General instructions and follow-up care for deviated septum surgery (septoplasty) or turbinectomy
In most situations, packs will have been placed in the nose to control bleeding; often times a septal splint is placed that will be removed by the surgeon at the first post-operative visit. The doctor will let the patient know when they are to return to the office to have these packs removed. Patients may need to call the office to schedule this postoperative appointment and should arrange for someone to drive them to and from the office for this first visit. They should eat a light meal before going, and avoid taking excessive pain medications. They may also have several subsequent office visits to assess healing, remove crusts (debris) that may accumulate at the surgical site, especially if combined with sinus surgery. Such visits help insure a speedy recovery. The nose will probably be tender after surgery, so the doctor will spray it with a special numbing medication before removing crusts.
After the packing has been removed, patients may breathe through the nose, but are not to blow or sneeze through the nose for 7 to 10 days. If the person must sneeze, they should open their mouth. Patients can expect some light blood-tinged drainage from the nose for several days. If bleeding becomes excessive, apply ice and rest quietly with head elevated while holding the nose. If bleeding continues, they should call the surgeon's office for advice.
One of the most important things patients can do after surgery is nasal irrigation (rinsing). Immediately after the nasal packs are removed they should use a saline nasal spray such as "Ocean Spray" several times per day to prevent crusts from forming in their nose. Patients are to continue using irrigation until the doctor tells them to stop. Many patients will use irrigations (for example, neti-pots) indefinitely or when they have an upper respiratory infection. Failure to irrigate especially as instructed after surgery will likely cause the surgery to fail.
Patients may go back to work or school only when the doctor indicates it is safe to return. They should rest for the first week following surgery. They must also avoid excessive talking, smiling, chewing hard foods, strenuous activities, bumping their nose, bending over, and lifting heavy objects. They should not rest glasses on the bridge of the nose until soreness and swelling subsides. They may wear contact lenses once eye swelling and any irritation has resolved. Alcohol and tobacco products should be avoided because they may prolong swelling and healing. Smoke, dust, and fumes may irritate the nose and cause an infection. Facial tanning is discouraged for six months after surgery. If patients must be in the sun they should use a number 15 or greater sun block. Patients may use their usual make-up any time after surgery.
Patients should lubricate the nostrils, as instructed with a Q-tip and Vaseline to soften crusts that are hard and firmly attached to healing tissue. Peroxide helps to loosen crusts. After several days they may notice a few of the absorbable sutures and should not try to disturb or remove them. They must be gentle while brushing the upper teeth. These teeth will often be tender for several weeks, and there may be some numbness of the teeth and palate for several months.
After three weeks if patients are not having problems with bleeding, they may resume exercise and swimming, but no diving for two months. They should plan to stay in town and not travel for three weeks to allow for postoperative care and in case bleeding occurs.