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Nasal valve surgery

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The internal and external nasal valves are important areas of the nose that can have a critical impact on breathing. When the nasal valves collapse or malfunctions, airways may become constricted, triggering a host of symptoms such as congestion, headaches, snoring, sleep apnea, and sinus pressure. Over time, the stress from dealing with these chronic issues can dramatically lower one’s quality of life.

The nasal valves may be compromised due to birth defects. However, there are several other reasons for obstruction, including a botched rhinoplasty, during which too much cartilage was removed from the tip; loss of ligament support for the valves due to aging and gravity; or an injury to the nose, such as is faced by athletes or others prone to physical trauma.

Nasal valve impairments can have complex implications for the rest of the nose, including cosmetic abnormalities. The procedure is therefore often performed in conjunction with another surgery, such as septoplasty or revision rhinoplasty. Dr. Kwak will work with you to determine the most appropriate course of action to relieve your individual breathing issues.

What are the benefits of nasal valve surgery?

While you might see athletes or others wearing nasal strips across the external valves to improve their breathing, this is a temporary – and aesthetically unattractive – solution that cannot compete with the benefits of nasal valve surgery. Other temporary methods of coping, such as steroids, nasal sprays and allergy medications, also present short-lived fixes. Comparatively, nasal valve surgery, performed under general anesthesia, is a very well-tolerated procedure with excellent, permanent results. The surgery lasts under an hour with patients going home the same day.

How can I choose the best surgeon for my nasal valve surgery?

Because nasal valve surgery can affect both the nose’s function and its appearance, the ideal doctor to perform the procedure is seasoned in both cosmetic and reconstructive techniques. Dr. Kwak holds a prestigious double certification in both otolaryngology and facial plastic surgery, giving him thorough insight into these delicate and complex areas of the body.

In addition to his elite expertise and aesthetic artistry, Dr. Kwak is a gifted communicator. He has a knack for setting all patients at ease, no matter how anxious they may feel upon embarking on their surgical journey. During an initial consultation, Dr. Kwak examines the client’s medical records, prior surgeries, current medications, and determines the best path for a full recovery from chronic breathing troubles. In cases where more than one procedure is required, such as a revision rhinoplasty or septoplasty, Dr. Kwak will also outline the details of these surgeries and present a clear, transparent roadmap of what to expect at every juncture.

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Details of nasal valve surgery

During nasal valve surgery, the anatomy of the inner nose is reshaped in order to improve air flow. Sometimes a “spreader graft” is required if the cause of the obstruction is a too-narrow nasal valve. The graft may be fashioned from excess septal cartilage, or it may be created from ear cartilage. Through small, invisible incisions made inside the nose, the pieces of cartilage are inserted in order to counteract the nasal valve collapse. Dissolvable sutures are used to close up the incisions. If a faulty columella (portion of skin separating the nostrils) is to blame for impaired breathing, the doctor will also repair this cartilage via micro incisions inside the nose.

Recovery from nasal valve surgery

Nasal valve clients can expect an average recovery time of 7-10 days. Pain medications are available for those who require them. If the procedure was performed with septoplasty or rhinoplasty, recovery will take longer. In these cases, the doctor suggests abstaining from exercise, work and school for at least a week while swelling and discomfort begin to subside. If splints are in place, these are typically removed in around 5 days. Sleeping with the head elevated is recommended in order to hasten recovery. Dr. Kwak will schedule follow-up appointments, however you are always advised to call the office if anything seems amiss. The ESK team is here to help.

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