Recovery from Septoplasty?
September 21, 2006 11:41 AM   Subscribe

My fiance is having septoplasty to correct his deviated septum on Monday. What can we expect in terms of how he'll feel and what he'll be able to do after the procedure?

He'll be under general anesthesia and the surgery is supposed to take 90 minutes. I know he's supposed to flush his sinuses with a saline mixture and will have splints in his nose.

Since he's coming home the same day, I want to make sure that I have anything he might need on hand before Monday. My general questions are:

- How groggy / out of it is he going to be after he gets home?
- How long before he'll be feeling back to normal?
- Is it going to be uncomfortable for him to eat the first week since his face will be messed up?
- What sorts of foods should I have on hand for him?
- Would ice packs help him with the healing process?
- Is he going to ooze nose-goo and blood all over anything?

I know this is a fairly common surgery, but he's never had any sort of procedure done before, and I haven't since I was an infant, so neither of us know what to expect. Any advice or stories on your experiences would be appreciated. Thanks!
posted by catfood to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Step 1: Ask the doctor for post-op care instructions. They'll be more than happy to provide you with them. Likely they'll be pretty simple.

Step 2: Follow those instructions.

I had something like it done years ago. He'll be back up and running pretty quickly, maybe a bit sore the first few days. I don't recall any issues eating except that I couldn't really breathe through my nose for a bit.

One thing I do recall - with the splints in, I was much more susceptible to headaches, particularly if it was too warm or too loud. He might watch out for that, because man, when they hit, they were a doozy. I put it down to having foreign objects in my face.
posted by canine epigram at 11:46 AM on September 21, 2006

He's coming home the same day?? When I had mine I was in for two days -- and thank fuck, cos on day two the pain got morphine-please levels of bad. With that in mind:

- How groggy / out of it is he going to be after he gets home?
Not too terribly, depending on medication.
- How long before he'll be feeling back to normal?
About three weeks
- Is it going to be uncomfortable for him to eat the first week since his face will be messed up?
- What sorts of foods should I have on hand for him?
Soup, sandwiches, soft stuff mostly.
- Is he going to ooze nose-goo and blood all over anything?
Depends on the packing, but yes, I think so.
posted by bonaldi at 11:51 AM on September 21, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks guys...we have post-op care instructions but they are focused on the saline washes and not blowing his nose and the more medical care, and not as much on the what I should cook for him and whatnot. He will be getting a painkiller to take home, they said most likely Tylenol with codeine.
posted by catfood at 12:04 PM on September 21, 2006

I picked up a friend of mine from the hospital this past February after he had had the same procedure done. He had the surgery in the late morning; I picked him up to drive him home mid-afternoon. He was a tiny bit groggy, had gauze-packingtaped to his nose -- which he ended up having to change every few hours.

One of the "things" we didn't factor in was the need for him to personally get his prescriptions filled at his local CVS. Since one medication/painkiller was 'Schedule 1,' he had to be there to provide identification, etc. While he would have preferred to be home -- where he had stocked up on soups, jello, rice pudding, etc. -- he had to endure the hassle of getting the prescriptions filled. I'd check with the hospital to see if they have an on-site pharmacy where the medications can be dispensed before you leave the premises.

My friend's recovery was from a Wednesday to a Monday. He was back at work the following Tuesday.
posted by ericb at 12:31 PM on September 21, 2006

He could also ask for the doctor to give him a prescription for the pain meds in advance so he could pick the drugs up before the surgery. As ericb says, it's no fun to stumble through CVS post-op.
posted by robinpME at 12:36 PM on September 21, 2006

I forgot all about those initial gauze changings. Fun.
posted by canine epigram at 12:37 PM on September 21, 2006

I had a turbinate reduction last year, which is a much milder procedure than a septoplasty, but my best piece of advice is to buy kleenex with aloe. Eventually your fiance will get to a point where he can blow his nose, and boy does having those super-soft tissues make a big difference. And yeah, I second getting as many of the supplies you can think of (saline washes, etc.) beforehand.
posted by MsMolly at 12:55 PM on September 21, 2006

If he will be in codeine, make sure he drinks a lot of water and has some fruit juices. Codeine can constipate people pretty quickly and, ahm, effectively.
posted by oflinkey at 3:26 PM on September 21, 2006

Anecdotally, I've know several people who've had sinus surgery and each time a dilute cocaine/water solution was used both as an anaesthetic and to constrict the blood vessels. Your BF may be coming down from a coke high as well.
posted by nathan_teske at 4:06 PM on September 21, 2006

After my septoplasty, the majority of discomfort for me was from having my nostrils packed with cotton. I felt uncomfortable only in the way that a really bad cold does, where you need to breathe through your mouth the whole time; I had a hard time sleeping the first night, due to needing to breathe through my mouth.

Unfortunately, the very worst part... was when the doctor removed the packing a few days after the surgery. I think childbirth was much less painful then when the cotton was yanked out of my nose. And then, I had several visits where the inside of my nose needed to be "vacuumed out"; that was horrible! None of this part of the procedure was explained to me before hand to prepare me.

The best part was... when everything finally healed... I don't think I had a cold for nearly 5 years. Before the septoplasty, I felt congested all the time.
posted by chase at 5:18 PM on September 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

I had this done a few years back...
The anaesthesia really did a number on me - I had never been under sedation before, and it took many, many, many nauseated hours before I even started recovering. My surgery was also outpatient, and my girlfriend (who took care of me) was REALLY freaked out by my out-of-it-ness and worried about me, but I remember nothing (and, on another note, we later got married too).

The pain during the recovery period wasn't so bad, I slept a lot at first and then just felt generally shitty for a while, and the nostril-packs were pretty annoying - and it really really hurts if you try to itch your nose.

As chase said, the absolute worst part of the whole experience was when the doctor ripped the well-crusted packing out of my nose - he did this without warning, while examining my nose, and my gut reaction was to punch him as hard as I possibly could, then run far, far away. Searing, blinding, face-smashing pain that made me revert to my caveman instincts like nothing I've experienced before or since. I was able to restrain myself from slugging my 70-something year old doctor, but just barely. They never vacuumed my nose out (I think I refused to go back), but I did find a few random bone fragments over the next few weeks.

I've heard that they can use packing that just dissolves on it's own now, which would prevent this blindingly awful pain - I would call ASAP and insist on it.

The surgery really didn't help as much as the doctor convinced me it would, and I would definitely not do it again.

As for your other questions:
- How groggy / out of it is he going to be after he gets home?
I was SMASHED. I got home and passed out for a day or so, I think.

- How long before he'll be feeling back to normal?
It took a few days for me - but I didn't react so well to the anaesthesia, so it may have been a special case. Lots of sleeping for about a week, though.

- Is it going to be uncomfortable for him to eat the first week since his face will be messed up? What sorts of foods should I have on hand for him?
A little - I mostly stuck to soft foods because chewing was not too awesome. I drank a lot of 7up and gingerale, and mostly ate soups and soft foods. Basically, I felt sick during the recovery period, so I ate the foods I would generally eat if I had a cold. You might want to see if your fiance has any sickly favorites.

- Would ice packs help him with the healing process?
It's definitely not a bad idea - I iced my nose occasionally, and I think it helped.

- Is he going to ooze nose-goo and blood all over anything?
I really didn't bleed during the recovery - your nose is pretty packed full. I did, however, bleed BUCKETS when that evil little doctor yanked the packing out.

Best of luck to both of you and a speedy recovery to your fiance!
posted by sluggo at 7:17 PM on September 21, 2006

I've just had septoplasty, about 6 weeks ago. I'm in the UK, so things may be different. Basically I got a bucket-load of drugs that I hadn't realised I'd need to take. Pain-killers, decongestants, saline solution to snort... and they explained the doses about 5 minutes after I woke from the anaesthetic, so I forgot everything. It was all written down of course, but you may want to take a pen and paper.

The operation itself was fine, but I was amazed how out of it I felt afterward. It took a good hour to recover, and even then I was woozy. I felt fine, but I definitely wouldn't have wanted to get on public transport or drive. The procedure itself took 90 minutes, but there was a lot of preparation beforehand and recovery afterwards. All in all, about 4 hours in total.

The wadding was removed immediately after I woke. I could tell, even through the anaesthetic, that this would have been painful. Fortunately, I was still with the pixies, so all was fine for me. I have been told by friends that this is extremely painful. Maybe worth asking in advance what can be done to help out with that - ibuprofen beforehand? Whiskey?

My problem was that the stitches didn't seal up quite as they should. I was given a pack of "nose nappies/diapers" (wadding on strings that you tie behind the ears) and sent home. 3 hours later I was still bleeding. Not much, but enough to be worried. I phoned the surgery and they told me to get an ambulance immediately. So I did, and was taken to A&E where a doctor cauterised my fresh wounds with silver nitrate. That was the most painful part of my whole experience, and brings tears to the eyes.

Ice-packs applied to the bridge of the nose while sitting upright definitely help stop bleeding, as does sucking ice-cubes.

My stitches are still partially present, although I've teased out a few strands. The rest will dissolve. It took 2 or 3 weeks before I felt confident enough to blow my nose. In the mean time I'd have to dab at it pretty much constantly, since I couldn't sniff, so the usual mucus was just dribbling out. Lots of fun. Your husband will go through a lot of tissue, if his experience is anything like mine.

I didn't have splints, so can't comment on that.

After going back for a check-up about 2 weeks ago, the surgeon used some disturbingly long forceps to tug a truly enormous clot of blood and mucus from the back of my head, and out my nose. Seriously, the thing was like a garden slug. Anyway, suddenly I could breathe again, so I'm hoping it's all worth it. I don't know, but the saline snorting might help prevent this sort of thing. I just couldn't go through with it, due to very swollen/stuffed nasal passages, and the huge amount of the stuff you're meant to snort.

As of today, I've got 3 months-worth of Nasacort (?) to snort twice a day, then I'll be in the land of the easy-breathing, straight-septum.
posted by ajp at 8:42 PM on September 21, 2006

Scot Adams' (of Dilbert fame) blog entry after getting his deviated septum repaired. From what I understand, it hurts. :)
posted by antifuse at 1:40 AM on September 22, 2006

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