgeons certainly have the right to charge whatever they feel is appropriate for septal perforation repair, or any surgery for that matter, but $50,000 USD does sound exorbitant to me. You shouldn't have to choose between sending your kids to the best colleges and fixing your nose! You may want to consider consulting with other surgeons who also have the specialization and technical skill to perform this delicate operation. 

Best of luck,

Dr. Mehta

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.