Nasal Obstruction

Nasal Obstruction

Dr. Rodwell has performed over 1,000 procedures on the nose and sinuses.  It’s safe to say he knows the nose inside and out and is skilled at treating a variety of problems including those related to breathing and sinus infections.

Choosing a surgeon who understands how to preserve or improve the functional parts of the nose is also critical to avoid breathing problems after having cosmetic nose surgery (rhinoplasty).

Nasal airway obstruction can have many contributing factors. There are 5 main problems that are treated by surgeons like Dr. Rodwell. The most common problems include a deviated septum or enlarged turbinates.

1.) Septoplasty

The septum divides the left and right side of the nose on the inside. It is made up of cartilage and bone which can become crooked after an injury to the nose or simply as a result of normal growth. The nasal passages are very narrow to begin with, so even a small deviation to one side or the other can cause symptoms of difficulty breathing through the nose.

Septoplasty is an operation designed to get the septum to line up closer to the middle. Improving nasal obstruction is the most important concern, but in some cases correcting a deviated septum can also help to improve the external appearance of a crooked nose. It is a procedure that Dr. Rodwell very often combines with reconstructive or cosmetic rhinoplasty.

It’s like I forgot what it felt like to finally feel normal again.

— Melissa P.

2.) Turbinate Reduction

The turbinates are structures on the side walls inside the nose. You can think of them as being similar to a small shelf of bone that is covered with a soft tissue lining (mucosa). The inferior or lower turbinates are the primary site for swelling inside the nose.

That feeling you get when you have a cold and cannot breathe through your nose at all or when you lie down out night and one side gets completely blocked is mostly due to turbinate swelling. The inferior turbinates can also stay chronically inflamed and swollen due to allergies.


Swollen turbinates reduce breathing room in the nose (shaded blue area)

There are a variety of ways to reduce the size of the turbinates. In some cases, Dr. Rodwell can perform a procedure in the office, but other patients may need additional work that is best done in the operating room to get the right amount of improvement.

3.) Swell Body Reduction

Swell body reduction is not a common procedure.  This is something that has been neglected for many years, but in a very small subset of patients it can make a tremendous improvement in persistent nasal obstruction. The swell body is an area near the front of the septum that sometimes stays enlarged with persistent swelling, and in other patients there is intermittent swelling.

The issue is very similar to the problems seen with the inferior turbinates. Swell body reduction is easily performed in the office under local anesthesia or in the operating room.

4.) Nasal Valve Repair

Now that you have learned about the septum and inferior turbinates it will be easier to understand the nasal valve. Nasal valve issues usually relate to an area called the internal nasal valve which is the most narrow cross sectional area just inside the nostrils. Because it is so narrow, it is the most common site of airway resistance.

The septum and the front end of the inferior turbinate make up part of the nasal valve area, and the rest of it is bordered by part of the cartilage that supports the tip of the nose.

The complex anatomy in this area often means that you need to address all 3 areas (septum, turbinates, and cartilage) to provide the maximum benefit and breathe easier through the nose.

5.) Broken Nose Repair

Nasal injuries can cause some obvious changes on the outside, but the internal changes that occur from the injury and the healing process sometimes go unnoticed at rst and can often lead to difficulty breathing that can take months to years before it really becomes a problem.

Repair of a broken nose is best performed within 1 week to reset the nasal bones. An injury that causes a fracture and deviation of the septum may need to wait several months or longer before attempting any surgical repair. Each case is different.


Dr. Rodwell provides expert nasal surgery for each of these problems. First, of course, he must examine you carefully to diagnose the cause of your breathing difficulties. Then, he will devise a surgical plan to correct the problem and restore clear breathing.

If you also dislike the shape of your nose, a cosmetic rhinoplasty can be performed simultaneously with nasal surgery.

Dr. Rodwell is a skilled surgeon with a terrific bedside manner. No one compares with this level of work.

— Michael W.

Why consider Nasal Surgery for Nasal Obstruction

Nasal Obstruction procedures can:

  • Restore free breathing
  • Reduce nasal congestion
  • Cut down on sinus infections
  • Decrease snoring and/or sleep apnea
  • Improve sense of smell

Dr. Rodwell’s Approach to Nasal Obstruction

Each of the surgeries is different, but all of them are delicate and require considerable skill. Dr. Rodwell uses the most advanced techniques when correcting breathing problems.  He also understands the importance of medical treatment to manage allergies and chronic sinus infections.

Deviated septum surgery involves reshaping the septum, while turbinate reduction involves reducing the size of the turbinates. Nasal valve correction often requires cartilage grafting from one part of the nose to the collapsed nasal valve in order to rebuild its structure and support a more open airway.

Most of these procedure are performed under anesthesia in the operating room, but there are some that can be performed in the office for a faster recovery. Dr. Rodwell will tell you what will take place during your customized procedure and what you can expect before, during, and after surgery. Whenever possible, he places incisions inside the nose where they are hidden and avoids using uncomfortable nasal packing after surgery.

What to Expect After Nasal Obstruction Surgery

Most patients choose to take about a week off from work, but every case is individual. Some minimal bruising, swelling, and tenderness are to be expected. You can take pain medication and use cold packs to ease discomfort, and keeping your head elevated for several days will also reduce inflammation.

Internal stitches will dissolve on their own. A splint may be required, but the nose does not usually have to be packed. You will see Dr. Rodwell in follow-up appointments, and he will do everything he can to make your recovery period comfortable and as speedy as possible.

For many patients, the long term management of nasal obstruction also involves treatment of allergies or chronic inflammation.  Dr. Rodwell is highly qualified to guide you through the medical management options and may also refer you to an Allergist for additional treatments if needed.


If you are considering nasal surgery for nasal obstruction in Charleston, contact Dr. Rodwell today to discuss your candidacy.