What is nasal obstruction surgery for a blocked nose?

Written by: Professor Paul Chatrath
Published: | Updated: 15/09/2023
Edited by: Carlota Pano

For a number of reasons, including a blocked nose, nasal obstruction surgery is sometimes performed to restore or improve airway flow in the nasal passages. Highly distinguished ENT surgeon Professor Paul Chatrath, provides an expert insight into this procedure.




When might nasal obstruction surgery be necessary?


Nasal obstruction can be caused by many different conditions, ranging from allergies to structural problems within the nose, such as a deviated nasal septum or nasal polyps, as well as infections due to sinusitis and problems occurring after trauma. Some of these conditions can be treated with sprays and medications, such as nasal sprays and antihistamines for allergic rhinitis, whilst others require surgery. A deviated nasal septum which is causing a blocked nose, for example, can only be treated by septoplasty surgery. A patient with nasal polyps who is not getting better after a trial of medications may need nasal polypectomy, while patients with recurrent sinusitis often benefit from endoscopic sinus surgery or the minimally invasive balloon sinuplasty procedure. Surgery becomes necessary where medications have failed to deliver an impact or where the structural deviation is so severe that surgery is the only option.


What are the benefits of nasal obstruction surgery?


The main benefit is that, if successful, the patient will be able to breathe better through the nose. This delivers advantages not only in feeling better during the day but, in some cases, also improving exercise tolerance and performance. Importantly, there are substantial benefits at night. As it improves the airflow through the nose, successful nasal surgery can lead to reduced mouth breathing, less snoring and a better-quality night’s sleep.


Can it be done in combination with cosmetic procedures?


Surgery to improve breathing through the nose can be combined with cosmetic rhinoplasty surgery. In fact, it is often very sensible to undertake both functional and cosmetic surgery at the same time, as this can often mean that a patient only needs one surgical procedure rather than two. This is beneficial from a safety perspective, not to mention being cost effective. It is also often the case, that some of the surgical techniques used to improve the nasal airway overlap with those undertaken to improve the aesthetic appearance of the nose. Therefore, combining the two objectives is also efficient from a surgical perspective, helping to minimise the number of surgical steps needed during the surgery and thereby reducing the risk of complications.


What happens during the procedure?


What happens can differ depending on the surgery being undertaken. Once the anaesthetic has been given, septoplasty or septorhinopalsty surgery can often be undertaken entirely by ‘keyhole’ - in other words, through the nostrils - without the need for any external incisions. Even if an external approach is needed, this usually only requires a small incision at the base of the nose, which usually heals very well. In cases where sinus surgery is being conducted, the operation is performed using high tech endoscopes which project the surgical view onto monitors. This magnifies the view and enables safe progress through all the surgical steps with minimal surgical trauma.


What can patients expect with the results from surgery?


In most cases, patients having nasal surgery notice substantial benefits in terms of an improved nasal airway. This may not be immediate due to the presence of swelling and inflammation immediately after the surgery, but once this has settled, breathing through the nose usually improves. Patients often find that they also sleep better at night, with less mouth breathing and less snoring. If cosmetic surgery is being conducted, there should be noticeable improvements in the external shape of the nose soon after the surgery. However, due to swelling and inflammation, it takes several weeks - if not months - for the majority of the swelling to subside, and up to a year or more for the final external cosmetic result to be achieved.


Professor Paul Chatrath is a highly distinguished ENT surgeon with practice in London, Brentwood and Buckhurst who specialises in rhinology and facial plastic surgery. If you’re considering nasal obstruction surgery, or simply wish to know more about the procedure, make sure to visit Professor Chatrath’s Top Doctors profile today.

By Professor Paul Chatrath
Otolaryngology / ENT

Prof Paul Chatrath is a skilled and distinguished London ear, nose and throat surgeon, specialising in rhinology and facial plastic surgery. With over 20 years of experience, he provides a wide range of ENT, head and neck and plastic surgery procedures to both adults and children from his private practices in London, Brentwood and Buckhurst. 

Prof Paul Chatrath completed his premedical degree at the University of Cambridge in 1992 and subsequent clinical training, continuing on to obtain his MBBS degree from the London Hospital Medical College, with distinctions in 3 subjects and was granted Proxime Accessit to the University of London Gold Medal. He finalised his higher surgical training in ENT surgery in London and was granted a Certificate of Completion of Training in ENT Surgery, upon passing the final FRCS examination. Thanks to his research into the role of surface brushings of the larynx in discriminating between cancerous areas and benign (non-cancerous) lesions, Prof Chatrath was awarded an MD high research degree with the University of London. He also completed further training in specialist units in Chicago and Amsterdam after earning the Lionel College & New York Travelling Fellowships by the Royal College of Surgeons, and travel grants by the Royal Society of Medicine and the Journal of Laryngology & Otology.  

Prof Chatrath has performed over 1000 rhinoplasty operations and over 1500 paediatric ENT procedures including tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy and the insertion of grommets. He has also been a leader in pioneering nasal and sinus operations, like balloon sinuplasty for the non-invasive management of sinus disease. Although he manages all general ENT conditions, he is interested in particular in nose and sinus problems, allergy, cosmetic deformities, children´s ENT disorders, voice problems and snoring.  He practices in 150 Harley Street, Spire Hartswood Hospital, Spire London East Hospital, The Holly Hospital, Hospital of Sain John and Saint Elizabeth and the London Clinic.

Alongside his clinical practice, Prof Chatrath is also active in ENT teaching and research. He holds the position of Honorary Senior Lecturer at the Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford. He is also Professor of Rhinology at Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent, here he leads a module in rhinology and facial plastic surgery for the MCh (ENT), postgraduate study in surgery. His research focuses on the clinical assessment of patients with nasal obstruction. He has published over 40 papers in peer reviewed journals and has also contributed chapters to books.  

Prof Chatrath aims to give his patients the best care, in a professional yet sympathetic manner. He understands the importance of communication with his patients both before and after surgical procedures, answering queries actively throughout the process. 

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